The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

29 May 2004

Art at an angle

The central city — by the Mid-City Advocate's reckoning, the 25 square miles bounded by Reno, Portland, 63rd and Kelley — is a hodgepodge of architectural styles, reflecting both the diversity of individual tastes and the wide variance in personal income that prevailed in the first half of the 20th century.

One of the quirkier areas is the Paseo, which is highlighted by a Spanish Revival shopping center built by G. A. Nichols in 1928-1929 as "Spanish Village." Not only did it contrast with nearby neighborhoods in Prairie or Craftsman styles, but it wasn't even on the city grid; the street designated "Paseo" wanders more or less down a hill southeastward from 30th and Dewey to 28th and Walker, and a couple of cross streets hit it at angles you don't want to negotiate at high speeds. When people and money moved out to the 'burbs, the Paseo remained in something of a time warp; eventually it became, due to relatively low rents and lots of small spaces suitable for studios, a hub for local artists. In the middle Seventies, those artists put together a street festival, which was successful enough to run for a second year, and a third.

And now a twenty-eighth. Cam Edwards, who used to live just off the Paseo, once described the event this way:

[T]he arts festival in the Paseo is smaller, more local than the big festival in downtown during April. The art is a little more experimental, the music a little more granola-based, and the crowd a little less like the crowd at the state fair. Less spandex leggings, more freakish piercings.

I should fit right in when I wander down there this afternoon.

Posted at 9:04 AM to City Scene