Upon entering, the fluorescent lights lit up my eyes. “The Genuine Article,” an installation at SPACE Gallery in Portland, is designed to look like a conventional dive bar. The art is tacky in a good way; it’s colorful, playful and whimsical. The cheap wood paneling on the walls was actually hand painted by Leon Benn and Seth Gass, the artists in charge of the show. Benn and Gass also chose the pieces that are displayed in the installation, asking their artist friends to send them pieces.

Nat May, the executive director of Space, explained, “The artists acted as the curators in this show.”

There’s everything from a taxidermy Kermit the Frog pinned to the wall, to a stained glass hanging lampshade. On the back wall, black and white sequins create the silhouette of Darth Vader on a fake door. According to SPACE’s online description, “This installation situates itself in the greater trajectory of kitsch, pop and decorative art.”

You might as well cancel your afternoon plans, and head to this show to sit on the center benches and watch vibrant, contrasting lights flicker. Above all, this installation is memorable and something to be experienced with all your senses as a whole. The slightly musty smell ties well with the theme of the rest of the room and the sound of the murmuring of the passersby walking up and down the busy Portland street just outside.

SPACE Gallery is located at 538 Congress St., and the exhibition is open to the public from June 23 to Sept. 23.


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