December 2007

It’s New Year’s Eve 2007. Our resolution at Portland Public Art is to remain aloof to style and ever anonymous. Our continuing goals are to skip the prestigious art politic, catcall the artful and overpaid, find the overlooked genius mixed evenly with the banal, remind the unwary the meandering boundaries of kitsch, explain pointless provincial details for history and geography at great length, and finally capture, chronicle, describe and define Portland’s artwork which exists in the public world.

The bronze sculpture pictured here is not in Portland, but in nearby Sandy, Oregon – a turgid bedroom community, with stupid dangerous cops, and about the only eastbound road over Mount Hood.

The artwork is by Roger McGee of Enterprise, Oregon. Sculpted first in clay, cast and sited in 1987 in Sandy, Oregon adjacent to Meinig Memorial Park (home of the annual Sandy Mountain Festival) and a fairly good donut shop.

Skiers keep their eyes glued on brakelights, so although this artwork overlooks a two lane, one way highway, it doesn’t get much attention from visitors.

The bronze (shown in the B&W photo in clay with McGee, the artist) is dedicated “in loving memory E W “Ernie” Eldridge and all veterans of foreign wars – The Eldridge Family.” Eldridge died in 1987. His daughter Kathleen is long affiliated with the local chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors and sits with the local Chamber of Commerce.

It’s quite a peculiar piece of artwork, perhaps because of the rural and bucolic environs. That’s a M-16 he’s toting, and quite a mustache, on a Vietnam era US field soldier. A carefully detailed puzzle piece, out of place, out of context, intrusive.

Included with the bronze are a high screen of evergreen bushes and a flag pole with both the stars and stripes and the black Vietnam War POW flag (“You are not forgotten”). Clearly this work, it’s sponsorship, and it’s strange context are part of that theme, of not forgetting that ridiculous criminal war, of reviving or honoring or respecting or memorializing the soldiers who served, and their leaders who connived, lied and ordered genocide.

Out of context, a visitor could assume dignity and purpose. In context, a visitor would feel shame and revulsion.

Feel bad about what happened in Vietnam? Those who kindled and fed this war are still alive and exist within this context of no context. Give Robert McNamara a piece of your mind – (202) 667-5550, 700 New Hampshire Ave NW # 101, Washington DC, 20037-2407 (Watergate Apartments).

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I got stuck for ten minutes with nothing to read but the PADA brochure for the upcoming month. I knew as my fingers brushed its deary surface I would be both sad and forlorn within three of those ten minutes. But this is Portland and I can pick up a wifi connection and complain about it to you.

The twelve art galleries which make up the Portland Art Dealers Association are, in alphabetical order, Augen, Blackfish, Bullseye, Butters, Froelick, Elizabeth Leach, PDX Contemporary, Pulliam Deffenbaugh, Quintana, Laura Russo, Mark Woolley, New American Art Union. A carefully maintained variety, collegial I imagine, and usually somewhat dull. Each has a specialty area, I guess, and market to the well-divorced Pearl District matrons with more wall space than brains.

But the walls of Laura Russo were made for the big watercolors of Henk Pander and a new show of Pander’s work will open January 3. Dutch-born, Dutch-trained, Pander came to Oregon in the early 70s, just as the late 60s were arriving, with young family in tow and a feverish mind for paint.

Pander’s vision for things-on-the-precipice has maintained through his career. His subjects are anticipating imminent death, a ship aground, a crumpled wall, flowers askew, fire on the horizon, the stare of a lone bombardier and his looming fate. Beautifully rendered, alternately wide and detailed, teabag colors moist and penetrating.

At that moment, Portland was still one of those dark places of the earth. Imagine the feelings of finely trained artist, such as a Childe Hassam of 1904, Imagine him here – the very end of the world, a sea the color of lead, a sky the color of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina–and going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sand-banks, marshes, forests, savages – precious little to eat fit for a civilized man, nothing but Willamette water to drink.


The slide show above is poor – my apologies. A better, larger version from the newish Viewbook is HERE.

If you have a beautiful Pearl District wall – a large large off white wall and a good high ceiling where excellent strip of lighting instruments can be installed, and you would like to live with a powerful, complex, feverish image – a still life of dahlias or terra cotta bricks – you’re in real luck. In recent years Pander has shown just once a year, and this is it.

republished from The Portland Tribune

A new nonprofit organization [was launched] on Monday launched to preserve art in Portland Public Schools. Not in the form of teachers, but literally the art on the walls.

Friends of Art in the Schools, a group of parents, art historians, educators and conservators, aims to preserve the historic works many local school buildings were decorated with in the early 20th century as part of the Works Progress Administration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s initiative to create jobs for artists during the Great Depression.

Many of the murals were painted over at some point and forgotten, only to be rediscovered recently, in need of repair and preservation.

At Southeast Portland’s Abernethy School, for example, a square-foot piece of a larger mural painted in 1939 was recently discovered, having been covered with five layers of paint.

It’s called “A Pageant of Oregon History,” painted by artist Erich Lamade as part of the W.P.A. and depicting scenes from the lives of Native Americans.

Similar works have been found at Beach, Chapman and Irvington schools, as well as Jefferson and Grant high schools. The new group seeks to locate, identify, preserve and better display the historic artworks in Portland’s public school buildings.

Ginny Allen, who coauthored a book on Oregon painters and helped inventory the works in the schools, said there are murals as well as statues, sculptures, wood marketry, glass mosaics and a collection of prints and lithographs.

“The collection is remarkable,” she said. “There’s so much of this W.P.A. art; it’s really such a special category … there’s lots of reasons for us to not let that resource be destroyed or lost.”

Found scrawled last Spring on Glisan and NW 21st.

