Portland City Art (.org) CONCEDES

concession speech photo

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: j.graeter@gmail.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.

Sincerely,

John Graeter
Creative Director, Co-founder
Portland City Art [.org]

Blockbuster Artist Trade Finalized! Elliott Sends Kraft to Haberman in Exchange for Sincere Compliment

(l to r) Steve Elliott, a career slacker whose most notable achievement as an artist was selling a painting for 100 beers; Charlie Alan Kraft, self-proclaimed “wildman” and creator of the How to Paint Like Famous Artists instructional videos; Chris Haberman, sleazy used car salesman artist, sells over 1,000 paintings a year and still qualifies for food stamps.

The Portland art scene was rudely awakened from a Pabst Blue Ribbon induced slumber early this morning by a shocking development that has insiders scratching their heads in disbelief: Steve Elliott has traded Charlie Alan Kraft to Chris Haberman in exchange for one sincere compliment. The Bad News Bears are no more.

Inspired by the recent Philadelphia Eagles trade of superstar quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins for a draft pick, Elliott felt it was time for a change as well.

“That Eagles trade was like the writing on the wall for me. If they can send a guy who is arguably 100% responsible for their long run of success to a hated, bitter rival, well, why not send Charlie over to Chris? I wouldn’t say he has been a good friend, or even that he will be missed, but he has been a great guy to brainstorm with, bounce ideas off of…

“Nah, really we just hung around on barstools burning through our unemployment checks together. He’s played a huge part in the non-success of Portland City Art (.com), and it won’t be the same without him, for sure. No matter how bad you fuck things up, you can’t help but feel good about yourself when he’s around. Still, though, as the Eagles demonstrated, sometimes you just have to shake things up and start over. I think he will do more harm than good for Haberman, in the long run, and by the end of the year I think you will see that it was a pretty smart fuckin’ move. Who else can say they’ve received a sincere compliment from Habe?”

Charlie Alan Kraft, a founding member of Portland City Art (.com), issued the following statement:

“You know, Steve is a smart guy and everything, and he bought me a lot of beers in the past few years, but I gotta admit, I’m looking forward to getting out of this whole false negativity thing, and getting back to Haberman’s brand of false positivity. I mean, it’s all bullshit right? Might as well make it sound good. Not to mention, there is always plenty of food to go around with Chris. The only time Steve ever fed me, I was sick with food poisoning for a week.”

Chris Haberman, founder of Portland City Art (.org), was unavailable for comment at the time of this writing, but a key insider from Team Haberman (who asked to remain anonymous) filled us in on the biggest mystery of all: What was the compliment that Elliott received in exchange for Kraft?

“Chris told Steve straight up that he really liked the way he wore slacks. There was direct eye contact, it was for real.”

So how will this trade shape the Portland art scene in the coming months? Will Haberman and Kraft be able to put the last few years of venomous animosity behind them and break bean burritos together? Will Elliott be able to find a new conspirator crazy enough to help him realize his plans of working without doing any work, and/or pissing everyone off? Only time will tell, but for now, keep your browser tuned to Portland City Art (.com) for all the latest, greatest, and most heinous happenings in the world of Portland art.

Ben Pink NO LONGER OWES ME MONEY, part 1

In what can only be described as a STUNNING COINCIDENCE, Ben Pink no longer owes me money. Shortly after I ran the original article Ben Pink OWES ME MONEY, the man himself got in touch with me.

“I will be at the gallery Thursday, and will have a check for you then.”

Give it a minute to sink in… Ben Pink… the same guy I told you was harder to squeeze than a gorilla… owner/operator of Launchpad Gallery (new work by emerging artists, like Chris Haberman)… offering to part with his dear, beloved money. My heart actually stopped beating for a minute or two. Read it again: “…have a check for you…”

What the fuck?

So Thursday finally came, and even though it was clearly some kind of setup, I couldn’t resist. On the way over to  Launchpad I came across an angry little 8-year-old that was mercilessly taunting the elderly.

“Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“Today’s Thursday, dumbshit.”

Something occurred to me… Ben Pink and his minions would be far less likely to kidnap and torture me if I was with a little kid. “Hey, you seem like a nice kid. I’ll buy you a Mountain Dew if you come somewhere with me and pretend to be my nephew.” He agreed (obviously! all kids love Mountain Dew), but insisted on payment up-front. So we walked to the store first, then over to the gallery.

