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Thursday 07.03.08

« Let's Talk About Portland | Main | First Weekend Picks July 2008 »

Swan Song for Tilt

Today, Tennessee, by 2006 Oregon Biennial artist Benjamin Buswell opens as the final exhibition at the Tilt gallery in the Everett Station Lofts. PORT was the first to tell you this would be a place to watch 2.5 years ago and it has really held up. Regardless whether any particular show was a success or fell flat, the trek to Tilt was always rewarding because of the surprise and professionalism that could be counted on.

Tilt has had a comparatively long run at "the lofts" for the husband and wife team of Jenene Nagy and Josh Smith who have another project, TILT Export, which will do independent curation while focusing more on their personal studio time. Jenene is also curator for PSU's Autzen gallery and was PORT's business manager for 2007.

Typically these alt space live/work Everett Station Loft galleries last only a year and at 2.5 years it's a good run for Tilt before moving onto bigger and better things. Tilt definitely makes the ESL hall of fame, which by my book includes; Fleck, Field, Zeitgeist, Soundvision ,7th of May and Nil. What distinguishes all of those galleries is the fact that we still talk about some of the artists that showed there. Similarly, Tilt has been crucial in launching the careers of Stephanie Robison, Paula Rebsom, Ethan Rose, Eva Speer, Chris Held and Stephen Slappe.

This month Tilt leaves the lofts much stronger as the collection of 16+ galleries has seen a recent upturn of ambitious young art smart spaces like Tractor, Igloo, The Life, Pip, Sequential and the soon to open On gallery. Tilt pretty much showed how to do it right, featuring thoughtful solo shows and group shows were infrequent. Unlike many Chinatown efforts where the # of artists shown is used to create a crowd, Tilt had the largest # of quality/critically recieved shows during its run (all with virtually no budget).

So what made the difference? an art background over sweeping declarations, curation over pandering, a strong team to share the burden, realistic goals and most of all a good pair of eyes.

Portland is currently in a stage of upheaval, we have lost some solid galleries like Small A and Motel while gaining new ones like The Lumber Room, Rock's Box, Quality Pictures or the revamped NAAU programming and … right now I count no less than 3 completely new and serious commercial efforts in the works (with no sales tax, Portland galleries have a competitive advantage nationally... but one has to educate their local base here, it's a cultural pioneering situation in Portland). Weve lost bigger deal galleries in the past like Savage and PICA and things just keep moving forward.

What made Tilt so welcome in the scene was it's more experimental nature... there was no talk of exhibitions being "yet another Tilt show," and I'd like to see a few more strong artist run or collective spaces take on the role of introducing and developing exciting new talent in Portland (RACC should find a way to support them more too).

Instead of waiting around for some Deus ex Machina of an institution to discover artists like Stephen Slappe and Stephanie Robison etc... Jenene and Josh (both strong artists on the move themselves) simply made it happen at Tilt and put the work first.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 03, 2008 at 11:00 | Comments (1)


We'll miss you Tilt! And best of luck with everything, Jenene.

Posted by: Megan [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2008 11:59 AM

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