Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Portland Adventure- Oregon College of Art & Craft

Monday I struck out on my first Portland adventure in quite awhile. A friend mentioned working as a librarian at the Oregon College of Art & Craft and as we used to live near there I decided to go by and visit the campus as well as have lunch at their student run café.

We’ve been in the midst of what I call Utah weather- blazing sunshine which is welcome but high winds, which are not. They make walking around as unpleasant as walking in driving rain- with the exception of lip gloss issues which are substantially worse. Suffice it to say I had as much lip gloss in my hair after 30 minutes as I did on my mouth. Yuck.

This is a small charming campus that’s been cobbled together by repurposing old homes and melding into the neighborhood as opposed to tearing everything down and rebuilding. There are only a couple new buildings and they’re lovely- a sleek modern contrast to the houses but not overpowering; walking around still feels as if you’re in an old European village.

Thesis studios

Photography studios and classrooms

Cube design final projects. Don't ask me anymore about it- I don't know.

The admissions building- how cute is that? I'd feel like a fairy tail character registering for classes.

The entire premise of this college is quintessentially Oregon-y. A Bachelor of Fine Arts in Craft? Degree programs in ceramics? Fibers? Wood? Book Arts? Who does that? Apparently plenty of people as the school continues to grow. I’m intrigued by it but my practical nature is also stymied. What do you do with such a degree? How can you possibly earn a living making books?

Maybe not practical but I feel shivery just looking at it. What a wonderful thing to do.

After wandering for a bit I settled in at the library which is always nirvana. I haven’t been in an academic library in decades so it was lovely to be surrounded by such a specific collection on so many subjects I enjoy- photography, fabric, design, architecture and, of course, books. Books on books- how grand! I looked at one on preservation for tips on keeping my first editions clean and another on book bindings from England at the time of Henry the VIII. Then I spied something so fabulous it might have been a mirage- an entire book about tiaras. Hello?? I’m a wannabe princess so there went another half hour pouring over the beautiful jewels of both the English throne and the Russian Romanovs.

Books about books- on of my favorite sections of any library. That's why I snuck the photo.

The library building- small and unassuming but full of such great thoughts.

All this study made me hungry so I headed to the café. It’s small and functional, much like a cafeteria, except for the food. I ordered an Indian red bean and rice dish with pickled vegetables, and lemon raitha. It came with both crisp bread and a side salad with French bread. A substantial meal for $9.00. More importantly, it was delicious. The flavors kept unfolding in my mouth from the hearty texture of the beans to the sweet/sour of pickled zucchini to the final zing of a bit of lemon in the yogurt. Hearty, filling, and wonderful.

Simple food prepared with local ingredients, care, and kindness. As good as it gets.

As I ate I perused the spring continuing education catalog. In my last post about vocation et al I was fairly clear that I was not a fan of dreamy thinking about what I’d “love todo” and that while my attention is so focused on staying enrolled in a healthcare program and earning a salary thinking about that sort of thing leads me nowhere. Odd then that my interest was piqued in so many directions by one small brochure. Jewelry making with reclaimed metals? Weaving? Stone setting? Book making? If I remove the work aspect of it from these they all sound like things I would really love to learn. School for the joy of it? Maybe that’s the only way I would go back.

I’m not sure I’ll sign up for anything right because spending hundreds of dollars on learning something for pure enjoyment feels far too frivolous but I’m awfully glad to have found this and to feel that aspect of my spirit awakened; that childlike excitement of what-if. It could happen, right?

I know some of you do pursue things not tied to your professional lives. If not, is there anything out that intrigues you? As grand as learning to fly or sail or even something smaller like knitting? A hobby perhaps.


Jeremy Bates said...

great photography!

therhythmmethod said...

LOVED this post. Book making is my DREAM. When I'm a rich old lady, I'm just going to blow all of my cash on frivolous courses.
And how yum does that food look? Sounds like the perfect day to me.

Unknown said...

So I heard about this great blog...and now I don't know how I've managed to survive without you and my other girlfriends who have scattered far and wide! I miss each and every one of you. Keep writing Catherine. Your words are magic, right up there with coffee, red chairs and girlfriends! Lots of Love, Ali

Catherine said...

ALI!!! I'm so happy you found me. This poor little blog is simply my cheap substitute for the red chairs and girls' night. Not the same.

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