by Tamara Muldoon, Portland Visual Arts blogger
The only down side to exploring art in Portland, Oregon is having to choose between so many options. You can’t go wrong with the Portland Art Museum, whose permanent collections include American, Asian and European art, photography and graphic arts, and an outstanding display of Native American artifacts. And you can count on them to have world-class special exhibitions throughout the year.
Be advised, however, that you don’t have to visit a museum to see art in Portland. Both the City of Portland and Multnomah County are governed by the “Percent-for-Art” program, which requires 2 percent of the budget for publicly funded construction projects to go toward permanent art installations. Thanks to this program, there is art on the streets throughout the downtown area and inside many publicly owned buildings, including City Hall, the Federal Courthouse, Central Library, Oregon Convention Center and even at the Justice Center— the city jail.
Portland has several outstanding accredited art and design schools, including the Pacific Northwest College of Art , Oregon College of Art & Crafts and the Art Institute of Portland, each of which has display galleries and public outreach programs. Artists find a ready market for their work among the multitude of commercial galleries and retail stores featuring local artworks, or you can buy it directly from the artist at the Portland Saturday Market .
The Portland Art Dealers Association just celebrated 25 years of their First Thursday events where downtown galleries stay open late to host the public. First Thursday has evolved into a vibrant scene with impromptu street artists and music creating a lively, thought-provoking way to spend an evening. More recently, a similar First Friday event was started among art galleries on Portland’s east side. You don’t have to go looking for art in Portland; in Portland, art is everywhere you look.