02 Jun “The Stages That Save Us” Artist Statement
I love music for so many reasons, but there’s one thing that crossed my mind recently. No matter what’s going on in the world or in our lives, we all want something to look forward to. We all seek connection and reflection, which many of us find through music. As someone who loves music as passionately as I, and so many others do, we always have something to look forward to. There’s always another song, another album, another tour.
The latter, we may have taken for granted — until the pandemic struck. The last show I saw before lockdown was The Ballroom Thieves at Mississippi Studios — just across the street from where my posters will be on display this month at PDXchange. Shortly after that, the cancellations and reschedule notifications started pouring in. I’d been so excited to see bands that I hadn’t seen live before, like Blondie, Poolside and LP.
For “The Stages That Save Us”, I took inspiration from “Save Our Stages”, the name of the campaign by the National Independent Venue Association to help venues, musicians and all of those music industry workers displaced by the pandemic. A play off of the name, expressing how much these stages have saved us time and time again. Music both brings people together and allows us to connect to ourselves. These stages definitely helped save me.
Some of these venues I’ve only been to once, others I couldn’t tell you how many shows I’ve seen there — I’ve been to the Roseland Theater and the Crystal Ballroom so many times. Carving and printing each of these posters brought back so many memories, so many stories, so many songs, so many venues. These venues, which include one gone-but-not-forgotten Portland stage, set the stage for all of our favorite bands to play in this amazing city.
I grew up in Central Oregon. Back in the early ‘00s, I had to travel to Portland to see all of my favorite bands, no one was coming to Bend back then — especially not synth pop bands. I’ve been seeing concerts in Portland for 20 years. And I hope to spend my next 20 living in the city and cutting out the 3-hour commute each way.
You may notice I took two approaches with my tributes to my favorite Portland music venues. Half of the posters show neon marquee lights and the other half focus on stage lights and highlight specific bands. I love the contrast between color and darkness, which I love exploring through reduction block printing. Both neon lights and stage lights against the darkness convey the contrast that inspires and intrigues me.
Many of the inspiration images for these posters were actual photos I took during shows over the years. I want Stages to appeal to many, while still adding in personal touches unique to my experiences. You’ll notice several of the marquee signs say “All Your Favorite Bands” — this is both inclusive of everyone, but a secret nod to fans of the band Dawes.
The Stages That Save Us isn’t a love letter, it’s a power ballad dedicated to Portland’s live music venues. Thank you for stepping inside my music-obsessed brain for a moment.