Arts Hound

The New Zone Gallery announced that it will be leaving its downtown digs at 164 W. Broadway in August after a 10-year run. Steve LaRiccia, New Zone’s treasurer and gallery coordinator, tells EW that the gallery is grateful to Oregon Contemporary Theatre, which has been subsidizing rent.

“The owners of the building, Oregon Contemporary Theatre, who have leased us that space, they found a tenant to rent that space for like $3,000 a month,” LaRiccia says, “and we were paying $250.”

LaRiccia recalls finding the space as a venue for New Zone’s annual Salon de Refusés exhibit in 2006.

“Things have changed since I found that space 10 years ago,” LaRiccia says. “That place was pretty much dead.” LaRiccia says the New Zone board is actively looking for spaces, as well as partnerships with a building owner or a property management company that would like to work with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. 

“We could not afford to pay fair market value for a place,” LaRiccia says, adding that “worst-case scenario is we could become homeless — New Zone has been homeless before in the past.” 

New Zone Gallery will occupy the space until mid-August, when it will host a show Aug. 12-13 with the Art Maggots, an art group from the late ’70s. LaRiccia says the gallery will also continue with its June-July show cycle and First Friday ArtWalks. The Aug. 5 First Friday ArtWalk will be the “blow-out” closing reception. 

On a positive note, LaRiccia says the Arts and Business Alliance of Eugene (ABAE) has selected New Zone for the 2016 Fentress Endowment Award, which will be awarded at ABAE’s annual BRAVA breakfast June 3. The award comes with a grant to support operating costs.

EW is sorry to see yet another art space leave downtown.

Curtain controversy: Shortly after the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art opened Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst: Relationship — an exhibit that visually explores a transgender couple’s transition — the museum decided to hang heavy black curtains at the entrance to the show. 

According to Daily Emerald coverage, the decision came after receiving complaints from volunteers for a museum children’s program who said the content was inappropriate for youth passing by. The Emerald also writes that JSMA Director Jill Hartz says the content could be a “trigger.” 

The paper shared an email from the artists: “Since there is no overt nudity or sexuality depicted, we are flummoxed as to what ‘preventative’ use the black curtains serve in blocking off the artwork,” they wrote, adding: “It’s no coincidence that this issue comes up at a time when trans* bodies are being checked, questioned, declined entrance and otherwise repressed as part of a backlash against LGBT rights.” 

JSMA communications manager Debbie Williamson tells EW that the curtains have now been removed, sharing the JSMA’s official statement: 

“We deeply appreciate the responses we’ve received regarding our use of drapes (closed when the museum is closed to the public and open when the museum is open to the public) and whether the exhibition is appropriate for children,” the statement says. “After careful consideration, we have decided to remove the drapes in support of the artists’ statement that the exhibition is ‘tender, playful and complex.’”  

Taking down the curtains was the right decision. This exhibit could be a teaching moment, rather than a stigmatizing one. Relationship is on view, sans drapes, through June 26.

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