Art Department finds new home on Fifth Avenue

Beginning this term, Portland State University’s Art Department will begin a move to the former home of the Art Institute of Portland at 2000 S.W. Fifth Avenue.

Michihiro Kosuge, Art Department chair, describes the move as a necessary and exciting evolution in the development of PSU’s Art department.

“Two years ago I heard a rumor that this building was for sale, and PSU was looking to buy it,” Kosuge said.

He immediately began working with various administrators to secure the building for the art department.

“A memo went out to all campus requesting input, four departments responded: Art, speech communications and hearing communications, engineering,” assistant director of Facilities Robyn Pierce said.

The Art Department was ready to make a proposal.

“There was a need for the space, and they fit the space very well,” Pierce said.

“On May 23 art was chosen to formalize their request,” Pierce said.

The initial plan was for the winning department to occupy the new building and give up their existing space. But negotiations netted the Art Department some extra space.

“What happened in the negotiations is that art grew 40 percent in space,” Pierce said.

The Art Department will maintain roughly half of the Art Department space on the second floor of Neuberger Hall, while the carpentry shop and one graduate studio will remain in Shattuck hall.

Currently, only the offices of the art department have moved to their new home, but expectations are that some classes will start in the new building spring term, with minor construction continuing into the summer.

The biggest improvement to current facilities is the upgrade the Art Department’s slide library has received in the move.

The slide library currently occupies a space described by both Kosuge and Pierce as “tiny,” Kosuge feels the new slide library will be a great improvement of a resource used by historians, architects and others on campus.

Additionally, a new student lounge will be built in the old Art Institute building.

Kosuge feels the move will enable the department to explore new endeavors such as animation.

While upgrading current curriculum is a goal, Kosuge would also like to reach out into the community.

Part of that effort is seen in the new James DePriest Honorary Professorship, which will allow local artists to do more work in developing young art students in high schools for work in college, as well as addressing the lack of representation among African American students in the PSU population.

“Today’s education is not only in the classroom, we have to go out into the community,” Kosuge said.