old building new condo with library
It rains. There are businesses that have gone broke. Art Galleries have closed their doors in the downturn.
But the basic vision that this vibrant city was built from is still shining brightly. Wikipedia states, “The city and region are noted for strong land-use planning and investment in light rail, supported by Metro, a distinctive regional-government scheme.”
What this means for those who reside or visit the city is longitudal parks, free light rail, public art available for discovery in every section of the city and a population of hardily dressed citizens whose intention is to walk, ride their bikes and inhabit the out door spaces, no matter what the weather.
Public art in hall above Whole Foods parkade
The Portland Art Museum is always worth a visit. The current display of mixographia is fascinating. A process that uses the building up of layers of paper to form a mold. The three dimensional prints cry out to be touched. But I was responsible in stead of responsive.
La volupté du goût: French Painting in the Age of Madame de Pompadour was a thoroughly researched exhibit that gave the viewer a glimpse into history and the mores of the Boroque period. Pale colors, curving lines, ornamentation for its ownsake gave way to Neo-classicism. It is much fun to walk through history and see the cultural norms and measures for beauty changing before your eyes.
No visit to Portland is complete without a visit to Powells Books. The coffee is freshly ground and great. I particularly like exploring the cart with books on it that others have placed there as they left. It gives me an opportunity to see what individuals have seen as an area of focus. A quirky sense of humour, a dark vision, a desire for self-improvement, dealing with depression, mold, children, or training a pet are all a reading thumb print left on the cart.
The reading room now offers shelter to more street people than I can ever remember in over ten years of visiting the store. The few we saw were quiet and simply slept on a table without disturbing anyone.
The architecture is brilliant. Old buildings are housing new sleek condos with ultra-contemporary furnishings. The sense of connectedness to the past is everywhere. In terms of fashion, the cut and fabric of clothing is important…to keep off rain and cut the effect of winds. Shoes, coats etc. are well designed and expensive; however, there is no sense of display. The colors were quite muted. Perhaps a skirt had an extra frill of dark beige on black. Buffalo Exchange is a place that we always visit. The store is designed to circulate clothing through the customers. Buy a delightful sweater coat and wear it for a year. Then bring it back to the store and get credits toward another piece of clothing. Powell’s Books does the same. You can buy a new book, read it and they will buy it back as a used book.
The whole concept of cycle of use is wise and supportive of a feeling of community. Flex cars, as well, can be seen everywhere. The citizens are aware of use and share as a centralized philosophy.
We explored both the Portland University and the Portland State Campuses. They were both wonderful. Portland University is a small catholic university with a campus that harkens to the past. A central green surrounded by brick buildings felt homey. The athletic field was shared by a practicing soccer team and an rotc group going through drill. It was a sad reminder in this place that should have been an ivory tower that young people were at risk in a war.
Portland State houses a very utilitarian tower for Engineering studies that reminded me of the architecture of the art museum in Vienna. But there was more glass and light. The campus is a fascinating place to just sit and watch people. Serviced by the free trolley, one could walk here for an hour or two exploring and just hop on the light rail to get downtown to the Pearl District.
Here is where the art galleries and up scale restaurants are clustered. The Pearl is not a place to explore if you are in a hurry. Every corner takes you to a new adventure. Take time to go through all of the stores and galleries. Funky rooms, labyrinthine hallways, discoveries are encouraged by the use of old breweries and buildings for the new stores.
The people in Portland are very polite. Doors were held open, people at counters took the time to talk with us. I think the thing we were most impressed by was the eye contact. People look at one another and smile. It is okay to make contact; in fact it is just plain normal.
So why go to Portland? Why not?