• Pacific Northwest College of Art

Last Saturday at 10 AM I arrived rain-soaked to a computer lab inside PNCA to tour their archive of artworks by local children. It was a small event with limited seating and I had RSVP'd for it weeks ago. Surprise, surprise, I was the only person who showed up (previous night at Glisan Street Pub be damned). But lucky me, I was rewarded with an extended, informal chat with the Director of Continuing Education, Patrick Forster, as we viewed and handled the fragile works.

I was pleased by the intimacy of it. As a kid who spent a crazy amount of time drawing, I was also chilled and awed by memories that these drawings and paintings invoked. I tried to remember what I thought of at their age to better my understanding of what lay there on the desk. The oldest one, he informed me with a light European accent, dates back to the 1920's. Among the treasure trove, I recognized perspectives based on the Vanport Flood, the former Yamhill Market, a douglas fir forest, an imagined WWII fire fight on the Oregon coast, the Fremont Bridge, and even a specific street behind Ainsworth Elementary in the West Hills.

The professor then gave an expert history lesson of the art college since its founding in the early 1900's. It provided context for this unique program, which invited children ages four to 18 from around Portland to attend art classes outside of regular public school (Saturday Academy does something similar today). The classes also doubled as a teacher's certification program. Seeing the progression of different teaching methods through the 20th century, and the use of various mediums from charcoal to collage, made for a way cool experience.

No need to pout: if your sole art outing is First Thursday in Le Pearl, you will have your chance too. The tour of the archive with Patrick was in advance of the school's main gallery show for March, the "PNCA Youth Art Exhibition 2012: Portland Perspectives." It's a showcase of recent work from the last two terms in the youth art program alongside selected images from the archive, including ones that I saw. The opening night is March 1st, 7 to 9 PM. I highly recommend stopping by; you only get so many opportunities to recognize your old self - that playful inner cosmos. And just because, you can also take a self-tour through some of the artwork here on PNCA's Flickr.