July 2006


You’ve seen but probably haven’t quantified Portland’s political posters. There are thousands of wheat-pasted parts and pieces, in tatters all over town, but dominant downtown and in inner North and Northeast. Seems they collect around establishments which advertise in the Portland Mercury.

Here’s a damaged but particularly nice one, giving a bit of the history of Unknown-in-the-USA 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai of Kenya.

Discreetly glued to a filthy telephone pole on N Cook and Williams Streets. Huh. Ponder the politics of that decision for a moment.

We’ve highlighted a few posters in this blog – Patrice Lumumba Ford comes to mind. Well, there are a lot more. And you might think – Hey! Has the revolution started without me?

No it hasn’t and you’re just not cool enough to know that much political posters / stickers / bumperstickers are now carefully manufactured and sold online, at shows, & other nexus. Some are original – at least local – and those are interesting for their own sake. But it’s emblematic of this current cool set of kids that they simply download their political objectives, simply are soldiers in a public relations war.

Here’s the undamaged version of the Wangari poster, available for $3 from Justseeds.org.

Just as surreptitious are the folks who try to tear down these posters. Certainly downtown it’s the Portland Business Alliance pseudo-cops and minders. I dunno about N & NE, possibly do-gooder utility workers.

Read the wiki about Wangari Maathai. She could be your hero. The fact you don’t know her name is astounding.

For more anti-commercial snits, see Adbusters from Canada.
Patriotic posters from WhiteHouse.org
For blog + info pipline – see VisualResistance.org

And surpise! This is not a Portland phenom. See Los AngelesRio de JaneiroTokyo.

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There’s now a tremendously long list of links about Portland art things down a bit on this screen and at the right hand side. Theatre, dance, weird stuff, galleries, foundations, bands, artists, schools, everything in a pile.

So that’s good. All the links work – over 200 of them. I’ll add to it again – but it will be a while. I think this is probably enough.

There’s also the new photo archive of Portland public art. You can access this archive (Google calls it a web photo album) by clicking on the Picasa logo at the right hand side of this screen. There’s over 1000 images currently available.

Try out our new blog poll – again at the right – give us your vote, public art at City Hall, yea or nay?

Finally – the foremost request to this blog is for more posts. Ok. Now a blaze of urban odds and ends.

A simple text stencil on a utility grate at 20th and NW Irving may have encouraged many to keep on keeping on.

DATE: Wednesday, July 19
TIME: 5:30 PM
LOCATION: City Hall – no shit – 1221 SW 4th
PRICE: Free
ALL AGES? You bet
WHO’S PLAYING: Quasi and The Minders

Mainstream rock has sucked for a long time now. At best (Wilco, Radiohead, Pearl Jam) it’s like consuming high fructose corn syrup, sweet but you’re kinda disgusted with yourself afterward. At worst aging stars from bygone days gobble up corporate air time, then regurgitate tunes created up to 50 years ago. Pathetic. And more pathetic are the papsters who gratefully swallow that puke.

Kicking off PDXPOP Now! is high test organic rock of the purest quality and intention from two bands you must know more about (finally – someone in City Hall has connections and can get things done).

Two of the very best rock bands in the world just happen to live in Portland and will play City Hall next week. For free. Those twee Norwegians, those shoegazer Frenchies, those overdue grungers from up I-5 got nothing. Rock just doesn’t get any better than in Portland.

Quasi is Sam and Janet, who both have side projects but keep coming back to the center because the music makes everything right. Their second, Featuring “Birds” is right up there on the list of music-to slit-your-wrists-too, along with Elliot Smith’s Needle In The Hay. Their most recent, When The Going Gets Dark, stays with powerful mature emotions, swirling in Sam’s crazy harmonics while Janet furiously punches straight on through to the other side.

Know more about Quasi.

Quasi jams with Elliot SmithThe Poisoned Well and Paint It Black on YouTube from 1999.

What was Smith’s favorite band? The Minders. As Sam presents his profoundly weary Quasi soul as a big, human mess, The Minders are prim, proper, calculated pop for smart people. Launching their latest tour this week, Martyn and Rebecca et al front their fourth release, Bright Guilty World.

