The maiden exhibit at Southeast Portland's new YU contemporary art center, Selections from the PCVA Archive, recalls a time when Portland attracted big names in contemporary art and local media covered them with fervor. The exhibit features archival documentation of works by artists such as Chuck Close, John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg (among many others) that originally found their home in the Portland Center for Visual Art over the institution's two-decade lifespan (it closed in 1987).
The exhibit also showcases archives of press coverage from the PCVA's tenure. Among the chronicles of Portland's art past, we found a 1979 Willamette Week story offering extensive coverage of a Rauschenberg exhibit (noted first by WW's Richard Speer here). Our interested piqued, we proceeded, with relentless focus and stamina, to track down the article in our own archives. It is, to say the least, extensive; it spans two pages (WW in 1979 was much larger than it is today) and offers precise detail on the life and times of Robert Rauschenberg, with specific descriptions of his exhibition and a Q&A with the artist.
YU's director, Sandra Percival, explains that archival media coverage is presented within the exhibit in proximity with artist's former PCVA projects to create a juxtaposition between archival media coverage and the ephemera of PCVA artists.
"The newspapers are there for two reasons, to look at the scope of art writing during that time, and in terms of layout of art, its near ephemera that's connected to other material from that artist," Percival says, noting that the 1979 article is presented in conjunction with a Rauschenberg poster.
The depth of the article, according to Percival, is characteristic of Portland art writing at the time.
"There was consistent and very full reporting done by Willamette Week during the PCVA, as well as The Oregonian. Featuring the kind of discussion that was in the press is the key reason why a number of articles are in the exhibition," she says.
Selections from the PCVA Archive runs until July 30 at YU.