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The Portland That Was @ 2006 TBA Festival

November 8th, 2010 by Anne Richardson · No Comments · 2000's, Oregon artist, Oregon film archivist, Oregon location (primary), Oregon new media, Oregon producer, Side Notes, Videos

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The Portland That Was is a public history/public art project which uses 12 films from Dennis Nyback’s archive to engage the ghosts of collective memory in site specific ways. Mack McFarland and Dennis Nyback collaborated to create twelve short videos, drawing on Dennis’ films. Damon Eckhoff designed an interface which embedded YouTubes in a Google Map, and I produced.

Probably the most satisfying part of the project was the All Night Caravan which had audiences trooping around after Dennis and Mack as they went from site to site in downtown Portland. Shift 2 Bikes’ Ken Southerland helped with this, moving Dennis’ 16mm projector and equipment from place to place sans automobile, as Dennis screened his archival films against buildings, or, in one instance, a moving Max train.

Executed guerrilla style, without permits, and with crowd sizes from 20 to 100, the All Night Caravan was a one time event, which will likely never be repeated.

For the record, it was the college interns who worked on The Portland That Was who insisted on the All Night Caravan. They were adamant, so we complied. Security guards showed up at #4, and cops at #5, but the show went on.

1. Lincoln High School, now Lincoln Hall
Address: Across from 1620 SW Park
7 minutes, black & white

Mel Blanc invented the voice of Woody Woodpecker while attending Lincoln High School. Blanc provides all the character voices in this early Woody Woodpecker cartoon, which features an unusually psychotic version of the much beloved cartoon character.

2. Keller Fountain
Address: across from 222 SW Clay
Film: WE ARE THE CITY, 1972
15 minutes, color

Portland filmmaker Tom Chamberlin made this educational film for use in classrooms across the country. Two Portland mayors, Terry Shrunk and Neil Goldschmidt, have cameos, as does the Forecourt Fountain, now known as Keller Fountain.

3. Keller Auditorium
Address: across from 222 SW Clay
10 minute, black & white

The Republican Party chose Oregon Senator Charles McNary as the running mate to their 1940 Presidential candidate Wendell Wilkie. A campaign rally was held at the Public Auditorium (the building which preceded the Keller Auditorium). That audience very likely saw this film.

4. Quest Fountain at The Standard
Address: outside 900 SW 5th
8 minutes, black & white

Portland filmmaker Tim Smith was 15 when he sent up a locally produced television travelogue show “Don & Bettina” in this spoof starring his brother Duncan Smith and future Oregonian columnist Elinor Markgraf.

5. Pioneer Courthouse Square, site of the old Portland Hotel
Address: SW 6th between Yamhill & Taylor
Film: GEORGE OLSEN, 1940’s
10 minutes; black & white
Jazz age superstar George Olsen was born in Portland and played at the Portland Hotel before he was discovered and brought to New York.

6. Former Headquarters of PGE (in the Electric Building)
Address: outside 621 SW Alder
Film: IT CAN BE DONE, 1937
20 minutes, black & white

The employees of Portland General Electric made this short film to encourage Depression Era farmers to electrify.

7. Site of Northwestern, Inc., recording studio
Address: outside 415 SW 13th
8 minutes, black & white

Paul Revere and The Raiders recorded “Louie Louie” at Northwestern, Inc. in the spring of 1963. Two years later they were hosts of a daily half hour television show on ABC.

8. Low Brow lounge
Address: outside 1036 NW Hoyt
Film: BLITZ ME!, 1960’s
14 minutes, color and b & w

What may not  be apparent to people visiting The Portland That Was today: Damon Eckhoff designed the YouTube/Google Maps interface from scratch. Google followed suit a month later, making this option available to Everyman. But Damon’s mashup was his own.

Filmmaker Rose Bond helped create this “making of” featurette by serving as the off camera interviewer. Howard Brotine edited it together. Both early, and wonderfully loyal, supporters of the Oregon Cartoon Institute!

Thanks, Howard!

Thanks, Rose!

If you happen to be in LA: On Nov. 13, 2010, Dennis Nyback and I will be giving a talk about The Portland That Was at the Reimagining The Archive conference at UCLA.

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