White Bird Dance Paul Taylor Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon

News & Notes: Sitka on the move, City Hall’s Indigenous art, a shop attacked

The Sitka Art Invitational shifts to Oregon Contemporary. New art at City Hall celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day. Vandals trash an Indigenous coffee shop and its art.


The Sitka Art Invitational in 2021, its last year at the World Forestry Center. This year’s invitational, Oct. 14-16, moves to Oregon Contemporary. Photo courtesy Sitka Center.

Each fall for going on 30 years the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology packs its bags for the big city to throw a great big fundraising party to help support its many residencies, workshops, classes, and other activities at its wooded home near Otis on the Oregon Coast. Arts lovers in and around Portland, in turn, eagerly await the event, which provides a grand ramble through a juried show of three works each by about a hundred regional artists – and a chance to buy some of the art and take it home.

This coming weekend, Oct. 14-16, is this year’s big bash – but, hold on: You might need directions. The Sitka Art Invitational, which has been held for many years at the World Forestry Center near the Oregon Zoo in Washington Park, is moving to Oregon Contemporary (the former Disjecta), at 8371 N. Interstate Avenue in North Portland’s Kenton neighborhood. If you see the giant Paul Bunyan statue, you’re just about there.

(And remember: Saturday and Sunday are also the final days of this year’s Portland Open Studios tour, and the dates of Open Studios tours in Washington County and Ashland.)

With more than 4,000 square feet of gallery space and a commitment to the work of contemporary artists, Oregon Contemporary seems like a good fit for the invitational. And it’s a good showcase for the artists, who share 50/50 in all sales with the Sitka Center. Participating artists range alphabetically from James Allen to Wesley Younie, and include such well-known artists as Avantika Bawa, Lauren Carrera, Tallmadge Doyle, Sheryl Funkhouser, Jef Gunn, Patrick Horsley, Malia Jensen, George Johanson, Jenene Nagy, Allison O’Donoghue, William Park, Hilary Pfeifer, Shu-Ju Wang, and Lli Wilburn.

The Invitational will be open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Oct. 14-16. Suggested entry fee is $7-$10, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Art to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day at City Hall

New at Portland City Hall: Don Bailey, “Confluence,” oil, 16 x 24 inches, 2020.

Monday is Indigenous Peoples Day in Oregon, and to help celebrate the day that officially replaces Columbus Day in the state, three works of art by Indigenous artists were added to Portland’s city collection. In a small ceremony at City Hall on Monday afternoon, Don Bailey’s “Confluence,” Bobby Mercier’s “Fishing at Willamette Falls,” and Asa Wright’s “River Ways” were installed in the foyer to Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office, in a spot where mayoral portraits used to hang.

Acquisition of the new works was a collaboration among the City Arts Program, the mayor’s staff, Tribal Relations Director Laura John, the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and the Regional Arts & Culture Council, City Arts Program Manager Jeff Hawthorne said.

President Biden officially declared Indigenous Peoples Day as a national holiday last year, and some states commemorate it alongside Columbus Day, which is on the same date. Also last year the Oregon Legislature officially replaced Columbus Day with the Indigenous celebration, recognizing that, far from being “undiscovered continents,” the Americas were home to many cultures that were established and flourishing long before Spanish ships landed in 1492 on an island in the Bahamas that Christopher Columbus named San Salvador, although the people already living there called it Guanahani.

Bison Coffeehouse is vandalized

The Cully neighborhood’s Bison Coffeehouse. Photo: K.B. Dixon/2019

In a disturbing leadup to Indigenous People’s Day, last week six masked vandals with hammers and crowbars smashed windows and spray-painted the interior of the Bison Coffeehouse, one of the city’s most welcoming and comfortable neighborhood coffee spots, at 3 in the morning. The coffee house in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood is believed to be the only one in the city with Native American ownership: Loretta Guzman, Shoshone-Bannock, opened the shop in 2014. The attack caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage, including significant harm to the Bison’s collection of Native American art.

Guzman told Zane Sparling of The Oregonian/Oregon Live that she believes the attack was “in apparent retaliation for a planned ‘Coffee with a Cop’ event that had drawn angry online comments.” Police officials had approached Guzman asking her to host a two-hour open meeting in which people could talk with officers and ask them questions. But when she announced the event on social media, she was overwhelmed with negative responses.

The event went on as planned, in spite of the damage to the shop. “I was just hoping people from the community could bring their concerns, their questions — because there’s a lot of questions right now that people have for the police,” Guzman told Sparling. She added, speaking of the early morning attack: “I’m just kind of numb right now. It was planned. It wasn’t just random.”

Guzman has set up a GoFundMe campaign seeking to raise $100,000 to help pay to repair the damage, and has raised almost $47,000 so far.

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."


One Response

  1. I am so saddened to read this. The idea that talking to one another is so threatening to folks that they will destroy things to prevent it…sigh. There is no movement forward in an atmosphere of violence. What did these folks move forward in their agenda other than creating a mess for someone simply trying to help? I just don’t understand.

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