FIRST FRIDAYS are about to get some new energy: This Friday, February 5, marks the debut of a new monthly series at Branx called Art Party. Curated by local painter Sarah Gottesdiener and Jenny Hoyston of Erase Errata, the succinctly titled series may well provide needed focus for Southeast's ranging, multi-neighborhood art walk.
Hoyston says Art Party is inspired by the "happenings" in San Francisco that she attended regularly up until a year ago, when she moved to Portland. She describes these as big parties at warehouses, combining DJs, bands, guerilla performances, visual art, video installations, and whatever else happened to happen. Inherent to these events was communication across mediums, Gottesdiener says. And that's where Hoyston and Gottesdiener identified a weakness in Portland's art scene, asserting that there is little communication and collaboration between artists working in different art forms. For instance, it's rare to see a dance performance taking place during the opening of a painter's newest solo exhibit. There are outfits like the Oregon Painting Society producing multi-disciplinary works, but there isn't a regular venue or event designed to showcase such efforts. Or there wasn't, at least, until now.
For the inaugural Art Party, the curatorial duo took the opportunity to foster communication in the local arts scene. Music will tie the night together: Both curators will spin records, as DJs Gottesfinger (Gottesdiener) and Permanent Wave (Hoyston). Mike McGonigal (publisher of Yeti) will also be on deck, and according to the curators, all DJs will pull out the gems from their massive record collections. Additionally, Tara Jane O'Neil and Marisa Anderson will perform a set together.
For the first foray between mediums, Pacific Northwest College of Art MFA student Allison Halter will perform a dance composition titled "Get Me Bodied," which was designed specifically for the night. Halter writes in a description of her composition that she'll perform "a synchronized swimming routine with the musical accompaniment of a live marching band." This performance will be videotaped at Branx, and will later be performed and taped at a swimming pool, to create a "docu-fantasy video iteration." The piece, Halter continues, "will create intricate kaleidoscopic effects, shifting mandalas of interdependence," including "20-30 performers."
Continuing the bridge between art forms, Melanie Valera (who records with K Records as Tender Forever) will exhibit a video installation. Again, the composition is entirely original, designed for the night. While details are scant as to what the installation will include, back in the fall of 2009, Valera performed a collaborative piece as part of a retrospective of French filmmaker Alice Guy Blaché at the Whitney Museum—it included live, green-screen interactions with a pre-recorded film, telling the story of a woman who flies around on a mattress until she enters the mattress and finds herself in a dream-like world.
With all its cross-pollination, Art Party sounds like a lot of fun, a destination with mass appeal—which is exactly what First Friday needs. As the art walk stands—decentralized, spanning many neighborhoods and miles—it's a destination-based event, and the destinations are various and often far apart. But if Art Party takes off in a big way, it could influence gallerists to centralize future art-space development on the Eastside (around the party and the foot traffic it will create). Additionally, if successful, future developers might take further cues from Art Party, fostering greater communication between Portland's various art scenes.