08 January 2009

Vol. 0, Issue 1 | Follow that Kilted Man

Parte the Firste [originally written 08 August 2003, 3:48pm]

Downtown PDX: I'm coming out of... a Portland landmark, having reconnected with an old friend (this will be a later story, I'm sure), when I notice this guy walking along the street, wearing a Utilikilt (www.utilikilts.com). Now, I just happen to be in the market for the Utilikilt, so I stop and chat with him. I realize that he happened to be with another birthday party at the Alibi, the night I went out with my friend Lee for his birthday. He asks if I do First Thursday. I replied that I was going to do First Thursday tonight.

*From your Virtual Portland Tour Guide: “First Thursday”: On the 1st Thursday of each month, the galleries in the downtown area (specifically the Pearl District, in NW) host opening for their new exhibits and Portlanders do a walking tour of the galleries. A similar event, called “Last Thursday” occurs in the recently trendy (read: gentrified) NE Alberta Neighborhood, on (go figure) the last Thursday of each month. The second and third Thursdays remain culturally virginal.

Anyway, Kilt Man gives me an address and a time to show up at, mentioning something about a jet boat. I’m intrigued. I’ll go, though it is funny to me that I have no idea who this guy is (other than he shares a fashion interest) nor do I know where I’m going. But, what the hell. Could be interesting... We’ll see.

Parte the Seconde

Time finally limps its way to the 5'O'Clock; I close up the office and make my way to the Pearl District.

After a brief stop at Todai (gathering info for my upcoming dinner), I headed through downtown towards the galleries of the Pearl. My original plan was to visit Zeitgeist, a gallery that fancies itself being on the raw side of the art world. I just like it ‘cause I am enamored of the word “zeitgeist”, so what do I know. Zeitgeist is one of the many gallery/lofts of the Everett St. Lofts, designed with the independent artist in mind. When I arrived at Everett St, Zeitgeist was the only gallery NOT open. Heh. So I meandered around some of the other galleries. Most were fairly pedestrian, possessing pieces that would really only garner the phrase “Gee, that’s... Interesting” from me. Which is, for those unaccustomed to attending gallery opening with me, my way of politely saying that I think it’s crap. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard that phrase from others when viewing my art, mostly from those who didn’t understand it or didn’t like it and were being polite. Perhaps, I’d be serving my fellow artists better if I just told them there art was pedestrian at best. Though they are a temperamental and moody lot, so perhaps not. I may not be the world’s best artist, but I do know when I’m looking at good and bad art, and when the artist is being sincere and when they’re just being pretentious. Damn it. I’m rambling again. Onward...

So, after my initial wandering through the galleries, I make my way to Flanders (the next street North), which is where I’m to find Kilt-Man’s loft. I should mention that the directions he gave me consisted of “Broadway and Flanders. Push the bottom button, between 6 and 7. We leave at 7 for the jet boats. Broadway. Flanders. Flanders side. Bottom button. Later.” Turns out that he also lives in the Everett St Lofts, on the Flanders St side. I pushed the bottom button on the call box, not sure what to say when someone answers, since I don’t even know Kilt-Man’s name yet. Fretting over nothing, the door just buzzes open, and up the stairs I go...

Parte the Laste

I get upstairs, to the roof courtyard, where I’m met by a young man (my parents’ rule: anyone younger than you, you may refer to as ‘kid’ or any variant thereof, so Nyah!) named Bryce, who turns out to be Kilt-Man’s son. He leads me past another roof party (and among the guests I see one of my professors... It’s one of those days...) to Kilt-Man’s apartment. At this point, I finally get to introduce myself properly, and learn that my host’s name is Kirk. Kirk gives me a brief tour of his loft, where all but a couple pieces of art are his, meaning he made them. Lots and lots of found object art. He’s currently putting together Plexiglas boxes with functioning transistor radio parts. Wish I had photos; his art is rather nifty. To afford the time/supplies for his art, he works as a production coordinator at Intel.

After the tour, I’m introduced to members of his... crew, I guess. I met Rachel (Kirk’s girlfriend, I think?), whom I discussed fairy tales and mythology with; Julie; Lisa; Todd; Tex; Fernie (short for Fernando); Kevin; Corey & Renee. There were more people there, but I never did catch their names. The plan was to go down to the river front, catch the free jet boat to an island in the Willamette, and visit a gallery out there. We managed to make it to the river front, but far too late to catch the boat. Instead, we wandered through downtown, making mayhem on our way back to Kirk’s place. Mayhem included taking open containers of alcohol onto public transit and climbing around on a statue, which turned out to belong to the federal government and was a big no-no. Heh.

We all made it back to the lofts, and meandered around several more galleries. One gallery was actually an auto repair and body shop. They were displaying works by an artist with a decidedly Rastafarian muse. I wandered off on my own for a bit, venturing into a gallery I’d missed before. The artist was a photographer who’d lived in Japan, Osaka specifically, for four years. I could be totally off, but I believe he said that in that time, he’d shot 800 rolls of B/W film. Could be all the interaction I’ve had lately with other Japanese, but the photos really struck a chord with me. His name is Frank Miller, which is the same as a rather notorious comic book writer/artist, which again gets back to my comment on fractal patterns vs. coincidences. He and I talked for quite a bit, but the discussion was cut short, since he was hosting his opening. I’ve his card, so he told me to email him and talk with him again.

I ended back up at Kirk’s briefly, to check in with him and thank him for his hospitality before I headed home. His response was to make sure I’d be returning for the next First Thursday event, and to tell me that I was one of them now. Thus, my words of wisdom for the evening are: Follow the Man in the Kilt. You never know where you’ll end up, but it’ll be fun.

A postscript: Rather than walk several blocks to my usual bus, I catch the Burnside line, since it’ll drop me near home too. A stop later, a young man and woman board and sit near me. They’re engaged in lively conversation. Scratch that. She’s engaged in lively conversation, he’s entranced. I unintentionally eavesdrop on them; she’s so animated that it’s hard not to, and the guy’s name was “Jason” (my best friend's name) and he had the symbol for “Ohm” tattooed on his forearm. Again, hard not to be intrigued. As he’s getting off the bus, she mentions to him that her band plays at Ohm, a bar downtown. I tap her on the shoulder and ask her the name of her band. She introduces herself, Jen, and tells me her band is Dahlia. A couple weeks ago, my coworker Cleann saw her show and raved about it. Jen encourages me to come out to see the show next Tuesday. My birthday. So, now I know what I’m doing after the sushi feasting. As she gets off the bus, I hand her my ad hoc business card. Which, presently, bears the “Ohm” symbol on the back. Hurm. Patterns converge, and I’m left wondering what the hell the universe is trying to tell me.

So then, the lesson is: If you see a man in a kilt, say hi. You never know where the day will take you.

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