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Art on the move: PCC’s Beidler rolls with his work
Photos and Story by James Hill
It isn’t often you can watch an artist ride his work. Southwest Portland artist Evertt A. Beidler, art faculty at Portland Community College’s Sylvania Campus, is giving people that opportunity.
His current art show, “Moves Management,” is high-performance art in the form of a short film and several motion-inspired pieces, including one that is a vehicle he rides in the film. Motion pieces include giant mechanical legs hanging from the gallery’s ceiling. They are in constant step-by-step motion, sort of a giant, two-legged Daddy Long Legs.
The story behind the exhibit, which is funded by grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Oregon Arts Commission, is one of collaboration. Beidler contacted faculty, staff, and students (both current and former) from three separate departments at the Sylvania Campus to work on different aspects of the project. The departments include the Machine Technology, Multimedia and Art programs.
The film is on continuous loop at the gallery and can be viewed online: http://vimeo.com/19258676. “Moves Management” will be on display through April 29 at the Northview Gallery, Room 214, CT Building, Sylvania Campus, 12000 S.W. 49th Ave. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“One of things I really enjoy about working here at PCC is that it’s just a tremendous resource,” Beidler said. “There is a lot of knowledge here on campus. People are generally more than happy to visit with you and talk about ideas. This project was a really huge stretch for me and was something I didn’t really know how to do.”
The cornerstone of the exhibit, and biggest challenger to his skills, is the “Moves Manager” piece, which is the one-person vehicle that transports the business-suited manager (played by Evertt himself) through offices, along Portland streets and public transportation in the film. At first, Beidler said, he was going to make the piece be a wall with a bicycle seat that he sits on with rods pushing’s his arms and legs to make him look like he was fidgeting.
“Then I got the idea that it would be something that makes my life simple and I would only use my arms and legs,” he said. “I think changing it was a really smart decision. And I wanted to make a machine for the first time that replicated a specific movement and that was walking.”
The mechanical sculpture took him nine months to construct. Much of it was measuring his gait, analyzing his walk and fabricating the mechanical pieces. Many of the parts required machine shop expertise that he didn’t have, so he recruited the help of PCC’s Machine Technology Program to help him.
“Pat Kraft (machine manufacturing instructor) was my engineering consultant,” Beidler added. “I ran my ideas by him. It was nice to have someone to bounce ideas off. He was really generous. I had a budget for him and he came over a few times and never charged me. He made me feel that I wasn’t pursuing this all by myself; that I wasn’t alone.”
Beidler also cited Erik Fauske, director of cinematography for the project and faculty in the Multimedia Program at Sylvania, along with photographer Wendy Peyton in Instructional Support Services, as key resources. He said the process was exhaustive and he had to effectively pace himself, and not get to ahead of what he was doing.
“Being an artist isn’t always fun,” he said. “Like other things that take a long time it’s like running a marathon or climbing Mount Everest; not every step is going to be magical. Maybe the first three steps and crossing the finish line are what feels the best, but the rest of it is basically a lot of running and climbing.”
A self-professed workaholic, Beidler’s exhibit represents his love for labor and is an homage to his blue-collar, hard-working father. He told students at the opening of his exhibit that he doesn’t consider he has worked if he hasn’t been in his shop creating art.
“Labor is really important to me,” he said. “If I’m not in the studio working then nothing really happened that day. Even though some other things I’m doing are technically work related, it’s really about making and producing.”
Beidler graduated from William Paterson University in New Jersey with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (Sculpture) and studied Studio Art at Humboldt State University as part of the National Student Exchange program. In addition, he apprenticed at the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture from 1999-2000 and earned a mater’s degree in Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2007.
And if you were wondering, the exhibit is about giving the viewer a glimpse into the monotony, and often repetitious, actions that are required in the pursuit of long-term goals, he said.
“I didn’t know the significance until it was done,” he added. “I just wanted to build the machine. This is some of the more raw and crude work I’ve ever made. Function took precedence.”
For more information on PCC’s art galleries, visit: http://www.pcc.edu/about/galleries/