Public Art and the Portland Building


Four PNCA students and alums exhibit in the Portland Building's Installation Space

A few weeks ago, in late March 2012, PNCA student Jodie Cavalier, MFA VS ’12 installed a new art piece in the lobby of the Portland Building. The installation, titled Untitled (After Michael Graves), 2012, is the most recent in a long series of provocative exhibitions. Cavalier is the first of four PNCA community members who will reinvent the lobby’s small exhibition space. The others include Kendra Larson (BFA ‘04), Leslie Vigeant (MFA ACD ‘11), and Linda Hutchins (BFA ‘88).

Each year the Portland Building Installation Space series grants twelve artists the opportunity to exhibit their work. The proposals are selected through a juried process and chosen based on their potential to provoke the general public to “re-examine its expectations and definitions of art through dialogue about the role of art in public spaces.” Each artist receives a small honorarium to help fund his or her month-long exhibition.

Cavalier’s award is one of several reserved for advanced students in fine art. The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) created this separate eligibility category to help introduce emerging talents to the world of public art. Cavalier is the first student to present work this year. Other recent emerging students from PNCA to exhibit in the Portland Building have included Zach Rau, MFA VS ’10, Laura Hughes, MFA VS ’10, Michael Reinsch, MFA VS ’09, and Christina Conant, MFA ACD ’11.

Cavalier proposed a minimalist installation focusing on selected architectural details of the iconic Portland Building. Her previous work deconstructs moments and artifacts into minimalist sculptural forms. By resituating particular details of the Portland Building, Cavalier hopes to distill the essence of a monument into a few, discrete lines and shapes.


“Hug,” by Jodie Cavalier, 2011.

“Love it or hate it, the Portland Building is one of this country’s earliest postmodern icons,” says Cavalier, “and it is clearly distinct from other buildings with easily identifiable color, design and ornamentation details.”

From Cavalier’s project statement:

Untitled (After Michael Graves),uses elements from the Portland Building designed by Graves and erected in 1985, to create a site specific installation. The building is distinct for its bold use of color and architectural details. Elements such as line, color, texture and shape were the foundation for this minimal and formal presentation. The small squares drawn directly onto the gallery wall in green pencil, reference the small windows in the upper floors and the green color scheme that wrap the bottom of the building. The stainless steel strips of tape adhered to the wall reference the reflective lines of windows at the face of the building. Triangular shapes are repeated throughout the building and installation utilizing color schemes from both the interior and exterior.

The use of readily available materials such as thread, tape, tile, and pencil, serve as a point of access for viewers and challenge notions of art and everyday construction materials. The subtlety of color and line in the installation points back to the bold design elements of the building in playful way and understated ways.”

Cavalier’s installation will be up through April 20, 2012.


“Mt. Hood,” by Kendra Larson, 2009.

Ten days later, on April 30, another PNCA community member, Kendra Larson, who graduated in 2004 with a concentration in painting, will mount her month-long exhibition, Aviary (from April 30 – May 25, 2012). Larson proposes to reconstruct a “Northwest forest diorama complete with three-dimensional birds perched and flying in the space.” Combining her spooky wall paintings with a series of small bird sculptures, Larson’s installation with ask viewers to reconsider our assumed perceptions of the area’s bioregion and of what “being in the wild” really means.


“Twisted Wire, Packaged,” Material Rescue League, Leslie Vigeant, 2011.

In mid August, Leslie Vigeant, MFA ACD ’11 will mount a re-exploration of her graduate practicum work, Material Rescue League. Having recently completed a fellowship at the Portland City Dump in 2010, Vigeant will explore “the absurdity of the retail industry by branding and re-packaging post-consumer materials.” Material Rescue League is an examination of how susceptible consumers are to packaging and marketing, especially when it becomes clear that the objects of attention are, in fact, trash.


“Lineal Silver,” Linda Hutchins, 2007.

In the fall, Linda Hutchins, ’88 will install Apart Along, Together, a set of silverpoint drawings created on site and in full view of passers-by. Both performance and painting, the three resulting silverpoint “constellations” will manifest by repeating a single gesture multiple times. The marks, scribed on the paper by silver thimbles on the artist’s hands, will vividly speak to the presence of the artist, even when she is not present.

Upcoming Exhibitions in the Portland Building:

Jodie Cavalier, MFA VS ’12: March 26, 2012 – April 20, 2012
Kendra Larson, ’04: April 30, 2012 – May 25, 2012
Leslie Vigeant, MFA ACD ’11: August 13, 2012 – September 7, 2012
Linda Hutchins, ’88: October 22, 2012 – November 16, 2012

by Killeen Hanson, MFA ACD '12

— Posted on 04/11 at 03:01 PM

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