“The Great Northwest is a 76-minute experimental documentary that explores how the visual landscape of the Pacific Northwest has changed over the past 50 years. The project is based on the re-creation of a 3,200 mile road-trip made in 1958 by four Seattle women who thoroughly documented their journey in an elaborate scrapbook of photos, postcards, brochures and receipts. Fifty years later, Portland artist and filmmaker Matt McCormick found that scrapbook in a thrift store, and in 2010 set out on the road, following their route precisely and searching out every stop in which the ladies had documented.
The urban and natural landscapes the women experienced during their trip has changed greatly since 1958. While urban centers such as Seattle, Portland, and Spokane have sprouted sky-scrappers and hefty suburban growth, other towns such as Vantage and Taft no longer exist; one being flooded by Columbia River damming and the other paved over by Interstate 90. Development, damming, industry, and construction of the Interstate Highway System have moved mountains and rivers as well as towns and communities. Yet many aspects of the Pacific Northwest appear relatively unchanged. Carefully preserved towns such as Wallace, Idaho, and steadfast tourist attractions such as the Oregon Coast’s Sea Lion Caves seem almost stuck in time except for perhaps a few new layers of paint.
The film is a meditative look at these changes while also becoming it’s own scrapbook-like document. With a very patient and observational approach, the film compares and contrasts the 1958 landscape with that of the present day while celebrating the enduring features of the Pacific Northwest. It is a lyrical time capsule that explores the fragility of history.”
The Great Northwest was funded in part by a 2010 Regional Arts and Culture
Council Project Grant and the 2011 Oregon Art Commission Media Arts
Runs February 17-April 2
Elizabeth Leach Gallery
417 N.W. 9th Avenue Portland