Words to live by: Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one. With the advent of the internet, this tried and true adage takes on a whole new meaning. No matter what upstanding work you’re exploring on the information superhighway you’ll inevitably will run into porn and blogs.
There’s no escaping blogs and bloggers. Now whether you like it or not, the internet is home to the everyday life and insights of everyone from celebrities to beta fish enthusiasts to your sister’s best friend – and they all want you to hear what they’ve got to say. Introduce something as subjective as art into the mix and you’ve suddenly got a million little voices telling you what to see and why, and who sucks and who doesn’t, and who hurt whose feelings, who’s good for the scene, who’s bad and blah blah blah. Suddenly it stops being fun.
But there are exceptions – shining ones – and in a city like Portland, where the amount and quality of art being shown far outweighs its coverage, the blog can become an indispensable tool. And while the following list is in no way complete, here are a handful of Portland resources that can help you navigate the sometimes-cloudy waters of the Willamette.
The big three:
Of course there is some actual print coverage of art in Portland and it extends a bit online, but not much.
The Oregonian (www.oregonlive.com/artsandevents/oregonian/)
Welcome to a kingdom ruled by D.K. Rowe, where Dale Chihuly and his glass phalli represent the finest in Northwest art and advertising banners for the innocuous “What The (Bleep) Do We Know?” (fucking nothing obviously if you’re wasting money on this bullshit) inundate. The upside to The Oregonian is that everyone talks when The Oregonian calls, so you can sometimes get a much bigger story. The downside is the story comes two years after it’s relevant.
Willamette Week (www.wweek.com/culture/)
When he’s not wasting cover stories on pubic hair, WW columnist and visual-arts listing-master Richard Speer seems to hit it pretty spot on. Too bad he only gets half a page, and even that seems oftentimes preempted by ads. On the weekly’s web site, however, you get things like color (gasp). And please don’t ask me to comment on Speer’s own web site (www.richardspeer.com) because it says little about art and feels like watching “Austin Powers” starring the half dozen or so Portland art insiders.
The Portland Mercury (www.portlandmercury.com)
With less space dedicated to visual art than the Willamette Week, The Portland Mercury’s listings are fine. And as for coverage, there is one rule that applies to all things Mercury: if you can’t snort a rail off it then it’s no good. Which explains why they love the Doug Fir so much.
In the blogosphere:
I cannot reinforce this enough. There are a million personal blogs out there, and while they make for endless entertainment they rarely have anything to do with art. Sure they may talk about art a little, but interspersed with rants about boyfriends, moving, soda pop or sneakers. It’s as if you need to dedicate yourself entirely to someone’s life in order to understand their opinions about art. And I don’t have all day to sit in front of this computer and I certainly don’t know ’em all but here’s what I love.
This is the best ever. Ever. With multiple contributors who can actually write and possess an actual love for art, PORT is like the contemporary arts bible for Portland, with constant updates. If your best friend was having a show in your living room you would find out first on PORT.
Ultra is primarily a fashion site, but in a town where the lines between disciplines are so blurred you find amazing work anywhere you look. And Ultra does a great job of thoroughly covering a world outside of local designers and models, delving deep into design and the creative class in general.
This is an amazing fucking blog. Eva Lake, the voice behind Lovelake, eats, drinks and breathes art, and in her writing it shows. The woman has run multiple galleries, written all over town (including this rag) and hosts Artstar Radio on KPSU. She does more for PDX art before 5 a.m. than most people do all month.
Portland Public Art (www.pdxartwork.blogspot.com)
Sometimes a little meandering but usually totally succinct, this blog is well informed, easy to navigate and straightforward in its opinions. Still a blog, stilted and hyper personal, but in a good way. Its links are thorough to pretty much everything around Portland, and that’s nice.
NW Drizzle (www.nwdrizzle.com)
With multiple contributors and a magazine-style layout, NW Drizzle is at all times entertaining and honest. The upside is that its guest writers are all very high quality; the downside is that, unlike PORT, the Drizzle writes a lot after the fact, being more for insiders who want reviews and less for people looking for where to go. But that’s not really the purpose of NW Drizzle, I suppose, so for columns and many different perspectives this site is amazing.