Grass Hut Gallery began on the web, and now to the web it will return: The longtime gallery will close its doors at the end of the year. Grass Hut owner Bwana Spoons says that online shows will continue, however, and toys, zines, art, and more will still be available for purchase through the store on their website.
Grass Hut began as a website in the early 2000s before moving to physical digs on East Burnside, and finally landing in Old Town three years ago. If you've been to Floating World, you've certainly noticed Grass Hut's assortment of high-end toy monsters, painted skate decks, and more in the corner of the shop, often characterized by a sort of cutesy-gross aesthetic.
As Bwana Spoons wrote in an email announcement about closing the shop, "I am fucking stoked to not do it for a little while. I love it, but I give it so little attention. It's always been a fun project, not how i make my living. The driving force behind it has always been the amazing artists that I get to work with there. And honestly I haven't done them justice in a while. I don't promote the shows enough or spend anytime actually trying to sell their work for them. So after 7 years. It's time for a little breather. I'll come back again later or not, or it will be the same or different."
"The same or different." Fair enough!
The Mercury's art director, Justin "Scrappers" Morrison, co-ran Grass Hut for a number of years. He offered some thoughts on Grass Hut's closing:
That place gave all my art heroes a place to go. It was our studio, our shop, our gallery, and my son's first birthday party was there. Grass Hut had such a comfortable vibe, we used to hang out all night drinking beer, making art, and peeing in the sink! My favorite show was when J. Otto Seibold agreed to show with us. He just demanded a place to stay (the Ace hooked us up), a bike, a thrashed old drum set, and a bag of weed (make that two). He rocked all day and night making art with anyone who came by. Even the mayor came!
Really, though Grass Hut was all about Bwana being that fire we all gathered around. I'm glad he's closing Grass Hut, I know it'll just be the beginning of something new that we can all gather around again
I asked Floating World proprietor Jason Leivian what he plans to do with the space Grass Hut is vacating. "I'm going to expand into that space, but then the record store Landfill Rescue Unit is gonna move out of that back corner and they're gonna take a more prominent space along my front window," he explained.
In the mean time, joint show The End, from California artist Tim Biskup and ceramicists Munktiki, is the last show Grass Hut will hold in its current location inside Floating World Comics in Old Town; that opens tomorrow night at First Thursday.
Eden churns out lookbooks at a steady clip, and its two-part holiday series, shot by Eric Rose, is more about moody images than the relatively small amount of product on display. Yes, the vintage painted souvenir skirt, airy dresses, and statement jewelry are gorgeous, but these are miles more inspiring than bald product shots. See more from the series over on MOD.
I've got a bunch of tickets to give away, including a pair of VIP tickets which come with freeeeee food and drinks. To win, email me by noon on Monday with "Back Fence Tickets" in the subject line, and your full name in the message body. I'll email the winners on Monday!
The team at Portland digital creative agency Instrument spend much of their time working on accounts for boldface names like Xbox, Levi's, and Red Bull, but this fall they took out a chunk of time to make This Place. Described as a "personal" project, it mainly functions as a showpiece for what the agency is capable of, giving them the luxury of, essentially, choosing whatever subject and direction they wanted. They chose the Oregon coast, particularly the Manzanita/Rockaway Beach/Tillamook stretch. Though the locations were somewhat focused on the group's collective favorites from past trips, they also made an effort to "pay homage" to the people who live there year round, from the teenagers skateboarding down 101 to the fishermen who spend most of their time out on the choppy water.
The results have been gradually released over the course of this month through an interactive website. The content there is anchored by a short ambient film that beautifully captures the moody attractiveness of the area, and is accompanied by separate chapters of photo images taken by the small fleet of still photographers who made the trek: Amanda Leigh Smith, Nick LaVecchia, Jake Sargeant, Ryan Garber, and Kevin Russ. The film itself is worth watching, especially if you feel like you need a Tuesday morning moment of zen, but the photos are maybe my favorite part of the project. Three of the five chapters have already been released, with the fourth due "soon"—follow 'em on Twitter for updates.
