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Week Two at PICA!

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Hey guys!

This week I was able to branch out a bit more in my work projects. I’m still working on the spreadsheet of faculty contacts for PICA. This week I focused on branching out to California schools like UC Berkeley and Mills and appending addresses to the faculties. Pretty much every school has a different way of managing postage. Some campuses are small enough that you can address it to the main address. Other schools require that you add department or office. The project has proved pretty challenging in this way. The list is getting pretty comprehensive at this point with 169 contacts, all including focuses, email addresses, departments, and schools.

This week I also got to help sort out merchandise! PICA ran a kickstarter recently and sold tshirts, tote bags and hoodies as part of it. We realized pretty recently that we had run out of tote bags so it was a good time to check what we had left. Jamie the graphic designer, Noelle the marketing and communications manager and I pulled out all of the shirts, hoodies and tote bags from the supply closet and counted them all. I got a pretty interesting history of PICA merchandise in the process and a little bit of retail experience. Oh and I scored a PICA hoodie out of the deal.

Funny enough, we found two recent tote bags in the process of reorganizing and cataloging. Later that day a man came in with a tote bag coupon. He got the choice of a solid black pica bag and a beige pica bag with larger lettering. After consulting his wife he ran with the black bag. Lots of smiles all around.

After digging through multiple databases (JSTOR, EBSCOHOST, and this one cool site full of New York Times scans) I finished the artist visa project with enough print sources! Thank you to PSU for library access. The foreign artists are going to be incredible for TBA this year.

I’m also working my way into the graphic design part of PICA! I opened up Adobe InDesign CS5 for the first time at work to make some well formatted labels for press archives. The routine was pretty straightforward but I got to use the official PICA fonts and practice their style.

Later in the week Jamie showed me the PICA redesign style guide. The whole thing is contained in a gorgeous 30+ page pdf including detailed descriptions of logo usage and reasoning and process to changes from the old style. Seeing design so well thought out was incredibly inspiring. If you’re interested in new PICA look you should totally check out the website. Definitely a high point in my week.

I missed Friday of this week to fly out to Space X and TieCon but I made it up on Sunday.

Today (Sunday) I got to help put together a Field Guide event. Field guide is an exploration of performance work from an insider view. Instead of simply viewing a performance then leaving, in a Field Guide event participants engage with the artist, the work and each other. In this case, I got to FLOCK, a dance space in the same building as Disjecta and helped set up then participated in CONTEMPORARY CHOREOGRAPHY & CREATIVE PROCESS Tonya Lockyer on Tahni Holt.

I got to FLOCK around 6 and helped Roya lay out chairs, tables and helped sign people in for the event. As a Field Guide group we discussed what dance could be, what lenses we bring to dance and examined the medium as a whole. We then developed our own dances based off a series of images, similar to the work of Tahni Holt, and performed them in different spaces around the building for one another. Afterwards we watched pieces from Tahni’s work in progress, then engaged in a Q/A session. Afterwards we all ate together and talked about the work and made other chat. As someone who doesn’t use dance as a medium the whole experience was an eye opener to process and the culture of dance.


Hmm ... food art! Nice! Just

Hmm ... food art! Nice! Just kidding - although it does look delicious. Looks like you're doing some great work and using lots of your various skills, Thomas. Nice!

It's awesome that this

It's awesome that this project is taking you all around town, Thomas. I live really close to Disjecta - it's pretty far north!

Week One at PICA!

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For my senior project I'm working at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA)! It's a non-proft organization based near Powells in downtown Portland. (here!) They run year round exhibitions, have a stellar resource room full of rare art books, and are best known for a festival they run in September: the Time Based Arts Festival (TBA)

I landed at PICA just as things were starting to really heat up for the Time Based Arts Festival. When I got to work on Monday, Beth Hutchins showed me bike parking and I got to sit in on a lengthy meeting regarding prep for the event. Everyone at the meeting placed post it notes of ToDos for the next six months. Each month was more filled than the last in a sea of sticky paper. The meeting ran a couple hours. It was perfect preparation for jumping into the organization.

After the meeting Kristan Kennedy, the visual arts currator, showed me how to set up the current installation at PICA. Right now PICA is exhibiting the priemere installation of Andrea Geyer's "Three Chants Modern": a video piece exploring women's role in institutions for modernist art like MOMA which was founded by a group of women who credited themselves by last name. The ~20 minute video loops throughout the work day and can be heard all around the office. It's very powerful. 

