I have been emailing the Oregon Indian tribes with the following:
Dear Tribal Leader:
I am Chair of POEM (Post Office to Eugene Museum) seeking to re-purpose the historic downtown Eugene US Post Office on Willamette Street to become a people’s art museum dedicated to Native American arts (Traditional and Contemporary). I am thinking of calling it “Broken Treaties Museum” because it would also focus on the plight of Native Americans in Oregon as was featured in the “Broken Treaties” OPB program aired recently on TV.
There is also the possibility that this project could serve as a vehicle to unite and bring together all the Oregon tribes so that all tribes can shape and contribute to the collection and the narrative.
If you have any interest in this project, please write me back.
This project has been endorsed by James Florendo, Native American Student Program Coordinator, Lane Community College.
Thanks for your consideration.
Jerry Ross, artist
POEM: Post Office>Eugene Museum
Note: today I met with Congressman Pete DeFazio’s staff member, Dan Whelan and we discussed ways in which the Congressman might help us. Dan suggested his office can find out who exactly owns the building (USPS or GSO?). They have ongoing business with the tribes and Dan suggested I try some contacts he suggested. We plan to stay in contact. (4/26/2017).
According to an aide to Senator Merkley, the USPS has no current plans on leaving the downtown location.
- On the invitation of James Florendo, Native American Programs Coordinator, Lane Community College, on Tuesday, November 1st, I attended a meeting of the Native American Student Association. James allowed me to speak to the group, with the POEM project the first item on the agenda. We talked for quite a long time. I remember James saying he was for the idea of a people’s museum but that the Native American community had its particular concerns, and that these might differ from tribe to tribe. The building and site would have to be made sacred through ceremony and probably ritual. The place should also support the performing arts and especially indian dance. It would have to be a place where the community could gather and identify with it. We would have to reach out to specific Native American contemporary artists. We would need to obtain some buy in from tribes outside Oregon, like those in Washington. I asked for any student in the group who would be interested in working on the project to contact me and handed out my contact information to the group. James added that perhaps the students could help getting the tribes to talk to one another, something he felt was not happening enough. In any event, he felt a “Memorandum of Agreement” would have to be signed by all to guarantee that all tribal arts were equally respected and represented.
- I talked on the phone to David Harrelson, Department Manager, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Cultural Resources Department, The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. He disagreed with trying to get any agreement of this sort from the tribes. He felt it was important to work with the Native American student associations at the U of O and LCC as my best chances for tribal support. He pointed out that the Native American Student Association had members representing many of the tribes from across the nation.
More news as in comes in…..JR
We discussed the idea of repurposing the historic Gilbert Underwood’s 1938 downtown post office into a people’s art museum that would house a permanent collection 50% Native American art (both traditional and contemporary) and 50% regional artists works.
Lee Boutell accompanied me to the meeting (shown in photo left with Emilee Ohia). I shared the Memorandum of Agreement protecting the historic Carl Morris murals and we discussed preservation goals for the entire building which is a WP!-era, art deco style.
We discussed the precedent in Coos Bay (The Coos Museum) where they repurposed the 1934 historic post office into CAM (the Coos Art Museum) by floating a bond measure and a 5-year “door to door” effort to raise money and support.
We thanked the Senator for being the only US senator who supported Bernie Sanders. Photo above shows Lee going over info on US Post Office for presentation to Emilee. Stay tuned to this blog for additional developments.
I am in the process of setting up an appointment with aides for Senator Jeff Merkley in Eugene to discuss the POEM project. This week I met with Gordon W. Bettles at the Many Nations Longhouse and obtained contact information for the leadership of regional tribes that might help us. Stay tuned as more information will be posted.
Recent efforts by “Our Revolution Lane County” to form a Committee on Jacobs Gallery and Post Office to Eugene Museum have rekindled our efforts to transform the downtown historic post office into a municipal (peoples) art museum,. Stay tuned!! — Jerry Ross
This may just be “vision building” right now, but I am working with Greg Herbert, the real estate agent for the post office and he has given me a floor plan and square feet break down of the facility (see below).
I am using this to show, if we can find an “angel” (more likely multiple “angels”) that shares our vision, how we can have a museum startup fairly quickly, especially since what we mainly need are empty rooms. The basement is also available (second diagram below):