Portland, Will You Marry Me?

Posted On May 15, 2012 by Jennifer Schwartz

Oh, sweet love.  Portland, you are my soul mate.

I spent last Wednesday to Sunday enjoying the best place in the country.  If you love photography, a laid-back vibe and gorgeous surroundings, this is the city for you.  The weather was absolutely perfect, and I’m thinking that whole “oh, the weather is usually wet and cold” line is a ploy by locals to keep the secret safe.  Well, too bad people.  I love Portland, and I’m not afraid to shout it from the rooftops.

My trip involved a few different photo-related activities.  I curated a show, Gravitational Pull, at Lightbox Photographic Gallery in Astoria that opened Saturday night.  I also gave my Crusade for Collecting talk at Newspace Center for Photography on Thursday night and did two days of Roundtable Reviews there.  And then there was a lot of extra photo awesomesauce.

One of my artists, Heidi Kirkpatrick, picked me up from the airport, and we went to her house for a studio visit.  This studio is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.  I felt like my eyes were going to explode.  Little treasures everywhere.

Heidi's lair

After the Heidi adventure and some quality catch-up time, I had dinner with one of my favorites, Blue Mitchell, at a restaurant that used to be a brothel.  Did I mention that Portland is the coolest?  We were together as his successful Kickstarter campaign ended, and celebrated with wine and burgers.

Thursday was potentially the longest day of my life – all wonderful, but very full.  The time change had me up and taking a jog along the river at 6am, and then I met up with Michael Itkoff and Chris Bennett at Newspace for the first morning of portfolio reviews.  I love portfolio reviews and especially the format of the Roundtable Review.  We saw some really interesting work.  I was especially impressed with the work and energy of Randi Lynn Beach, Tatiana Wills, Reathel Geary and Carli Davidson.

from Randi Lynn Beach's Central Valley project

from Tatiana Will's project "Heroes & Villians"

After the reviews, an artist I love but had never met in person picked me up for lunch with his beautiful young daughter.  Dan Gluibizzi is a watercolor painter who finds most of his images from Tumblr and other sites of amateur and revealing postings.  He surprised me with the coolest gift I have ever received.

Best. Gift. Ever. by Dan Gluibizzi

Dan working, Zoe sleeping

We stopped by Ampersand Books & Gallery who shows his work and also had work up from JSG photographer Jefferson Hayman.   I blissed out over the incredibly curated photobook selection and really enjoyed chatting with the owner, Myles Haselhorst.

But the day didn’t stop there – not even close.  Next stop was to visit photographer Fritz Liedtke and pose for his Astra Velum series.  Fritz and I first met last spring at PhotoLucida, and I have always loved these photogravures.  I call it the “freckle face” series, but I’m not that sophisticated.  No word yet on how my freckles turned out.  Stay tuned.

And then I had an early dinner with PhotoLucida’s very own Laura Moya and her most amazing daughter Saran.  At one point I had Saran agreeing to give the talk at Newspace instead of me.  She has a comprehensive knowledge of horses, as it turns out, which I thought could be very compelling for the photo crowd.  But I bucked up and we headed over together.

Truth be told, I don’t get nervous about speaking in front of people.  I mean, I can talk.  And I think I’m pretty interesting.  Others may disagree of course, but that’s why I had the Prezi presentation.  A few weeks ago I tweeted that I needed help with a PowerPoint presentation, and a friend who has worked with me on lots of website things in the past, Jeremy Conescu, immediately called to say he could make one for me, no problem, but would be using the coolest new program called Prezi.  Great.  Sounds good.  Slide list coming your way.

The night before I left for Portland, the Prezi had still not arrived.  I texted Jeremy about it, and he wrote back, “Sorry – taking longer than expected. Thought you just wanted a bunch of pictures. Didn’t realize you would want a slide of you as a superhero circling the earth.”  To which I responded, “Oh Jeremy, you should have known.”  But he rocked it.

The talk was great, and I felt a lot of great energy in the room.  The questions and feedback after were really positive and encouraging.  Thank you to everyone who attended and to Newspace for hosting.  (Newspace is an amazing facility and program – definitely check it out.)

Then I went back to my hotel and passed out.

Friday started with more Roundtable Reviews and ended with a book reading and signing event at Ampersand for Will Steacy’s book Photographs Not Taken, published by Daylight in March.

book reading & signing with Amy Elkins, Eirik Johnson and Michael Itkoff

Saturday I drove up to the beautiful coast town of Astoria for the opening of the show I curated at Lightbox Photographic Gallery.  Gravitational Pull showcases the work of four photographers (David Bram, Ben Huff, Michael Itkoff and Kathleen Robbins) who have each chosen to photograph a landscape that has rich personal significance.  We created a catalog that is for sale here ($20!), and I am excited to move the show to Atlanta this August.

Gravitational Pull catalog for sale through Magcloud

Exhibiting photographer David Bram and Roundtable Review participant Deon Reynolds

The work looked incredible on the walls, and Lightbox did such a great job with everything.  The gallery was full most of the night, and the crowd was very complimentary of the work.  A personal highlight for me was meeting Israel Nebeker, the lead singer of my most favorite Blind Pilot, who lives in Astoria and came by to see the show.  I completely geeked out on him, and he looked a little afraid, but at least I didn’t ask him to sing.  I considered it, but held back.

Blind Pilot lead singer, Israel Nebeker, David Bram and me

The rest of the trip was spent luxuriating along the Oregon coast and enjoying my photo people.  Portland, if you’ll have me I would be the happiest woman in the world.


Tags: ampersand, astoria, blind pilot, dan gluibizzi, lightbox, newspace, photography, Portland, Roundtable Review,