Art is work. We celebrate the geniuses with virtuoso brilliance and seemingly effortless creativity, but that’s not the way it is for most professionals. Sure, Portland has plenty of dilettantes whoins want to sleep until noon, hot-glue neon pipe cleaners to a salvaged brick and talk about their “process.” But for the majority of local artists—those who rise before sunrise to spin Alpine folk music, who spend months carving impossibly intricate wooden marionettes, who stay up until 2 am to find the perfect twist of phrase—the act of creation is labor. It’s punctuated by flashes of inspiration and moments of wonder, but it’s work nevertheless.
We wanted to watch. So, on a Thursday in August, Willamette Week writers spent 24 continuous hours immersed in the arts of varied disciplines, all across this city. You might not consider it art to fold tinfoil into a dragonfly, or to sculpt an elaborate cake, but for this day, we cast a wide and generous net. What we found was startling focus, surprising artistic vision and unnerving tolerance for repetition.
Sometimes, these artists’ work produces a bird sculpture made of driftwood or a spray-painted billboard. Other times, it’s an Emmy-winning TV show or a dress to wear to the Emmy ceremony. Here’s what happened on that humid August day.