You Gotta Have Place
The opening of Base Camp Gallery last week in Portland was as much about the fact of a new alternative art space as it was about the work that was shown. Everybody there was clearly having a good time and it seemed to me that the real art at play here was social. This is not to diminish the work, much of which could easily be hanging in any number of downtown galleries, but rather to elevate place-making to its rightful place. The place in question is a large warehouse, once used for distributing beer, and now the auxiliary space of a couple of well-established Portland entrepreneurs, a machine shop and an interesting smattering of younger creatives. The entry way looked like an art installation at Documenta in Kassel, Germany, with a lineup of Mercedes and modern furniture mashed up against a sound system and bar (another way of distributing beer). The autos turn out to be part of a bio-diesel conversion project, but no matter, they were fun to look at and added to the cocktail chatter. The overarching theme of the space and the crowd was, in fact, conversational. The artworks to each other, the art to the space, the implicit conversations between the different tenants of the warehouse, and of course, the sizable crowd that came to see what it was all about.
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