August 6th, 2009 | by RICHARD SPEER News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, Business

Farewell, Sugar Gallery, Hello PDX/LA/NY

     
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carpathiancross

"Nattefrost of Carpathian Forest" by Peter Beste at Sugar Gallery February 2007

When First Thursday gets underway tonight, the Everett Station Lofts will be one gallery lighter, and we art-walkers will be poorer for it. Sugar Gallery has closed. Sugar opened on New Year's Eve 2005 with a show by transgressive painter/photographer Corey Smith. Eric Kellogg was in charge of the space back then and set the gallery's tone by curating piquant solo shows. His photo curator was local lens-man Michael Demeo, who assumed directorship of the gallery in 2007 when Kellogg moved to New York City. Demeo often focused on gritty, sexy photography in thematically tight shows such as Elizabeth Weinberg's moody portraits of psy-folkie Devendra Banhart and other rockers (January 2007), Peter Beste's portraits of Scandinavian death-metal bands (see above, February 2007), and his sister Rachael Marie Demeo's enigmatic tableaux of naked hippie chicks cavorting in desolate landscapes (July 2007).

“The art economy in Portland has a lot to do with us closing Sugar,” Demeo tells WW. “We tailored the gallery for young, emerging art, and with Portland never really being a beacon for oddball art sales, we definitely took a hit. The recession really left us bruised.”

Demeo is nurturing plans to stay involved in the art scene Sugar helped incubate. He invites fans of the gallery to keep up with his projects via his blog (www.michaeljdemeoblog.com), and the blog of his girlfriend and Sugar employee, the talented photographer Alyssa Nicole Sanders (http://estasnoches.tumblr.com).



As often happens, one door closes just as another opens up. Across the river at 3619 SE Division St., painter Michael Bracamontes has opened a new gallery called PDX/LA/NY. The tongue-in-cheek moniker pokes fun at Portland's perennial jockeying for position on the sub-L.A.-and-New-York radar. Bracamontes, himself a native Los Angelino, did extensive renovations to bring the 1,000-square-foot space up to par.

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Michael Bracamontes, founder/director of PDX/LA/NY Gallery, taken in the gallery.

The current show, which closes August 30, features work by local artists Amelia Opie and Marcia D'Amico, as well as some of Bracamontes' own reverse oil paintings on Plexiglas. While Bracamontes concedes that the gallery's location is not in one of the established visual arts hubs, he hopes burgeoning culinary, nightlife, and retail developments in the neighborhood will draw art lovers. His attitude, he says, invoking the film Field of Dreams, is that “If you build it, they will come.” He also envisions the gallery as doing double-duty as an artist co-op. He invites artists interested in studio space to email him at pdx.la.ny@gmail.com.
 
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