Last Friday the Portland Opera premiered an all-new production of "Salome." Before you scroll away because I’m talking about opera (which is arguably not your thing), HERE, three interesting facts about Friday's performance: (1) there were waves of uniform audience laughter during the performance(!); (2) it was weird; (3) it was racy. Par exemple (warning, SPOILER): the starring role makes out with a severed head. Also, there is an oddly beautiful, incestual dance sequence...if...that means anything to you.
So, tonight, the Portland Opera resumes its adaptation of "Salome." Last week the Portland Opera received a standing ovation, namely for the incredible Kelly Cae Hogan (of the Metropolitan Opera) as Salome.
"Salome" is Richard Strauss’s first major opera, which debuted in 1905. It’s sung in German with English supertitles. The opera is based on an 1884 play by the beloved devotee of decadence, Oscar Wilde. However, the plot is biblical, telling the tale of the death of the martyr, John the Baptist (David Pittsinger), co-starring King Herod (Alan Woodrow), Princess Salome, and Herodias (
Joan Rivers Rosalind Plowright). King Herod is married to Herodias; Princess Salome is the daughter of Herodias but the step-daughter to King Herod. This particular production of Salome is staged in the modern-day Middle East.
A bit about the plot: Princess Salome hears and becomes fascinated by the voice of John the Baptist, who is imprisoned in a water tank. (John was imprisoned by King Herod for saying illustrious things about Herodias.) She wants to speak with the mysterious captive. The guards relent. John is released, in chains. As he emerges from the water tank, Pittsinger performs a song with a bag over his head—which, by the way, is incredible. Meanwhile, Salome is creeped out by the pale sight of John, but then falls madly in lust with him. But then comes to hate him. But then lusts after him again. She cries out, “He is truly terrifying!...His eyes are like black caverns where dragons live!” The next minute she is fawning over his feet, which are apparently “redder than the feet of the doves who live in the temple.” The audience chuckles at Salome's flip-flopping. John refuses any advances from Salome, because, G.O.D. Salome is furious with John's refusal and demands his head on a silver platter. She gets it, but not before something amazing occurs.
Washington's Tri-Cities—the august communities of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland—are served by the Tri-City Herald, and the Tri-City Herald has one amazing feature:
TATOO PHOTOS. The mark of any great newspaper. (So why doesn't the Mercury have a tattoo photos section? Good question. The answer is because the tattoos of the Tri-Cities put roughly 98 percent of Portlanders' terrible tattoos to SHAME. There would be no point. You've seen your dumb tattoo. You know this.)
The Tri-City Herald's most beloved feature is, naturally, updated as the denizens of the Tri-Cities get new tattoos—and my most recent visit to tri-cityherald.com/tattoo-photos/ revealed a slew of new ink I had not yet beheld. Keep in mind that the slideshow doesn't appear to be totally functional, but even the few that display are well worth your time. Such as:
Search for "Imago Theater" on Wikipedia, and nothing comes up. CoHo Productions is a blank. Oni Press and Top Shelf Productions are well represented, but Future Tense and Perfect Day Publishing are not. Artists Rep's page has detailed information about past productions, while Oregon Children's Theatre is just a stub. When it comes to most local arts organizations, Wikipedia has less to say than it does on the subject of, oh, say, guinea pigs as food, or the voice actors who gave us Teddy Ruxpin.
An event this weekend aims to change that. On Sunday, the Portland Art Museum's Crumpacker Library will host a Wikipedia "edit-a-thon" that invites the public to dive into the Wikipedia editing process, using the resources of the library to help create and improve entries about notable arts organizations. Spearheaded by Jason Moore, a dedicated Wikipedian whose day job is with the Oregon Symphony, the event also marks the kickoff of the Oregon Arts Project, an ongoing Wiki-based initiative aimed at increasing statewide arts coverage by bringing together editors interested in the subject.
