"It's like in that Jay-Z song Dirt off Your Shoulder," I told my boss. "'Allow me to reintroduce' Portland's art scene." The whole pitch would have gone better if I'd just stopped there, and not tried to explain Jay-Z's '90s era "Hov" nickname.
Much like the motherfucking greatest, Portland's art scene never went away. Yet reintroduction is where many Portlanders find themselves, as they sink into familiar or refurbished theater seats, when they walk into the magazine shop that no longer sells magazines.
"The entire ecosystem cratered, and we had to basically build it back up," Portland comedian Ben Harkins told the Mercury—he was one of five comedians we interviewed for a temperature check of the city's comedy scene.
And while it isn't the same, many arts institutions are thriving: Portland's experimental theater Shaking the Tree will open its fall season with Fucking A, a bold firebrand work that explores guilt and revenge in a world without abortion access. The Portland Institute of Contemporary Art reports its 2022 Time Based Art festival keeps selling out shows. And supportive non-profit the Portland Film Festival celebrates 10 years with its grandest programming yet.
The city's gallery scene is back, and while Art and About's Ashley Gifford highlighted some particularly promising fall visual art shows, she also wrote a little about the spaces where you'll find them. And our dynamite EverOut team has a list of fall events you'll want to put on your calendar—and buy tickets to, shit is selling ouwt.
Now is a time when we're beginning to look back, and figure out what happened—the Portland Art Museum curated a show of work from six photographers of color who rose to the challenge of documenting the 2020 George Floyd/racial justice protests, but journalist and activist Mac Smiff was left wondering why Perspectives' imagery "completely lacks those of the police brutality that underscored the conflict and galvanized Portland's protests."
Six months ago we were ferociously optimistic about the spring 2022 season, but some of that energy came from seeing the height of the ditch we were in and pumping ourselves for the climb. Now, we find ourselves back—not where we were, but in a place both strange and familiar.
So please, allow us to reintroduce Portland's fall art season.