If you've ventured down to the South Waterfront district in the last year, at times there haven't been many people around beyond construction workers building condos, medical staff and patients at OHSU, and a few of the first intrepid residents to this new area of town.
I can't think of too many neighborhoods that have tried such a thing, but SoWa is the perfect place. When you walk around this less than half-finished neighborhood, it desperately needs people to come out of their condos and establish a personality. Many of the artists' efforts may be conceptually esoteric or even a little silly, but that's all part of the fun.
Johnson has a history of art that celebrates and enlivens forgotten or under-utilized urban spaces. In 2000, her performance piece "Tax Lot 1S1E44ODD" converted a median strip near an I-5 offramp into a community garden. The year before, she was part of a group art show at the AIA gallery with architect Mark Lakeman and artists Brian Borello and Vanessa Renwick in which the crisp, modern Jeff Lamb-designed space was covered with hay bales.
Among the artists and presentations so far: In July there was Ten Tiny Dances, with site-based dance performances throughout the neighborhood. Also last month, noted public artist Bill Will created with Johnson in "Promenade" an episodic sound, light and performance piece tuned with the sunset and the landscape.
In May, artist Horatio Hun-Yan Law organized a series of interactive tai-chi workshops. In March, artist Adam Kuby actually treated the landscape itself, subject in previous generations to ruptures and injuries through the building of I-5 and the severing of the Corbett/Terwilliger/Lair Hill neigbhorhoods from the water, with giant acupuncture needles. In April, Maria T. D. ("touchdown"?) Inocencio and Mark Smith created in "Compass" an interactive map-making project with residents that put Portland at the center of the world and asked them to fill in the blanks. There have also been performances and works by the talented jazz musician Tim DuRoche and photographer Christopher Rauschenberg (son of Robert Rauschenberg), among others.