Jerry Ross notes from meeting at Vero, 6-23-10:
The meeting was very successful, pulling together a mission statement, clarifying that our focus is a Pacific Northwest Art Museum to preserve, protect, and educate about PNW art with our first goal being to purchase the downtown post office to keep it in the public domain, first and foremost, and to preserve the WPA-era building and murals.
Robert Long from the U of O (Research and Faculty Development) came with a list of granting organizations. There are funding opportunities from LINC (Leveraging Investments in Creativity)–grants up to $100,000 for a sustainable, mixed-use artist space development project. The Ford Foundation is another possibility since it’s not too soon to plan for a 4/23/2011 proposal. MetLife is also funding LINC Innovative Space Awards like the mixed-use renovation of a historic school in Ajo, Arizona.
I reported that I was in touch with US Bank art curator Jim Becker, who at our request is investigating rumors of U.S. Bank sitting on an archive of Pacific Northwest art that was commissioned for bank lobbies in the 70s and 80s but, in more recent years, has been put in storage. (Otto Poticha, who was not at this meeting, tells the story of how in the late 80s he was close to getting the City to open a Eugene Art Museum in the building now rented to US Bank at 800 Willamette. At that time U.S. Bank was willing to give the City the collection, but the City decided to leave the facility and not to have a museum, so the donation never happened.). Becker should be getting back to me in a week or so about this matter.
We were not certain whether the downtown post office is on the federal register for historic buildings. [RL: It was placed on the National Register in 1985. See this Register-Guard article from 1/24/10: http://bit.ly/bBDOiD.] Unfortunately the City has still not assigned anyone to attend our meetings; although they have been invited, nobody showed up. Someone is going to contact Mike Sullivan and Nobel Flannery in City Planning.
Robert Tomlinson, Director of Oregon Crafted, stated that his organization was willing to provide the 501-3C status needed for POEM to raise money. He also reported on the tour of the building and how what we saw there was very suitable for an arts museum configuration. He also pointed out that Oregon Crafted could not carry all the weight of this endeavor and was depending on the collaboration and cooperation of all those present and whatever institutions they represented. Robert Tomlinson reported that the rumor that McMenamin’s was interested were unfortunately false. In the current economy climate, they have no plans for expansion.
Draft Mission: To establish a Pacific Northwest Art Museum to preserve, protect, and display a permanent collection of Pacific Northest art, both historic and contemporary. To educate and engage the public, especially with regard to WPA-era arts in the PNW.
1. Purchase and remodel the downtown post office building.
2. Build a permanent collection of Pacific Northwest art, both historic and contemporary.
3. Focus on protecting PNW art and architecture, thus providing a unique “branding.”
4. Begin an education program to educate and engage the public (print making, painting, drawing, scultping in both WPA-era and contemporary styles).
5. Provide a research area with computers and appropriate databases.
Hilary Anthony, a CPA who has worked with the Country Fair for many years, was in attendance. Also, photographer Dennis Galloway, Paula Goodbar, Marc Time and others (full list forthcoming).
I volunteered to contact the Federated Indian Tribes regarding their participation.
I also articulated a political goal of asking the Obama Administration if we could use the Civilian Conservation Corps (the Job Corps), as an interim instrument/agency to purchase the building from the USPS to hold it in the public domain before it gets sold off to private interests.
The hope, I continued, was for the Eugene post office project to be the first model project for a second-term Obama revived WPA (public works) initiative. At least this might place us first in line for projects once the public works programs begin.
Next POEM meeting: 1 pm July 7 at Vero (see previous post).
Things are exciting, the process has begun.