Portland murals

Art on the move: responding to crises

ArtsWatch Weekly: The Black Lives Matter movement and the continuing coronavirus challenge are reshaping the arts world

WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF LIFE-CHANGING TIMES, and in the face of multiple crises remarkable work is being done. How do artists fit in? Sometimes, smack in the middle of things. Many news organizations have been doing excellent work of discovering the artists speaking to the moment and bringing their work to a broad audience. Oregon Public Broadcasting, for instance, has been publishing some sterling stories – including the feature The Faces of Protest: The Memorial Portraits of Artist Ameya Marie Okamoto, by Claudia Meza and John Nottariani. Okamoto, a young social practice artist who grew up in Portland, has made it her work not just to document the events of racial violence in Portland and across the United States: She’s also, as OPB notes, “crafted dozens of portraits for victims of violence and injustice.” 


Ameya Okamoto, “In Support of Protest.” Photo courtesy Ameya Okamoto

“People get so attached to the hashtag and the movement of George Floyd or Quanice Hayes,” Okamota tells OPB, “they forget that George Floyd was a trucker who moved to Minneapolis for a better life, or that Quanice Hayes was actually called ‘Moose’ by his friends and family. When individuals become catalysts for Black Lives Matter and catalysts for social change … there is a level of complex personhood that is stripped away from them.” In her work she strives to give that back.

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Photo First: An Open-air Museum

With the "real" museum spaces shut down, K.B. Dixon and his camera tour Portland's many murals and discover a free exhibit on the streets


PHOTOGRAPHS AND TEXT BY K.B. DIXON


The local galleries are closed, the Art Museum is closed, but the streets of Portland are open and there is plenty to see thanks to the guild of talented muralists among us. Using the exterior walls of every sort of building, they have over the years cobbled together a sort of open-air museum—one you can visit today from the contagion-free confines of your car. (All photographs are from 2020)


NORTHWEST TWENTY-FIFTH AVENUE AND LOVEJOY STREET


Artist: Paola Delfin

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