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Thursday 04.09.09

« Air Math | Main | spring productivity »

Mark Woolley Gallery to close

The WWeek has the scoop, another sad day... Mark Woolley Gallery to close after 15 years in business. (Yes close is the right word this time, galleries often reinvent themselves but that isn't the case here.)

PORT reviewed the gallery's excellent 15 year anniversary show in December 2008 and hoped the recently relocated space had found its footings again after losing most of its top artists to other galleries as of late.

As a gallerist Mark gained a lot of points for being preeminently likeable but lately things had become more scattered in focus and location. Let's not diminish his legacy though, the gallery launched the careers of some of the best artists in the Pacific Northwest: Matthew Picton, Joe Thurston, Damali Ayo and MK Guth.

If anything Mark took the chances that others have until recently seemed unwilling to take. Now it seem like the only works that are selling are fresh, best of their kind and daring... because those works sell for reasons beyond planning. Instead, they justify themselves by being exciting, brave and intellectually stimulating. After 15 years Mark deserves a vacation as Portland's bravest gallerist during the decade I've lived here.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 09, 2009 at 17:49 | Comments (4)


Sad news in the gallery world of Portland lately. First Pulliam Deffenbaugh, now Mark Wooley. Who's next? (Hopefully nobody.)

Lots of good work has gone through Wooley, but I think you're wrong calling those listed "the best artists in the pacific northwest". I take issue with the word "best", calling them "popular" would have been a better choice.

Lets all focus on making some "best of [its] kind" work. Fresh and daring seem like meaningless terms.

Posted by: eb [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 9, 2009 07:18 PM

Why insult hard working artists who have gotten somewhere by reducing art to a popularity contest?

Put it this way, If a single gallery were to have Picton, Thurston, Ayo and Guth right now it would arguably be the best gallery in Portland or Seattle. Mark deserves some credit.

Might you prefer stale and predictable art?

There is always a need for "fresh" and "daring" because that activity redefines those terms and creates its own weather.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 9, 2009 07:47 PM

Thanks to Jeff Jahn and others for their kind comments. I would like to clarify a couple of thing. First of all, I do intend to do some reinvention, to offer some compelling shows in diverse venues and to continue working with about a dozen talented people. The statement about my gallery "losing most of its top artists to other galleries" is untrue. There is a certain fluidity to gallery rosters and there always has been. I have in turn attracted some stellar talents who had longtime exhibition histories at other galleries: William Park (from Augen), Melinda Thorsnes (from Froelick) and George Johanson (from Pulliam). I have also sought out fresh talent, exceptional artists who have heretofore operated outside of the gallery scene: Stephen Scott Smith, Amy Ruppel, Trish Grantham, and Julia Stoops to name a few. Lastly, I continue to work with some "top" artists with whom I have worked for many years (though I also don't like branding people such in a town brimming with exceptional talent): Michael T. Hensley, Debra Beers, Cara Tomlinson to name but three. Again, thanks for your kind words!

Posted by: markwoolley [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 10, 2009 07:58 PM

Mark I just want to say thanks for your many years in the gallery business. Anyone who can last 15 years in the gallery biz deserves to be recognized. Good luck with the future endeavors and I am excited to see how the reinvention of your gallery will evolve your own interaction with artists and their art.

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 13, 2009 10:33 AM

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