Sam Adams

Portland Public Art endorses Sam Adams for mayor of Portland.

Sure, he could be a Manchurian candidate, genetically designed to appear “perfect” in all ways. Why a black rooster? Perfect. Why a yellow helmet? Very stylish. North, using no lights and handheld crap camera cinéma-vérité. Comfortable. The laconic voice, the specs, the creaky NoPo fix-up monster, the G4s, the sly reference to the well-known and well-regarded writer Alasdair Gray, author of Lanark and the more recent Unlikely Stories, Mostly – all are perfect code zinging the creative capacity set.

Kimberly Howard of IFCC (chaired by Jesse Beason, policy director for Adams), Mike Houck of UGI, Vera Katz, John Kitzhaber, Polo, eloquently endorse Adams in the video above.

There is a danger to democracy when elections are conceded, or run by unserious people. The danger is the dominant candidate gains office without public debate, without community conversation about future policy, without challenge. Sam, by intimidating, evading or negotiating, is able to release this wonderful little film, calmly highlighting his city, his daily toil of public service, and his charisma without stating his position on any issue.

Regardless – Sam’s past advocacy on behalf of the arts makes him our candidate. His ideal, to link a wider community of creative creators, is a smart, forward-thinking, winning strategy for fund raisers and art makers.

EXTRA – Why I Didn’t Disappear
EXTRA – Getting our Creative Capacity Sorted Out
EXTRA – Creative Capacity Townhall – video
EXTRA – Portland’s Art Ship Acquires Rudder

The smell of money and a clear front-runner in an upcoming mayoral election brings out the blue ribbon panel folk for Sam Adam’s Creative Capacity Committee.

If you’ve been asleep, Adams convened several gatherings to show Portland’s arts community, using a new set of data and arguments, could – possibly – make a case for support from industry and the general population.

Three committees, and a detailed web site have launched to explain the Creative Capacity strategy: (links here to PDF files) asteering committee made up mostly of business-people and various politicians, a strategy committee made up of art types and art administrators, and a coordinating committee made up of City Hall and RACC brass, with their facilitator / consultant.

So who have been selected for these committees? And perhaps more importantly, what are their affiliations? (Much of the information below is available on the Creative Capacity web site, but in a PDF form which is less searchable than a HTML web page.) Bottom line, this list is a fundraiser’s wet dream.

Steering Committee Members

Martin Medieros, Chair – Swider Medeiros Haver, intellectual property lawyer; recent lecture on Proper Grammar, Usage and Syntax of Business Names.”

Sam Adams – Portland City Council / mayoral candidate

Dave Allen – Pampelmoose / Gang of Four / music industry skeptic

Robert Austin – Mayor of Estacada

Shane Bemis – Mayor of Gresham

James Bernard – Mayor of Milwaukie

Nik Blosser – Celilo Group Media, husband of Deborah Kafoury, likely candidate for Multnomah County Commission, member of the Sokol Blosser wine empire, and board member of the Oregon Business Association.

Julia Brim-Edwards – Nike flack, former school board member, attorney, and board member of the Oregon Business Association.

Chandra BrownOregon Iron Works and the Oregon Innovation Council

Rex Burkholder – Metro Councilor, bike advocate

Elaine Calder – Oregon Symphony President

Kenneth Carr – President and CEO of Carr Construction, commercial and multi-family construction

David Chen -partner with OVP Venture Partners and chairman of the Oregon Innovation Council

Brad Cloepfil – Principle, Allied Works

Chris Coleman – Artistic Director, Portland Center Stage

Debi Coleman – Managing Partner at SmartForest Ventures

Eloise Damrosch – Executive Director of the Regional Arts & Culture Council

MaryAnn Deffenbaugh – representing the Portland Art Dealers Association, and co-owner with Rod Pulliam of the Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery

Craig Dirksen – Mayor of Tigard

Mark Dodson – CEO / President of Northwest Natural Gas

Lee Domanico – Ex-CEO of Legacy Health System

Sho Dozono – Azumano Travel

Rob Drake – Mayor of Beaverton

Bart Eberwein – Vice President of Hoffman Construction, event chair of the Architecture Foundation of Oregon, board member of the Oregon Arts Commission

Mark Edlen – Gerding-Edlen Development

Jill Eiland – Public Affairs Manager for Intel, board member of the Portland Business Alliance

Chris Erickson – General Manager of the Heathman Hotel, board member of the Northwest Business for Culture and the Arts

Brian Ferriso – Executive Director of the Portland Art Museum

David Fuller – Mayor of Wood Village

Brian Gard – President of Gard and Gerber, and immediate past board chair of Oregon Business Association

Judie Hammerstad – Mayor of Lake Oswego

Clayton Hering – President of Norris, Beggs & Simpson

Roger Hinshaw – President of Bank of America, board of the Portland Business Alliance, board of the United Way, board chair of the World Affairs Council

Tom Hughes – Mayor of Hillsboro

Paul Hurd – Freightliner’s general counsel

Tom Imeson – Port of Portland flack, and former Goldschmidt flack

Walter Jaffe – White Bird Dance (Bio – PDF)

Alan Johnson – Wells Fargo regional president

Vera Katz – former mayor of Portland

Tom Kelly – Owner of Neil Kelly, Inc., board member of the Oregon Business Association, and Greener.

