Grass Hut Corp = awesome. Nothing is easily defined there- it's a hybrid art store/gallery/studio filled with super-nice folks with a weirdly awesome hippy punk vibe that makes me feel all glowy inside.
I was lucky to get to work out of there as "designer in residence" for big chunks of December and January, and just loved it. Bwana and Scrappers, the folks who "own" Grass Hut, have cultivated a rare, magical place - the shop is adorned with bright colors, tide-worn driftwood, sun-shrunken flip flops, lathed shelving, and paint-spattered floors. (If and when I ever buy a house, it's fucking ON for these dudes to decorate!) They've created a space that is utterly resistant to the rainy, grey Oregon winter blahs. Grass Hut is misery-proof. Just being there makes you want to buck up and be a better human. Plus, there's a zine rack. (And anyone worth their salt'll tell ya that zine racks are the best thing ever. Period.)
I could have interviewed Scrappers or Bwana, but it seemed infinitely more fitting to interview one of the interns, radigator Elizabeth Jaeger. Elizabeth has since escaped to France, as she's a woman on the move, but in the meantime, I recorded her thoughts for posterity.
What Elizabeth has to say on the topic of Grass Hut:
What drew you to Grass Hut?
I was told to go to the Grass Hut to wait for a friend to get off of work. I walked in, slightly pissed that I had to wait, and there was Bwana with a big old smile, and his amazing beard.
Bwana immediately sincerely asked me how I was doing, and the space instantly felt like home. :-) I waited for half an hour for my friend (ugh) and read books as Bwana kindly told me about his art projects. I had never felt so welcomed in an art space before, and it was great.
Needless to say, I also felt welcomed to return, and as much as I could, I did. One day I got an email from the mailing list that said they needed an intern, and I said hell yes. The end. :-)
What do your duties entail?
Scrappers meets me at noon on Sundays and tells me great things about the world that I have yet to discover, and then I think about them for the next seven hours until I close. Interspersed between, lovely people come in with interesting things to say and we talk, sometimes they buy something, then I ring them up and give them a receipt.
Twice, Justin encouraged me to explore the city and pass out post cards on my motorcycle. Now I know how to get around to all the cool places in Portland as fast as possible, and I'm pretty sure the post card receivers probably think I'm way cool since I pass out Grass Hut cards on a motorcycle. Justin also encourages me to do projects about what we talk about, two of which have developed into elaborate interests of mine. (Thank you, Justin!) I guess these are duties, right? Well, they feel like gifts.
What is it that keeps you there? Why is working at the Hut an interesting experience?
All of the above. I feel like family now, how could I leave? Working at the Grass Hut for me is a completely win-win situation. I keep the space open for them, and, embarrassingly, working there for me is the most important part of my week. It is a time where I reflect on what I have accomplished the last seven days, and a place where I can work on my art stuff without feeling guilty about not doing my homework. More importantly, I learn a whole lot from talking with Justin. He's like a mentor or an older brother to me now. :-) (I hope that doesn't embarrass him.)
Fuck it, dude can handle it. What is your dream Grass Hut project?
I hope Do It Together Projects develops into something wonderful and great. Justin helped me start it, and continues to advise me on how to nurture this young idea to become a full grown working project.
Here is the website. You should all join us sometime! :-)