In what will go down as one of the longest and ugliest battles the Art Scene has ever known, John Graeter of Portland City Art (.org) has made it official tonight: his non-profit group is throwing in the towel. Portland City Art (.com) is victorious. Before we get to the festivities (which have been going full force since late Saturday evening when Graeter placed a phone call to our offices to privately concede), here is the official, unedited and unabbreviated concession speech directly from the losing camp’s headquarters.
Dear Artists, Art Patrons and Portland City Art supporters,
I have important news to share about Portland City Art [.org].
As many of you know, Portland City Art [.org] was officially started when founder Chris Haberman and myself joined forces in May of 2009. We began with modest resources, ambitious goals and a creative vision to bring Portland artists and the art community together in alternative venues that presented a refreshed, compelling and engaging environment for patrons and the greater public to experience and appreciate art. Our first large show, The Manor of Art, was a huge success by all accounts, and in retrospect, a voracious inaugural accomplishment and compelling representation for the creative vision both Chris and I had dreamed for Portland City Art [.org]. Amazed, inspired, bewildered (and exhausted) from the subsequent momentum that the Manor produced, Chris and I set forth a path for the upcoming year that proved to be equally as ambitious.
Joining forces with Administrative Director Andrea “Ray” Boyle in October 2009, and with the steadfast support of the city, our artists, our volunteers, community members and patrons, Portland City Art [.org] went on to produce and present several large community art events including: The Big 100 (with Jason Brown), The Love Show (with Ben Pink), Works IV, A Rainy Day Wildfire and the most recent PDX Bridge Festival Gallery Tour. During this time and since May of 2009, Portland City Art [.org] also continued to present and showcase local emerging and established artists in our monthly art shows at Olympic Mills Commerce Center, Eastbank Commerce Center, Water Ave Corridor Gallery, The Nest Lounge, The Limelight, Slinde & Nelson Lawfirm, Rumblefish Music, Accanto Restaurant and three spaces at Pioneer Place Mall. Since May of 2009, we are proud to have presented the work of over 800 Portland artists at each of these alternative venues!
Since February of 2010, upon Chris Haberman’s departure to pursue his own art career, the Portland City Art [.org] team has consisted of: myself as Creative and Executive Director, Ray as Administrative Director, hard-working volunteers, and the generous and notable assistance of art admin super-stars Dianna Fontes and Elizabeth Lamb. Still, many people asked us at our shows, “how many people does it take to produce all this work?,” and “how do you accomplish all this every month?” and “how do you sustain the operation of these huge events?” These valid questions, though vexing to answer in with any succinct one-liner, are ones that I have often asked myself the past year and half. There is no escaping the reality that the past year and half has been a tremendous personal investment and sacrifice for both myself, for Andrea, and all of our volunteers. As you can probably deduce, the amount of work and funds to sustain a monthly operation like Portland City Art [.org] is a particularly challenging accomplishment for a team of essentially two people.
This being said, I am sad to say that Portland City Art [.org] can no longer afford to continue our services and business operations, in the current format, after September. Though our events, art shows and mission has the proud vocal support of our Mayor, our commissioners and city, our artists, patrons, business partners and community members, we cannot sustain ourselves on only applause, praise and positive feedback. We face the reality of our production, employment and material costs which collectively constitute an enormous responsibility that can longer be financed or creatively alleviated.
Starting in October, I will personally continue to curate two of our venues, Slinde & Nelson and Accanto Restaurant under the name Graeter Art Rep. Portland City Art [.org] will officially be dissolved, and we will halt production of all events and art shows at our other venues. Please contact me at: email@example.com, if you have questions concerning any of the above.
I’d like to personally thank the hard work of our staff, our generous volunteers, our art patrons and supporters and especially my good friend, business partner and original founder of Portland City Art [.org], Chris Haberman. Last but certainly not least, I would like to once more thank the continued support of our tremendous local artists, to each of who has been an honor to work with, and to each who comprise the essence of Portland City Art [.org]’s vibrant mission. It has been an honor to work with you all, and I look forward to supporting your work for years to come.
Creative Director, Co-founder
Portland City Art [.org]