Norman King – Mayor of West Linn

Gloria Lee – Portland Classical Chinese Garden executive director

Andy MacRitchie – Aequitas Capital Management – some sort of vice president

Tom Manley – Pacific NW School of Art, president of the school

Debbie McCabe – Tenth Tree Limited , investments, located in Clackamas

Max Miller – Tonkon Torp partner, board of the Northwest Business for Culture and the Arts, board of Metro Arts

Carole Morse – President of the PGE Foundation and Manager of Community Investments for Portland General Electric, board member of the Northwest Business for Culture and the Arts

Alice Norris – Mayor of Oregon City

Bob Packard – Managing Partner, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, trustee of Willamette University

Levi Patterson – PopArt , some sort of accounts manager

Judy Peppler – State President of Qwest, Chair Emeritus of the Portland Business Alliance

Maria Rojo de Steffey – Multnomah County Board of Commissioners

Dan Ryan – Portland Public Schools, but also the development director of Oregon Ballet Theatre

Tad Savinar – Artist

Arlene Schnitzer – HARSCH Investment Properties, former owner of the Fountain Gallery, Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, The Jordan & Mina Schnitzer Foundation, formerly a member of just about every important arts organization in the state

Dick Schouten – Washington County Board of Commissioners

Martha Schrader – Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, chair

Howard Shapiro – Founding chair of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, board of Albina Community Bank

Cheryl Snow – Clackamas County Arts Alliance, executive director

Al Solheim – real estate investor

Steve Stadum – OHSU’s chief administrative officer

Nancy Stueber – President and CEO of OMSI

Paul Thalhofer – Mayor of Troutdale

Jon Ulsh – Executive Director of the Oregon Ballet Theatre, board of Oregon Cultural Advocacy Coalition

Connie Van Brunt – Executive Director of the Portland Schools Foundation

Howard Werth – Senior Vice President of Finance at Gunderson, board secretary of the Associated Oregon Industries, board of the Oregon Metals Industry Council

Homer Williams – Chairman of Williams Dame Development,

Virginia Willard – Executive Director of Northwest Business for the Culture and the Arts

John Willis – Project Manager for CH2M Hill

Rick Wills – Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Tektronix

David Wynde – US Bank, Portland Public School board

Duncan Wyse – President of the Oregon Business Council, Oregon State Board of Education, Oregon Innovation Council,

Hosted by Sam Adams, Portland City Commissioner.

From June 12, 2007 at the Gerding Theatre in Portland, Oregon, 147 minutes.

Really not since Barnett Newman (right) has anyone been nutty enough to run on an arts platform as a candidate for major office (Newman ran for NYC Mayor in 1933 with a complex and somewhat serious pro-art, pro-outdoor cafe stance; this was in the days before irony and arched eyebrows) but tonight Sam Adams not only knew more about the business of art in Portland than the 300 assembled and enthused arts admins at the Gerding Theatre, but he knew most of the names of those assembled.

(If you have an e-copy of “On the Need for Political Action by Men of Culture” please send it here: we’re shopping for manifestos again.)

After an hour or so of statistics culled from the recently released Arts & Economic Prosperity III: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences and a billion dollar wish list from a wide-ranging brainstorming session, Sam announced, as it says on the web site, “We want to grow the capacity of this collective force of creativity to make Portland an even better place to live, a stronger competitor in the global marketplace and an incubator of innovation. Want to help?”

Click the link and sign up at Things can happen if we all boogie down to City Hall at the same moment with the same talking points.

Download the PowerPoint presentation Sam showed (3.5 MB). Parts are obscure (you should have been there) but the punchline is on page 14.

Two points – both from Sam. 1. As an advocacy community, the arts are a mess. We have 111 nonprofit arts organizations, each in competition for dollars and headspace. If we organize we can capitalize. A nice thought. Here’s the exercise. Point to a leader. No! Just one! With 111 organizations we have more chefs than diners. Consider working with others. 2. Imagine a “creative community” beyond your liberal arts imagination, to include the chef at Sahagun or the webmaster at BlueOregon, or as was passed around, a unique and fantastical piece of temperature resistant steel from NW Pipe. With more “creatives” we have more constituency. Again easy to add the numbers, hard to organize.

The proof is in the pudding. Despite the classic Portland bonhomie there are not and won’t be sufficient dollars to provide “buildings with character” as someone from Portland Baroque Orchestra asked for, or even reasonable health insurance, another wish which drew loud applause and no civic solution.

