Wednesday , January 24 2018
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Barry Johnson & Bob Hicks






Two of Oregon’s most esteemed arts blogging arts coverage on Oregon ArtsWatch

Born: Kentucky, Washington

Arrived: 1979, 1974

Favorite Place: 1320 Broadway, the old Oregonian building

Why?  Barry: I spent many years doing arts journalism in this building with the likes of Mr. Bob Hicks. We had a great time thinking and writing about the art and artists around us. Which isn’t to say it was always a bed of roses—or maybe it was, just thorns and all! Still, the writers, editors, photographers and designers I worked with were most often brilliant, diligent, insightful and demanding in the best way, which is all I could have hoped for. I’m so glad the building itself is finding a second life.

Bob: Reason for choosing 1320 Broadway, the old Oregonian building that’s undergoing a head-to-toe renovation: I worked there, for The Oregonian and the old Oregon Journal, from 1974 through 2007. In a way, I grew up with Portland in that space. For all of those years 1320 was a dingy catacomb of a space, a place of makeshift tunnels and burrows, and I couldn’t figure out how an architect like Pietro Belluschi could have designed such a dismal 19th century factory of a building. Turns out he didn’t. It’s exciting to see Allied Works’ restoration to something closely approximating Belluschi’s original grand design, which was long buried beneath “improvements” by the time I walked through the doors. Why is it a favorite? The stories, of course. Thousands and thousands of stories, coming in on ticker tape and telephone lines and spilling out of notepads and into typewriters and keyboards and onto newsprint. And the inside-the-monster stories of how the daily sausage was made and the people who made it. And the hundreds of stories that got away, because of lack of time or not reaching the proper source or falling victim to the editors’ spike. A whole way of life, for good and bad, thrummed inside those walls. If you didn’t love it, you were miserable. If you did love it, you felt the misery but also the thrill and the occasional joy.

Portland is…

Barry: “Portland is struggling for the first time with Big City problems, and I’m hoping that the creativity that has taken root here will be sufficient to help develop solutions for them that will be fair, practical and satisfying.”

Bob: “Portland is losing the grit beneath its fingernails. Not the easy flannel coffee shop neo-grit. The blue-collar, hard-nosed, tough-beneath-the-petticoats grit of a frontier town. It’s a small city now, feeling its oats, believing its own press releases, and as it’s grown it’s added lots of good stuff, including a big and sprawling and adventurous arts scene. I like that. Still: it’s a bubble, isn’t it?”