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PNCA Receives Gift of Memory 99 for its Permanent Collection

Release date: 06/06/12

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For Immediate Release
June 6, 2012


Lisa Radon, Communications Specialist 971-255-5528
Becca Biggs, Director of Communications 971-255-5511

PNCA Receives Gift of Memory 99 for its Permanent Collection
Lee Kelly’s large-scale sculpture to be a gateway to Emerging Cultural Corridor in North Park Blocks

PORTLAND, OR – JUNE 6, 2012 – At its 10th annual gala on Saturday, June 2, Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) announced that it had received a gift to its permanent art collection of an important work by alumnus Lee Kelly ‘59. The Ford Family Foundation gave the College a special, one-time gift to acquire Kelly’s Memory 99 as part of the Foundation’s evolving Visual Arts program established to honor the interests and memory of one of its co-founders, Mrs. Hallie Ford. Memory 99 is intended to be installed in the North Park Blocks in proximity to PNCA’s Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design (511 NW Broadway) for which the College just announced a capital campaign and lead gift of $5 million from The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation.

Memory 99 is one of Kelly’s most well known architectural sculptures, a complex, direct-weld work created out of Cor-Ten steel that is 23 feet wide, 11 feet high, and over six feet in depth. The Portland Art Museum installed the massive Memory 99 at the entrance to its Lee Kelly retrospective exhibition in 2010.

“What could be more appropriate to grace our ‘front door’ than a significant work by one of our alums?” said Tom Manley, President of PNCA. “We are indebted to The Ford Family Foundation for its Visual Arts program that’s helping to nurture and sustain artists such as Lee Kelly and for having the foresight to preserve public access to this work for generations of Oregonians and visitors to come.”

Besides PNCA and The Ford Family Foundation, several other parties were integral to making the acquisition, siting, and planned installation of this gift possible: the City of Portland spearheaded by Commissioner Nick Fish with the City’s Bureau of Parks & Recreation led by Mike Abbate; the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) under the direction of Eloise Damrosch, Elizabeth Leach, whose gallery represents Lee Kelly; and Doug Macy of Walker Macy Architects, a PNCA board member who consulted on siting and installation.

“Our Board of Directors embraced Mrs. Ford’s interests in the visual arts when it established our Visual Arts program in 2010,” added Norman J. Smith, president of the Foundation. “The program has multiple elements, all of which focus in one way or another on helping artists sustain themselves and take their practices to new heights so that they can afford to remain in our community. This particular aspect allocates funding to acquire seminal works by Oregon’s most accomplished visual artists, Lee Kelly among them, and to ensure public access in perpetuity to these special works.”

An agreement came together quickly among the parties to permanently locate the work in the North Park Blocks. However, they recognized that the work may need to be temporarily installed nearby to protect it from construction activity that will occur as renovation begins for the building’s opening in the 2014-15 academic year. City of Portland officials worked closely with the College, the Foundation and the gallery to vet and site the sculpture on public land.

“Mayor Adams and I are grateful for this wonderful gift that will enhance the emerging cultural district in the North Park Blocks,” added Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. “This is another great example of a public-private partnership that makes meaningful things possible. Having this work so publicly visible only reinforces Portland’s and Oregon’s standing in the realm of international art and culture.”

Kelly, much sought after for public and private commissions, would often create studio work when money was available for steel, absent a commission or deadline. Memory 99 was just such a work completed in 1999, a sculptural reflection on the previous ten years. Since its completion, it has been installed among a number of Kelly’s large-scale works on the grounds of his five-acre studio in Oregon City, Leland Iron Works.

Kelly was among the artists who pioneered the use of Cor-Ten steel in the late 1970s. In 2008, Kelly celebrated 50 years as a practicing artist with an aesthetic repertoire spanning illustration, painting and three-dimensional sculpture, and moving from Abstract Expressionism to Minimalism to Postmodernism.

RACC has provided curatorial guidance on the initial siting and preparations for installation in collaboration with Elizabeth Leach representing Kelly’s intentions for the work. Going forward, Memory 99 will be maintained through a partnership between PNCA and RACC, with the latter providing advice and counsel to the College’s students who have demonstrated an interest in curatorial work and who will perform the ongoing upkeep. Resources are being raised for the lighting and security of the work, once it is installed, and a modest annual maintenance fund to ensure it remains in pristine condition.

The Ford Family Foundation was established in 1957 by Kenneth W. and Hallie E. Ford. Its Mission is “successful citizens and vital rural communities” in Oregon and Siskiyou County, California. The Foundation is located in Roseburg, Oregon, with a Scholarship office in Eugene.
Art acquisition funding to collecting institutions is part of the Foundation’s seven-prong Visual Arts Program launched in 2010 that provides resources to support artists Fellowships; artists residencies; exhibitions and documentation of Oregon visual artists’ work; small capital projects to enhance studio and exhibition space; individual grants to fund unanticipated opportunities to pursue or showcase artists’ work; and ongoing critic/curator tours to provide feedback to Oregon artists and participate in community dialogue. For more information about the Foundation please visit

The Regional Arts & Culture Council is the local arts agency for Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties, providing grants for artists, schools and nonprofit organizations; conducting workplace giving for arts and culture (“Work for Art”) and other advocacy efforts; presenting workshops and other forms of technical assistance; providing printed and web-based resources for artists; and integrating art into public spaces. Online at

PNCA prepares students for a life of creative practice and has been an influential force in art and design education in the Pacific Northwest since its founding in 1909. Today, PNCA enrolls over 600 students in 15 undergraduate and graduate programs, and another 1,500 students through its continuing education programs. PNCA’s graduate programs are part of its Ford Institute for Visual Education (FIVE): an MFA in Visual Studies, a Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies, an MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research, an MFA in Collaborative Design, and an MFA in Applied Craft and Design developed with the Oregon College of Art and Craft, the first inter-institutional degree of its kind in the US.

PNCA is actively involved in Portland’s cultural life through exhibitions and a vibrant public program of lectures and internationally recognized visiting artists, designers, and creative thinkers. Portland Monthly, in its January 2012 issue, called PNCA “a creative class crown jewel.” With the support of FIVE, the College has an operating partnership with the nationally acclaimed Museum of Contemporary Craft. For more information, visit

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