GLASS TOWERS. Identical apartments. Crowded neighborhoods with astronomical rent. A post-earthquake apocalypse. Portland's future is a source of anxiety and (very occasionally) hope. That perpetual fear and tentative optimism underlies Futurelandia, a poster gallery show about Portland's fate.
Organizer Josh Anderson says the inspiration for the show comes from "retro-inspired travel posters," the kind of mid-century visuals that promised a gleaming and impressive City of Tomorrow, with all of the nebulous enthusiasm and dread that might entail. "All of this current change and development is starting to price artists out," says Anderson. "We wanted to zoom out on that and focus on a broader aspect. The show is really focused on an abstract 50, 100, 200 years in the future, where we're not bound just by what's going on now."
"It's really fun when you think back to what Portland was like 100 years ago," says the show's co-organizer, Ryan Gallagher. "It was so different. The housing, transportation, everything... so we started thinking what it could be like 50 or 100 years from now. We're at this perpetual fork in the road where things could get worse and we're in this dystopian Portland, or some of the things we're addressing today could actually have this really positive ripple effect."
It's not all bad. Anderson, Gallagher, and their co-organizer Shannon Guirl wanted to portray positive futures for Portland as well. Gallagher rattled off a few examples, like a future Portland that's diverse instead of overwhelmingly white, or a city of parks with well-maintained green spaces. (Or, you know, a gigantic traffic snarl.)
The futures are varied and strange. With more than 20 artists participating in Futurelandia, the tomorrows on view are all different. Anderson says that showgoers will see "some takes on transportation, some takes on culture and society, [and] housing... the goal was to ease people into this discussion with an imaginative view of what the future might look like and then sink into these issues on a deeper level. The art is serving as the spark for a broader discussion." To that end, Gallagher and Anderson have invited a panel of speakers to the event, to discuss issues such as diversity, health, the environment, and transportation.
Futurelandia: Envisioning the Portland of Tomorrow
Union/Pine, 525 SE Pine, Thurs April 21, 6-9 pm, free