March 2006

UPDATE – Maisel’s images are on Boing Boing today.

LA photographer David Maisel made two series of photographs last spring at the Oregon State Hospital. Both are in part online. The first is Library of Dust, a series of images of cremated remains of thousands of patients from the Oregon State Hospital which have gone unclaimed over the decades. The second is Asylum, showing the ghosty, condemned and abandoned section of the hospital to which David was able to finesse access. An essential skill with photogs.

Expect a series of gallery shows + book.

See – Library of Dust
See – Asylum

Also see Mary Ellen Mark’s terrifying series from the 1970’s – Ward 81.

Schizophrenia –A dream in the daylight.

This blog has regular traffic now, and with traffic come odd requests. I’ll answer them all right now.

1. Basic tone is: Portland is filled with interesting artwork, largely unmapped and therefore unappreciated.
2. I don’t give tours or talks. I won’t come to your opening. Don’t send me your artwork.
3. What I have to say is in the blog.
4. You don’t need my name.
5. Elliot Smith, by quite a lead in the survey. Then Mark Rothko, Abigail Scott Duniway & Ken Kesey.
6. I’ll get to it when I get to it.
7. I don’t have anything to write about the Oregon Biennial, or Time-Based Art, or Portlandia. They have their own PR machines.

Artwork should have a purpose, something to do, a reason it matters, a reason to not paint the canvas black and chuck it in the river.

The mural at the Alberta Cooperative Grocery at 15th and NE Alberta, created by Portland watercolor painter Sharon Geraci, has great purpose, along with loudly announcing gentrification in a nearly lost neighborhood (No? You weren’t here in 1980) nicely mixes public health with color and lively humans.

Find out more about the African American Health Coalition.

Find out more about hypertension.

Q & A with cardiologist Elijah Saunders on African Americans and hypertension.

Are you against medications too? Try protesting here.

Where are the art book troves of Portland? There are a handful – both public and private. Here’s a quickie tour of the best.

Portland State University – there is neither enough oxygen or librarians in the Millar Library, but they maintain a dusty collection of mid-sixties standbys. But their online database is worth the non-student library card.

Powell’s Fourth Floor – really glorious for Portland, a nose-picking provincial town, to have all these texts just sitting out and ready to be bought.

PNCA maintains a little reference library with a cozy area for reading and pawing through the latest magazines. Get a coffee from Yo Tin and snuggle down for a good read. Is it public? As long as you look like a PNCA student you’re unlikely to attract attention.

Multnomah County Library – gets high marks for traffic as one of the top circulators in the nation, for housing the homeless and the lost, for infinite patience playing Aqualung daily for mad Nils, but the best of the art books have been thieved and sold off, gone forever.

New to the list and a swell new favorite is the James and Anne Crumpacker Family Library on the second floor of the Mark Building. (Jim is of CBRE). Now as I remember, that particular Masonic meeting room was very very much off limits prior to renovation. But there are no ghosts evident. All is clean and new and fun for we data dependent individuals.

One – there are plenty of texts, new and old. Many come from well-meaning donations. Many were purchases from Gilkey and Jenkins and other longtime curators.

Two – they have the online database of the PAM collection!

Three – nice librarians who sweep up behind artists and keep track of the past present and prefer the future get on with it.

I found the remains of the Portland Center for the Visual Arts, all packed up in archival boxes, waiting for some future art historian to come on and get busy.

Five – Plaster Perseus has a good niche. Four – Open on Saturdays, but closed on Fridays and Sundays. How eccentric and convenient for eccentrics. They know their audience!

Six – no one knows about this spot yet. So in the midst of the city, a most valuable resource; peace and quiet and art books. All together.

From the lens of Ancil Nance.

Don Wilson – now located in Castle Rock and repped by the Atelier Gallery. His stone Holon is in the South Park Blocks in front of the PSU Library.

Gordon Gilkey (1912 – 2000) in his lair in the basement of PAM. He was an extraordinary human, particularly sophisticated for his chosen community. His story is unwritten, and along with other arts aficionados, ends the tale of the quest for arts and culture by the Third Reich. For students seeking a arts history dissertation subject – here’s your man.

See the Schnitzer-funded – Gordon Gilkey Research Center at UO

Also – the Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Center for Graphic Arts at PAM

Peckerneck personified, this is about the earliest photo of Walt Curtis I’ve seen. Author of Mala Noche, Salmon Song, Rhymes for Alice Blue Light, painter, historian, bookseller, driver of half dead hulks, sex maniac, encourager of young artists, rememberer of fine humans, romantic realist, radio host, and Portland’s “Unofficial Poet Laureate.”

Pretty much an all around great guy.

See also – Portland Poets | Past & Present

Here’s a bit of trivial and dubious art marking the NW Portland high-rent scene as “cool” for the matron set.

Is it political? No. Is it beautiful? No. Is it context or message heavy? No. Does it bear a message, either cerebral or soulful? No. Is it a drawing glued to a wall? Yup.

Don’t think it’s a series of fortunate coincidences that affluent property developers and art schools thrive shoulder to shoulder.

Oh, do not doubt. It’s completely predictable – and planned.

First the early adopters, taking photos of winos while reading Bukowski, last come a regular round of applause at the neighborhood association meeting with the announcment a new Trader Joe’s will open in the Spring.

If you must ask spiritual questions, ask if you have any capacity to doubt at all.