As the year winds down, we students begin to plan to do all sorts of fun things on our summer break. Or heck, some of us might be starting now! Regardless, it’s always helpful to gather some good ideas of how you should spend your newfound freetime. Some of you may head home during break, so your time to explore without the constraints of academic pursuits is limited, but consider this your invitation to take advantage of any time you spend on/near campus!
Now hear me out. I know not everyone is that interested in art — art galleries especially. Maybe you hear “art gallery” and think boring and stuffy art. Some galleries definitely fit that bill. There’s nothing particularly wrong with them of course, but I can understand if you would like to experience something fresh. Well, I’m here to give you that opportunity! Not every art gallery or museum is the same, after all. I’ve curated a select galleries worth visiting within a stones-throw of campus.. Who knows, maybe something will catch your eye!
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU | 1855 SW Broadway
I’ll start with the galleries that can be found on campus. You may have heard of this one, but this gallery is definitely top of mind when I think about a PSU art gallery. Located on the first floor of the Fariborz Maseeh Hall (aka FMH), this lovely gallery greets you right away when you enter the building from Southwest Broadway.. The large window panels let you see into the room even before you’re admitted, allowing you to get a quick glimpse at the artwork up on display. Think of it as a little sneak peak for what’s to come. The interior of the gallery space is nice as well — decently spacious without feeling like a barren wasteland. The space given to the exhibition is typically used well, with something new to find around every corner. There’s even a lower level to explore!
Speaking of which, what is the upcoming exhibition? Well, I’m so glad you asked, dear reader!
The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU, aka JSMA @ PSU, just opened a new exhibit featuring the work of both BFA and MFA PSU graduates! “At This Time” celebrates the work of students that have made their way through the contemporary art practices and art practice programs of our university. It’s a very fitting way to end off a lot of art students’ year here at PSU, and attending would be a great way to show our support for them! The coolest thing about it is definitely seeing what kind of work is being produced right at our very own university. Even if you aren’t studying art, there’s bound to be something fun to view.
Littman Gallery | 1825 SW Broadway
Here’s another lovely art gallery that’s generally pretty easy to find on campus! Located on the second floor of Smith Memorial Student Union (aka SMSU), you can bump right into it just by turning a few corners. Just like FMH’s art gallery, you can enter this one completely for FREE. Nice! While it’s a much smaller space compared to JSMA @ PSU, it still houses some incredibly fun and unique exhibitions all throughout the year. The current exhibit being featured is Paola De La Cruz’s “The Art of Healing.” This gallery explores the healing process and how it isn’t always easy or painless. De La Cruz’s work in particular focuses on her own personal journey, as well as her pain and joy. There are multiple pieces of work that focus on her body, specifically as a woman. Her work features a lot of collage and mixed mediums. There’s even a little interactive section of the gallery set up! Featured around the interior of the room are several sentence starters printed on the wall. Mounted on the wall next to it is a mesh like material with red words placed on it that say “I bury and heal old wounds.” Tied around the gaps in the material are small note cards with words written on them, specifically the continuation of the sentence starters provided to you. I think that sort of interaction in an art piece is so cool! You can contribute as much and as little as you’d like. It’s truly incredible, so be sure to stop by at least once before it closes on June 30th!
Portland Art Museum | 1219 SW Park Ave
Let’s journey a little further from campus. Now while the Portland Art Museum is technically considered a museum and not a gallery, it’s definitely a space that contains a lot of beautiful artwork. The museum is incredibly popular for a reason. Not only does it house tons of artwork from all sorts of artists around the globe, but it also frequently showcases several different exhibitions at once. There’s so much variety here I don’t know where to start. But for the sake of ease for both me and you, dear reader, I will offer a list of the current exhibitions being housed within the museum’s walls.
