Portland has a dynamic fine art scene, with over 130 galleries listed in the Yellow Pages. Many of the top galleries are in the Pearl District and other neighborhoods in Northwest Portland. To preview some of Portland’s leading galleries, go to the Portland Art Dealers Association website (www.padaoregon.org), which has details of monthly shows at a dozen of the city’s top galleries.
First Thursday Gallery Walk
One of the best times to explore Portland’s galleries is on the first Thursday of every month during the First Thursday Gallery Walk. More than 30 gallery owners coordinate show openings the first Thursday of every month, and many offer complimentary refreshments.
Visit the agglomeration of galleries in the Pearl District, where the biggest crowds gather. In this neighborhood, Elizabeth Leach Gallery (417 NW 9th Ave., 503/224-0521) is one of Portland’s most successful and long-established galleries, presenting challenging and inventive art pieces from top regional and national artists.
Also check out the nearby DeSoto Building (724 NW Davis St.), which houses three of Portland’s top galleries and the Museum of Contemporary Craft.
For something completely different, plan to attend Last Thursdays, an event at month’s end that highlights the dynamic district of galleries and independent designers on NE Alberta Street. A mix of street fair, performance art, and gallery tour, Last Thursday is much more raucous and youthful than First Thursday, with live bands, fire-eaters, and other high jinks adding an almost circus atmosphere to the Alberta Street art scene.
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art or PICA (224 NW 13th Ave., 503/242-1419, www.pica.org) is Portland’s leader in cutting-edge performance, experimental theater, new music, and dance. Throughout the year PICA offers lectures, performances, and exhibitions at many venues throughout the city, but the organization’s top event, September’s Time-Based Art Festival (TBA), is a contemporary art festival of regional, national, and international artists presenting theater, dance, music, film, visual exhibitions, and installations.
Art in the Pearl
Art in the Pearl (503/722-9017, www.artinthepearl.com) is an outdoor arts and crafts fair held over Labor Day weekend in the North Park Blocks, bounded by NW Park and 8th Avenues and Burnside and Glisan Streets along the eastern edge of the Pearl District. This street fair provides a showcase for the creations of the local artistic community and also features food booths and music.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel