Mr.Mr. and I headed over to Alberta street last week for the famed Last Thursday Art Walk. We had heard a number of conflicting opinions on its popularity and were hoping to swing by the stand of a fellow Scrap-er to check out her crafty wares. Little did we know, the entire street was closed to traffic and event staff had been hired to coordinate the evening's vendors and visitors. Needless to say, I've never seen more people in one place in Portland like this. It was the capacity equivalent of a large annual street fair like those held in Seattle (think Fremont Solstice Parade, UDistrict Street Fair, or the Ballard Sunday Market on speed)... only this happens every month.
One artist we spoke to seemed to think the event was on the verge of collapsing in on itself due to the size. According to him, the event had evolved dramatically over the past five years and both patrons and vendors were reaching a saturation point. Adding fuel to the fire, the Last Thursday event is a largely unregulated free for all when it comes to setting up and maintaining a booth. It's first come, first served for space on the busy sidewalks and there are no entry requirements or booth fees. If you're picking up what I'm laying down, this means the city of Portland is both opening themselves up to potential safety/legal issues and passing up a big opportunity to turn a profit on this year-round, popular event.
Logistics aside, we made the grave mistake of parking on the East end of the street which resulted in our walking directly into the sun for the entire length of Alberta, shielding our eyes with the Noir issue of Bitch magazine we picked up for free. The discovery of the evening was the work of the very talented Yellena James on display at the Together Gallery. Ms. James crafts gorgeously vibrant pen and ink drawings on clay board that seem to be a combination wandering notebook doodle and naturalistic illustration from some psychedelic hiking guide. Bright colors pop out among undulating tendrils and cellular shapes, creating a fantastic combination of pattern and color. I am absolutely smitten with her work and will have to begin saving some serious pennies to add one to my collection sometime soon. Check out Yellena's work or visit her blog to see for yourself.