Thursday, May 18, 2006

va-va-va velvet

Portland’s a pretty place.  That’s a given.  They’ve got two big rivers, lots of greenery and roses, light rail and all kinds of eco-awareness to help preserve it.  They also have The World’s Smallest Park, an officially recognized piece of mini-greenspace on a traffic median downtown.  Only due to construction, it’s currently in storage!!!!  At least that’s the story we got from some nearby office workers on their morning smoke break.  Who knew?

While downtown we also scoped out the Mark Wooley Gallery in the Pearl District, where Seattle’s Ann Grgich (who was out of town when we passed through) has co-curated a great show of outsider artists from around the world. Get out the credit cards.  Purchases were made...

Other notable achievements along the way included a Thai meal that didn’t involve any screaming from the kitchen (see 5/14 entry) and Don purchasing the new Neil Young CD in anticipation of long drives to come.

All that said, our real mission here was “the epicenter of art in Portland,” (at least according to its creators) The Velveteria.  The World’s only museum of velvet painting is the natural outgrowth of collecting so many of the danged things at garage sales and flea markets--1100 or so of them.  Carl Baldwin and Caren Anderson genuinely love these crazy colored icons from a simpler time.  Jesus, John Wayne, Elvis and naked ladies seem to lead the league, but they’ve also got plenty of poodles and gringos, Yoda and JFK too.  At just $3 per head, it’s a head-turning expereience, and money well spent, especially since they didn’t make us pay!

Later, we toured North Portland in the art car that Marci McFarlane calls “Trophy Wife” a ’74 Dodge Dart with its top shorn off, festooned with commemorative hardware and a non-factory paint job.  It’s her fifth art car, and a great way to see the neighborhood, including her absent friend Jim Skinner’s place and the oddly autocentric Beaterville Cafe. Portland’s art car community has long been an active one, and our only regret was that the Rev. Chuck Linvell’s world-renowned Danger Car was MIA, but in the what-the-theck-is-going-on-here 86 degree heat, we had to QUIT.

Newport on the coast tomorrow!

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