What’s more prestigious: buying a fine-art print at a Pearl District gallery or picking up a poster from Urban Outfitters to match your living-room sofa? What if they’re both the same price? What if the poster costs more? Artist and entrepreneur John Brodie is fascinated by how people classify art objects, according to whether they were bought in a chi-chi capital-G “Gallery” or a more proletarian “store.” This month, in the footsteps of Pop artist Claes Oldenburg’s 1961 “Store” project, Brodie invited 64 local artists to exhibit—and more importantly, sell—their work in a temporary retail outlet at Southeast 12th Avenue and Division Street.
“I had the idea bouncing around in my head for at least three years,” Brodie says. “I love the idea of mixing high and low culture, the idea of the ‘art object’ versus the ‘product.’ So about a month ago I decided it was time to go for it and get it out of my system.”
Brodie, who also owns Portland crêperie Le Happy, told the artists they could sell existing works at Store or, better yet, create new work in media they wouldn’t essay in conventional galleries. For her piece, Melody Owen, who shows at Elizabeth Leach, revisits one of her signature motifs, the igloo, but instead of executing it à lapristine minimalism, she created a comfy piece of furniture designed for felines. Joe Macca, who shows at PDX Contemporary Art, eschewed the concentric abstractions he’s best known for, in favor of whimsical sculpted slugs and mushrooms. Prices range from ridiculously cheap ($20) to eminently affordable (in terms of art, $500). Brodie—who is taking a percentage of sales to cover store expenses—will man the store five days a week. He’s also making new work at the space and inviting other artists to do the same. In the vein of Oldenburg’s store, Brodie says there will be impromptu performances and happenings, as well as what is sure to be a drawing point: free rhubarb pies baked by “pie artist” Anne Greenwood.
Despite the pies and other homey, DIY touches (the sign is made of cardboard letters), Brodie is taking the idea of the crassly commercial “store” seriously. Credit cards will be accepted.
SEE IT: Store for a Month is located at 1216 SE Division St. Open noon-7 pm Wednesday-Sunday, June 3-28. More info at storeforamonth.com or follow http://twitter.com/storeforamonth.