Archives for the month of: October, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from pdx|cept!

The Sun Smiles Upon Isla's Garden Cafe

The smiling sunrise illustration on the front door was a pleasant indication of things to come as we entered Isla’s Garden Cafe—an inviting, warm, cozy little little gem of a cafe/restaurant located in a quaint Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill neighborhood. The Beatles’ “Let It Be” played in the background as we ordered from an exceptional menu featuring fresh, local, organic and plant-based selections (many raw, vegan, and gluten-free). We found a comfortable table with colorful Tibetan prayer flags overhead and browsed the wonderfully varied gallery of drawings and paintings by local artists adorning the walls. Soon, our delicious selections arrived: A ‘Raw-Scetti’ (zucchini noodles tossed with sun dried tomato pesto and topped with cashew cream) and a Vegan Avocado BLT (cashew cream, tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado on Dave‘s Killer Bread). | Owners Cat and Scott not only create and serve the inventive and delicious items from the menu, they also exhibit a love for what they do and offer great hospitality in welcoming guests to their friendly cafe. We were even fortunate enough to meet their adorable daughter and namesake of the cafe—little Isla herself! | When you visit Isla’s Garden Cafe, make sure to save room for dessert. You can feel good about giving into temptation while choosing their deliciously natural, healthy alternatives to the typically sugar-laden, over-processed dessert items on most menus. During the month of October, Cat has been perfecting her own health-conscious versions of Halloween favorites such as Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Her vegan version of an Almond Joy (pictured above, bottom right) was an amazing treat, paired with lattes made with Happy Cup coffee. Just like the sun illustration on the front door, we left Isla’s with smiles on our faces, already planning a return visit…

The Red Chair

“It is ordinary to love the beautiful, but it is beautiful to love the ordinary.”  |  Sometimes the most simple everyday items can be the most beautiful—or lead the mind to associations of beauty. The combination of this curvy and somewhat peculiar red chair, along with the textured imperfections of the background and swirling floral pattern of the colorful carpet, struck me as subject matter and elements reminiscent of a Matisse still life painting. This ordinary thing of beauty was shot in the lobby of The Cinemagic Theater on SE Hawthorne Boulevard.

Halloween Countdown #4: Scarecrow Row

This pumpkin-headed, stuffed shirt of a guy is part of ‘Scarecrow Row’, a series of hay-stuffed mannequins dressed in their best fall attire, lining the roadside entrance to Bella Organic Farm on Sauvie Island. During the months of September and October these scarecrows detract birds and welcome visitors to Bella Organic and The Portland Pumpkin Farm, who team up to transform over 100 acres of farmland into a lively fall harvest festival. Activities and attractions range from a seven acre haunted cornfield maze and pick-your-own pumpkin fields to hay rides, an all-organic food pavilion and a bountiful array of organic produce to choose from. With only four days and counting until Halloween, this is the perfect spot to get in the spirit of the season while supporting two outstanding local organic farms.

Portland Aerial Tram: Form + Function

Form: The Portland Aerial Tram was designed by Angélil/Graham/ Pfenniger/Scholl, based in Zurich, Switzerland, and Los Angeles. The custom-designed cabins were made by Gangloff Cabins of Bern, Switzerland. Rising to a height of 197 feet, the intermediate tower (pictured above) allows the tram to gain elevation quickly once leaving the lower station­—and provides striking photo opportunities when illuminated against the evening sky.

Function: The tram provides a vital link for doctors, patients, visitors and hospital employees traveling to and from Oregon Health & Science University at Marquam Hill and the South Waterfront. It is also serves as a kind of amusement ride for Portlanders and tourists alike, providing an outstanding vantage point with sweeping views of the eastern metropolitan area and the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington.

Facts: Cars: Two 79-passenger cars; Capacity: 980 people per hour in each direction; Speed & Ride Time: Tram cabins rise 500 feet and go 22 miles per hour across 3,300 linear feet (5/8 of a mile) for the 3 minute trip over I-5, the Lair Hill neighborhood and the Southwest Terwilliger Parkway; Frequency: Departs every 5 minutes during peak hours; Cost To Build: $57 million; Two Of A Kind: Along with the Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York City, it is one of only two commuter aerial trams in the United States.

The Three Graces

The Three Graces is one of nineteen sculptural works on view by artist Simon Toparovsky at the idyllic lakeside setting of Millennium Plaza Park in downtown Lake Oswego. Toparovsky’s sculptures are part of the Arts Council of Lake Oswego Gallery Without Walls exhibition, which is open all year and is free for everyone to enjoy. The Gallery exhibition is comprised of of thirty permanent collection sculptures,with an additional thirty sculptural works featured in a rotating exhibition, in which the pieces are on loan from the artists for a period of two years.

Joyeux anniversaire, Pablo Picasso

“When I was a child my mother said to me: ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter, and I became Picasso.” | On this day 132 years ago, Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain. He would go on to become widely hailed as one of the greatest artists of all time, and by re-inventing himself through his innovative artistic styles time and again during his 91 years, he would change the way we look at the world. | A wonderful evening celebrating the birth, life and amazing art of the Spanish master was spent at St. Jack Restaurant & Patisserie on Clinton Street in Southeast Portland. Picasso found great inspiration in Paris, where he lived for many years—and the wonderfully French-inspired ambience of St. Jack set the tone for celebrating the life and endlessly creative artistic genius of Pablo Picasso. Joyeux anniversaire, Pablo!

