One of the Northwest's best-known gallery owners, Laura Russo
, has died, at age 66, of esophageal cancer. Robert Kochs, a friend of Russo's and owner of Augen Gallery, confirms that Russo passed away last night after a relatively short bout with the cancer. She had been under hospice care in recent weeks.
Russo, niece of celebrated artist Michele Russo, established her namesake gallery in 1986 and represented some of the Northwest's best-known talents: Mel Katz, Mary Josephson, Gregory Grenon, Tom Cramer, Lucinda Parker, and Henk Pander, to name only a few. Her reputation as a doyenne of the Portland art scene was perhaps second only to Elizabeth Leach, and her ties to Northwest art's historical roots were nonpareil.
What her death means to her gallery and formidable stable of artists will play itself out over the coming weeks. What is undisputed is her influence in preserving, shaping, and propagating a uniquely Northwest sensibility in visual art.