Jake went back to Powells while we explored galleries. Portland’s art scene is impressive. I haven’t seen so many decent galleries within a few square blocks since Chelsea. I admire the bravura of Stepen Hayes painting at Elizabeth Leach—making a sky in a few minutes of scrubbing, seconds of dripping or a long thoughtful moment of demarcation. A bristly edge surges halfway up the canvas. The sky is the undescribed space above that edge, below knots of barns, bushes.
There were amazing encaustics by Andrea Schwartz-Feit at Butters. Michael and I tend to like the same things. Still, I’m sure if we ever had a gallery together we’d have to take turns making selections. At Butters, just minutes late for the artists talk, we were offered champagne and chocolate. About a dozen people stood around talking. The art dealers were all quite friendly. I wanted to know how many attended the talk, but I was too shy to ask. Based on how many stood around, I’m inclined to think that more come to Bunnell.
The gallery spaces in Portland are beautiful, inspiring. Fat beams, tall windows, floors of polished concrete, steel plates or old tongue and groove, lovingly maintained. Reminds me of Chelsea because they are also one-story buildings, big windows – many with garage doors. The quality of Portland galleries, which so boldly surpasses Seattle or San Francisco (as a community, all in a dozen square blocks) somewhat explains the presence of several great galleries not far away in Astoria. I’m still thinking about Imogen Gallery and Lightbox. Imogen is new—I was immediately delighted to see Alaska’s Sara Tabbert’s work there, mixed in with a tasty variety of abstracts. Lightbox was amazing. It’s a photographer’s gallery – a deep space with very high ceilings in front, showing a rich variety of analog prints in small wood frames. Beautiful light – each piece glowed in a precious halo of amber. There was a wonderful collection of old cameras witnessing the scene, old guys, smiling with appreciation. The floors were stained very dark. In back, a handsome work station for framing, packing. An adorable mezzanine doubled as an office (front) and critique/screening room (back). Apparently there’s darkrooms one can rent – perhaps in the basement. Its a veritable photo center, so elegantly designed and atmospheric, I would expect to see in Seoul or Amsterdam.