Hey Beautiful People! It's gonna be a sparse few weeks--I can't believe how much I have to accomplish in the next fourteen days. This includes, but is not limited to: designing and creating a website for my new business venture before the ad comes out in the New Yorker Magazine in 10 days, a turnover in the rental of my apartment upstairs, finishing up one grant application and submitting one show proposal, giving a talk at the Museum of Contemporary Craft to a women's business group, installing a show in Corvallis, and trying to squeeze in a few errant orders that have straggled in lately. I promise I will check in here every now and then with some art-related theme, but I'll make it up to you big time when I'm in Chicago for Labor Day Weekend.
Today I have decided to blog about some of my favorite things to do in Portland. This was initially inspired by the impending visits from my sweetheart's family (which is another part of my agenda for the next 2 weeks) but maybe just a wee bit wishful thinking that I actually could do some of these things. All work and no play.....how does that phrase go? I'm conveniently forgetting it at the moment. I prefer to invoke my philosophy that I'd much rather be too busy than not busy enough.
I am going to conveniently arrange my list in a format that might enable someone to actually do them all in one day. One big day, of course, but a nonstop, action-filled adventure that will fill you with heartwarming memories for years to come.
First stop on my list is a visit to Voodoo Doughnut. This is a pretty amazing Portland icon that took over the role as the unofficial "Keep Portland Weird" committee when the quirky tourist mecca Church of Elvis closed its doors. This place makes some of the most unusual doughnuts you'll ever find, such as this actual Voodoo Doughnut, impaled by a pretzel stick. Other varieties depict bodily organs, some are topped with breakfast cereals, there's one with Tang and mini marshmallows, another one called "dirt," and then, for the purist doughnut eaters like me, the classics like Old Fashioned, Glazed, some with jimmies, and Maple Bars.
I'm really not a huge doughnut fan, due to a series of unfortunate childhood experiences where I was forced at gunpoint to eat them on an empty stomach in the back of a Volkswagon Rabbit at the beginning of a weekly 90 minute drive to Florence, Oregon while listening to Ray Stevens' Greatest Hits. Okay, yeah, I was exaggerating a little there--I still have a soft spot in my heart for Ray Stevens and if I could put my hands on that album, it would send me to the Pearly Gates of Goofy Greats.
But I digress.....
So what time is it....10am? Perfect! Time to get a day pass on the Max Line, Portland's light rail system. I suggest you take the blue line train roundtrip between downtown Portland and Hillsboro - which has some really great public art by regional artists at every single stop, as well as giving a really nice view of the Portland metro area and the way it can move so easily between rural and urban environments. One stop not to miss is the Washington Park/Zoo. This is the deepest train station in the United States (and second deepest in the world!) and they have the giant core sample on display to prove it!
Another stop that I love to get out for is the Hawthorn Farm stop, where there's a cool sound art installation. Get out of the train, and hang out for a bit because you have to be there to experience this public art piece by Patrick Zentz, who translated the local topography into musical scores that are conducted or activated by wind and train movement. When the train crosses past the nearby wetlands, the tone bars emit this quiet bell sound. There's also a set of speakers that project the sounds of local frogs, birds and insects. Reminds me of the Wave Organ, one of my favorite San Francisco haunts.
So that should take you a few hours. Grab a quick bite (since you've got low blood sugar after eating all those doughnuts and going on the train) and stretch your legs on the Vera Katz Esplanade. This is a paved river loop that was completed in the past 5 years or so that is one of my favorite inner-city walks of all time. You stroll past at least 3 of our lovely bridges, and many nice perspectives on our small city. You can access it from downtown by just walking down towards the river, or by car there's usually parking just north of the Hawthorn bridge on the east side.
By now you've worked up an appetite and are ready for a little rest. I suggest you head to one of our movie theater pubs, which I think is so quintissentially Portland. Pictured here is the Bagdad, where my father saw Psycho when it was first released and then had to walk home in the dark alone. Of course they didn't serve alcohol at that time, or maybe it would have enhanced his experience for the better or perhaps for the worse. We have at least 5 places around Portland that show a second-run movie (which means it's out of the mainstream theaters but not quite on DVD yet) for a mere $3 and they removed every other row of seats and replaced it with a table so you can eat pizza and drink pitchers of beer 'till your heart's content. My personal favorite theater to do this is the Laurelhurst, at NE 28th and Burnside.
I'm hoping you're ready to walk again because our last stop is More Everyday Sunshine, a public art project by Harrell Fletcher. This is a series of motion sensors that trigger a spotlight to slowly turn on, focused on some random object along the route of the Streetcars. It's really a sweet after-dark event to take this walk and slow down to observe this thoughtful project. To read more about it, click here. When you're done, you might want to go back to Voodoo Doughnut for dessert. They're open 24 hours, dontcha know?