I recently attended Art in the Pearl, the annual display of very talented artisans in downtown Portland held Labor Day weekend. Their work is stunning. So creative, so detailed, so expensive. You can tell by looking at the finely crafted wood furniture and cleverly unique artwork that you can’t afford to have any of it in your own home.
One artist didn’t have prices on any of his work. He had these incredible martini glasses with drops of water on them that looked like a photograph. He explained that there were NOT photographs, and that’s why they cost $3,000, because they were hand painted.
Everything we saw was gorgeous and intriguing – artwork that you’d enjoy and that would also impress your friends.
Contrast these with the artwork I saw at a street fair a couple of weeks ago. Most of that art looked like psychedelics were involved. Bright colors swirled over canvases like a hurricane had blown through the artist’s studio. Most were made with “hard” colors – I don’t know how else to describe them. Reds and yellows and royal blues fighting for real estate on the canvas. They looked like children had been instructed to use as many colors as they could as long as they had absolutely no subject. The odd thing was that booth after booth had these kinds of paintings, as if the whole street had sent their kids to a “street fair” art class.
There were others with hateful looking demons or weird creatures painted with blacks and touches of red. Who is going to buy such a thing besides Satan? They were totally creepy. If I had one of those things in my house and woke up and saw it in the eerie glow of a nightlight, I’d never get back to sleep.
The main difference between these two approaches to art boiled down to time invested. The artists at the Pearl looked like their work took hours and hours and hours to do. At Alberta Street, their work looked like it took seconds.
Another difference was price. Most everything at the Pearl appealed to me but was too expensive. Much at the street fair was unappealing but quite affordable.
Anyone young and/or on drugs is going to take offense at what I’m saying here. They will say it’s a matter of taste, and I should be open to people’s artistic expression, and they’re absolutely right. It is true that my particular taste runs to things that would look good anywhere as opposed to things that would only look appropriate in a third-world insane asylum.
But I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I will end with the observation that I very much enjoyed looking at the artwork at the street fair and jabbing my husband in the ribs when I saw something particularly eye-wrenching, er, I mean eye-catching. This is one thing I like about Portland. You can find something for everyone around here – from the strictly upper crust to the lowly heel coated in fuzzy blue mold.
And if you have a taste for the bizarre – you’re in luck! You can pick up artwork for cheap – in many instances two for one, 35% off today only, or at a “street fair” special. And if you have some pot on you, you could probably get an even better deal than that.