Five years strong and running full tilt—which proves arts and culture are central to Portland’s very identity. This issue [of Artslandia’s Performing Arts Annual] is fat! The arts are growing, and this chunk you’re holding in your hands is a testament to that.
It’s fair to say that Portland is defined by the ideas that course through the veins of its people at any given moment—ideas that drive and reflect what’s arguably the most interesting city in America. Call it the “pioneer spirit” if you must, but there’s a DIY mentality in Portland that empowers all of us to create the stuff of dreams. Art, beer, shoes, fashion, music, dance, sports, literature, medicine, food, hi-tech, lo-fi, startup, merger, spinoff, and on and on. We’re a city that goes to sleep at night and wakes up somehow different the next day, every day. Portlanders are not only interesting…we’re interested, as well. We’re eager to know what we’re doing, how we’re doing. We all have something at stake in this big experiment we’re living.
Portland is a city of tradition and origins. When we started BodyVox 18 years ago, we knew there was already a rich history of dance in town. Yet we also knew that what we were doing hadn’t been done before and that it could be done, here, in this place. We sensed there would be an audience; there would be interest; we could create community and be a part of something. We started with a revolutionary Carmina Burana complete with a six-foot boa constrictor,
a bucket of red apples, drunken monks, and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth: the Garden of Eden personified. The motifs were familiar, yet fresh.
All art is public at one point or another. One chilly December day, we made a movie in the central Oregon desert under four aerial cranes that swooped in a mechanical ballet high above the desert floor. Later, a friend told us she watched the whole event from her kitchen a mile away, blasting Copland’s Appalachian Spring. We’ve danced in the Zoo, the Arboretum, the Museum, Rose Garden, Starlight Parade, Vigor, PNCA, RACC, PGE, Nike…you name it. In Portland, we have a special place in our hearts for public art. It probably started in the ‘70s with Bud Clark’s famous “Expose Yourself to Art” poster. Today, art springs up in public places unannounced, and it’s not mellow. It’s more often a challenge, a throwdown, a bar to jump over. We take art on its own terms, and if we don’t like the terms, we change them. No apologies. Even the story of our sculpture Portlandia is still an unfinished saga…
In Portland, BodyVox found fertile ground: We could share our art and be a feather in the wings of the beautiful bird that Portland has become. For 18 years, we’ve seen that the only limitation is imagination. If you can dream it, see it, feel it, you can do it. Here. In this place.
JAMEY HAMPTON & ASHLEY ROLAND
Artistic Directors, BodyVox
ARTSLANDIA AMBASSADORS 15/16