"Wikipedia Loves Libraries is a national campaign to engage Wikipedia contributors and other members of the public with their local libraries," explains Moore. "Last year I helped Multnomah County Library host an edit-a-thon to improve articles related to Multnomah County. This year, several libraries contacted me directly for assistance. One of those was the Portland Art Museum's Crumpacker Family Library. Since I work for an arts non-profit organization and have an interest in the local arts community, I thought this would be a great opportunity to engage a local library and the arts sector.
"For me, it's about encouraging local residents to learn about their own environment and share their findings with the rest of the world. Instead of sharing your thoughts on a personal blog, why not add your knowledge to this free-content encyclopedia? Let's show the world what Portland has to offer."
Moore described Wikipedia's coverage of the local arts community as "inadequate," though he himself has put in plenty of hours on the subject—check out the history of just about any existing entry related to the arts in Portland, and you're likely to see signs that he's contributed, under the username "Another Believer." He sees Wikipedia as both a resource for the public, and an often-overlooked marketing opportunity for organizations. "Arts organizations have every reason to invest in Wikipedia, an international, multi-lingual project that is consistently one of the top-ranking websites in the world," he says. "For local markets hoping to reach an international audience, there is no better return on investment... People are definitely overlooking this resource, one I assume they use everyday without realizing its potential."
On Sunday, attendees can come to the edit-a-thon with a topic in mind, or pick from a list of topics that Moore created with the help of the Portland Art Museum's librarian. Because Wikipedia is entirely volunteer-run, anyone can contribute to the site, whether by starting new articles, improving existing ones, or even uploading photos of local monuments. Moore will be available to answer how-to questions from Wiki newbies, and expects other experienced editors will also be on hand to offer assistance.
"Wikipedia meetups, in general, are very casual," Moore explains. "They attract a wide range of people, with different personalities, backgrounds and skills (related to Wikipedia or otherwise). I find that Wikipedians are almost always willing to assist new contributors by answering any questions they might have or guiding them to helpful resources on-wiki.
"When I'm not helping other attendees, I plan to write about 'Teddy Roosevelt, Rough Rider,' the sculpture right across from the Portland Art Museum in the South Park Blocks, or even 'Nepenthes,' the series of illuminated sculptures along NW Davis Street," says Moore. "Neither work has a Wikipedia article. This needs to change!"
Crumpacker Family Library at the Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park, Sun Oct 13, 1-4 pm, free and open to the public, bring your own laptop if possible (the library has two computer stations available.)
Last night marked the kickoff party for Made & State's Domestic: An American-Made Design Showcase, the most prominent showing within Design Week Portland for interior designers. Spread over a total of five rooms and one rooftop patio at The Janey apartments in the Pearl, the hook is that all of the decor products featured are American-made, and in many cases, local.
Essentially it's like touring a model home with deeper intentions, and there's no sales—not until Sunday's final-day pop-up shop anyway (a clothing-focused trunk show will also take place on Saturday). The apartments are studios and one-bedrooms, smaller than I expected, and an easily navigable while sippin' on a glass of wine. If you don't find ogling furniture, wall hangings, window treatments and coffee tables a good time,
I don't want to know you it might not be worth the $15 ticket ($20 at the door), but if you are it's a rare opportunity to tap into the interior design culture—unless, I suppose, you hang out in circles where hiring a decorator is de rigueur. I'd heard of a few before going in—Fieldwork Designs, Beam and Anchor, but discovered a new favorite in JHL Design (co-designed by Domestic founder Jasmine Vaughan), which has now inspired me to get chain mail shower curtains. Yes. Think about it.
One complaint is that while the rooms are more natural without them, some kind of labeling system would be helpful. I had fun spotting the artists and designers I recognized, but there wasn't any way to decipher who made the awesome cork-textured chairs in the 2nd floor apartment's living room, for instance, and I think the ability to identify (with) domestic designers/manufacturers can only enhance the desire to work with them.
I snapped a few of my favorite tableaus; hop over to MOD to see them more, plus a bonus-round preview of some of the art and design pieces that will be on the block at tonight's Portland Design Auction.
