On Wednesday, April 8, 1998, Reed College’s Division of Arts and Division of Language and Literature will present a panel-led public discussion examining the significance of contemporary, avant-garde and marginal art mediums in Portland and the surrounding region. Led by Jon Raymond, artist/editor for Plazm and visual art critic for both The Oregonian and Willamette Week, the panel will include: Kristy Edmunds, curator/executive director, PICA; Mike Brophy, visual artist; Marcus Verhagen, assistant professor of art history, Reed College; and Miranda July, visual/performance artist and founder, Big Miss Moviola Productions.

Does the quintessential avant-garde artist exist at the end of the twentieth century? Perhaps not as he or she did one hundred years ago when the avant-garde fought to revolutionize bourgeois society. Much has been written about the “death of the avant-garde” in a postmodern culture that is saturated with information from the internet and MTV. We live in a culture where little of anything is shocking. Many critics and theorists have suggested that the avant-garde desire to be ever new and startling is no longer possible. 

Why then, are there still artists working on the margins of art who resist mainstream cultural aesthetics? What drives them to create work that is challenging to observers and not always easy to comprehend? Like much in our region, Portland’s art scene is growing. There are new voices being heard that are leading audiences away from the hegemony of traditional downtown arts institutions in search of something new. 

Portland has a long way to go before it becomes the cultural center of contemporary art, but this doesn’t seem to bother those who charge ahead. What makes Portland’s cultural community so lively is its will to discover new territory in art that is as unique as the territory in which we live.

Join us at Reed College for what will certainly be an eventful discussion of art and culture by some of Portland’s most compelling and thoughtful voices in the contemporary arts community.

The April 8 Symposium is free and open to the public. The discussion will be held at Reed College, Vollum Center Lecture Hall from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30p.m.

For further information or directions please contact Bryan Markovitz at 228-7231.