Know more about The Minders.

Download MP3: The Minders – Accidental Joy

Curious about the next great Portland rock band? Sneak peek of Still Pending on YouTube cover a Green Day tune. Okay, it’s bar chord dreck, but it’s a step up from junior ice hockey.

Tweaking on HFCS? Becoming enormous? See news on the upcoming film Fast Food Nation. Trailer on YouTube.

Abundance of skill + lack of integral support = disorganization. Why do artists rely on beneficence and actively evade self-sufficiency? Could it be a virus?

One solution: a dues supported union of artists, open only to artists with a mission of advocacy to encourage patronage, attendance, and wise stewardship.

Dues supporting means membership; means joining together for a common cause. This is irksome to those dedicated to class warfare, otherwise it’s as simple as writing a check. Dues should be pegged at 1/1000 of a member’s annual income. Supporting is an important point. Existing within means is the secret to happiness.

Open only to artists means we have a common bond. Your day job may be judge or executioner, but when you consider your membership to the artists union, consider your craft, and don’t be crafty.

A mission of advocacy is purely political, never competing or compelling merchandising. Too many so-called advocates are conflicted and silenced by their personal issues with money. Mixing business with pleasure is folly.

Encourage patronage, attendance, and wise stewardship – a la we make art, not money. We seek a symbiotic relationship, not a tyranny where snarky deceit is our only retort. Dues allow the union to hire an advocate to break rocks at POVA, the media, county and state bureaus, etc.

Here’s how to start.

1. If you haven’t joined an arts group – do. One stick is easily broken.
2. If you lead an arts group – consider merging with another.
3. Contribute to arts groups – start at 1/1000 of your annual income. Or are you all talk and no walk?
4. Eat junk & you become junk. Stop ingesting bad art.
5. When someone smart and honest launches an artist union in Portland, sign up.

The Oregonian lists more fiscally troubled Portland and Oregon arts organizations in today’s paper.

“It’s somewhat alarming,” said Chris D’Arcy, executive director of the Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Cultural Trust.

See Culture centers gasping for cash – The Oregonian

So far, from Jeff Manning, David Austin & David Stabler + Guidestar + Charity Navigator have revealed –

Net income or loss for the two most recent fiscal years available.

Oregon Symphony
2004: $-1,200,000
2005: $-1,000,000

Portland Opera
2004: $-439,176
2005: $-1,000,000

Oregon Ballet Theatre
2003: $238,000
2004: $-900,000

Portland Center Stage
2004: $-672,284
2005: $182,796

Oregon Historical Society
2004: $-2,389,128
2005: $-3,962,018

Oregon Shakespeare Festival
2004: $-117,967
2005: $-362,054

Portland Art Museum
2004: $12,303,008
2005: $18,450,609

(BTW, be wary of big round revenue or deficit numbers!)

And these are the biggies in Oregon, the arts organizations with real development people, managing real campaigns, shaking down real major donors. The groundwork of developing an audience which supports the HUNDREDS of arts organizations in Oregon has failed. The audience, the buyers and attenders and members and donors with the wallets just aren’t here – yet.

Why? Good question for another day. As a community we should base economic development on outcomes – and if the arts have an economy and audiences need to oriented, then these numbers indicate our collective strategies have failed. Oh, politicians!

Question of the day: is there an arts advocacy organization in Oregon which is NOT CONFLICTED by also being an arts provider (not a museum or gallery or governmental bureaucracy) which can act with sufficient independence and impact to launch an audience?

Tune in next time for the answer to this question.

Real arts drama happens behind the scenes – Salem Statesman Journal chimes in.

On July 11, The Oregonian editorial bandwagoners swing away – see No room for error in Oregon arts. They, too, miss the point. It’s live on your feet or die on your knees, as Jerry A used to snarl.

The Willamette Week calls the Portland Art Museum trustees out for their Rogue of the Week editorial for allowing a $12 million dollar cost overrun on the newish Mark Building – the museum’s smart new annex and playground.