We're over the Design Week Portland hump, but half the fun still lies ahead: Here's what's on our radar for tonight:
—As if you needed more convincing that design isn't just something one talks about in the board rooms of branding firms, the Stumpquest Games Fest kicks off today with indie video and board game designs, tournaments, and a full-on Twin primer. If you want to know WTF "Twine" is, and more, check out Erik's writeup of the 'quest, which runs through Sunday at various locations.
—If you're not headed out to FashioNXT, you can your fashion on in a more locally focused, serious business sort of way with Fashion Speaks, a panel addressing the challenges and future of fashion design in Portland. If you haven't already read it, my interview with organizers and panelists Crispin Argento and Cassie Ridgway gets to the heart of the issues at hand. That's at 7 pm tonight at Spooltown, open to all, and free.
—The Portland Design Auction features over 40 local artists and designers who've made astonishing things that could belong in your closet or your home depending on how the numbers shake out. Even if it gets too rich for your blood, this is a fantastic testament to the breadth of awesome manufacturing happening all around you. It's being hosted at The Good Mod starting at 7 pm.
—On the scientific tip, if you wind up getting to bed early enough to attend tomorrow's 8:30 am Creative Mornings, you'll be treated to "Drew Endy, Designing with Biology," a Stanford professor discussing such future possibilites as "teaching wood to grow into the shape of a chair; making cheese from cultures collected from human skin; and a future in which living organisms can be programmed as easily as computers are now." Not a bad start to a productive day, eh? Alison has more to say about Creative Mornings in general, too. That'll be bright and early at the Hollywood.
—The film programming of DWP at the Hollywood offers two interesting options this evening: PNCA's professor of video and sound, Stephen Slappe, has put together a compilation of 16mm films themed around advertising in the '60s and '70s called "Dial D for Design." (Mad Men cosplay not required.) That's at 7 pm, $10.
And, tonight is also the first screening of Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story, documenting the subversive French illustrator along with interviews with folks including Maurice Sendak:
—"Dissecting Design," a panel hosted by the Portland Advertising Federation, seeks to address "how great design is achieved using processes and design systems that take us from an understanding of client or consumer need to initial designs to iteration to the production of the final product." Which sounds like a lot of ground to cover. Luckily they have awesome participants like Nike Design Director Wilson Smith III, Tanner Goods founder Sam Huff, Jeff Kovel of SkyLab Architecture, Ziba Creative Director Eric Park, Sandstrom Partners' Steve Sandstrom, and Elizabeth Dye of the English Dept. The program begins at 4:30 today at the EcoTrust building, but "Networking/Arrivals" begins at 4, and there's another networking sesh scheduled from 5:30-6, so I guess put a few extra business cards in your wallet before you go.
—Domestic: An American-Made Design Showcase kicks off at the Janey apartments (1155 NW Everett). Hosted by online design journal Made & State, six local interior designers and shopkeepers were tasked with decorating apartments and a rooftop patio using only American-made products. Doors open at 7, and $15 advance tickets can be found here (it's $20 at the door). After tonight, it'll be open from 11 am-6 pm daily through Sunday, and Saturday will also feature a series of trunk shows curated by Portland's most famous (and Emmy-winning) wardrobe stylist, Amanda Needham, and an opportunity to shop the housewares at a pop-up on Sunday, both 11 am-8 pm. Super excited for this one.
—The three-night series Blurred Lines is "a curated exploration of the future of interaction," taking into account developments in technology and the design of physical spaces. There are installations by Wieden+Kennedy, Intel, Fashionbuddha, and ADX, among others, and DJ sets every night through the show's run, which ends Friday. Tonight has Maxx Bass and Nathan Detroit, with Miracles Club's Raf and Beyonda, among others, taking over later this week. That's at Refuge, nightly at 7-11 (till midnight Friday), $20.
