Murmurs: Portland Art Museum Plans for Rothko Pavilion Now Include Breezeway

In other news: Oregon cannabis prices hit record lows.

This walkway at the Portland Art Museum was created in 1968, when the city set aside a portion of Southwest Madison Street for walking and biking. Now the museum wants to use the site for its new Rothko Pavilion. (Sam Gehrke)

Portland Art Museum Plans Now Include Breezeway: The Portland Art Museum's plan for a $50 million Rothko Pavilion now includes an open breezeway to allow pedestrians to walk through the expansion—addressing some of the objections raised by disability rights advocates and other critics. To connect the two wings of the museum, the original construction plan would have enclosed part of a pedestrian right of way that links two downtown blocks ("The Rothko Job," WW, May 3, 2017). Museum officials announced plans for the new building before asking City Council for permission to enclose the public passage, which the Council ultimately granted last December. Now they're amending their plans. The new designs feature an open-air walkway connecting the two blocks and an entryway structure intended to make the building more wheelchair-friendly. The new drawings will move forward for design review Aug. 27.

Newest renderings. (Courtesy of Portland Art Museum)

Oregon Cannabis Prices Hit Record Lows: Oregon weed isn't just the cheapest in the country. Its wholesale prices for outdoor-grown cannabis flower are now the lowest the United States has ever seen. Those wholesale prices hit an all-time low last week at an average of $398 per pound, says Cannabis Benchmarks, which monitors industry prices nationwide. The group says the Oregon price is "the lowest ever observed for that grow type in any market." That's a result of a massive oversupply of recreational marijuana since last fall's harvest—a glut that is putting growers out of business because their product has so little value ("Too Much Weed," WW, April 18, 2018). Leading cannabis economist Beau Whitney says he is not surprised prices keep falling in Oregon. "There are still growers entering into the market, and because they're entering into the market, there's going to continue to be a healthy supply at least into 2019," he says. "We can expect to see continued price declines for at least eight to 12 months."

Walmart Broke Law by Refusing Gun Sale to Teen: The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found this week that a Walmart store in St. Helens violated the state's nondiscrimination laws when it refused to sell a rifle to a woman who was not yet 21 years old. Hannah Brumbles, 18, of Deer Island, Ore., filed a civil rights complaint with the state agency in April. She says Walmart discriminated against her by refusing to sell her a rifle, even though Oregon law says individuals over 18 may legally purchase firearms. BOLI agrees. Two previous complaints filed with BOLI were withdrawn before the agency could finish its civil rights investigations. Brumbles' case is set for a hearing in November to determine damages, which could be as high as $5,000. It also sets a precedent: Stores are legally obligated to sell guns to 18-year-olds in Oregon, unless lawmakers act.

Wildfire Smoke Swallows Oregon: Smoke from wildfires has made Oregon's air some of the most toxic in the nation, and venturing outside is a health risk. Eric Schoening, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Western Region, says Oregon and Washington are the only two states in the U.S. to undergo statewide air quality alerts. Schoening says smoke from Pacific Northwest fires has drifted southeast into Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and even as far northeast as New York. "The West is seeing the biggest impact with regards to air quality and visibility," he tells WW. To boot: On Aug. 21, Portland tied its all-time record for most days in a year at or above 90 degrees: 29.

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