Saturday, February 06, 2010

February 8 Time to Art, Art to Alberta, Advertising to Art

Artist Paul Ramirez Jonas creates sculpture, installation and performance by sampling society and transforming it to another dimension. Sometimes his inspiration has been text, but he's not limited to that. His 15+ year career is available at his website. Food for thought. Talk in the Shattuck Hall Annex out front, 1914 SW Park Avenue, at the corner of SW Broadway and Hall on the PSU campus. 7:30PM Free

My personal interest is art travels together with the idea that artists develop economically sustainable careers. Nonetheless, there is an important role for DIY, outsider art, emerging artists, craft and craft-based art. There is a huge value in cultural exploration - I'm a believer in an evolutionary model of culture, diversity and natural selection. But diversity may be about to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

NE Alberta Street between about 8th and 30th attracted a legion of creative people seeking low rent beginning about 15 years ago. Meanwhile artists selling on the street on First Thursday were pushed out of the Pearl District by businesses there. Some return under the umbrella of the Urban Arts Network, which collects money from artists and pays the City to close NW 13th for individual artists and craftspeople. Businessman Magnus Johannesson purchased several blocks of Alberta storefronts when no one wanted to live in the neighborhood. About 10 years ago he conceived the idea of Last Thursday to activate the street and has nurtured it behind the scenes.

The event has grown with legions of artists and craftsmakers competing to set up shop in prime spots, tall bikes, clowns, baby carriages, dogs, street DJ's, live musicians, playing with fire, food carts and actually a few art galleries. The event has brought a downside for neighbors and, of course, an upside in property values, rental prices and business income.

As the event has grown, the City has closed the street, rerouted buses, provided police, ambulance services stand by, there are portapotties and trash collection. The City is trying to find an owner and someone to pay those expenses. The City has been spending over $10,000 a month on Last Thursday. Everyone involved wants the benefits, and none, the costs.

Tonight is a public meeting to explore the evolution of the event. My bias is to preserve the unregulated arts market free to artists for as long as possible. There's no guarantee of that. If you would like to listen or give your opinion, you can join the meeting hosted by Mayor Adams, with a strong creative economy business development staff, and Commissioner Fritz, who helms the Office of Neighborhood Associations.

Meeting at the Acadian Ballroom, 1829 NE Alberta Street 6PM-8 Free

Bright Lights is an irregular interview series of high quality where creatives meet movers and shakers. It's primarily focused on architecture and development, an instance of creatives meeting movers and shakers. Tonight, host Randy Gragg, photographer and writer, interviews Dan Wieden, cofounder of an advertising agency that has grown into much more. Wieden has more plans yet. He founded Caldera, an arts project engaging both artists and youth underserved by arts opportunity, with an environmental bent. Wieden has expansive plans for Caldera and you can learn of them tonight. Part of a series sponsored by the City Club of Portland and Portland Spaces Magazine, it's at Jimmy Mak's, 221 NW 10, 6PM Free