The second annual Design Week Portland is officially in full swing, with a huge roster of events and open houses that's exciting, but a little intimidating. Thus, the Mercury's guide, where we highlighted some of the most promising, brain-stimulating prospects—or all the ones we could fit, anyway. Here's what looks good today (everything is free unless stated otherwise):
—I've been waiting for an excuse to put Curiosity Club in the paper (thank you DWP) for a long time. Tobias Berblinger and Will Lolcama have been running the semi-monthly series of presentations for three years now, bringing people from an endless range of fields to talk about what they do—check out their video archives to get a sense, where you'll find talks and Q&As from, just recently, a commercial photographer, a vegetable farmer, and a kinetic sculptor. For DWP, they're hosting a special edition at 6 pm tonight at Hand Eye Supply with a panel of past guests addressing how they came to do what they do. Check out our interview with Lolcama and Berblinger to get a better sense of what Berblinger joked is kind of like "Bill and Ted Talks."
—Also tonight at 7 is a presentation from the Creative Director and Co-Founder of Wildfang, the tomboy-focused retail juggernaut founded by a small group of former Nike whiz kids. The event, held at the flagship store at 1230 SE Grand, is free, though they've had enough RSVPs to declare the thing sold out. But the talk is supposed to be followed by a party and... well, you might be able to sneak your way in there. At the least you can read Courtney's interview with them!
—On the tech side of things, at 7 pm at the Fez are the Webvisionary Awards, where those who've made progress and innovation the good old intertubes get acknowledged and rewarded with tiny robot statues! Jelz. Alison wrote a piece on that, too.
—Spooltown is among the nascent community of small-run sewing factories serving the city's many independent designers, focusing mostly on bags and leather goods. Tonight at 7:30 at the SE factory they're giving a talk titled "Designing Bags and Accessories for Production," which should appeal both to designers ready to transition from making everything themselves and to those interested in the movement to re-localize manufacturing in general. Courtney also chatted them up for the occasion. This one is $10 to attend.
—Somewhat shrouded in mystery, tonight also marks the launch of the Design Museum Portland, a roving entity that calls attention to the role of design in... pretty much everything. Jenna has a really interesting interview with co-founder and executive director Sam Aquillano, whose explanation of an exhibit in the Boston airport (the original Design Museum is in Boston) goes a long way to convey the sort of thing in store for Portland. Look for it to pop up where you might not expect it, but for tonight it'll be at ADX starting at 6:30 pm.
Here's a great artsy, nerdy thing: A bunch of scientists plugged sensors into actor/awesome guy Stephen Frye and comedian Alan Davies, and measured their heart rate, blood pressure, and other physiological responses while they watched a performance of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House. The subsequent panel discussion is a fascinating and quite funny look at what's happening inside of us when we have an emotional response to art. (A fun fact I learned: People are far more likely to be "moved to tears" by music than by any other art form.)
The Mercury just dropped a huge guide to Design Week Portland, a truly expansive event that's got one foot in arts and one in industry. It gave us the opportunity to talk about people, organizations, and events that tend to otherwise fall through the cracks of our arts coverage—likewise the schedule of events gives one tons of points of entry (most of which are free) to find out what is going on in the offices and studios scattered across the city.
We focused on a few of our favorites—when's the last time we got to talk about retail, tech, manufacturing, and videogames in the same editorial breath?—but consider it a starting point. Whether you're a professional within the design world looking for a useful perspectives and networking opportunities or a curious person who likes fun and creative endeavors (or, ideally, both), DWP has something (actually many things) for you to latch onto.
In the center spread of this week's issue you'll find a handy listing of all the events, but DWP also features a slew of open houses running Tues-Fri of next week, and the only place to get a comprehensive directory, complete with maps, is on the open house section of their web site. Start planning now, cuz it's gonna be a hell of a busy week.
