Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Big Kid Fun

What are you doing this Thursday? Art Not Crime is hosting a photography show with prints by Bruce Forster, lead photographer here at Viewfinders. As you may recall, Bruce first showcased his images from Pirate Town in September at AIA Gallery. This time the scene will be a little different.
Pirate Town, aka Triangle Park, aka Superfun Site had been home to taggers since the mid 90's when environmentalists declared the site too toxic for commercial use. Because the old factory resided on private property, artists were usually immune to hassle from authorities. This made the site one of their favorites. After the purchase of the property by University of Portland (they plan to build a sports center) the building was set to become ruble in the summer of 2009. When Bruce got wind of the ever changing canvas's fate of demolition, he made several trips down there to, once again, record a piece of history soon to be no more. Forster has taken the layers and layers of graffiti art and created his own interpretation. Not only documenting a culture but also forming a collaboration between him and other artists.
When Art Not Crime founder, D'Angelo Raines discovered Forster's shots of Pirate Town, he invited him to show at a new space, Provenance Gallery, in Northeast Portland. The show is a tribute to a once idolized hideout inhabited by D'Angelo and his friends. As he states in his blog, "lost but never forgotten!!!". The prints (sized at 17"x22") will only be up for one night (Thursday, April 29 from 5pm-12am) and selling for $75.00. If that doesn't entice you to make the trek, graffiti artists will be painting live, hip-hop dj Weatherman will be spinning, and Elevated Entities will be performing. Join us at Provence Gallery, 4943 NE MLK on the corner of NE Alberta this Thursday.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Talk About GLEE!

When contributor shooter, Paul Gordon sent me these pictures, I couldn't quite believe or comprehend what I was looking at. Who knew Seattle was so loose yet so organized!? Sadly, I know next to nothing about the show Glee (I know, kick me), but after seeing the excitement and passion behind One Degree Events Flash Mob for the new spring season of the hit show, I think I'm more inclined to watch.
Founded by Egan Orion (a.k.a."Mobfather"), these flash mobs pop up in the middle of cities (yeah, it's not just Seattle), perform, and then disappear into the crowd. The times of mobbing are kept a secret. This one had a mix of four songs: Don't Stop Believin', Proud Mary, Gold Digger, and Somebody to Love. Instructional videos with the choreography were provided on the blog and people just met and danced! Like, thousands of people. Paul put it best in his email to me stating he went down there to shoot and a tourist from India asked him if there was an event scheduled. Paul told him, "no, this is just what we do in Seattle." I love that.
 Want to see more? There are videos on the Seattle Times site!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pioneer Courthouse Square before it was Pioneer Courthouse Square

I can't believe I haven't shared these images with you yet. Of all of Bruce Forster's photos, these really stick in my head. Go figure. They're from 1980. I feel like something like this would never happen these days.

 You may recognize the lot. It's where Pioneer Courthouse Square lives today. That rainbow represents the steps! Surprisingly, this city block has been through a lot to get to where it is today. In the 1840's, a shoemaker by the name of Elijah Hill came to Portland in hopes of starting a new life in a frontier town. He purchased the empty lot of land for $24 and a nice part of shoes. (Not kidding!).  Soon after, James Fields acquired the spot and, after striking it rich, sold it to the Portland School District in 1849 for $1,000. Portland's first schoolhouse was built and opened on May 17, 1856 and named Central School with 280 pupils registered. Later, it was sold to Henry Villard's Northern Pacific Terminal Company in 1883 for $75,000 (go Portland School District!).
Central School - image from Portland Public Schools
The plot of land took a turn for the worse when Henry Villard went broke soon after he lay the foundation for a hotel. The "ruins" sat for five years as an eyesore in the center of downtown Portland. It even became a dumping ground for murders from the neighboring seedy saloons. The community became fed up and 6 local businessmen put up $250,000 to open a first class hotel. Along with the contribution of 322 Portland citizens, the Portland Hotel Company was built. It opened on April 7, 1890. This hotel boomed as a social mecca for Portland and had seven presidents, among other notable people, stay in it's luxurious rooms.
Portland Hotel 1890 - image from Oregon Historical Society

With the arrival of other hotels in the area, the Portland Hotel declined in the 30's and by 1944, Julius Meier and Aaron Frank (Meier & Frank) had purchased the building. After announcing in 1951 that the building would be demolished, the duo built a two-story parking structure to take the hotel's place. Because of peoples' addictions to cars in the 50's and 60's, places to park downtown became impossible to find. Meier & Frank proposed an eight to ten story parking garage. After protests and proposals for a city park instead, Meier &wqs Frank's idea was denied by City Planning Commission.

A national design competition was conducted by the Portland Development Commission (PDC) in 1980 and over 160 submissions were received to make this city park. The winner was a design team lead by Willard Martin. To celebrate the win, Martin lay the life size design on the vacant lot in bright colors. With paint donated by Rodda Paint and help from a handful of volunteer painters, the design was revealed to the city of Portland in a way that was outlandish and wonderful at the same time. It gave the city an idea of what was to come. And, after such a fight with Meier & Frank to posses this lot, it was a civic victory and a celebration of something unique.

Volunteers painting the plan for Pioneer Courthouse Square - photos by Bruce Forster


Now we can sit in what Willard Martin named "Portland's living room" and know it took so much for it to exist.

Want to see more?