Bring in the Noise

A family finds peace and quirky comfort in their Alberta farmhouse by surrounding themselves with art made by their neighbors.

By Anna Hirsh May 19, 2009 Published in the January 2009 issue of Portland Monthly

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THE WALLS OF OUR HOMES are meant to separate us from the rest of the world: the elements, the neighbors, the noise. But in 2004, when Jim and Andrea Frost bought their first house in Portland, next to the Alibi, a tiki-themed karaoke den on N Interstate Avenue, walls didn’t prove entirely effective. One too many nights, they found themselves caught in yelling matches with drunk, baby-waking, rock-star wannabes. But two years later, the Frosts bought a tiny farmhouse in the Alberta Arts District and discovered that bringing in a bit of the outside world helped make their home.

After ripping out the carpet to expose the original honey-colored hardwoods, the Frosts painted the walls in vibrant shades of green and gold, and hung attention-grabbing light fixtures. But when they needed to bridge the gap between their newly modern interior and their funky thrift furniture (“Not worth replacing when you have children,” says Jim), they simply took to the streets.

On almost every wall, the Frosts have hung found objects and quirky pieces culled from Alberta’s Last Thursday art walks. The eclectic collection displays a uniquely Portland aesthetic that’s both old and new, political and silly, deeply personal and a reflection of their community. “We wouldn’t have any coherent sense of décor in our house if it wasn’t for Alberta’s artists,” Jim says.

These days, when the weather’s right, they leave the doors to their back patio open, inviting in the warm breeze, the neighbors, and sometimes, when there’s music in the air, even a little noise.

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