In these days of computer design programs and laser printers, it would be easy to assume the labor-intensive art of screen printing has died out.
But on Wednesday night about 50 supporters of Space Gallery and the Portland Museum of Art attended the members opening reception for the show “Pulled” and learned firsthand that the art is still very much alive and kicking. The party also celebrated the release of the book, “Pulled: A Catalog of Screen Printing,” compiled by Brooklyn artist Mike Perry.
The book features works from 45 artists from around the world who use screen printing as a medium. To coincide with the release of the book, Perry curated a traveling show of more than 80 screen prints included in the book. This show is on view at Space Gallery through Sept. 16.
While Perry clearly underestimates his talents, telling me “I’m a mess. I’m the worst screen printer,” he obviously knows a fair bit about the art form, although it’s not the only medium he works in.
“I really like things that are tactile,” Perry told me, as guests began to arrive at Space Gallery in Portland. “I like the mistakes. The things that just happen. All of sudden you get this new creation. Those variations, to me, are what’s really exciting in the medium.”
Because the original gallery is undergoing renovations, the party took place in Space’s new annex gallery. The original gallery should reopen in a month or so.
A bright, bold assortment of diverse screen prints cover the white gallery walls.
“You can look at one piece forever and find new things,” Caitlin Brooke, who works at the Portland Museum of Art, told me.
Meagan Anderson, a screen printer from Portland, told me after surveying the full show that “it’s a good mix of technically involved work and work that’s more about subject matter.”
Guests also enjoyed an up-close look at how a screen print is created, when Perry screen printed an abstract design directly onto the covers of the books in lieu of signing them.
The party marked the first major collaboration between Space, the alternative arts venue, and the venerable Portland Museum of Art.
“(The collaboration) was one of those great-minds-think-alike things,” Sally Struever, who manages the Museum Store, told me. “I’d called Mike about doing a book signing at the museum. He mentioned he had a traveling show. It occurred to me Space would be the perfect place (for the show).”
Nat May, the executive director of Space, told me that when Struever called, he and his team had already been looking at Perry’s latest book and contemplating how they could bring his work to the gallery. The partnership allowed everything to fall into place.
“We’ve never done a members-only event, but we’ve talked about it for years,” May said. “Hopefully more than being exclusive, it reminds people they can support us by being members.”
While Space hosted the show and the party, the museum contributed a pop-up bookstore to sell Perry’s works.
“It’s an opportunity for both organizations to shine at what they do best,” Annie Leahy told me. She serves on the Space board and is a member of the Portland Museum of Art. “There’s great synergy here. I also think it’s an opportunity for members of both organizations to be exposed to work they might not otherwise be exposed to.”
When I chatted with Cyrus Hagge, who serves as treasurer of the Space board, he said, “I’m excited about different groups of people getting together and collaborating. You couldn’t hang this show at the museum and there are shows (the museum exhibits) that couldn’t hang here. We should do events that start here and end up at the museum or that start there and end up here.”
We’ll have to wait and see if such events occur, but Struever, who has re-energized the Museum Store with wares by local artisans, did say, “I’m really excited about doing more partnerships like this.”
Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:
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