The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) has a permanent home in northeast Portland thanks to a generous donation from philanthropist Allie Furlotti. Since 1995, PICA has been an integral part of the arts landscape in Portland and the purchase of this building helps solidify its future in a rapidly changing city.
Furlotti, PICA board member and the president of the Calligram Foundation, purchased a 16,000 square foot building at 15 NE Hancock in Portland, Oregon and has generously offered PICA a long-term, low-rent lease as the primary tenant. This building will provide greater stability and allow PICA to focus their energy and resources to better serve artists and support their work.
“PICA needs a secure home and spaces for large scale projects. For example, their annual Time-Based Art Festival is endangered in the shifting Portland landscape. I don’t want to know what Portland is like without PICA. They have been providing a critical civic and cultural contribution for 20 years and I want to see it extend into the far future,” said Furlotti.
PICA was originally founded in 1995 as an itinerant model — programming performances and visual art exhibitions in underutilized spaces throughout the city. For the past 20 years, PICA has pioneered a practice that has challenged the site-based institutional model, presenting projects in diverse neighborhoods and spaces throughout the city including the NW industrial area and the Pearl, the Broadway-Weidler corridor, and the Central Eastside and Buckman — locating TBA at the former Washington High School (now Revolution Hall) for four years. As Portland has grown, places for the kinds of experimental art practices they support have begun to disappear.
“This opportunity comes at a perfect time for PICA. A long-term home that serves our current programs and gives us room to accommodate our artistic ambitions has been a strategic priority for some time. Our nomadic model helped us build community and establish relationships in neighborhoods throughout the city. It allowed us to serve our programs and the artists we present while retaining low overheads. However, this practice is no longer viable in a rapidly growing Portland. A stable home is the next step both in the evolution of PICA and the city. At 21, we remain committed to our mission and our community and look forward to a new future,” said Victoria Frey, Executive Director of PICA.
The Hancock building will accommodate the PICA office and open-to-the-public resource room library and will also provide a large-scale flexible space suitable for performances, exhibitions, residencies, public programs, community gatherings, as well as a separate annex space that will allow additional programming opportunities. The new home will house year-round artistic and educational programs, Time-Based Art Festival (TBA) programming, and TADA! annually.
“It has been apparent to me in my five years as artistic director of PICA, that the radical and imperative thing for this organization, known for bold artistic interventions and one-time transformations of space, is to secure a long-term home in order to truly serve our mission of supporting artists,” said Angela Mattox.
The Hancock space will serve many of PICA’s programming needs and solves the issue of availability and rising costs, but it will not serve all of their artistic needs or ambitions during the TBA Festival. PICA will continue to activate the city of Portland using a variety of theaters and sites for TBA programs as a way to ensure art radiates through the city. Additionally, PICA’s new building will never be a fixed proposition, they will always let artists lead them to new forms of presentation.
“Hancock is about relationships, it is about expansive and flexible programing, this won’t change PICA’s mission, but it will help us change our reach. In our younger years, we were running alongside a growing city. This building helps us stay local. It cements our future, but not our ambition,” said Kristan Kennedy, PICA’s visual arts curator.
ABOUT ALLIE FURLOTTI ⁄ CALLIGRAM FOUNDATION
The Calligram Foundation was established to help passionate and dedicated artists create new work with limited barriers, allowing direct support to artists with unlimited flexibility around their needs. Calligram is committed to building relationships with artists and their communities. Allie Furlotti ⁄ Calligram Foundation partners with the Warhol Foundation as a major donor to the Portland Institute For Contemporary Art’s Precipice Fund, has subsidized studio rent for artists with Falcon Studios, and has been responsible for commissioning artwork from Jennifer West and Emily Roysdon as part of the Portland Institute For Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival.
ABOUT THE PORTLAND INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) acknowledges and advances new developments in contemporary art, fostering the explorations of artists and audiences. Since 1995, PICA has championed the practice of contemporary artists from around the world, driving vital conversations about the art and issues of today. PICA presents artists from visual and performance backgrounds and embraces those individuals who exist at the borders of genres and ideas. Through artist residencies and exhibitions, lectures and workshops, and the annual Time-Based Art Festival, PICA constructs a broad platform for contemporary art.
By Kirsten Saladow