Back when I wrote about how totally stoked I am about the new fancy toiletry outpost Spruce Apothecary back in August, I mentioned that the shop—which comes to you from the same minds who created Canoe—had a forthcoming collaboration in the works with Imaginary Authors. Cleverly marketed to a more literary-leaning scent customer, Imaginary Author's product descriptions read like:
Devante Valéreo was raised in a dusty Spanish village on the Balearic Sea. He fondly recalled going to the bullfights with his father, an ex-picador, and credited those early experiences with inspiring his most popular novella, Bull’s Blood. The book’s lurid tale of seduction garnered obscenity charges against the author. Though the charges were rejected by the court, a ban on the sale of his works persisted for a number of years.
"Bull's Blood" being the name of the scent in question, of course. IA also has the best packaging design, and their new one with Spruce, "Mosaic," is no exception:
Hop over to MOD for what the notes on this "mineral waterfall" entail, along with an invitation to the official launch, coming up next week.
So apparently, last month when we told you that OPB's new arts & culture show, hosted by April Baer, was called State of Wonder, we were spilling the beans on a secret that wasn't quite ready to be released. (Oopsie. Don't tell secrets on Facebook!)
But now it's all official like: OPB's new arts & culture show, hosted by April Baer, will be called State of Wonder; it'll air Saturdays at noon, beginning November 2, which is also my birthday, how could that be a coincidence?
They've got a few teasers up on Soundclound—the samples are all over the place, and I mean that in the best way possible:
In that clip alone, the show talks about the current state of the arts tax, goes into a classroom to explore how the arts help children learn, visits an Andy Warhol exhibit at a tribal museum in Pendleton, and teases a story about "Star Wars in verse." Other stories will hit on video games, fashion, music, and more. Arts coverage often makes distinctions between high and low culture that I don't think accurately reflects how people—particularly younger people—participate in culture; I like seeing coverage that embrace "low-culture" stuff like pop music and games alongside more traditional fancy-person arts like theater and opera. And given the gigantic axe that the Oregonian recently took to their arts coverage (a casualty of which was Baer's husband Ryan White, the O's former pop music critic, oddly), this could be a great addition to the region's arts coverage. I'm certainly looking forward to it.
Press release after the jump.
Natalia Grozina just launched House of Impress, an online shop for home decor that's curated by partnering with Portland interior designers and antiques dealers... and it is pretty amazing. If you nerd out on things like blue and white China and 20th century Italian side tables, pop over to MOD for a few more standouts.
This weekend boasts back-to-back shows from local storytelling titans Back Fence PDX, and we've got tickets to give away to both of 'em. Here are the themes and lineups:
FRI SEPT 27: After Hours stories
A redux night of fan favorites telling true 9-15 minute stories on the theme AFTER DARK. Including #1 Best Selling Thriller writer CHELSEA CAIN (PDX), Singer/Songwriter for the band The Long Winters JOHN RODERICK (SEA, Longtime Nudist + Squirrel Whisperer JENNIFER JASPER (SEA), Live Wire! Head Writer + Filmmaker COURTENAY HAMEISTER (PDX), and Emmy Nominated Television Writer + Performer BRIAN FINKELSTEIN (LA), and Travels the World Teaching Wilderness Medicine to Wild People + Worked as a Stand-In Hula Dancer on Wheel of Fortune RENEE JENKINSON (PDX) . Think stories about all the fun, dangerous and creepy things and revelations that can happen in the middle of the night…
SEPT 28—All new storytellers sharing true 9-15 minute stories on the theme LOSING MY RELIGION. Including: Music Video Director + Photographer ALICA J. ROSE (PDX), Senior Producer and Occasional Host of Think Out Loud ALLISON FROST (PDX), Standup Comedian + Receptionist BRI PRUETT (PDX), Tambourine Virtuoso + Memoirist NICOLE HARDY (SEA), Visual Effects Artist + Collected More Than 400 Snow Globes COREY ROSEN (SF), and Performer BRIAN FINKELSTEIN (LA). Think stories about growing up in a cult, blossoming relationships with different religions, near death experiences, a former devout Mormon grappling with teen sexual anxieties in her 30s and more goodness!