The Art of Independent Cinema

Modern multiplex theaters offer gigantic screens, luxurious seats, digital surround sound…and a completely impersonal movie-going experience devoid of charm and character. Very fortunately, Portland enjoys a thriving independent cinema culture which supports several historic art house cinemas, offering a welcome alternative to generic big-box/shopping mall theaters. | In 1927, The State Theater opened its doors at 616 NW 21st Avenue, and movies have been shown continuously at this site for 86 years. Today it is home to Cinema 21, one of Portland’s best and most beloved independent cinemas, where owner Tom Ranieri has been programming a varied and interesting mix of indie, foreign, and classic films for over 30 years. Cinema 21 truly lives up to its ‘art house’ title and exemplifies the unique art of independent cinema in so many ways: The luminous neon marquee attracts filmgoers like moths to a flame; tickets are purchased from an old-fashioned ticket booth; tall red curtains part to reveal the screen as previews begin; and even the entrance and lobby poster displays are works of art in themselves. These random pieces of movie ephemera—film posters, newspaper reviews, promotional items—are arranged into artistic collages behind glass-enclosed display boxes with tiny stage light bulbs illuminating the scene.

Halloween Countdown #3: Ghouls Night Out

The advent of Halloween sparks a flurry of creativity throughout Portland, as storefront windows and individual homes display their best spooky decorations in anticpation of All Hallows’ Eve. As the countdown to October 31 continues, ghoulish or goofy carved jack-o’-lanterns rise up like apparitions and illuminate the crisp fall evenings with a warm glow. The lead-up to Halloween is a particularly beautiful time of year in several charming Portland neighborhoods—most notably the East Side communities of Laurelhurst and Sellwood. These areas create the classic Halloween ambience, complete with magnificent Autumn-colored trees lining the streets and classic front porches on Craftsman-style homes, just perfect for decorating with elaborately spooky surprises—and irresistibly inviting to excited costumed visitors, tentatively ready to ring the doorbell and scream “Trick or treat!”

The Crystal Ballroom: A True Portland Landmark

If the ornate walls of the Crystal Ballroom could talk, they would tell illustrious tales of a true Portland landmark. Originally opened as Cotillion Hall in 1914, this nearly 100-year old building at the corner of NW 14th and Burnside started out as a dance hall, and has since lived many lives and been witness to an amazing array of performances by such music legends as James Brown, Ike & Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, and The Grateful Dead. | From the 1970s through the mid-90s the building fell into various states of disrepair until the McMenamins re-opened the Crystal Ballroom in 1997 featuring a bar and restaurant on the first floor, and an additional dance floor­­/performance space (Lola’s Room) on the second level. The restored main ballroom on the third floor features soaring ceilings, chandeliers, murals, wide floor-to-ceiling arched windows, and one of the only remaining ‘floating’ dance floors in the United States. The Crystal Ballroom is a thriving live music palace that hosts everything from rock ’n’ roll and country, to hip-hop and big band swing­—and with each new performance, those historic walls absorb new tales to be told to future generations.

Innovative Exhibitions

Founded in 1892, the Portland Art Museum is the seventh oldest museum in the United States and the oldest in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to its outstanding permanent collections, the museum continually presents innovative and thought-provoking special exhibitions, and this fall 2012 show featuring three large-scale works by contemporary American artist Bruce Nauman is a prime example. Nauman works in diverse mediums including sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance art, and his work is featured in a wide range of both domestic and international museum collections. In this detail of the large-scale installation “Four Pairs of Heads (Wax)”, sculptural human heads formed of wax are bound together by wire and suspended from the ceiling like mobiles, creating an effect that has been described as “at once playful and horrific”—a ploy by the artist to elicit a conflicting set of responses in the viewer.

Portland à la Mondrian

Did Piet Mondrian visit Portland and try his hand at architecture? Apparently, that could be more than just a fantasy considering the appearance of this downtown building, reminiscent of the vertical/horizontal grid lines and interlocking geometric color planes of the great Dutch artist’s famous paintings. Mondrian’s distinct style is referenced often in popular culture—from Yves Saint Laurent clothing lines in the1960s to the colorful patterns of The Partridge Family bus—and this building may have also derived inspiration from Mondrian’s minimalist masterpieces. The contrast of this modern structure against the dark brick of the 1907 Holmes Business College building in the background is representative of the varied architectural styles on view throughout Portland.

Halloween Countdown #2: Fright Film Month

To help get your fright on and set the mood in anticipation of Halloween, The Laurelhurst Theater presents “Fright Film Month”, a special event screening of a different horror/thriller film each week during the month of October. Selections range from George Romero’s 1968 classic that set the standard for every zombie movie to follow—the original “Night of the Living Dead”—to the campy schlock of “Troll 2” and Academy Award-winning classics like “The Silence of the Lambs”.

