September 3rd, 2010 | Published in Arts
|Paul Middendorf, galleryHOMELAND’s co-founder and co-director, and co-director Caitlin Moore oversee a stream of programs to keep art flowing to the community. Photo: Dustin Eppers/EnzymePDX|
It’s hard to believe that Paul Middendorf and Paige Saez started the experimental non-profit galleryHOMELAND five years ago. Looking at their 25-plus exhibitions and countless other programs, it seems that they have involved most every facet of the creative community in that short tenure. Now, as they celebrate their wooden anniversary, they remain anything but static.
These days the personable Middendorf remains at the helm with co-director Caitlin Moore and associate director Emily Henderson. After a year or so, Saez shifted focus to be more fully on her studio practice. She completed her MFA at Pacific Northwest College of Art and took a position with Wieden + Kennedy. Gone are the days in a Southeast neighborhood makeshift studio/storage space where a then-startup collaborative was more a mash-up of collective thought, tinsel and cupcakes.
The curatorial/residency program grew far and wide after moving three years ago into the historic Ford Building at SE 11th and Division Street. Here, throughout the sprawling hallways, an exhibition space emerges and meanders through the entire first level of this busy enclave of creatives and businesses with a café and shops, printing studio, even a psychiatrist’s office. Their core audience varies greatly, from designers to delivery personnel to construction workers and marketing executives. They funnel contemporary art to people who may never make a trip to a museum or gallery otherwise.
The space is oddly dynamic, leaving much room for thought. After the staff recently visited Berlin, they all admitted how similar it seemed to Portland: Many of the spaces that were captivating artists and audiences were alternative spaces like old warehouses and people’s homes. They explained that the raw candor of the unexpected felt like home, and not like the typical formal white walls of a cube-like gallery space.
The vision of galleryHOMELAND expands beyond the reach of simply hi/low art and has made itself home for full-scale a/v installations, film/video festivals, readings, concerts and a few bake sale fundraisers.
With shows titled “Dudes Night Out,” “Wild Wild West” and “Disaster Capitalist,” you might think you were entering club night at an underground rave, and in some context you may be, but that involves the union of community. Their recent “Glam” was a celebratory show marking their anniversary, collecting a half dozen of the region’s best including Saez, videographer Stephen Slappe and multimedia artist Philip Iosca.
Middendorf was fast to point out that he would have loved to have had a gigantic group show with 30 or more artists, but he wanted “a nice, clean show that properly represented what we’ve done over the past five years.” Indeed, it was a strong move on his team’s part to hone the event, keeping the curatorial aesthetic tight. “We’ve grown and learned and have become fit into the ranks of Portland,” Middendorf said.
One of the programs that make galleryHOMELAND stand out in the city is its ongoing open-call format artist residency program. Middendorf shared: “The overall program hasn’t changed that much since the earlier days of our residency program. Our first was with Bonnie Fortune in the winter of 2006. We offered stipends out of our own pockets; however, our budgets have gotten a little bigger and our goals have gotten a lot grander.”
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