Portland (At Large)

Your tan will not save you
Your Converse All Stars will not save you
The Arcade Fire will not save you
24 packs of PBR will not save you
Striped shirts will not save you
Barista jobs will not save you
Living on Alberta will not save you
Reverse racism will not save you
Myspace will not save you
Trucker hats will not save you
“So, my friend’s got this band” will not save you
A degree @ PSU / PNCA will not save you
Saturday Market will not save you
Vintage anything will not save you
Single-gear bikes will not save you
Rose / bird tattoos will not save you
Giving to the homeless will not save you
Bike lanes will not save you
Origins in Oregon will not save you
Whole Foods will not save you
Art History / Women’s Studies will not save you
Horn-rimmed glasses will not save you
Bishops hairdos will not save you
Ironic mustache will not save you
Your clothing line will not save you
Billy will save you

Gee, must every diatribe be a pitch?

Save The Dates – Friday, April 11, 2008, 5 to 9 pm & Saturday, April 12, 10 am to 5 pm

BLURB – The Buckman Art Show & Sell features the work of more than 100 Pacific Northwest artists – everything from paintings and sculptures to ceramics, jewelry, fashions, photography and toys – in a festive atmosphere filled with music, food, and fun.

This vibrant, beloved community event benefits the arts programs at Portland’s Buckman Arts Focus Elementary School.

In recent years this event has been a zoo of activity and a great opportunity for artists to gain exposure with art buyers and wrestle with the hoi polloi.

Artists are needed – Apply Now. Read – Art of Schooling, from Portland Tribune, 12.11.2007

Drifting through MySpace seeking something about Portland and something about art; hmm. Three definite conclusions can be made.

  • 1. Pretty much everyone in in Portland under 25 is in a band.
  • 2. You haven’t heard of them or heard their music.
  • 3. They couldn’t care less.

Boil out the anger, wash away the fear, what did punk rock leave behind? Two lessons, Do-It-Yourself and fuck the hippies. DIY = removing the barriers between the artist and the audience. Fuck the hippies is mostly about rejecting aimless hedonism. Think Ayn Rand with crank.

As the major labels pissed their inventory in a challenge match with teenagers, they made an even more fatal error – they lost their distribution monopoly. The music scene isn’t dead – it’s more alive, talented and productive than ever before, but the oligarchs are dead and now the kids rule.

Oregon’s antiquated liquor commission has played an unwitting part too. Under their regime, all ages venues are an impossible business model, and the economic response to suppression in this case has been house parties. Scholars of rock and roll know it’s at intimate outlaw venues where musical styles really accelerate. Ancillary businesses & crafts have amped up too – poster design, instrument sales, audio engineering.

Check out the talent – all from Portland, all superb, all immediately accessible to you. The only criteria is: does it rock?

Yacht – MP3: See A Penny (Pick It Up) from Believe In You, Your Magic Is Real (? 2007)
Blitzen Trapper – MP3: Texaco from Blitzen Trapper (?)
Parenthetical Girls – MP3: Love Connection Part II, from Safe As Houses (Slender Means Society 2006
Laura Gibson – MP3: Hands in Pockets, from If You Come to Greet Me (Hush Records, 2006)
Pierced Arrows – Stream: KBOO appearance, click here for set list.
The Helio Sequence – MP3: Everyone Knows Everyone, from Love And Distance (Sub Pop, 2007)
Horse Feathers – MP3: Finch on Saturday from Words Are Dead (Lucky Madison, 2006)
Song of Swallows – MP3: Physical from Me With Trees Towering (LP 2006, Cherchez La Femme Projects)
New Bloods – MP3: A Ritual from the band’s self-titled 7-inch (Raw Sugar Records, 2007)
Talkdemonic – MP3: Ending The Orange Glow
Eux Autres – MP3: When I’m Up from Cold City (? 2007)
Menomena – MP3: Air Aid from Friend And Foe (Barsuk, 2007)
The Shaky Hands – MP3: Summer’s Life from The Shaky Hands (Holocene Music, 2007)
Pure Country Gold – MP3: King of Cortisone from Pure Country Gold (Empty Records, 2007)
Hey Lover – MP3: Here Comes the Snow from Hey Lover (Breakfast Mascot Records, 2007)
Harvey Girls – MP3: Parking Lot
The Olive League – MP3: Our Demon Authors Rendered
Dragging An Ox Through Water – MP3: Aces from Rebukes! 7-inch (Smells Delicious)
Dat’r – MP3: The Bloody Lump from Turn Up the Ghosts (Hush Records, 2007)
Phantom Lights – MP3:
Cafeteria Dance Fever – MP3: There’s a Hot Dog Coin Under My Seat and Sharpening My Hook
The Prids – MP3: Molest The Outer Heart from Something Different (?)
Fast Takers – MP3: She’s Going Crazy from (?)
Glass Candy – MP3: Beatific from B/E/A/T/B/O/X (? 2007)
LKN – MP3: Exit Mistakes from Postulate II (Greyday Productions, 2007)
Viva Voce – MP3: Fashionably Lonely
Pinehurst Kids – MP3:
The Subcons – MP3: Safe
Dead Eye – MP3: Never Enough – MP3:
Clorox Girls – MP3: Flowers of Evil
Hey, Tiger – MP3:
Swan Island – MP3: The Centre Will Hold from
Team Dresh – MP3: Seven from Chainsaw Records
The Gossip – MP3: Listen Up (MSTRKRFT remix)
The Hugs – MP3: All Smiles
The Minders – MP3: Accidental Joy
Quasi – MP3: The Rhino
The Wires – MP3:
Rocket Punch – MP3: Pink Cashmere
Loch Lomond – MP3: Carl Sagan

More compilations of Portland pop at Portland Pop Now!, Pop Tomorrow, WW’s Local Cuts, Mercury Band Page, In Music We Trust