Report from Portland

I went down to Portland this weekend to check out their first annual art fair: Affair and to see what goes on in a city who is claiming a robust art scene.

Affair was held in the old but newly converted Jupiter Hotel, one of those 1960’s groovy numbers that seemed appropriate for such an event. Each gallery or project represented received their own hotel room to do with whatever they wanted; most represented a collection of their inventory salon style, spread amongst the small room and bathroom. Each room looked out into the courtyard where would be patrons and visitors lounged.

When I got there Saturday afternoon, the place was packed and buzzing. It was another one of those strangely hot days for October and people were enjoying the sun, music was piped into the courtyard, giving a festive edge to the day. The true downside unfortunately to an event like this is it can be really hard see any art (small and packed spaces), but in reality that is not the main point, I think people were excited more about the exchange of information and that such a large turn out had occurred. There was a nice mix of galleries from all over- New York, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles and regional.
Seattle had two galleries represented, James Harris- who had Keith Tilford’s drawings covering the walls and looked strangely better in the small space than when they were shown in their gallery. Platform Gallery was also there. They had the first space designated after the admission booth, which created such a mob scene I could barely look in. I couldn’t get into the Indie Press room either which was housing the likes of Bomb and Clear Cut Press.

As far as Portland galleries go, I am going to have to return and visit their actual spaces to get a better idea of what they show. Motel gallery definitely wins my vote for cutest room; they offer a lot of kitschy objects d’art. I actually scoped out their space after leaving the fair, but they had closed of course because of the fair. The other Portland spaces that perked my interest were SavagePDX and Pulliam Deffenbaugh.

Here is an interview from the Portland Mercury with the organizer of the event.

“The world may not need another art fair,” he says with a wry smile, “but Portland does. That’s what this is all about.”

I capped the day off by attending the artist panel discussion Having Words. This was an interesting and much more telling event as far as gauging the local scene. Six very articulate artists from Portland participated in an exchange amongst themselves about their work. As they spoke, images of their art were projected behind them. I have to give them credit; I find verbally speaking about my work one of the hardest things to do. A large number of people, I would estimate probably fellow artists came as the support audience. There definitely is a sense of enthusiasm being generated amongst these folks and I definitely was impressed by the quality of work, with a good cross representation of painting, sculpting, video etc shown. In hindsight I wished I had learned more about the climate of actually working in Portland, and I was curious about the coming or going of at least two of the artists to Brooklyn.

Anyway, that was my impulse trip. One omission, I hadn’t been to Portland for almost 14 years (my last visit was to see Sonic Youth and Nirvana play at some club called the Satyricon, and I don’t think that really counts), so I truly was visiting with no preconceived expectations. So after visiting San Francisco a few weeks ago and now Portland, I am traveled out. Pretty much all I want to do now is hole up in the studio for the next three months.

(however more photos and embellishments tomorrow)