Everyday art

    Have you made your plans to tour the Portland art scene? Mapped out your gallery route? Checked all the websites?

    Me neither.

    Sometimes spending the day at the museum sounds like fun (especially in rainy February), and sometimes the very idea of stepping over the threshold of a museum smacks of excruciating torture. Never fear, it is completely possible to get your daily dose of Portland art without ever setting a single toe on cold museum marble. Our town is so full of art that you have probably tripped over it already.

    Scott Wayne Indiana’s Horse Project has a tendency to attack your ankles at the most inopportune moments. But can you really be too upset about a small toy horse tethered to the sidewalk by a metal ring? Started by the artist in 2005, the city-wide installation continues to grow thanks to a loyal army of plastic equestrian wranglers. Quickly outgrowing its Pearl District birthplace, Horse Project extends as far east as Mount Tabor, fostering discussions of childhood toys, Portland history, and horse thievery along the way. Add your own horse to the herd by purchasing a small plastic horse and locating a sidewalk horse ring, or become part of the project by visiting www.39forks.com.

    After picking yourself up off the sidewalk (you were playing with that horse weren’t you?), head over to the nearest coffee shop for a morning art and caffeine experience. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it causes more nausea than coffee on an empty stomach, but that’s the point – reaction. If all art were beautiful to all people, would we spend any time talking about it? Stumptown coffee shops rotate their art monthly, as does Extracto on Killingsworth, Tiny’s on MLK, Haven on Division, Albina Press on Mississippi – you get the idea.

    On your way to Powell’s, take a second to sample the audio art of Red76 happening in the storefront at 403 S.W. Tenth. The art collective (whose head office is in the PSU Art Building) has created an installation from sound samples submitted by the public via the web, CDs and even cell phones. The results are being broadcast on 96.7 FM throughout September.

    On a recent visit to the sound space, Sam Gould of Red76 described the group’s goal as “delineating art as a point of reference, a common link between people, which becomes a conduit for discourse.” Such honorable goals deserve at least 30 seconds of your listening pleasure, and perhaps even a wee bit of booty shakin’. Hours are 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

    Once at Powell’s (it took you long enough to stop that silly dancing!) climb all the way to the “Pearl Room” to find the Bh6 Gallery. John Holdeman’s plywood sculptures decorate the walls during September, providing a little levity and nudity to the serious literary scene.

    Is that your stomach growling? Try a burrito with a side of art at Cha! Cha! Cha! on N.W. Glisan. Usually featuring local photographers, the small dining area is crammed with framed prints. September features portraits by Linnea Osterberg – there really is nothing better than making a salsa mess with 16 black and white eyes watching you.

    If you’re heading up to the Northwest area, wander past the Portland Modern Window Project at 1715 N.W. Lovejoy for a quick sample of small works. Then take a left and detour to the Bad Karma News Box at the corner of N.W. 21st and Irving. At least nothing worse will happen to you today –

    unless your parents decide to visit. Fortunately, Portland hotels also provide the service of art collections, especially the Hotel Lucia at 400 S.W. Broadway. Their collection of local artists hung conveniently in the lobby provides topics for hours of parental conversation. Talk to Mom about Michael Brophy’s morbid environmentalism, to Dad about the American history photographs of David Kennerly, and to your younger sister about Herb Williams’ “Silverware,” made entirely of silver crayons.

    Finally, the Portland bar scene. Many purveyors of alcoholic refreshment choose to stimulate the dying brain cells of their patrons with interesting visual images. The Goodfoot on S.E. Stark and 28th celebrates its newest show the last Thursday of every month with a special musical guest and the opportunity to drink with the artists. September features the graffiti-inspired art of Klutch and Zach Egge, which becomes strangely animated after about three pints of Terminal Gravity IPA.

    A small dose of art taken at regular intervals has been proven to make you a more interesting person, more attractive to members of the opposite sex, and to provide instant topics of conversation for difficult situations (read: meeting cute baristas/bartenders/booksellers). And it’s free.