Local Portland artists flock to the Portland Art Museum

The first thing that strikes a casual viewer when looking at the works scheduled for display at the Portland Art Museum’s Rental Sales Gallery Fall Salon is the variety: hundreds of works of art, in dozens of shapes and styles are hung on the walls and perched on tables, each one different from the previous one.

“There aren’t many galleries where you would see three works like this in the same space,” said Mark Tindle, the gallery director, as he stood in front of a semicircle of paintings arranged on easels, each unlike the last. There was pride in his voice as he presented each piece, showcasing a Tuscan landscape here, a strongly abstract composition there.

“We love to present works of art in various forms,” Tindle continued, manipulating an abstract wood sculpture with what seemed like a mixture of familiarity and curiosity. “We show everything from fine art, oils and acrylics to crafts and creative pieces,” he added.

Looking around the immediate space, Tindle’s explanation is immediately obvious. As he put the woodcarving back in its place, it joined his neighbors in a display that included a landscape print, a carved birdhouse, and a photorealistic painting of a beetle, haloed by sacred geometry. On the wall opposite the exhibit, a massive painting of the Burnside Bridge loomed, rendered in deliberate and technically practiced brushstrokes.

Despite their differences in style, subject and even medium, each of these pieces, and the nearly 250 other works scheduled for the evening of October 29, have something in common: They were produced in the Pacific Northwest. , by local artists. work on all available media.

This makes the Fall Show a kind of converging space, with hundreds of works of art in and around Portland being funneled into one place. The scope and breadth of these selections is an essential part of the gallery‘s mission: to present to as many people as possible a wider variety of local works that might otherwise not be available in a museum or other premises. other accessible spaces. To this end, the gallery, owned by the Portland Art Museum, is listed as a non-profit organization.

“The gallery was founded as a space for local artists to showcase their talent and make a living from art,” says Tindle. “Artists come to us at earlier stages of their careers, and they grow through the gallery. ”

In a way, the gallery can be seen as a kind of entry point for some beginning artists, with many up-and-coming local talent using the space as a stepping stone to becoming professional designers. However, the mission of the Rental Sales Gallery is not limited to supporting the community of local artists.

“We provide the function of democratizing access to art, in a way that other galleries, with a purely sales-based structure, may not be able to do,” Tindle said. “By giving people the ability to rent works of art, people can access beautiful, original works of art and enjoy them in their homes and spaces for much less money than it would cost to. buy a part. “

To this end, the gallery acts as a connecting space, providing accessible options for people to experience local art and local talent, which is often more difficult to find and experience in traditionally accessible spaces, such as the museums or books.

Besides the geographic criteria of manufacturing in the Pacific Northwest, the gallery’s only other benchmark is quality. Each piece in the fall screening is reviewed by a panel of judges, who vote on the work’s inclusion in the event. The pieces that pass the exam are then grouped together in a selection of work that is displayed throughout the exhibition, wall by wall.

“I’m very collaborative,” Tindle explained, discussing the gallery technique. “I really like empowering the volunteers who work here at the gallery, who are an integral part of the Rental Sales Gallery, to take charge of this work.

Tindle and the gallery volunteers tend to start off a wall arrangement with an anchor piece, a key piece of art that ties all the other pieces together. From this thematic center, the rest of the wall grows, in a sort of freestyle process that is as intuitive as it is systematic.

“The only kind of hard rule we have is that we try to make sure that as many different artists as possible are on the gallery walls,” Tindle said. Diversity and representation have always been a key part of the gallery’s mission, but over the past half-decade the need for inclusion has taken on particular importance in the functioning of the place.

“We are now in a place where everything we do has to be done with great care, thoughtfulness and deliberate action,” Tindle said. “Ensuring that there is as much diversity as possible of the artists exhibited is essential.

In recent years, the gallery has placed particular emphasis on the fact that in order to serve the local art community, it must act as a representative of all. within the Portland art scene.

“We need to grow and work with intent to represent a larger base of individuals,” Tindle said. “[Be] a space where people can come and see the work of a wide variety of people, regardless of their background.

As Portland grows and changes, with new artists relocating to the area each year, the gallery’s focus on representation means its selection changes with the city. Portland, as it becomes larger and more cosmopolitan, has also broadened the breadth and depth of its artistic talent pool. The gallery is in a unique position to show this change, as the selection of works on display is in continuous rotation.

“The gallery always refreshes the artwork we hold,” Tindle said. “New works are coming in all the time. One of the great things about it is that it’s not a static collection.

For this reason, seasonal events like this year’s fall show represent snapshots of an evolving artistic landscape. For a brief night, the current arrangement of the gallery’s collection is frozen in time and displayed for all to see before the cycle of changing pieces resumes.

This year’s exhibition, however, is unique. Due to the pandemic schedule, the last time the gallery had an in-person exhibition was in 2019, under the dedicated care of Jennifer Zika, the former gallery director, who died unexpectedly in March 2021. .

This year’s fall exhibition will also be a celebration of his memory, which will be recognized with a moment to appreciate his contribution and the lasting legacy in the gallery space. More than shared stories and memories, Zika’s lasting impact is tangibly expressed in the shape of the gallery’s daily operations.

“Focus on having fun,” Tindle recalls of his teachings. “Focus on the fact that this is a place of human connection, inspired by beautiful works of art. Remember, we are part of a larger community here.

At its core, that’s the key function of the Fall Show’s in-person format: taking different pieces of the community, be they artists, patrons, critics, or just curious passers-by and putting them in a room together, to appreciate what’s on the walls – Portland art, by Portland artists.


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