Necessary Work

“I get to work with some individuals (city workers) who work hard every day, usually with their hands, but they don’t consider what they do to be artwork. They consider it to be very necessary work. I consider art work to be very necessary work.”

Daniel Minter, Illustrator & AAW Artist

Necessary Work was an exhibit at the Chambers Gallery at City Hall that showcased some of the art, stories, photographs, and poems created during Portland’s first four years with Art At Work. Specific projects represented by the artwork include Forest City Times, LINES Portland, Public Works, Ties That Bind, Thin Blue Lines, and the City Writers Group.

The artwork created by these 77 city workers and 28 local artists has had a great impact on the city’s workforce and the local community. Police officers still report that residents and students come up to them regularly to talk about the poetry calendars or performances. Public Service and Social Services employees and AFSCME union members were eager to participate in the next project – Portland Works. The work they have created has been shared with city staff, elected officials, and city union workers in Chicago, Providence, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Stonington, and Tucson.

The opening reception featured a welcome from new City Manager Mark Rees followed by members of the Portland Police Department reading poems and performing excerpts from the original performance titled Radio Calls. Stories were also shared from the Public Services Construction Crew and the City Writers Group. Posters featuring some of their work hangs in city offices. The exhibit continued through March, with more work added from two other citywide projects – Portland Works and Meeting Place.