Afterwards, Roya: my off campus mentor and the community engagement manager at PICA, showed me my desk at PICA and introduced me to my first project. 

PICA runs a grant giving system called the Precipice Fund. The Precipice Fund gives money to up and coming artists, art galleries, and collectives. Recipients include 12128 Microresidencies a contemporary exhibition space on a boat docked in Portland, the Experimental Film Festival in Portland, Container Corps, an art publication studio and many many others.

My first project at PICA had me turning Precipice fund updates from grantees into blog posts in Wordpress. I learned quite a bit about navigating Wordpress as a tool and formatting text for blogging. The work should be surfacing over the next few months! 

Since PICA requires a lot of community outreach, my second project had me researching local visual, performance, and liberal arts teachers in the Portland area and compiling their contact information into a spreadsheet. I dug through multiple college sites to find professor focuses and emails to pull together a more complete image.

My third and most recent project has been centered around pooling together evidence for out of country performance visas. To get into the USA and perform you need a specific performance visa. To get such a visa you basically need to be able to prove that you're well enough known nationally to cross the border. The system is fairly old fashioned so internet articles are less convincing than print sources. I've been pooling together articles proving that artists are well known internationally by digging through online databases for articles and googling for reviews.

I also came in at an interesting time because someone had stolen thousands of dollars worth of books from the resource room the week before I got there. The books were taken out and sold to Powells. Powells is now returning the books as they pull them off their shelves. Part of my work has also been helping to clean resources up. That means I've been tallying some expenses and helping to figure out what's around and what's not. 

It's been a very productive week and I'm looking forward to whatever comes up next! 

Thomas Newlands


Grand Theft Art-D'oh!

Incredible… I cannot believe someone would be stupid enough to steal from PICA and sell just down the street to Powells. Come ON people.
Ditto what Chris said. PERFECT spot for you. Will set you up for all kinds of great professional / job / internship opportunities in Chicago and beyond.

Yay Thomas!

Tell Roya that the group you're putting together could become a FB group and then I can join, too!

Very cool

Thomas, would there be any more of a perfect senior project for you? PICA seems like it is a great fit! I am really happy for you and excited to read more in the coming weeks! Bravo.


Neat :D
I'm glad your week was productive!

Acrylic Paintings

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 During senior projects I will be painting and working with Paul Fujita an artist and skateboarder in the Portland area. I will be focusing on the technique of Acrylic Gel transfers and researching their origins and how they work.

Day 5 - Pashupatinah, Royal Palace, & Tamel

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Today we woke up in Bhaktapur rested and ready for more touring. First we ate a delicious breakfast of omelets and yogurt, then headed out to do some final shopping near the guest house. Around 9 a.m. the tour guide picked us up in the bus and we headed to Pashupatinah, the largest Shiva temple in Nepal. When we arrived, we were barraged by a multitude of vendors selling everything from golden plates to coconut violins to ceremonial dyes, all which were apparently hand made, though we tended to doubt this. As we walked towards the temple we saw a number of cremations along the banks of the sacred Bagmati river. Once the bodies were reduced to ashes, the familes would disperse the remains into the river amongst a large amount of floating garbage. We found it strange that a river with such spiritual significance could be so polluted. Further along the river we saw a collection of sadhus (wandering Hindu monks) sitting by small shrines to Shiva. They would allow you to take their picture, but expected a few rupees in return. We saw a large group of monkeys climbing on the shrines, and a man feeding them crackers. They would sheepishly grab the food from his hand, before scampering off to munch in privacy. As we returned to the bus we noticed a few of the monks sitting away from the public eye talking on their cell phones. Once we got close to the bus we were surrounded by more vendors who pursued with more ferocity than before. One particularly persistent man began trying to sell us a trinket for $50, but we managed to work him down to 500 rupees (about $6). As we all crowded onto the bus the vendors banged on the windows yelling final offers to us as we drove off. From there we made our way to the heavily guarded Royal Palace. We were separated into two lines and patted down before being granted entrance to the extensive grounds. We were immediately shocked by the immensity of the palace. Stuffed animals coated the fine floors and walls of the ostentatious palace where the royal family had been massacred by the crown prince in 2001. The building in which the family lay was leveled but the foundation remained with signage indicating where they had fallen. Many rooms inside the palace were used for seating and discussion, including books and portraits of the royal family. We were a bit surprised by some of the furniture choices, which seemed to come out of a U.S.S.R. catalog. As we left we walked through the gardens, which led us out of the grounds and back to our bus. From there we went to lunch at Killjoy's, where we ate momos and noodles. After lunch we headed to Tamely (the tourist district of Kathmandu), where we placed an order for our group t-shirts. While David and Craig talked to the shop keeper the rest of the group dispersed to do some more shopping. We bought cashmere scarves and wool shoes, as well as some tasty finger chips (French fries). After shopping we headed back to the Hotel Tibet from the first night and began preparing, both mentally and logistically, for our long trek. Once we were packed we marched through the rain to Fire and Ice, a delicious pizzeria. After eating we headed home and made the final preparations, and now were off to bed.

