Interdisciplinary Photography THRU News Visual

Brief History of a Magazine Reflected in “Salon”

Death and the First of Spring

Sitting at a family dining table on this first day of Spring, 2018, with the nourishing Tucson sun at my back, recalling the December night when THRU Media opened and shuttered its doors to the public for the last time, a belated post is published at THRU, and so ends my 14 years of magical thinking.

This 463rd THRU post will neither be the greatest nor most memorable work, but it will reflect the fact that inside all of those hundreds of pieces are thousands of human stories. It documents the finale event that we called Salon, to celebrate the spirit of inclusiveness that we strived for. This single post includes visual work from eight artists, and recalls six performances. Any of the 462 preceding it could focus on a single person, or relate to the work of dozens, such as the actors, lighting designers, directors, and dancers credited herein.

Gratitude for the friends who participated in the salon on December 7, 2017, at the humble HQ in downtown Portland, Oregon, mixes with sadness over who wasn’t there. Pride and regret seem inseparable from my memory of this project, and it all weighs on my heart like a corpse on the mortician’s table, as I carve into the body of my work.

The death of the self I believed in has been the cause for a season of grieving. Grief over the loss of another passion project, and of losing touch with the ego that created it.

The salon was an ipso facto going away party. We were already preparing to move out of Portland, Oregon, permanently, by January. It was time to let it all go, everything that my fourteen years as a Portland dreamer manifested. There is only what-is now, nothing of what I believed was.

There is only what-is now, nothing of what I believed was.

A Brief History in Hindsight

Kate and I created THRU Media on the back of a blog that I had been casually putting out for years. We believed that the time was right for a publication made by regular people, for, you might say, the 99%. So we cobbled together an Indiegogo campaign raising about $1,800 to launch a new media startup. It was an imperfect campaign. The money lasted about a year, remarkably.

Throughout that period, we had personal financial struggles. It turns out that launching a magazine is a full time job, even if it pencils out to part time. We refrained from spending the little bit of capital while our own bank accounts reached single digits. We spent the last of it putting down a deposit for the studio space, in 2016.

We had the idea of sweat equity, gambling with time for a pay off later. But that’s the problem of “penciling out” things, or betting on the future. It is not a sure bet. But that’s what I’ve done my whole life. The more we had to focus on wage work, the more the magazine suffered. We could not publish regularly after that. The studio became a place to house ideas, not publish them.

Nonetheless, the studio hosted half a dozen art exhibits, many podcast interviews, music rehearsals, and video screenings. The output of this publication was solid prior to moving in there. That was another thing: the studio demanded great energy to build out.

Sometimes it’s what you don’t do that defines what you did. We did not pump out clickbait. We did not sell advertising. We reviewed the arts, put out original creative writing, photography, videos, music, podcasts, and socially progressive editorial. THRU Media involved 32 contributors. All of their work is here, archived indefinitely.

Most of the artists included in the salon exhibit were part of that history. Rachel Oleson is the subject of our documentary about the Portland Mercado mural, World Wide Wall, and she brought a framed selection of sketches representing the process of installing a mural on Foster Road. Jason Traeger, Todd Guess, and Larry Yes were all podcast guests, back when I called it Horizon at End Times. Jason Morales gave THRU a couple of new music reviews, and Mefore Aday also gave a couple of illustrations.

Jessica Schramm and Christina Sullivan are the only two visual artists who did not contribute directly to the publication, however, their offerings that night were warmly welcomed.

Estevan Munoz, now a rapper, was a founding contributor. His brother Nicholas, a comedian, was featured in a spoof interview video about the brothers’ “mockumentary” film Este Does Not Make a Movie. Stacey Tran joined us with a reading of her poems, she had been a podcast guest and a subject of Kate’s Poetry Press Week coverage. Jason Traeger told a humorous true story about pooping himself. Kate made her storytelling debut with a childhood recollection of the “Can Can Sale.”

The house band included myself on drums, Jerry Soga on bass, Peter Bryant on tenor saxophone, and Doug Haning on alto sax and contra-bass clarinet. We improvised music at the start and end of the night. I published a live recording of Doug’s band at The Waypost, in 2014. Jerry has been involved in just about all of my projects, one way or another, for the last ten years. He mostly stayed out of THRU, however.

As for Kate and myself, we are doing alright. We’re on the verge of making our move into a new city. The prospects are good for Philadelphia. Ironically, this city is associated with a historical research paper that we never finished, about Jesse A. Curry, a prominent Philadelphia transplant to Portland and leader of the Portland Rose Society throughout the 1920’s and 30’s.

The studio was purchased by producer Kervins Chauvet. He brings his own aspirations to the space, largely musical, carrying on an important function of that basement: sound. Sound is my first love, and music space is hard to find in Portland, so I really wanted to give it to a music maker.

The loss of cheap housing and creative space is one of the many changes long-term residents have had to accept about the new Portland. For Kate and I, we just weren’t satisfied living there anymore, so far removed from our roots back east. The dream of Portland is now for a different set of folks to realize. For us, the bubble of Portland has popped and our fantasies escaped into thin air.

We are living now in the world of what-is. The hopes and dreams of an underfunded media startup are behind us. We’ve grown positively from the effort that was THRU. We are proud of the articles, the arts reviews, reports, photography, original art, music, videos, and views published here. We did it on a shoestring. We did it for love. We look forward to whatever comes of it.

Thank You, everyone involved, who participated, contributed, read, or supported us. We are forever with gratitude for your positivity.

Salon, December 2017 at THRU Gallery

The Performers

Jason Traeger was not pictured, unfortunately. These are just casual iPhone images without lighting, please accept the resolution as-is.

Sean Ongley

By Sean Ongley

Co-Founder of THRU Media. A background in non-profit, music, and radio preceded my ambitions here. Now, I aspire to produce new media and publish independent journalism at this site and beyond.

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