Robert Tybie is bringing a little bit of Paris to Portland.
He's preparing to convert the sidewalk bordering Holladay Park
near the Lloyd Center into an outdoor art gallery. The 60-year-old former parking garage manager for City Hall is known among local artists as the creator of the Sunday Art Mart
—a ‘would-be' outdoor art gallery on the top floor of a parking garage on Alder Street. Sunday Art Mart proved to be a bit of a stretch for Tybie—who couldn't meet city standards to get the 419 artists to participate in the summer gallery.
He was about to call it quits and end Citywide Arts Collective—his startup business to get local unknown artists to share and sell their craft. After Sunday Art Mart, “I had all of these applications from all of these artists and I thought, ‘Why don't I try to use these and get a smaller space?' I drove all around the city looking for nooks and crannies for these artists.” Then he saw the perfect stretch of sidewalk on Northeast Multnomah Street between 11th and 13th avenues, across from the south side of the Lloyd Center.
Tybie recalls reading about how European boulevards are converted into mini art galleries where passersby can browse and purchase fine art. Portland's Northeast version of this will be called Fairweather
and is expected to open in April. But the project is currently at a standstill as Tybie is waiting—for nearly a year now—to get his city ordinance.
He was told that he'd have to jump through hoops to get the ordinance since city regulations require a license per block—and Tybie needs 20 blocks' worth of licenses. John Deyo, who is working on Tybie's project in the Department of Transportation, says utilizing sidewalk space for art overlaps several areas. In the spring and summer a lot of maintenance work is done on public sidewalks ,and since the sidewalk borders Holladay Park, Deyo has to “iron out details” with the Parks Bureau.
“It's just down to writing the ordinance, making sure all the conditions are outlined in it and getting it schedule to the council,” he says. So far the public has been positive about Fairweather, says Deyo, “I don't see any issues coming up.”
The sidewalk has room for 20 artists and Tybie has been keeping a waiting list of nearly 40 artists who want a spot on the sidewalk. “We have a lot of really good art events in this town," he says. "But they seem very fussy about who can go there. That's what will make this so different—it's in the same place, it's everyday and I'm not too fussy about who comes. It's not really juried I'm happy to make a spot for anyone.”