Walker and Thomas

We're in Kathmandu

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We're here... I don't even know what time it is... but we're all on two legs. Coming from the Hyatt in Seoul, where efficiency, modern amenities, and breakfast buffets featuring eight courses for each breakfast item (eggs eight ways, toast eight ways, waffles eight ways, dim sum eight ways and so on....) are the norm... Kathmandu is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. We were processed through the Seoul airport in a grand total of about 10 minutes for the entire group... we arrived in Kathmandu after a seven-hour flight, took a 25-second bus ride around the corner of a building, exited, and then entered the line for immigration and our visas. We were in line for over 2 1/2 hours. Although hot, thirsty, and exhausted, our group maintained their perky spirit - we joked about doing a flash mob and maybe will consider doing this on our return venture.

We exited the airport to clean, if dusty, air and hundreds of people waiting outside in the parking lot. Many were day laborers looking to help us with our bags. All bags were loaded onto a bus and we piled in and went on a crazy ride through the streets, avoiding thousands of people on mopeds, bicycles, tricycles carrying construction equipment, with kids playing, chickens, goats, other tour buses, students in uniform, beggars, people coming home from work talking on cellphones, monkeys, and dogs.

Mellow night here... dinner, more cards... sleep



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 A week later, I finally find the time to write and reflect a little bit about the opening night of my exhibition.  Like I predicted at the end of my previous post, it was a long day of work for me.  I accomplished all that I had hoped to accomplish, except for the picture frame and the sign directing people to the Dant house.  And technically, I only had to put bridges on one side of the screen… Minor details, though. 

The tempra painting was super fun.  You could say that it has inspired me to paint windows in my house this summer… (Don’t tell my parents).  I was lucky enough to have some help too, while I was running around campus trying to find a projector screen. 

Oh, funny story about the slide projector.  Before my exhibition, I had never actually used a slide projector, so I couldn’t figure out how to put the slides into the carousel.  I didn’t get that you are supposed to take out the inner ring, allowing for the slides to fit into the slots.  I thought there were all just too big and the wrong size, sooo I may have cut up about five slides to fit before realizing I was doing it very very wrong.  It was a good moment for me. 

Anyway, by the time 3:30 rolled around, I was in full panic mode.  I realized I hadn’t taken a shower in about three days, my caterers were supposed to be on campus in 30 minutes to start setting up, and I had yet to create a picture frame or sign.  I chose a fast shower at the gym over the picture frame and sign, thinking that I should probably look somewhat clean for the final culmination of my Senior Project.  I even wore a dress that I had found junking around Portland several times before.  I figured it was appropriate.

While I was still running around trying to get everything ready, my caterers had yet to arrive, and it was nearing 4:15!  4:30 rolls around, and I’ve gotten calls from a bunch of people saying they were going to be late, including one of my caterers.  For a moment, I had the horrible thought that no one was going to show up and that the opening would end up being a complete joke.  I had to take a moment to sit in my green chair and breathe, telling myself that it would all be ok, no matter what happened. 

And it was all okay!  My caterer arrived with food, and some other people went and picked up some light desserts for the show to make up for the other caterers last minute cancellation.  Guests began around around 4:45 and 5, and soon enough, the lounge was crowded with people from all aspects of my life, from my mentor and her friends to friends from outside of school.  Overall, a good time was had by all.  I remember having a moment to myself to survey the room, and seeing a group of people playing cards around the blue coffee table, another cluster of people clicking through the slides in the projector, and other people enjoying the furniture and flicking the cars along the zipline overhead. 

Besides the opening being a success, I also have had people approach me about buying more of the furniture!  Nichole will be frustrated to know that I’ve gotten a better offer on the green armchair from a certain Catlin alum.  I would just like to get the most money out of this as possible to pay back my expenses, so I’ll just let them work that out… 

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures on my own camera, so I don’t have any to post as of now.  I know that both Vicki and Laurie have photos, so hopefully I’ll have some to post at some point.