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randwolf

Reflections on the First Thursday openings in Portland, Oregon

In Portland, Oregon, on the first Thursday of every month, all the art galleries in downtown and the trendy northwest neighborhood hold their openings in the evening. I spent several hours wandering around the openings, being pleased but, for the most part, not awed (with one exception, a Lois Greenfield print at the Pulliam Diffenbuagh gallery--go see it if you get the chance. But she is not a Portland artist.)

What was astonishing, though, was the number of people making the rounds. The Pearl District is an old industrial district that was redeveloped by artists and has now gone upscale--a mixed blessing from the point of view of the artists who moved there because it provided good, cheap studio space--many of them have been priced out of their spaces. But artists need patrons, too. The feeling was like Los Gatos, or Rodeo Drive--and this is little (by comparison) Portland Oregon. How did it happen that the city came to care so much about art? This is not a huge city, nor a rich one. But, somehow, art matters here. And, maybe, that is an environment that will make great works possible, even if, so far, I have not seen many.

Maybe.... To be the center of a major art movement Portland will need to pull in people from the whole Pacific Northwet Northwest, and some world-class connesieurs as well. There has to be something big to say--some predominating themes or media that can make for dramatically new art. And the economy has to be good enough to support artists which, who knows? But I think the potential is there.


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