March 29th, 2010 4:00 pm | by RICHARD SPEER Arts & Books | Posted In: Visual Arts

Lawrence Gallery Closes Pearl District Gallery

Lawrence Gallery, Portland, Oregon

In a move that was not entirely unexpected, Lawrence Gallery has closed its Pearl District location at 903 NW Davis St. The gallery, once a cash cow, had been suffering in the economic downturn. In a letter sent to gallery artists and clients on Friday, March 26, owners Gary and Signe Lawrence said they are closing the location “at least for now” because “the Portland gallery location has been underperforming for various reasons.” Lawrence's two other locations, in Salishan and Sheridan, Oregon, will remain open.

Whether fairly or unfairly, Lawrence has widely been perceived as a black sheep in the Portland arts community. It was not a member of the blue-chip Portland Art Dealers Association (PADA) and was viewed by many cognoscenti as a commercial gallery trafficking in decorative art. Its offerings were largely ignored by local critics, although I have reviewed Lawrence shows by painters Barry Mack and Amanda Dunbar and sculptor Martin Eichinger. In recent years, Gary Lawrence has been suffering health problems and has not been as visible a presence in the gallery as he once was. His wife Signe presided in his absence with tremendous elegance and charm.

While few in Portland's mandarin and emerging-art cliques will lament Lawrence's shuttering, the closure is symptomatic of the stark economic realities afflicting the art market—realities that cut across lines of fashion and taste.

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