Eva Lake was a "white-trash country girl from southern Oregon" until she moved to London in the late '70s to design record sleeves. Drawn into the vortex of the city's punk scene, she partied with the Sex Pistols, dated Gary Numan, and fell in love with a new group called Siouxsie and the Banshees. London was a seductive mix of glamour and seediness, but ultimately Lake left the city behind to see the rest of the world.
One nervous breakdown and several stints in New York, San Francisco and London (again) later, she returned to Oregon. At 50, she still has punk spunk to burn. I caught up with her at Le Happy to talk about her painting, her gallery and her new window space.
WW: You recently wrote a blistering essay for NWDrizzle.com about the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art suspending its visual-arts program. Why?
Eva Lake: When PICA made its big statement admitting they'd disconnected from the local art scene, I was like, "Duh!" Stuart Horodner was on my gallery's mailing list for years, and he never showed his face there once.
I take it you don't like having to curry favor from people.
I'm 50 now--I don't do that shit anymore. I don't have to wait for Tracy Savage to invite me to some party. I don't have to go to the art museum and see [gallery owner] Liz Leach and [PAM modern-art curator] Bruce Guenther talking over in the corner. With my gallery and my radio show, I'm the only one who gets to tell me what to do. There's something to be said for having a room of one's own.
What do you think of the Portland Art Museum?
The Biennial last year was boring as hell. Bruce really missed the underground stuff going on. The museum's way overpriced, too. Thirteen dollars to see the Rau Collection?
Your gallery is close to the Pearl. Do you think the district is overrated?
I don't dis the Pearl. Yes, I have more of a connection to the street scene than the highbrow scene. But I don't think you have to dis the high to appreciate the low. Being on the edge is romantic for only so long.
Your own art is Op-influenced...
I don't really see it that way. To me, it's more about painting nothing, the spaces between things, but painting nothing many times. I'm also doing a lot of curating now. TriMet asked me to curate the new Interstate MAX line, so I'm having
James Lavadour, Michael Brophy, Tim Dalbow and some other artists do a permanent installation called 2-Dimensional Narrative.
Tell me about the Standard Arts Window. Was that inspired by the Window Project over at PDX Gallery?
No, it goes back a lot further than that, to a lot of the shows I used to curate in windows in San Francisco. Last fall I asked David Boyd, the designer at Standard Arts, if I could start showing artists in a blank window of theirs, and he said, "Great." We have Wid Chambers' digital prints up right now through mid-March.
I've seen them, and I love them.
Aren't they wonderful? He uses this old computer program to make the prints. They're so crisp, focused and vibrant, but at the same time they have this oozy, gushy, mushy quality--really psychedelic!
Standard Arts WindowWid Chambers' Cult Classic. 1715 NW Lovejoy St., 939-2255. Closes March 15.
ArtstarEva lake's weekly radio show. KPSU 98.3 FM, 1450 AM. 1 pm Sundays.