Whitney from Snake Dance (left) cheers on Selina (right) during their performance. Courtesy of Rachel Frichette

Hi-C Has Got the Juice

Local art collective has a widely successful launch of first magazine issue

Hundreds of local, young creatives arrived at a dimly lit second-story studio space in Northeast Portland ready to be transported into the world of High Capacity. 

The collective has held past events in Portland, but none with the reach of the launch of Jan. 18. The night marked the release of their first magazine issue—a zine-sized magazine packed full of writing, art and photography from the Portland creative community.

Ronnie Lee, a co-founder, explains that “for the first issue, instead of accepting submissions we decided to just reach out to artists in the community we’ve built that align with our vision to really create an issue that’s as true to what Hi-C is as possible.”

Hi-C, as the local creative community calls it, is headed by three young people: Pilar Violet and Chuey Vitela, who are currently located in Portland, and Ronnie Lee, who is located in New York City. 

Vitela described Hi-C and his motivation to join the collective by saying, “High Capacity is essentially the antithesis of your average DIY publication or collective. I personally was tired of having to consume only white people’s art exclusively from various other art spaces, and Portland is notorious for having a lack of inclusion. We’re trying to set a new standard.”

Hi-C juice boxes were distributed with every sale of the magazine, and by 8 p.m. they littered the counters, floor and tables of ThirdRoom, the small creative studio where this event and past events have been held. The crowd began to buzz as local talent started to take the stage.

Among the roster was Dog, Whitney of Snake Dance, Selina, ThyThy, and PSU Student Letjoux. Their spoken word, looped melodies, drum grooves and powerful yet gentle vocals filled the room and the crowd felt the magic. People swayed, embraced their friends, joined in and created a space where every artist was cheered on and raised up.

The collective is currently based out of both Portland and NYC. In a few weeks, Violet will be moving to NYC as well, changing the dynamic. However, Portland as a city has influenced and will continue to impact the collective immensely. 

A dedicated member and supporter of the collective from the beginning explained, “Hi-C wouldn’t exist without the artists in Portland submitting their work, time, and energy to Hi-Capacity. Without them, Hi-C would be an empty and flavorless juice box.” 

And Portland creators seem to love the direct and grounded nature of the publication. PSU sophomore Nia Musiba, whose graphic design work was featured in the first issue, praised the collective saying that it has a “goal of being able to highlight artists and creators without having to jump through hoops that people encounter with more mainstream publications. Also, there is the diversity component in mind, highlighting POC artists and creators where other places don’t.”

Violet, the art director and co-founder of the collective, started it with these exact goals in mind.

“I just had so many friends who would share their personal work with me. Their writing, their drawing, their music, their whatever, and I found in—particularly with writing—nobody ever shared it. The glass door of the gallery world, like art school institutions, very much…feel like you need to present yourself into a packaged box and have a poetry book that’s already done and neatly tied up and written in times new roman. To even be considered an artist you need to have these polished things, and that’s not what art is.”

“I was seeing so many incredible things being made by my community like these people are my family, and I wanted to make a space for them.”

From the juice boxes covering the floors, to ThirdRoom filled beyond capacity on the day of and the echoes of support shown on Instagram the days after the event, it seems that High Capacity has truly created a space for Portland’s young creative community. With Pilar’s transition to New York soon, there is uncertainty as to what exactly will happen next, but the goals seem big.

Pilar described a variety of potential upcoming events and noted they have pages of ideas she and the other collaborators have to sort through before determining some of their next moves. Despite the uncertainty, Hi-C will remain a strong space for young creators in Portland, and there is one thing the collective wants their audience to know: Our capacity to create is deadly!

If you would like to stay updated on upcoming High Capacity events and opportunities you can follow them @highcapacitymag on Instagram.