Both shows take place at the Mission Theater (1624 Nw Glisan), doors at 6:30 pm, show at 8. To win, just email me by 1 pm tomorrow with "Back Fence PDX" in the subject line. Specify in your email which show you'd like tickets to, or if it doesn't matter. Winners will be notified by 2 pm at the latest!
Julia Barbee—fashion designer, artist, and perfumer—is raising funds to head to the 2013 edition of High Desert Test Sites, a roving art festival that travels from Joshua Tree to Albuquerque, with different projects and itineraries at each stop along the way. Along with architect Matthew Suplee, they're creating a (much cooler than normal) version of scented car air fresheners for attendees to collect along the way, amassing them into a collected souvenir of the experience. Each object/location has its own scent, of course.
Barbee and Suplee are using Kickstarter to fund the project, where you can read all the nitty grittys, along with this video, soundtracked by Sun Angle:
Also, they are being very transparent about the budget for this project. Hit the jump for details on their intended use of the funds.
At the very start of the summer, a place called the WildCraft Studio School launched in White Salmon, Washington (about and hour and a half's drive from Portland). Calling itself an "experiment in integration," it offers classes and workshops on things like how to make dyes from herbs, flowers, spices, and veggies, a mushroom hunting 101 workshop, screenprinting, textile design, seasonal medicine, weaving... and it looks awesome. The website alone is tremendously appealing. I don't know about you, but this image makes me want to take a dye-making workshop even more than I already do:
The mission statement of the school reads like a TBA catalogue: "Our vision is to create a space where the practices of art, design, craft and farming can live side by side, informing and expanding the approach to each discipline. The classes we choose to offer strive to embody this goal, by bringing nature to studio work, aesthetics to the garden, and design-thinking to all projects. Through this integrated curriculum, we hope to dissolve the divisions that exist between art and everyday life." I can get down with that.
The teachers involved are amazing, including Kristen Dilley and Elie Barausky of the righteous Portland Apothecary (currently working my way through a bar of their "Desert" soap... sorry if that's TMI), artist Chelsea Heffner, and designer/jewelry maker Jen Goff. It looks, and sounds, like a rad way to take a little creative nature retreat. The only thing missing is lodging. But, there are nearby cabins that can be rented and places to stay in close-by downtown White Salmon (most of the workshops are one to three days long). Upcoming classes include the aforementioned mushroom hunt coming next month and those lovely, appealing natural dyes. You know, in case you've got that back to school feeling...
Last year WeMake debuted "Put a Bird in It," an auction of some pretty amazing birdhouses designed by heavy hitters from places like Adidas and LAIKA to benefit All Hands Raised's First Octave, as part of last year's first annual Design Week Portland.
This year they're doing it again as part of "WeMake Celebrates," October 12 at Sandbox Studio, which in addition to birdhouses will have a poster design show, a School of Rock performance, and "hands-on interactive art installations" from Tanner Goods and Wacom. It also serves as the official closing party for Design Week, which carries on the festival season with a huge roster of stimulating events that touch on virtually every type of creative design from October 7-12, so save some energy post-MusicFest/TBA/Fashion Week—the schedule of events is currently up now for your perusal and planning pleasure, and there are more than 80 of them! Plus over 100 open houses at creative businesses all over the city! Oy. We can do this.
There was much hand-wringing this spring over the future of Portland's $35, voter-approved arts tax—with the Portland City Council enacting a handful of technical fixes even as battled back lawsuits and mulled over some more fundamental issues: like whether maybe could be a bit less regressive.
But after the council weighed a detailed report this summer on how or whether to dramatically restructure the tax—including raising how much people were charged, in part to raise more money—Mayor Charlie Hales' office today has confirmed news reports that he plans to stand pat and leave the tax as is. That means the tax will continue to raise less than revenue officials forecast—putting less money in the hands of arts organizations.
Hales' office has told reporters the mayor was persuaded by Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who loudly opposed making deep changes to a measure, no matter how flawed, voters overwhelmingly approved.