Here’s Zusman’s point –

“Some might argue the inner workings of a private nonprofit like PAM are nobody’s business. But, in fact, the museum operates as a public trust, has gotten taxpayer money, and sells memberships and tickets to tens of thousands of Portlanders.”

Let’s finally meet the PAM directors (available NOT THROUGH THE PAM website, but through their 2004 tax returns – jeez!) Affiliations are as listed in the return, some trustees may have rolled off since this return was filed.

Jane Beebe – PDX Gallery
Peter Bechen – PacTrust
David Becker
Richard Boyd – Boyd Coffee
Martha Brandt
Marty Brantley, Chairman
Richard L Brown
Mary Beth Burpee
Mary Clark Frisbee – wife of Don Frisbee
Anne Crumpacker
Sho Dozono – Azumano Travel
Fred Fields
Gary Tim – Nordstrom
Janet Geary – Richard & Janet Geary Foundation
Roger Hinshaw – Bank of America
Judi Hafer
Eric Hoffman – Hoffman Corporation
Tom Holce – Holce Investments
Gail Jubitz – Jubitz Trucking
Jill Powers Kirk
Ted Kulongoski – Oregon Governor
Helena Lankton – Badgley, Phelps and Bell
Wes Lawrence – Key Bank
Joanne Lilley – Lilley Family Foundation
Richard Maloney
Melvin Mark – Melvin Mark Companies
Gail Bowen McCormick –
Duane McDougall
Roger Meier – AMCO
Robert Pamplin – Pamplin Corporation
Susan Paulsell – Merrill Lynch
Richard Reiten – NW Natural Gas
H P Ritz – Stafford Villa Properties
Harold Schnitzer – Harsch Investment Properties
June Sell-Sherer – Grand Ronde Tribes
Patricia Smith
Gordon Sondland – Aspen Investment Group
Steven Spence – UBS
Albert Starr – Starr-Wood Cardiac Group
Andree Stevens
Fred Stickel – The Oregonian
Julie Stott
Patt Suwyn – wife of Mark Sulwyn
Anne Swindells –
Ken Thrasher – Compli
Joseph Voboril – Tonkin Torp
Nani Warren
Helen Whitsell
James Winkler – Winkler Development
Pearl Yu

Listen up arts administrators – this is a GOLD LIST of local arts advocates all questioning the merits of future participation with PAM. The Buchanan’s did STERLING work, at least in dressing this board. Strike while the crisis is hot!

Let’s not forget the PAM director of finance – Judith Poe. From Jeff Manning’s Oregonian story on July 4, “Judith Poe, the museum’s director of finance, did not respond to queries about the loan on Monday.” Holidays! Foo.

The Oregonian posts this morning cost overruns for the Portland Art Museum annex – the old Masonic Lodge on SW Park, now called the Mark Building after the leading donor Pete Mark – are now measured at $12 million over budget. Board members + staff are dialing donors who have made future pledges to shift around giving schedules. Fingers are being pointed.

Museum calls in pledges to pay bills – The Oregonian

Bob Hicks of The Oregonian reports in today’s paper the Portland Opera ended it’s fiscal year a million dollars short. Blame goes to an extended period without a development director – who has since been found. No changes are expected to the program schedule, which has received increasingly good reviews outside of Portland in recent years. Hicks also mentions “the Oregon Symphony ended its 2005 fiscal year with a $1.2 million deficit on a $14.5 million budget.”

Opera ends year $1 million in red – The Oregonian

Martha Ullman West, again for the Oregonian, wrote an impressively complex piece for the paper on July 2 about Dance USA’s 2006 National Roundtable, held in Portland last week. Hosted by White Bird Dance, the conference according to Ullman West had a decidedly “what’s next?” flavor. She recounts the keynote by Eric Booth of Julliard, “who spoke eloquently about several alarming trends: 1) cocooning (the increasing tendency for audiences to stay at home with their home theaters rather than attending live performances); 2) the American need for instant gratification (a familiar criticism); and 3) the ever-widening gap between the very affluent and the middle class and poor.”

Choreographing the tango between art and business – The Oregonian

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