Meet your Neighbors: Linda Austin

Linda Austin
Performance Works NorthWest
4625 SE 67th (just N of Foster)

Who are you?
Founder/Direcctor of PWNW and a choreographer and performer—it will be 30 years of performing my own work come July 2013.

What do you do?
I create dances and mutli-disciplinary performances. SInce we came here in 2000, I have — through PWNW–been nurturing the creation of new works by dancers, theater makers, musicians, performance and media artists through our cabarets and the guest-curated Alembic series that ran for a couple year, as well as by offering cheap rehearsal space. Now I am TIRED (this has been all volunteer, as is my role of director of our non-profit) and am pulling back on the presenting stuff to focus more on my own work.

What is your inspiration? (Why do you do what you do?)
I do what I do because I can’t stop. Making is a playful/serious way of thinking and processing the world. Performing is a way of connecting and sharing.

What brought you and/or your business to this fine community?
A bit of a saga: I bought an apartment in the East Village of NYC for $2000 in 1978–back when cabdrivers refused at times to drive into the neighborhood after dark. 20 years later, unforeseen gentrification made my tiny apartment worth 45 times what I had paid for it. Wanting my own space to make work and having begun a cross-country relationship with a friend from Lewis & Clark College days (now my husband, lighting designer Jeff Forbes) I sold my apartment, paid debts and moved back to my home state of Oregon with enough cash for a down payment on a space that I hoped could be used as a studio or even small venue. Ended up in FoPo by chance or fate, after our real estate agent brought our attention to what was then St. Mary’s Romanian Catholic Church. It almost perfectly matched a floor plan sketch I had made as part of a visioning/wishing intention setting deal. We have seen a lot of change since we bought PWNW in 2000–there was no coffee then! But thankfully we havent’ gotten to the over the top craziness of Alberta St. or N. Mississippi.

3 Ways to unite the Fine Folks of Foster and it’s neighboring communities:
I’m not sure I can answer that. This is where I start to feel guilty. For my own self I have wanted more involvement directly with neighbors, for example, neighborhood association meetings or one of the art nights, but being in performing, my nights are often filled with commitments like rehearsals or attending other events around town or am on a grant deadline etc. Also have a “day” job teaching ESOL at PCC Cascade and by the way, you need to take out the apostrophe in “it’s” in your question above. Anyway I think the activities that have started happening around official things like FLIP etc are a good thing as well as the art Saturday and events like Fun on Foster.

How do you envision the future of your neighborhood?
I hope for more pedestrian friendly and bike friendly streets and for the empty shops to be filled. The idea of doing interesting things with the triangle corners intrigues me. But I hope the neighborhood can keep its unique niche businesses like the Decorette or the darts shop instead becoming all cafes and boutiques which is probably far down the road anyway. I wish more of my friends would move into the neighborhood instead of gravitating north! But that would probably lead to the aforesaid over-gentrification.

Some top fives to appease the list lovers Your Top 5 Songs to get you through a life?

I can’t keep track of song names, so I will list Antony & the Johnsons, Florence & the Machine, uh oh I still get excited listening to early Springsteen and Patti Smith and old school hip hop that takes me back to early 1980s nyc. And Portland bands (friends) like AU and Deelay Ceelay.

Your Top 5 Haunts in Portland
This is obviously NOT a Foster Road thing, but I like sitting in Tanner Springs Park in the Pearl and wish that that kind of stuff didn’t seem reserved for richer neighborhoods. Other than that where I hang out is where I end up performing (last week at PNCA, last night at Portland Art Museum) or where my friends end up performing, hey like Performance Works NorthWest! For eating and drinking, I do love all local places like Bar Carlo, Gemini, Slingshot, Foster Burger. Wish we had something Asian that was walk-able other than the Maple Leaf! Oh! I like Tambayan but tend to neglect/forget about it. As you see, lists of 5 things don’t work for me



  1. There’s lots of Asian options at Eastport Plaza…there’s HK Cafe and Fujiyama. If you’re willing to hoof it to Powell, Kenny’s Noodle House is seriously worth the trip.

  2. The Pho place on 82nd, next to Shushi Sushi is pretty tasty too.

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