Last week I wrote a post about opportunities to get involved in Portland's abundant civic organizations and volunteer groups. This week, I'd like to highlight one of those city committees I'd mentioned — the Portland Public Art Committee, which happens to have an opening right now.
Portland's public art collection is scattered around the city's public spaces, in the city's schools, squares, parks, and streets. It ranges from historic statuary to bus shelters, seasonal light sculptures, growing landscapes. Each year, the City of Portland sets aside one percent of its capital improvements budget to preserve and grow the city's public art collection, according to the Committee's direction.
So this is a great opportunity for a volunteer who wants to enrich the quality of Portland's public spaces with better design. The appointing committee of the city council is looking for people with skills that can benefit the city's collections, including (but not necessarily limited to) curators, architects, artists, developers, scholars, and people with career experience in fundraising or in charitable foundations.
Somewhat relatedly, here's a 1974 film from the National Endowment for the Arts about the construction of downtown's "Michael" sculpture, and the artist John Raimondi's year as the Artist In Residence at the Portland School of Art (known today as Maine College of Art). It's a fascinating look at Portland as it was 40 years ago, and it's also a great demonstration of how public art can unite a community.
It's funny to think that the high school students in this film might be big-wheel patrons of art in their own right today. It's also striking to see downtown Portland in the early 1970s as a bombed-out expanse of empty lots struggling through the city's darkest days of urban renewal — today, the same location (seen in the background of the final minutes of the film, in the scenes where the sculpture is being installed) is a vibrant district of modernist mixed-use buildings.