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Think Out Loud

Jim Blashfield and MTV's Heyday

Pete Springer/OPB

Jim Blashfield is a Portland-based artist with a vast portfolio. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s he made a foray into directing music videos, and his works will be on display this Friday as part of the Northwest Film Center’s Reel Music 30 festival.

In 1985, Blashfield was an artist and filmmaker when his partner sent a film of his to the manager of the Talking Heads. He was quickly hired to make a video for one of the band’s hit songs, “And She Was.” The music industry took notice and more videos stemmed from there. Blashfield worked with Portland’s NuShooz, as well as Paul Simon, Michael Jackson and more as MTV and music video viewership skyrocketed.

Watching his 8 music videos from the 1980’s and early 1990’s you’ll notice some interesting imagery. An accordion playing itself. An enormous set of chomping teeth. A flying vacuum cleaner. Ordinary things featured in unexpected and often improvised ways. He says:

I have always been interested in a celebration of the ordinary. The world is filled with ordinary objects, which often carry a lot of emotion that we may not even be aware of.

This Friday on Think Out Loud we’ll have artist, award-winning filmmaker, and music fan Jim Blashfield in the studio to discuss his approach to making music videos and what it was like to work in the music industry in the 1980’s.

What was your favorite video from the 80s heyday of MTV? Do you remember the first time you saw a Jim Blashfield music video?


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