Nature Vive: Paul Missal — An exhibit featuring the works of Paul Missal, specifically of his humorous take on still life paintings. There’s a sort of charm to his art that I think is worth seeing in person. That, and his skill as an artist is obvious. If you’re interested in checking this out, be sure to head to Floor 3 in the Main Building. The exhibit ends July 30th.
untitled (Plaid Pantry) — A collection of paintings by David Rosenak that depict only the local spaces he visits. From his studio locations in the Buckman neighborhood, to his home and workplace. These paintings cover areas that are very much familiar to him and perhaps to you as well, seeing as these paintings are all of places in the Portland area. Although being painted in entirely greyscale, there’s a beautiful depth to Rosenak’s artwork that gives them life. It’s wonderful how seemingly “mundane” cityscapes can be lovingly rendered in such a way. This exhibit will also end on July 30th, so there’s plenty of time to visit if you’re interested. (untitled is also located in the same building/floor as the Missal exhibit.)
Hito Steyerl: This is the Future — And last but not least, here’s a really interesting exhibit for those who don’t particularly care for the classic painting setup. Hito Steyerl’s tech and video based exhibit is for those who like their art more on the strange and surreal spectrum. While the experience is hard for me to put into words, the main theme of this exhibit seems to be about an imagined future and an imagined landscape that we’ll live in. The marriage of AI generated images, themes of artificial intelligence, our current society, and nature makes a wonderful sight to behold. As I mentioned before, it’s a video-based exhibit that uses screens to portray images instead of your typical painting on canvas. The walls and floors are all black, making the images on the screens pop even more. It’s very fun, but be warned that the screens can be quite bright, so if you’re sensitive to lighting, you may want to skip this exhibit. You can find this trippy exhibit in the Stott Gallery section of the building. It’ll be closing a little sooner compared to the earlier exhibits, so be sure to check it out if you’re interested before June 18th!
Before I move onto the next gallery, I’d like to draw your attention to an upcoming exhibit. If you watched Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio last year, then you’ll join me in being thrilled to hear the Portland Art Museum is building an exhibit based on the film that opens June 10th!
(NOTE: This gallery is the only one on this list that charges an entry fee, so please keep that in mind. Student pricing is $22 per visit OR you can get a year-long pass for $25 with your PSU ID.)
Elizabeth Leach Gallery | 417 NW 9th Ave
I’d like to introduce you to a gallery that I’m particularly fond of that’s located off-campus.The Elizabeth Leach Gallery, unlike the Portland Art Museum, is what you might call a proper art gallery. And unlike the Portland Art Museum, it’s completely free of charge! It’s a much smaller space compared to the Portland Art Museum, so there is usually only one exhibit at a time. The current exhibit is called “Killer Maker.” This exhibit is the brainchild of Justine Kurland and Jessica Jackson, and focuses on the experience of pregnancy and motherhood. Themes of the cycle of life and how we as humans intertwine with nature are present in this exhibit. These themes are then portrayed through the artwork that is put up for display. This includes photographs, sculptures, collages, surface work, and many other experimental pieces of work. Not only that, but the exhibit can be viewed online alongside all previous exhibits. Perhaps my favorite tidbit about the Elizabeth Leach Gallery: they keep an online archive of each exhibit, so if you miss a show you can always find it online!
Starting June 8, Derek Franklin’s “Grief is on my calendar everyday at 2:00 p.m.” will be available for viewing in the gallery. This exhibit will feature a bunch of Franklin’s paintings and sculptures. It’s a must-see! (But remember that you can always view anything you miss on the gallery’s website! :D)
Blue Sky, Oregon Center for Photographic Arts | 122 NW 8th Ave
And last but not least, here’s something to spice things up! Unlike the previous galleries/museums I’ve talked about, this one is focused on a single medium: photography. If that’s more of your thing, then this place is just for you! Similarly to the Elizabeth Leach gallery, this place is pretty small. But it’s also usually quiet and draws less of a crowd, so the experience is peaceful. Large, beautifully printed photographs can be found lining the walls. I was surprised to find I enjoyed the space as much as I did, as a fan of painting over photography. The center shares online exhibits featuring work not found elsewhere, as well as booklets on previous exhibits if you’d rather peruse art from the comfort of your home. Keep your eyes peeled for the next exhibit: Safi Alia Shabaik’s “Personality Crash: Portraits of My Father Who Suffered from Advanced Stages of Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia, and Sunflowers Syndrome.” Entrance is free.
Audria Oakes, a student worker with University Communications, is a first-year PSU student who likes drawing, writing, and listening to music, and is studying art.