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Elevator show to begin with party

Oregon City’s historic Municipal Elevator is finally ready to star in a nightly video-art installation that’s the product of two years of planning, six months of renovations and countless hours of video editing.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: MAIN STREET OC - Tiffany Carbonneau tests her video installation on the Oregon City Municipal Elevator before its unveiling Jan. 22.After a national search, Kentucky artist Tiffany Carbonneau was selected to create the art installation as part of a $100,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant was one of only 80 awarded nationally, and among only four in Oregon during 2012.

“It has been such a great experience working with the community of Oregon City during the development and production of the Illuminate Oregon City Elevator project,” Carbonneau said in a press release. “I have learned so much about the layered histories of the area, the impressive recent economic growth and the exciting projects planned for the future.”

Carbonneau said she enjoyed discussions with the local community, with whose input and experience she found important social and physical identifying elements of Oregon City to include in the video that will be projected on the elevator.

“It is my hope that my artwork presents a new experience of the contemporary and historic identity of Oregon City, and that the local community finds within it nostalgia for the past and hope for the future,” she said.

The yearlong nightly experience of Illuminate Oregon City begins at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22 with an artist reception and party on 7th Street at the base of the 130-foot space-age structure from the 1950s to replace a 1915 elevator designed for water power. Passengers can now zip to the top in 15 seconds through the 751 tons of concrete and steel, after a 35-foot long tunnel under the railroad tracks from Seventh Street.

The event will feature opportunities to learn about the process of creating large-scale video installations, live music by an Oregon City trio led by Ken Brewer and wine from local wineries. A number of downtown restaurants and retailers are offering specials to commemorate the event. Maizee Mae’s Antiques, 714 Main St., will be giving out free copies of the June 5, 1955, Life Magazine that featured OC’s elevator.

Illuminate Oregon City is the result of a public-private partnership spearheaded by Main Street Oregon City, the Clackamas County Arts Alliance and the city of Oregon City. Two years ago, the partners saw an opportunity to feature one of the metro region’s most important icons in a way that tells the Oregon City story. Matching funds from the city and Metro provided for much needed painting, lighting and signage upgrades to the elevator. Portland State University is contributing resources for research and project evaluation.

“This installation represents how far Oregon City has come. Oregon City is a city of firsts and dares to think outside the box,” said Main Street Oregon City Executive Director Jonathan Stone. “Our municipal elevator is the only ‘vertical street’ in North America and, newly restored, is an exceptional canvas to tell the First City story.”

The video installation will run nightly beginning at dusk for at least a year. To learn more about the project, visit illuminateoregoncity.org.