Last Friday, at the Oak Street Building, Taking Place ushered in its schedule of events and lectures with an opening party that will set the tone for the rest of the summer. The party was equal parts performance (by Mount Eerie, Karl Blau, and The Watery Graves) and audience participation, as attendees partied down with organizers and eclectic art collective Dynamite Family.
Initiated by Stephanie Snyder (director of Reed's Cooley Gallery), Sam Gould (of Portland-based arts collective Red76), and novelist/Clear Cut Press editor Matthew Stadler, Taking Place brings together artists to map out their individual relationships to space, whether physical, psychosocial, or otherwise. With the series' name acting as a kind of organizing theme, the artists involved have interpreted it through extremely diverse subjects and media. So while Seattle writer Diana George will present a lecture on how repetitious elements in the landscape, such as shopping malls and highways, undo our notions of geographical boundaries, the Canadian arts collective Instant Coffee will make periodic stops throughout Portland in its Urban Disco Trailer: a mobile discotheque, complete with shimmering disco ball, which can house up to seven dancers before it starts rocking (literally).
Taking Place will continue to add events until it closes in September--there's no shortage of thought-provoking lectures and participatory events for Portlanders to indulge in. One early favorite is Stadler's project, "MAX City," which will take place on July 31 (6:30 pm, meet at Rose Quarter MAX Station). Drawing its inspiration from the Situationists' "drive" (a meandering journey through city streets in search of aesthetic encounters), Stadler's updated version will take the concept onboard Portland's light rail, head out to Beaverton and Hillsboro, and unearth some unexpected beauty in the suburban sprawl. Of course, to help reclaim beauty in the last place you'd expect it, it might be wise to take the advice he provides on Taking Place's calendar of events: "bring your own derangement."