I finally experienced the First Thursday Art Walk in Portland last month. Well, I experienced part of it. I kind of got stuck at Darras, where you can play all the free pinball you want to on First Thursdays. So, this First Thursday, I made sure to see some art and galleries before heading into pinball heaven.
Everett Lofts and Galleries seemed like the place to start, since my cousin lives in the building. His step-mom and brother are visiting us from out of state, so we grabbed my husband and set off to form a gaggle of family wandering the galleries at Broadway and Everett.
The building itself was having a fundraiser for next month’s 10th Annual Courtyard Art Show. The hallway to the lobby area was lined with pieces donated by artists that live in the building. Representatives from the building greeted patrons by the rows of golden mailboxes that hung beneath more art pieces. It was a nice preview of the artwork to come. I could link work from every gallery we went into to the work from the fundraiser. It was an inspiring representation of the community felt between the artists and within the building.
The majority of the evening was spent maneuvering in and out of the loft-sized galleries.
Brian Smith’s Art Glass
Brian himself welcomed us with a nod of recognition and cheery conversation. The display consisted mostly of jewelry, but there were wall hangings and other evidence of his talent scattered throughout the room. Spirals and trees figure prominently in his work, and every piece has a glittery sheen that draws you to it. The colors are bright while managing to reflect an earthy quality, and the designs are elegant and simple. I fully envision one of his spirals hanging from a cord around my neck someday.
Two of my cousins refused to brave the almost-see-through white curtain hung across the doorway to The Cock Gallery. The current show, “Cock Tease II,” is a collection of photography, art, collage, and multi-media pieces exploring sexuality. The space inside was slick and modern, with an open feel that welcomed visitors to roam around. The owner struck up a conversation with us and two other patrons regarding a multi-media piece consisting of a pair of lacy panties in a shadow box, and an audio recording of women discussing their sexuality and sexual experiences playing in earbuds that hung from the piece. Owner Paul Soriano said that one particular aspect of the audio struck him. It was a woman who talked a lot about what her boyfriends liked, and not about her own sexual desires. He said it was unfathomable for him to imagine defining one’s sexuality through the desires of others. The recording offered a strong statement about the differences in our perceptions of sexuality. The show overall was an uncensored exploration of, well, cock, among other things. Though not as much cock as I had expected, but I guess it was a show called Cock Tease, not Cock In Your Face, although there was some of that as well. That is not a complaint.
Right Side Art Gallery was another highlight of our Everett Lofts adventure. Bloom’s pieces were small but filled with imagination. I stopped to talk with him
briefly, noting that his works reminded me of the illustrations in an old fairy tale book I used to read as a child. He nodded his head vigorously up and down, the wine in his glass sloshing with enthusiasm. He said that he is hugely influenced by fairy tales, as well as by women surrealists of the 1920s, about the time the fairy tale book I mentioned was published. He pointed out that most of his pieces included depictions of portals of one kind or another- one led to an idyllic field with a lone tree in the distance, another to an expanse of stars and galaxies. The colors in his work are warm, rich and invite the mind to move with them. Bloom’s work feels heavy with unfolding stories, the kind we tell ourselves to make everything all right.
We made our way through a number of other galleries and saw photography from Jeffrey Horvitz’s Queer Aperture project, tee-shirts, prints and stickers from Davey Cadaver, an exhibit of Leda Zawacki’s comics, and work by Michael Horwitz.
At one point we rounded a corner and ran into a jazz band, which later gave way to poets reading their work on the sidewalk outside the galleries. The sidewalk was packed with onlookers, who cheered enthusiastically after each poem. Soft piano music from inside one of the galleries drifted into the streets and offered a perfect complement to the poets’ words.
We eventually decided the need for coffee surpassed the need to find more galleries, and walked en masse over to Glyph. As a writer with a love of coffee, poetry and performance arts, I cannot stress enough how much like Literary Wonderland this was for me. The space is beautifully designed, with modern lines and bronze lighting. There are individual tables as well as one long counter that zigzags through the center of the café, encouraging strangers to sit next to each other and strike up a conversation. The tables along the walls double as display cases, with local poets’ and others’ works featured beneath clear glass, arranged with pages, flowers and open books. The theme this month appears to be haiku. At the back of the space was a poetry wall. The wall consisted of wooden planks with pieces of paper tucked between them in the shape of a heart. Each piece of paper contained a line of poetry, and I knew I had found a new favorite spot when the first piece of paper I pulled was a Pablo Neruda quote, “Love is so short, and forgetting so long.” Pablo Neruda has long been my man.
I had a decaf iced Americano with two pumps of lavender vanilla syrup, with room for cream. Yes, I have become that person. I have no regrets. It was delicious and the barista had fantastic hair and customer service. In fact, we bonded over our hair and formed a mutual admiration society of sorts. I’m never good at picking up on these things, but she may have been flirting with me. Again, this is not a complaint.
Now, to answer the question I know is tearing you up inside right now: yes, I made it back to Darras for pinball. I spent a glorious hour and a half rocking out with Metallica and Guns ‘N Roses, fighting a Balrog from Lord of the Rings, exploring space with Star Trek: The Next Generation, and seeking adventure and bonus points with Indiana Jones. I even got a rush of something that can only be described as nostalgia when I managed to TILT a machine, and maybe a little bit of pride. I have weak arms. I’m working on it.
After saying good-bye to Cousin-That-Lives-In-The-Everett-Lofts, the rest of our herd headed back to where we parked the car on Flanders. This is the point where we experienced a staple of first Thursday. Some guy approached my husband and said he needed money for us having parked there, while some other dude yelled at my husband, “Don’t worry, I won’t let him do nothin’ to ya.” My husband just looked at the gentleman, who was obviously not a meter maid, and said, “That’s not going to happen,” in that deep, sexy voice I married him for. Okay, so there was a hint of “I could crush you” in his tone, too. Anyway, we piled in the car and left downtown with the dulcet tones of expletives and jazz ringing out behind us.
Be sure to check out the Everett Lofts and Galleries’:
10th Annual Everett Station Courtyard Show
August. 16, 2014, 4pm-10pm
328 NW Broadway