Last June host Nora Robertson first began partnering with the University of Oregon in Portland to produce the New Oregon Interview Series, looking at the state's evolving creative culture.The first installment looked at the local music scene with Kill Rock Stars record label founder Slim Moon, Mississippi Studios co-owner Alicia Rose, and rap artist Mic Crenshaw.
There have been several talks in the ensuing ten months. Roberts talked about film with Arthur Bradford, director of MTV's "How's Your News?" documentary maker Alissa Nicole Creamer and experimental filmmaker Andy Blubaugh. A writer-themed interview included local scribes Monica Drake and Jon Raymond, a food night included chefs Naomi Pomery and Greg Higgins, an art night included curator Stephanie Snyder and artist Michael Brophy, and last time around a talk about the local built environment featured Mayor Sam Adams, architect Brad Cloepfil and editor Randy Gragg.
On Tuesday of this week, the New Oregon Interview Series continues with "Portland on Portland: Image + Word". Roberts will speak with artist/curator Nan Curtis (pictured below left), writer Floyd Skloot (pictured below right), and myself. The topic is less distinct than existing past topics like music, film or art. Instead, the topic will be how Portland's creative culture is communicated.
We've all seen coverage of the Rose City in places like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler, and even, more recently, a feature in England's The Economist called "Portland and Elite Cities." When writers from these publications try and tell the Portland story to their readers in other cities and countries, what are they telling them? More importantly, what is the relationship here between landscape and city, creativity and economy, demographics and technology, that forms a collective sense of place?
The conversation could go in any number of directions, but in preparing for the talk, Nora and I have discussed topics like the overlap between local, national and international cultural offerings. Years ago The Oregonian ran an op-ed essay called "The Gor-Tex Vortex" that articulated the Oregon identity based on the legacy of the Oregon Trail more than 150 years ago. At a certain point heading west during the Great Migration, settlers faced a fork in the road pointing toward California to the south and the Oregon Territory to the north. Those who sought fame and fortune, the thinking goes, chose California, while those seeking to raise crops and raise a family chose Oregon. Today it's not so simple, with technology making it easy to maintain contact with the rest of the world. Yet, as a Sunday New York Times essay by Michael Kimmelman suggested, globalization has far from erased local culture, as was long feared; in some cases, it's even enhanced it.
The talk is scheduled for 6:00-8:00PM at the University of Oregon's White Stag Block at 70 NW Couch Street. Admission is free.