From The Laurelhurst Theater website: The Laurelhurst Theater became part of Portland’s cultural and architectural history when it first opened in 1923. The original single screen could seat 650 people and was one of the first art deco style theaters of the period. Over the years the Laurelhurst has been added onto and now offers four auditoriums with modern amenities but still maintains its classic appeal. The theater’s four screens bring the best of modern cinema, Independent, art and classic film to Portland’s movie lovers. Now celebrating our 12th year as a theater and pub.

Old Dog/New Tricks

“My work embraces the notion that with a new perspective comes the opportunity for a renewed life.” That is how Portland-based sculptor Brian Mock describes his approach to creating innovative sculptures which combine thousands of recycled industrial metal pieces and found objects into singular forms that take on a completely new life of their own. This detail from his sculpture entitled “Guardian of the Lake” (currently on display near Millennium Plaza Park in Lake Oswego) illustrates the detail Mock achieves by transforming a wide range of reclaimed metal objects and recycled materials into the intricate form of a life-size guard dog. Mock has been hailed a welding virtuoso, and says of his work: “I am intrigued by the challenge of creating an entirely unique piece from an eclectic collection of discarded objects. Giving these old, common items a new and extraordinary life as one sculpture is an artistically challenging yet gratifying process. This type of work is also designed to be highly interactive and prompt viewers to question the reality of what they see. Audience reactions fuel my motivation.”

Boogie Bikes

Concept: 1) Take a still image postcard from a Julianne Moore film; 2) Attach postcard to bicycle tire spokes with electrical tape; 3) Park bicycle on Alberta Street as a makeshift mobile gallery.

A perfect example of the unconventional, eclectic sights on view while taking a stroll down approximately 20 blocks of the Alberta Street Arts District in Portland’s NE quadrant. With a bohemian feel similar to Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue, Alberta Street features a dynamic mix of inventive art galleries, hip restaurants and cafés, independently owned boutiques, vintage clothing stores and performing arts venues. A street fair on the last Thursday evening of every month injects even more life into the vibrant area, as local artists/artisans and traveling merchants set up tables to offer their wares while musicians and street performers entertain the diverse crowd.

The Saint of Sauvie Island

A short drive 10 miles northwest of downtown Portland will transport you to a completely different world: Sauvie Island is a picturesque area of sprawling farmland, wildlife refuge, beaches, lakes and nature preserves. At 32.75 square miles, the land area of Sauvie Island is larger than Manhattan! Autumn is a particularly beautiful season on the island, as an array of pumpkin patches, giant cornfield mazes and trees with multi-colored leaves dot the landscape. Many farms decorate their entrances with amusing fall-themed displays like this rustic old farm truck transformed into a showcase of offerings from the harvested crops. A statue of a Saint Francis of Assisi seems to be blessing the abundance, but since it is October and he is surrounded by giant pumpkins and flowering kale, I am going to dub him ”The Saint of Sauvie Island”.

Set Aflame

If you click on the ‘About’ tab above and read the backstory of pdx|cept, you will discover that while I struggle with Portland’s inclement weather, I also revel in its beautiful weather and characterize Portland as an ‘alluring temptress who exposes her stunning beauty’ on many glorious days—or, if we‘re lucky, for an extended period of time. Today is one of those days, and our current weather pattern is one of those times. The silhouetted figure of “Fortuna” in Simon Toparovsky’s Lake Oswego fountain installation provides a stark contrast against illuminated trees, with leaves that appear to be set aflame by the glowing Autumn sun. Thank you, Portland, for bringing out your stunning beauty on this mid-October afternoon. (And feel free to stick around awhile.)

The White Stag

In a city filled with architectural treasures, The MacKenzie House on NW Hoyt Street in Portland’s Nob Hill neighborhood stands out as one of the most unique and interesting. In 1896, Kenneth MacKenzie—a prominent Portland physician who helped establish what was to become Oregon Health and Science University— built the house in the Richardsonian Romanesque style which features many characeristics of a medieval castle: A turret, narrow windows, wrought-iron railings and a textured exterior crafted of rough-hewn stone. Perhaps the most striking and memorable feature of the exterior is the bust of a white stag, a symbol of the MacKenzies’ Scottish family crest. The building was acquired in 1971 by William Temple House, an Episcopalian non-profit organization that provides counseling and social service programs.

Flying Saucers Over Portland?

I have absolutely no idea what purpose this contraption serves, but it is a good example of the many interesting photo opportunities of Portland’s NW industrial district. This image seemed fitting for an October post, because the abstract floating discs are reminiscent of the ultra-low budget ‘special effects’ of flying saucers suspended by strings in the wonderfully horrible and campy Ed Wood, Jr. movie “Plan 9 From Outer Space”.

The Skidmore Fountain

Portland’s oldest piece of public art is The Skidmore Fountain, dedicated September 22, 1888, in memory of Stephen G. Skidmore, a wealthy Portland druggist who died in 1883. Designed by sculptor Olin Levi Warner, it was styled after fountains Skidmore viewed in Versailles on his visit to the 1878 Paris Exposition.