Arts and Culture

The fifth annual Portland Art and Heritage Fair will take place September 29. The first Portland art fair took place at an interesting time in the neighborhood’s history.

In 2014, renewed real-estate development efforts were shining a spotlight on the architecture and legacy of the traditionally working-class community, while city arts organizations — like Louisville Visual Art — began relocating or opening spaces in the neighborhood.

At the time, community organizers viewed the event as a way to express the intentions of The Portland Plan, a revitalization strategy for the neighborhood originally drafted in 2002.

In an interview, event chair Gary Watrous said one part of the plan was reimagining the neighborhood through economic development, “and another part of the plan was that we be more receptive to artists, because we know artists are often key in rehabilitation and boosting of neighborhoods.”

And in the years since, that’s stayed at the heart of the fair, which has developed the tagline “come for the history, stay for the future.”

As such, this year’s focus is centered on what organizers are calling “The Portland Triangle.”

Danny Seim is a co-chair of the event. He said that’s how they are referring to three of the neighborhood’s most historic buildings.

“The three buildings are The U.S. Marine Hospital, that’ll be where the Louisville Horse Tram comes to pick up people for the Portland Museum, and then from there, they’ll head to the Dolfinger building,” Seim said.

The Dolfinger, which was once a school building — and, for a time, used as a Civil War hospital — is now home to several organizations like Squallis Puppeteers, Anchal Projects, Interfaith Paths to Peace and the World Affairs Council.

“One thing that sets this year apart, being year five and all, is that it’s actually a full day — we can say 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. — of festivities, should you choose to accept our festivities.”

Ashlie Stevens is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.