“Let a thousand flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend,” said Mao Tse Tung, setting a political trap for intellectuals and art gadflies in the middle of the last century. Now wrapped in affluence, safety and acclaim, Portland art youth are about to throw one of their larger annual parties.

Without Mao to keep them in check, Portland’s artists must contend and compete for your attention and your wallet.

Crowds will be attending the Alberta Street Fair tomorrow – September 16, running along Alberta from about 7th Avenue to 33rd. Parking is complicated so bring walking shoes and be nice to the neighbors.

Robin Corbo and a team of about 60 helpers have quickly create a enormous mural on the Community Cycling Center. Sponsored by RACC, the mural is filled with happy faces on two and three wheeled machines. A great, colorful, fun mural for a great organization.

But as you walk and gape, recognize the city bureaucrats use public art as a colonizing tool to “celebrate diversity” and forge a new community using artists as urban pioneers. Once the real estate rolls over the arts tools can be cast aside – artists are transient and unorganized; as the strip gentrifies the problem transforms and the problem management shifts as well.

The intention of the artwork is to acknowledge the difference, and the artwork is matched in expense by PDC’s storefront development program, and hundreds of public and private meetings to process the decision and lull advocates against change to sleep.

Largely forgotten is Lillian Pitt and Roslyn Hill’s Cultural Totem which blocks the street at 14th Avenue. This eight-foot pillar of concrete with doodles serves as a beginning, I guess. Behind it you can see another community mural from a prior year, defaced with graffiti.

Across the intersection, is a arrangement of 4 x 4 inch tiles of a Alberta Arts Fair of the past – quite nice but starting to fall apart. The weather is taking it’s toll.

For additional two-wheel + danger = fun, look for Chunk 666 at about 20th Avenue.

One of the stalwart pioneers on Alberta has been Lam Quang and the Hi ih Gallery. Wonderful handmade lamps and small sculptures with paper, bamboo and light.

Be sure to see hundreds if not thousands of other Portland Public Art pictures on our Photo Archive. Look for Alberta Street artwork in the NE Portland section of the archive.

Alberta Arts District

Alberta Street Fair

Arts on Alberta

Review of the arts scene on Alberta by from the PSU Vanguard

Links for dozens of Alberta businesses.