Take four creative minds, give them five weeks and 13 gallons of paint and something exciting is bound to result. On Wednesday night 200 guests were the first to tour the POP gallery on Commercial Street in Portland during a private opening reception.

Everyone praised the space and the artwork, but no one expected the business to last more than a month.

That’s because POP is a limited-time-only pop-up gallery that will close after Christmas.

The idea for POP came from Hilary Robbins, Winky Lewis, Susana Measelle Hubbs and Annie Anderson, a group of friends who dreamed it up five weeks ago and quickly set about making it a reality.

“The space was leased to us very generously by Tim Soley,” Robbins told me.

The group then passed on the low rental rate to the more than 20 artists, crafters, clothing designers and furniture makers, by charging a substantially smaller commission than most professional galleries.

“It’s become an opportunity for some people to launch or show new work,” said Robbins, who serves as a Portland Museum of Art trustee.

One artist showing work which departs from his normal subject matter is John Knight.

When I asked Knight what prompted him to create cartoon-style paintings when he’s known for his distinctive landscape work, he laughed and said “2011 is the year of experimentation.”

He then told me that he’s long been fascinated by comics and political cartoons.

One popular spot at the party was the cozy room set up by artisan Erin Flett to display her printed pillows and wall hangings.

“The little pillows go like crazy,” Flett said. “I can’t keep them in stock.”

Flett’s textile work will sell for a significant discount for the month that POP is open. For instance, her large pillows that normally sell for $95 can be snagged for $59 at the gallery.

Other artists with work on view at POP include Anderson, Hubbs, Lewis, Isabelle Pelissier, Alina Gallo, Jewel Rechsteiner, Ling-Wen Tsai, Laurie Hadlock, Elise Ansel, Mark Marchesi, Lauren Norster, Joshua Adam, Ray Cathode, Lindsey Hopkins-Weld, Susan Adam, Camilla MacFayden, Suzanne MacFayden, Gregg Lipton, Sara Crisp, Arthur Fink, Sonya Tomlinson, Cindy Davis, Alissa Levinson, Barbara Goodwin and Jim Mullen. POP also features handcrafted work from Bobbin and Zaz & Moe, and treats from C is for Cupcake and Dean’s Sweets.

Arts supporter and architect Christopher Campbell, who owns The Artist Studio building, co-founded One Longfellow Square and co-owns Pickwick Independent Press, told me he was impressed with the space and how many items were on display.

He also said a pop-up storefront is a great way for people to find out first hand whether or not running a retail operation works for them.

“Last year there were a few (pop-up galleries),” Campbell told me. “I’m hoping there will be more this year.”

Robbins told me the group is exploring the idea of creating similar pop-up galleries in other building throughout the year.

“It reminds me of The Merchant Company (store),” Jennifer Hutchins, executive director of Creative Portland, told me when I asked her what she thought of POP. “It will be interesting to see what their sales are. The artwork is accessibly priced.”

On Wednesday night sales were brisk at the front counter.

“We’ve sold a lot,” Robbins told me. “We tried to price things so people could give them as gifts.”

And as Alison Leavitt of Portland pointed out: “For the person who has everything, art is the perfect gift.”

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila