The list of Portland-based architectural photographers with eye-catching talent and a long history of work is surprisingly short. Michael Mathers is one photographer who has plied his trade here with an array of acclaim, and there are others like Sally Schoolmaster and Rick Keating. But Bruce Forster is near the top when it comes to Portland picture takers focusing on architecture.
Forster collaborated with Infinity Images to produce large-format prints and graphics for the show. Sections of painted wall, removed from the building, are also incorporated in the exhibit.
"The graffiti writers are not what you'd expect. They are not pre-teens scribbling their names on bridges," Forster says. "The artists would come into the space with a huge variety of paint and a concept. Their work is beautiful."
The building was recently torn down by The University of Portland, which owns the land and has expansion plans for the area.
Forster settled in Portland in 1970 after earning an MFA in photography and built a substantial client base doing fine art, magazine, corporate, and architectural photography. He also is the owner/founder of Viewfinders Stock Photography, an ever-growing archive of Pacific Northwest imagery. In his Pearl District studio, Bruce has a staff that manages the digital processing, marketing and stock image fulfilliment. He is a co-founder of the Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) as well as a member of the Stock Artists Alliance (SAA) and the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP).
In ancient Greece and Rome, artists scratched symbols onto walls. The preserved ruins of Pompeii revealed graffiti in the form of poems and bawdy phrases, not unlike today's public bathrooms. The Vikings and Mayans also wrote graffiti. During the early 20th century, graffiti attracted the art world's gaze. In 1920s Paris, Brassai photographed local graffiti, inspiring the Surrealists such as Salvador Dali and, later in the 1950s, the more socially conscious Situationist movement.
"They saw it as a kind of wild, anti-bourgeois statement, an authentic means of expression," says James van Dyke, an art history professor at Reed College. "Graffiti artists perform in dangerous spaces, and transgressing the law at night fulfills a kind of desire for adventure, of danger, of an authentic existence that jobs -- and their fears of breaking the law -- can't realize."