July 3, 2008
With seemingly very little effort, Portland is undoubtedly one of America’s coolest cities. Everywhere you look, Portland exudes a cultural confidence often reserved for larger, older, more established locations. There’s probably plenty of people from Portland that would be the first to argue otherwise, but that’s what makes it so great. It’s unpretentious and unassuming. There’s also a ‘do it yourself’ attitude throughout the arts community which was great to document. One of our favourite sightings was a sign simply stating “Keep Portland Weird” located in the Laurelhurst district , home to one of our featured artists, Brittany Powell. We thought that summed up Portland and its joie de vivre quite nicely.
Streets lined with craftsmen homes dating from the 30s, Laurelhurst has on display a number of examples of its art deco building past; such as the Coca Cola plant, and the Laurelhurst theatre (one of Brittany’s picks, it shows repertoire films and serves beer. Very nice).
Home to a mix of interesting businesses from tapas eateries , funky barber shop (link and description), cozy pubs and unique dessert shops (a few selects from our host include, The Farm-a restaurant in a converted farmhouse, or “Le Pigeon”, an eclectic French restaurant) Le Pigeon is indicative of the tongue and cheek names of many Portland establishments. Others include: Le Happy, The Betty Ford Lounge, Lowbrow Lounge, Franks Alot Hotdogs, and Virginia Woof Doggie Day Spa. There are also some great examples of Portland’s art-deco architectural past in the Laurelhurst Theatre and the Coca-Cola building.
We couldn’t resist checking out the Kennedy, an old high school that’s been converted into a hotel, theatre, and numerous restaurants, all housed in former classrooms. Restaurants on-site include “The Detention Room” and the “Honors” bar. Of course.
A few short blocks from there, is Alberta Street, a vibrant community with a lot of cheap eats and authentic and interesting shops. Good people watching too. We met a guy on the street who was on his way to a bike polo match. Other locals we met told us that we had just missed the Alberta Street arts Festival.