Portland Institute for Contemporary Art

Capital campaign, brand advertising

Plazm has worked closely with the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) since its inception. Kristy Edmunds founded PICA in 1995 in response to a widening gap in Portland between traditional institutions and emerging alternative work.

Her programming reached across disciplines and engaged a national group of artists with local artistic dialogue. Plazm, already an importer-exporter of Northwest culture, was a natural partner.

PICA and Plazm rose together, sparking a distinctive creative scene in what was then a city largely unknown to outsiders. Today, the city has blossomed, with PICA’s annual TBA Festival leading the charge. The organization also acts as fiscal sponsor for Plazm magazine.


The Campaign for PICA

In the 1990s, Portland’s only contemporary arts organization operated without a permanent home, sometimes programming in disused warehouses. Then PICA was offered a permanent space designed by Brad Cloepfil, in the new Weiden + Kennedy building.

The Campaign for PICA carried a dual purpose: to educate the community and stimulate fundraising for finishing out the space. Donors were targeted at high-end (naming opportunities, etc.), mid-range, and smaller individual contributions.

Plazm used the metaphor of construction throughout the Campaign, always referring to the vision of PICA’s new space. The organization had a very small production budget, providing the Plazm team with big opportunities for creative problem solving.

Services delivered: Branding, Content, Bespoke, Editorial Design, Nonprofit

As part of the Campaign for PICA, Plazm created a limited edition of fifty boxes for in-person meetings with high-level donors.

“The outside of the white cardboard box sports only the signature campaign with the word ‘Building,’” wrote Laurel Harper in Step magazine. “When opened, however, it reveals an architectural blueprint of the new PICA space (located in Wieden + Kennedy’s building) printed on its inside, plus pieces of wood and Plexiglas.

“The wood pieces, salvaged from the actual construction site, fit snugly together, much like a jigsaw puzzle. Each has a label on its front, telling what room it represents.” Donors were encouraged to own a particular room by funding its creation.

Senses PICA “Pink” Poster Series

The very color elicits political, sexual, and gender overtones. Combined with a severed finger, ear, tongue, eyeball or nose, our hope was to create a new provocation in the street.

In that era, the fabrication of messages of the “street” consisted of images and typography that comfortably fit within the context of punk or graffiti. Rarely did one encounter the act of provocation through elegance.

“To lull one into danger,” wrote collaborator John C Jay of the series, “into the gallery of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. The inspiration comes from PICA itself, their willingness to raise questions yet respect the recipient’s intelligence to find his or her own conclusion. To push us in the direction of a more open mind. To embrace the unknown.”

Creative Direction: John C Jay Design: Joshua Berger Photography: Christian Witkin