A teacher gave me a copy of When You Were Fifteen, a modest paperback text made by Multnomah County’s Community Justice office (your parole officers), Reclaiming Futures and Write Around Portland.

Ahh you say, more bullshit propaganda. Nope. Quite the opposite. I cried all night.

Reclaiming Futures, a national nonprofit run out of Portland State University and funded by Robert Wood Johnson, has published simular texts in Anchorage, Southeast Kentucky, Seattle, and Portland.

The contents of the Portland version is a mix of short autobiographical essays from recognizable Portlanders, mixed with kids at Donald E Long – our jail for kids.

David Sarasohn of the Oregonian writes the introduction. Others writers include City Councilman Sam Adams, master drummer Obo Addy, verse libre poet Leanne Grabel, Lewis & Clark’s Kim Stafford (shown here), schools superintendent Vicki Phillips, addiction doc Jim Thayer, and retired rock star Art Alexakis.

Fifteen is old enough to know the truth and not know what to do with it. It’s a terribly fragile moment of freedom and dependence, of sexual magic, of opportunity to explode, of frantic creativity, of hunger for mystery, for passion, for love.

Not disappearing is often the result of a small effort which is incomprehensible at the moment. Like all our travels, our paths feel unique and hard. Separated by years, we pant with gratitude.

You can download a copy of When You Were Fifteen HERE.


Why I Didn’t Disappear – by Sam Adams

At fifteen, life was difficult. There was a reason for that.

I lived with my Dad. He was a heavy drinker. Our home life in Eugene was infused with alcohol. It was an often violent place.

Once, a friend and I were on a binge. We got into a conversation about the meaning of life. We summarized life as, “booze and social mix.”

Things felt pretty bleak.

My Dad and I had a combustible relationship. I had to get out of his house. I feared for my safety. So I moved out. I lived largely on my own at fifteen.

Right away, I felt better. I joined the cross-country running team and worked on the school newspaper. I got a job at Mr. Steak. I realized that I had incredible opportunities, in spite of my circumstances.

There were two teachers at school who kept me going: Sue Addicott and Byron Dudley. They didn’t fawn all over me. I would not have liked that. They just showed a little extra interest.

They’d stop me in the hall once in a while and tease me. They teased
me in a way that made the point clear – they expected me to do something with my life.

And because they showed that little extra interest in me, I realized that I should show a little extra interest in myself. It didn’t take much. I didn’t grow up in a home with a lot of positive feedback.

Sue got me into photography. It turned out that I was pretty good at it. Sue didn’t pull punches with her criticism, but she always encouraged me. She told me: pursue what you like until you find something else. I’d never experienced that kind of support. I surprised myself when I won a statewide photography award.

Byron was the faculty advisor for the student government. My knees shook when I had to speak in front of any group. But Byron said something like, “You’re stubborn but in a good way.”

Now I’m on the Portland City Council. I am still stubborn about getting things done. When I was fifteen, me serving on a city council would have seemed impossible. Byron nudged me to try out abilities I didn’t even know I had.

If it hadn’t been for Sue and Byron, I would have disappeared. My siblings weren’t so lucky. They didn’t have the help I did to get through. They’re all right now, but they struggled for a long time.

My life could have gone bad, but Sue and Byron made the difference. I knew they were there, keeping an eye out for me, and helping me to see beyond the problems in my family to all the possibilities in my life. I think every kid deserves at least one adult who believes in them like Sue and Byron believed in me.

Another five weeks or so and Commissioner Sam has weighed in on what to do about RACC.

Nice work if you can get it.

Remember? Those sunny days of August brought us a performance audit from the city auditor?

There was a piece in the Oregonian (their web site sucks), and of course a ping from me. Steadfast and anon.

I’ve also already commented on some of the irksome particulars, such as the missing database.

Commissioner Sam says the obligatory thanks to Gary Blackmer and lays out the initial response.

Got a problem without a solution? Create a committee with the Office of Management & Finance, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, and “participating bureaus” to “develop clear guidelines and a city-wide process for consistent earmarking of eligible projects, proper payment schedules and a model for collaboration.” This is okay. No date by which to be finished and no public participation, but this is a start.

But it gets better.

Sam pledges in the memo to work with the council to boost Portland’s Percent for the Arts from 1.33% to 2% – and to pin down PDC so they pay their part for the arts as well.

Read the current city code and Sam’s draft revision.

This is all on Sam’s Blog. (We’ll look back on this City Council with great regard years from now.)

Good start. We’ll be watching. Here’s my two cents – what we need from RACC. A nice clean simple fiscal statement of purchases and non-administrative costs (maintanance, storage, shipping) once a year. No foo foo annual report. That’s what Willamette Week is for. Oh, and a current list of all artwork owned by the city.