It was such a quick visit, and we were wreck-tired from lack of sleep and a 8 1/2 hour drive, but it didn’t take us long to discover that we loved Portland!! It seemed that all senses conspired to knock us into appreciation mode. From the shell shock of the previous evening’s misadventure to the asleep-at-the-wheel incident, we woke up on our first morning (and single full day) ready to soak it all in!
We loved the JUPITER LOUNGE for a late night dinner…and first fuel in the morning! www.jupiterhotel.com No, we didn’t stay there. We prefered the cheap and cheerful Travelodge across the street!
We loved the layout of the city, with the river surging through it. Not so much love for the giant highway that bullied it way right through the core of the city and banks of the river, and that it seemed to add an ongoing, steady and annoying buzz to our day (no, it wasn’t the World Cup coverage, although we somehow found out that Ghana beat USA this day!) but it remained on the outside of our experience. We loved walking towards downtown with an open day. We loved the buildings, some crisp newly constructed edifices and some older, classic constructs.
While crossing the bridge we noticed a gathering of tents. It looked like a party so we followed our senses and joined in… Under the tents were friendly & fun artisans who show up every Saturday as the sun rises to claim a spot for the day. There are crafts, music, entertainment, food and…beer! And it’s on the banks of the Willamette River in a park whose name I didn’t know then, and still don’t, so it was hot in the sun with a crisp, cool breeze coming in off the water. www.saturdaymorningmarket.com
It was here that we realized that we may just be in the city with the friendliest people ever! Two folks of particular charm and talent are a mother and son outfit that make jewelery from bike parts that she calls bike bling and he has named ‘velo gioielli’ ( http://www.velogioielli.etsy.com ). From Lois Michele we learned how cutting the fur between an alpaca’s toes can really be a way to gain trust. Lois Michele designs and makes gorgeous silver jewelery and keeps alpacas. I loved her pieces that had simple poetics stamped delicately on sliver swatches and her stories portrayed country living at its most most lovely.
I had two must see destinations, one of which was Powell’s Books. It is purported to be the largest book store in North America and I was told the second largest in the world! It encompasses one whole city block, has two entrances, three floors and a free map to guide yourself around. The blue room, the red room…meet you in the Pearl room where the art and architecture books just don’t quit!! Full day required. We dragged ourselves out after a couple hours to head towards my second on the must-see list: PDX Contemporary.
I’ve been perusing its exhibitions and artists online for a few years and was stoked to see the space in person. And it happened that the Storm Tharp exhibition was on its last day, so we caught what I thought was an absolutely stunning body of work. Large scale watercolour and graphite portraits coupled somewhat oddly with a few pink and lavender colour-field paintings filled the handsome gallery. The gallery assistant was friendly and helpful; it was the first of many galleries that I was welcomed to explore the ‘stacks’. http://pdxcontemporaryart.com/
The Pearl district is a refurbished area that houses art galleries, brew pubs, cafes, design shops and a gaggle of condos. Although everyone we spoke to loved the area and was pretty positive about the total neighbourhood upgrade, no one could definitively tell us why it was called the ‘Pearl’ district. No, the previous warehouses did not house, import or make jewels but a few people told us they thought it may be a play on the metaphor of ‘pearl in the rough’. Apparently no inexpensive, raw and unheated artist studios were destroyed in the making of this pearl, so I was in my element discovering gallery after gallery of inspiring, interesting and contemporary work. The lunch of grilled asparagus ravioli with morels and some other great things (oh yeah, like that kickin stout!) at Deschutes Brew Pub didn’t hurt the perfect unfolding of our day in Portland…
23sandy.com | elizabethleach.com | ecovibeapparel.com | froelickgallery.com [rick bartow, artist!!!] | blackfish.com [artist run gallery] |
***Museum of Contemporary Craft [www.museumofcontemporarycraft.org ] where we thought we were going to see Ai Weiwei’s work, but ended up intrigued by the multiple artist installation/collaborative and having a lengthy conversation with the lovely museum attendant.
All this culture makes one terribly thirsty, so when we turned the corner and spied window sill to window sill lined with craft brewed beer bottles, we paused. We were encouraged by friendly patrons to stop long enough to try at least one of the multitude of micro brewery beers featured at Bailey’s Beers.
We liked the name, we liked the idea and we had worked up a mighty thirst so it didn’t take a lot of convincing. A sample ‘plate’ won our hearts and as we stumbled away an hour or so later, waving to our patio neighbours as if we would see them again on our next visit we knew we would be back. The train next time. And a full night’s sleep the night before leaving! Thanks Portland for showing us a great time!!