One of the many great things about Portland is that you don’t have to spend money to have a good time or have an interesting day out. It doesn’t matter if you have the money or not, it’s nice to know you don’t have to spend it. That’s what’s so great about the Modern Art Galleries in the Pearl District. Whether or not you like modern art—and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand much of it—the art galleries offer something new and interesting to look at, to talk about, to ponder.
Portland has roughly twenty galleries and every month the featured artists change which means every month you can see fantastic art by new, and primarily local, artists. All the galleries are free to the public. An easy jaunt from the MAX and within close proximity to Powell’s Books and numerous coffee shops and restaurants, it’s easy to make an inexpensive and unique date out of the galleries—and do it frequently.
From Cedar Hills, it’s a fifteen minute MAX ride which I used to catch up on my reading and my wife used to people watch. Getting off the Max at Pioneer Courthouse Square, we opted to walk the rest of the way to the Pearl and begin our gallery visit.
Walking arm in arm, we grabbed a cup of coffee and made our way to the Butters Gallery, which is a cool brick building, tucked away and hidden from those who are not paying attention. We ooohed and ahhhed at the pieces, grabbed a gallery map and made our way to the Froelick, the Hartman, the Portland Gallery of Modern Art and the Augen.
An artist was hanging out in one of the galleries and he talked to us a little about his process. Now I can doodle a bit, but I wouldn’t call myself much of an artist. It was inspiring to listen to this super down to earth eccentric tell us how he became an artist and what hard work it is. We shook his hand and thanked him for his time.
After several hours, we wandered back up the street and gave all the galleries a second look. We knew we wouldn’t buy anything, but we tried to picture which piece would look best over our mantle. In another round of symbiosis, my wife and I were in absolute agreement.
The employees didn’t care that we weren’t going to buy anything. It’s an art gallery. Almost no one buys anything. The employees—many of whom are artists themselves—were quick to answer questions, and some even allowed us to take pictures. Several galleries have candy, and my wife and I were sufficiently sugared out by the time we made it to a restaurant, ate lunch and hit the MAX back home.
We went to bed pleased that we spent an entire day immersing ourselves in art. The best part? We can do the exact same trip again next month, and it will be totally different.
By Justin Price