Just outside the door to Launchpad, several rough looking types were betting on what appeared to be a kitten fight. One of them looked up at me and frowned. “You were supposed to come alone,” he said quietly like Edward James Olmos. He looked us up and down a few times, and after about five minutes he ushered us over to a blood-stained side door. There was a little pink bucket full of what looked like spare kitty parts next to it. A bird was perched above on the gutter, licking its beak. I started to think that maybe showing up had been a not-so-good idea, in particular bringing the kid with me, but before I could make a run for it the door slid open.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw next. Ben Pink himself was sitting there on the toilet taking a shit COMPLETELY NAKED. He looked up with an amazingly wide grin.

“So glad you could make it!” he chirped. “I see you brought a little friend, I love kids! Come here little guy!”

The kid took off.

Ben: “Oh how adorable!”

Me: “So… well… about that check…”

Ben: “Nonsense, my friend! Checks are for disabled people in wheelchairs, how do you feel about cash?”

Me: “Well… whatever’s easiest…”

He reached down to the pants that were rumpled on the floor next to him and pulled out an immaculate velcro wallet. It was black. “Almost there!” He opened the wallet and smelled the inside. “I love it!” He got up and started doing what I’m guessing he might call his money dance. Completely naked.

Me: “So… uhm…”

Ben: “Where are my manners, I forgot you were even there!”

Me: “No problem…”

Ben: “Thanks for waiting!”

Me: “Sure… uhm…”

Ben: “Say the magic word!”

Me: “…”

Ben: “Come on, say it! I love the magic word!”

Me: “Please?”

Ben: “No, the MAGIC word!”

Me: “Pay me?”

Ben: “That’s two words, you big dork! Come on, think MAGIC!”

Me: “Abracadabra?”

As soon as I said it, the wallet disappeared in a small poof of smoke. Ben Pink began hopping and clapping his hands together. “Check your pockets! Check your pockets!” His excitement was scaring me, so I reached in and checked my pockets. Nothing. Just the crap I had when I showed up. I kept digging around, thinking maybe I missed something. Nope.

Me: “Ben… I don’t think the trick worked.”

Ben: “Nonsense!”

Me: “I mean, it was cool how the wallet disappeared, but…”

Ben: “Check your pockets again!”

I checked my pockets again. Nothing.

Ben: “Check your pockets again!”

Me: “Look, man…”

Ben: “Check your pockets again! Pleeease!”

I checked them again. Still empty.

After about the tenth round of the check your pockets game, I decided that no amount of money was worth all of this, so I just said fuck it and started to walk off. Ben Pink ran up behind me (still completely naked) and put his hand on my shoulder.

“Dude, you forgot your money.” His other hand was extended, and was holding a small roll of bills. He was calm all the sudden. “Sorry for putting you through all that just now… You have to admit it was pretty funny, though.” All I could see was the money in his hand. “We’ll should do this again sometime, what do you say?”

“Sure man…” I reached out to grab the money, but before I could get my fingers on it something hit me hard on the back of the head and everything went dark…

TO BE CONTINUED

Until next time,
Bad Habits

Ben Pink OWES ME MONEY

Now I’m not one to point the finger, but Ben Pink (aka Ben Pinkowitz), of Portland’s Launchpad Gallery, is a cheap ass dodgy bastard when it comes to paying for artwork. Not only will he try to pay you as little as possible (since he’s a starving gallery owner), but when he does pay you, it will never be the entire amount. He’ll just give you whatever loose bill happens to be in his pocket. Then he’ll cry to his friends about how they’ll have to buy him drinks cause some mean Portland artist insisted on being paid for their artwork. “Oh, poor, poor me,” he will cry. “I just can’t make ends meat running a gallery in Portland. I am so broke… sob.”

Ben Pink will have you believe that it is YOUR responsibility to make sure he pays you. Chase him down endlessly until somehow you manage to run into him. Then you gotta back him into a corner, after which you must find someone that can lift him up by his feet and shake him up-and-down until whatever scraps he hasn’t palmed away in his greasy little hands drops to the floor. Then he will say, “We’re even now?”

“No, you still owe me.”

“Oh, ok! Glad you’re keeping track, cause I’m not!” Why would Ben Pink keep track of how much money he owes you? It’s all up to you, the artist who should feel grateful that Ben Pink was pleased by your work enough to not pay for it.

Ben Pink… I attended his Love Show back in March, knowing that he would be there, still owing me money. I finally found him over by the kegs directing beer traffic. When I asked Mr. Cheapskate, “Hey, how about buying me a beer?” do you know what he said?

“THREE DOLLARS.”

Be safe,
Bad Habits