Paige Powell, a fifth-generation Oregonian, is well known as an arts advocate and curator in Portland. The Kenny Scarf sculptures in Jamison Square and the various artworks placed at The Nines Hotel are but two examples of her curatorial reach and expertise. But in between her schoolgirl days and her recent role as Pacific Northwest taste-maker, Powell had an incredible journey in New York City as an editor for Interview and as a significant part of the Andy Warhol crew. She was also an intimate friend of the great painter Jean-Michel Basquiat before the rest of the world knew he was great.
The Ride at the Portland Art Museum traces that life in New York through an exhibition of photos, video and installation. Armed with a camcorder and camera, Powell captures the fast-moving East Village art scene of the 1980s, presenting it now as both intimate memoir and documentary. A signifier of the final days of Warhol, the images also reveal a certain gritty innocence in the downtown New York art world that would not be seen again. In a still from The Ride, Basquiat, dressed in black and white, gazes into a television that shows Warhol in full colour staring back. Powell has eerily captured a truly Warholian moment.
This is truly a multi-media exhibition and an adventurous one for the Portland Art Museum. It should have legs beyond the Pacific Northwest.