“I had been leaning toward a major change, but Commissioner Saltzman’s argument changed my mind,” the mayor said in a prepared statement. “I now think: Dan got it right from the start.”
But the reality is Hales didn't have the votes for a change. While Saltzman was firmly against making any tweaks, citing the trust of voters, Commissioner Steve Novick favored something much more progressive. Commissioner Amanda Fritz fell closer to Novick on the spectrum, with Commissioner Nick Fish leaning closer to Saltzman.
The news leaked out just days before Hales was to formally sit down with arts leaders and inform them of his decision.
Hales' office broke down the mayor's logic as such:
• Maintaining the tax as-is supports the will of the voters.
• Maintaining the tax as-is supports the goal of putting arts teachers in schools.
• Maintaining the tax as-is supports the arts community, although possibly to a lesser degree.
• Maintaining the tax as-is provides predictability for taxpayers.
Not raising as much money could put some pressure on the tax's administrative cap. It's not allowed to spend more than 5 percent of revenues over a five year period on administrative costs. Bringing in less cash shrinks that cap. A smaller staff makes it harder to collect what's owed, and so on. One possibility could see the city council pony up for administrative costs from from its general fund.
Remember when Neely's Babycakes, Professor Brothers, and music videos about historical celebrities like George Washington were making our pre-recession lives a wee bit more joyful? Well, we never forgot those days and we're bringing them back with Brad "The-Brain-Fuckler" Neely in the paper.
The lineup for tonight's show is particularly good, and I'd say so even if it weren't full of people I like, like Mercury columnist Barbara Holm, and my boss, Wm. Stephen Humphrey. There's also the always-interesting filmmaker/writer Arthur Bradford, who will share footage from his great documentary 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park, as well as Loch Lomond's Ritchie Young, writer Kevin Sampsell, and more.
I've got a pair of tickets to give away to tonight's show. For a chance to win, just email me by 2 pm today with "E4P" in the subject line.
Or to snag tickets the traditional way, go here.
Much has been made lately of Pacific Northwest College of Art's (PNCA) expansion, which will make the North Park Blocks something of a hub for what can finally be considered the makings of a real campus. Located in the former (but still owned by the Powell family) Powell's Technical Books building on NW Park and Couch, Arthouse has been given a thorough—and thoroughly environmentally conscious—makeover.
It's the first residence hall for the school, and will be the compulsory home of all incoming freshmen and transfer students (not counting the ones who already live in the metro area). And it's nice. The first thing that stuck out to me is the rejection of typically shared-in-the-hallway dorm amenities. Not only does each unit have its own full bathroom (a three-bedroom unit we toured had two full bathrooms), they all have their own kitchens and their own washer and dryer.
I still can't get over that.
In yesterday's arts news post, I noted that radio show Live Wire has shown tremendous improvement over the past few years—thanks largely to the hard work of longtime host/head writer Courtenay Hameister, who stepped down as host at the end of last year. (She'll continue to work as head writer.)
Yesterday, Live Wire officially announced that Seattle comedian/radio personality Luke Burbank will take over hosting duties, starting when the new season launches in September. This is not, at all, a surprise—Burbank filled in for Hameister several times last season, and was widely expected to step into the role. (Though I admit I held out the faintest hope for Alex Falcone, who's the only local I could imagine in a role like this.)
Burbank is best known for his popular podcast Too Beautiful to Live, and he's got big shoes to fill: One of the things that was notable about Hameister as a host was how prepared she was, for every interview. She read the books, she watched the movies, she listened to the album. (You might think it goes without saying that someone who interviews an author has read that author's book; it absolutely does not.) As a result, Live Wire's guests and audience have come to expect a high level of engagement with the material at hand. No pressure, Burbank. (Pressure.)
Burbank's first official show will be recorded live on Sept 7 at the Alberta Rose (to air on Sept 14), with filmmaker Lynne Shelton (Hump Day), Found Magazine's Davy Rothbart, and Thao Nguyen of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down.
Here is a somewhat portentuous video announcing his new gig.
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