Sunday, August 7, 2011

48 hours in Stumptown: Portland Arts & Culture

I flew out to Portland, OR August 4-5th to participate on a panel discussion on mixed race Asian American (aka "hapa") art and identity organized by the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in conjunction with Kip Fulbeck's Part Asian/ 100% Hapa exhibition. I grew up outside of Seattle but since I left in 1991, I have never really had the chance to get to know Portland's arts and culture scene and truly capture the "Dream of the 90s."

With just 48 hours to explore, I came away with the impression that Portland is an organic foodie heaven with a crafty DIY arts culture and lot's of homeless advocates. Across the board, all the folks I met were very civically engaged. A new friend told me that she recently went to an unveiling ceremony for a public toilet that PHLUSH had been fighting for. If any of you have watched Portlandia, you know it's easy to make fun of (read the NY Time's review) but it's "weirdness" is also terribly endearing. I'm not sure how much fiscal sense this brand of liberalism all makes (they don't pay any sales tax...a totally shocking concept for me, coming from Chicago) but I enjoyed the book stores, good coffee, micro brews, local wines and knowing that the lamb burger with feta, dried apricots, pine nuts, roasted red onion, and spicy mint yogurt was from nearby Anderson Ranch. I didn't catch the name of the lamb or what his quality of life was but I'm sure if I asked the folks at Davis Street Tavern, they would have known. 

Keep Portland Weird
I visited the sprawling Nike campus in nearby unincorporated Beaverton, OR
Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center
Nicole Nathan, Director of Collections and Exhibits, and me at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center
Kip Fulbeck's Part Asian/100% Hapa exhibition on view at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center through Dec. 31, 2011
Dr. Patti Duncan, Associate Professor of Women's Studies at Oregon State University, leading a discussion on mixed race Asian American identity and a tour of the Fulbeck exhibit for APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon). We all went out for karaoke and dumplings later that night at the Voice Box. They specialize in infused sake cocktails and are known for their bacon cheeseburger dumplings.
Panel discussion moderated by Tim DuRoche with fellow Hapa and Critical Mixed Race Studies scholars/artists Emily Momohara and Dmae Roberts at the University of Oregon.
It's a small world! In the audience at the University of Oregon was a classmate of on of my Auntie Nora from Hilo, HI - Pam Mattys.
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Executive Director Mari Watanabe and artist Emily Momohara the morning after our panel discussion.
I walked through the gallery district near Portland's Chinatown - I especially enjoyed viewing NY-based artist Ming Fay: Full Circle at Butters Gallery. Read Bob Hick's review in the Oregonian. The show was a mini retrospective of Fay's work and it was great to see his new work alongside the older pieces. He's making these colorful spray foam blobs that read like over ripe fruit with candy petals.
Gallery owner David Butters looking at Ming Fay's work at Butters Gallery.
Another top pick is Rick Bartow: Coyote's Road through August 27th at Froelick Gallery
Rick Bartow's Bear Mother Dancing on Ignorance/Fear
They were still installing this show but if you are in Portland later this month, be sure to check out Niki McClure: Cutting her Own Path, 1996-2011 opening on August 18, 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Craft

I didn't bother to stand in line for an hour at Voddoo Doughnuts. Every time I walked by there was a line out the door. Locals said that the best time to go is late at night.
If you go to Portland, be sure to grab a cup of coffee at Stumptown Coffee.
I asked the a barista at Stumptown where she suggested I go to lunch. She said they all eat at the food trucks but for something a little more upscale to try the new Little Bird Bistro. I was in a hurry to get to the airport so I just grabbed a soft roll, fried cod, celery root sandwich at the bar.

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