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Virtual Reality Hits the First Thursday Art Walk

Students, traveling trucks and Google-like googles were some of the best things at June's First Thursday.

On First Thursday art walks, the best stuff is often the art you accidentally bump into on your way to other shows.

To wit: I went to PNCA to see a fancy important exhibition, but I never made it there because I got sidetracked by Hanna Hertrich's conceptual sculptures in the student thesis show. Exploring the realities of being torn between two cultures, Hertrich's craftsmanship and execution of concept are more impressive than a lot of work I've seen at major galleries.

Then, on my way to visit one of Portland's most well respected galleries, I saw a traveling art show in the back of a Ford Bronco. Inside, a collaboration between visual artist Ryan Scails and writer Emily Kendal Frey came together, with Scails making objects about physical labor and Kendal Frey producing poems in response.

Close by, Hap Gallery had a line out the door. When I peaked in, the space was completely empty. No art anywhere, just a bulky pair of googles hung on the wall. Damien Gilley's show is the first virtual installation I've seen on a First Thursday. Here, the artist gave me a tour of his work, an environment where the floor and ceiling extend forty feet upwards and downwards, and you can walk through neon walls and tunnels.

This is what the art walk is for: unexpectedly finding yourself in a gallery, on the side of the road, or in an empty room, smacked in the face by art.