It seems that everybody in the Portland art scene claims to know exactly what our city "needs" as a mid-sized arts community to reach the fabled next level of maturity and acceptance: more writers, affordable studio space, a better nonprofit art center, a name-brand MFA program, more articles in national magazines touting the supposed uniqueness of the scene here, etc. etc. etc. As an arts community, it's our favorite topic of conversation, but there's something we discuss far less: what we'd like to have here. Not what we need, in all of our infinite wisdom, to "fix" the scene, but simply what would make our enjoyment of the city that much sweeter.
I'll go first: I'd really like a microcinema, or some other forum for seeing fun, gripping, and exciting artist-made videos on a regular basis.
Our best resource for films like these, at the present time, is Karl Lind, Gallery Homeland's film and video curator, who programmed last year's "Odds and Ends" screening of miscellaneous films by the likes of Animal Charm and Stephen Slappe.
Starting this Thursday, June 21, Lind presents two nights of awesome film and entertainment at the Rake Gallery. The first is billed as a "German and Mexican Film Tour," and features the work of Berlin filmmaker Katja Straub and Texan Miguel Alvarez, who have been friends for years, and who have both screened their work at the Museum of Modern Art. Friday night brings "The (Traveling) Super 8 Sideshow," the brainchild of Johnny Morehouse, who assembles found Super 8 films into fairly brilliant and evocative little movies. Both nights will feature entertainment and refreshments, but more importantly, the films themselves are smart without being the least bit dry, and feature a broad range of approaches and sensibilities without feeling scattershot.
I'm not saying that more programming like this would fix our scene's inferiority complex or get us more artists in the next Whitney Biennial; that would be ridiculous. But I am suggesting that more video nights like these would be a great addition to our busy little city, with appeal to art-world scenesters and civilians alike. So please, Karl Lind, can we have more? Not because we need it. Just because I want it.