“Cultural Day” by Richard F. Yates

[All photos by me. The owl in this image is on the roof of Shattuck Hall at Portland State University. I love grotesques and gargoyles—and some day I’ll get a REAL camera so I can take better photos of them! For now, I do what I can with my phone! —RFY]

Last Thursday (aka: Halloween), my younger daughter, Elise, and my wife, Mariah, and I went on a journey of discovery! We had ulterior motives, of course, because we are sneaky, shadowy figures—but on the face of it, we DID exactly what we’d said we were going to do…

What we WANTED was Halloween off from work. As a family, we love Halloween—basically all things spooky and sweet and artificial—and LAST year, we missed the traditional Halloween festivities because we’d gone to California to spend about a week in a few THEME PARKS. (We hit Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Disneyland. Great time! However, it was weird not being at our own house for Halloween, which we always decorate to the rafters with spooky imagery, and we always enjoy giving out goodies to the neighborhood kids, which we couldn’t do from Disneyland!) So THIS year, we wanted the day off so that we were free to celebrate the SPOOKY-TIME the RIGHT WAY!

My wife and I just requested the day off way ahead of time (I indicated in my request that it was a religious holiday, partially to be funny and partially because it’s as close to TRUE as I get. I’m not a religious fellow—but if there are a FEW things that almost inspire religious-LIKE feelings in me, Halloween would be one of the closest!) Ellie, though, had to put in a reason for her request, and it was suggested by someone at her work—she is medical encoder for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe—that she take the day off as a “Cultural Day.” This sounded interesting, and I remembered a Native American resource center on the campus of Portland State University (where I went to grad school a few years ago), and this resource center has a number of creative works made by Indigenous folks that I suggested it might be fun to explore! Ellie pitched this idea to her supervisor, who okayed her request, and we were SET! On the morning of October 31st, we headed towards Portland, Oregon, to look at some art!!!

We arrived in Portland around 10:00 A.M., navigated the busy downtown traffic, and found a parking space in the pay-lot next to Shattuck Hall on the PSU campus. (It was $8.00 for two hours of parking!!! That seems like a lot to me…) The Native American Student and Community Center is on the next block up the hill, on Broadway Street, from Shattuck Hall, so we hoofed it from our parking spot to the center.

(I knew about this resource center because, back when I was a student at PSU, I took a lit class on Louise Erdrich and Toni Morrison in that building. It was a great class, and I loved ever book we read in the course—but for some reason, I was the only MALE student in the class… I don’t know why. Out of nearly thirty students, why weren’t there any other GUYS who wanted to read those books? I’ll never understand…)

Here are some of the pieces of art that we saw and enjoyed!

[I WISH I’d gotten some of the artist information on these pieces. I’d love to know who created these, but unfortunately, I was in such a hurry to jump from artwork to artwork, I wasn’t diligent in getting artist info. I apologize to the creators!!! I know how I’d feel if my artwork was used but I wasn’t credited… Still, these works, as of 31 Oct. 2019, are all on display at the Native American Student and Community Center on Broadway Street in Portland, Oregon. Go check them out, and don’t forget to ask who the artists were!!!]

[My wife is silly…]

I have a BUNCH more photos—but I’m already overloading this post with images, so I’ll cut it there. Hopefully, I’ve included enough here to convince people to stop by the resource center, if you ever find yourselves in Portland, and look at some of the awe-inspiring art! It doesn’t cost anything to go in and look around, and it’s certainly a cool place.

After we finished looking at the Native American art, we were starting to feel a bit hungry, so we went looking for my favorite crepe shop, which used to be right across the street from Neuberger Hall, but sadly, it had become a Bubble Tea shop since I was there last. (It’s been a few years.) Looking around, I noticed at that point that a LOT of stuff had changed since 2007… (And I just noticed that 2007 was TWELVE YEARS AGO!!!! That’s insane. Time slides by on greased wheels!!!)

We wandered around the campus for a bit looking for a bite, and we eventually found a shop called the Green Zebra Grocery. I don’t know if this is a chain or just a Portland thing or what, but it was an interesting take on the “minute mart” concept, with a coffee bar, a deli, and a bunch of snacks and drinks—but they specialize in what Ellie called “HIPPIE FOOD.” They have organic chocolates and veggie hot dogs and plant-based hamburgers and vegan goat cheese! (How does “vegan goat cheese” work?) “What’s wrong with this place???” Ellie said, and Mariah and I both laughed. Mariah bought some hot cocoa, and Ellie said she was creeped out by the experience, but it just seemed like a normal Portland store to me… Everyone was friendly, though, and because it was Halloween, all the staff were dressed in costumes, like Sloth pajamas and stuff… Actually, now that I think about it, it’s PORTLAND—maybe they dress like that everyday… I dig it.

After our stop at the Green Zebra, we headed back to the car and motored out of town, heading back north. It was still before noon, so we had time to kill before the TRICK-OR-TREATING was going to begin, so we stopped by the Cowlitz County Historical Museum in Kelso, Washington (which is only a few blocks off the I-5 Freeway,) before going home.

It’s a cool little museum focused on local history, which we’ve visited several times before, although I’ll admit, it’s been several years since I’ve been there. The HIGHLIGHT of the museum is the actual log cabin that they have in the main showroom. They now have a whole “show” that you can see through a big window, with lighting and narration and voice acting, talking about the lives of some of the early settlers to the Pacific Northwest. It’s a quality production! I was definitely impressed!

They have lots of other neat stuff there, too, and the staff is friendly and excited to share their knowledge, but that log cabin is easily the coolest element of the museum!

And that was our cultural day! We had some fun, saw some fantastic artwork, and expanded our minds—and then gave out a bunch of candy that night to all the little kids who started showing up just before dark. Some NOT-SO-LITTLE kids came by, too, but I’m fine with that. In fact, we still have WAY TOO MUCH CANDY, so I kind of wish MORE folks had come knocking!

That’s it! Show’s over. Hopefully, I’ll have more stuff ready to share tomorrow! LATER!!!

—Richard F. Yates (Holy Fool)



[This write-up was originally published on my Steemit blog on 7 Oct. 2019.]

Published by richardfyates

Compulsive creator of the bizarre and absurd. (Artist, writer, poet, provocateur...)

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