Littman Gallery (foreGround
Apparently the future of the Littman Gallery at PSU (one of Portland's best art spaces) is in serious question as the school's administration is planning to restructure the Smith Student Center, which houses it. One plan is to reallocate the space for an African American and Pacific Islander center
. This makes little sense, diminishing established and noted cultural resources for other cultural resources seems to completely miss the point of having cultural spaces in the first place and takes away from the college experience. The Littman has long been the best place for PSU to engage the community (see this interview with William Pope L. on the occasion of his Littman Gallery exhibition
Despite being student run the Littman has launched countless art careers
and numerous exhibitions
that have changed the city's cultural complexion. I've personally curated 3, including PLAY (2002) where Bruce Conkle first exhibited his snowman in a freezer eco-existentialism
. PLAY also posited the idea that Portland was a place for experimental and conceptual new media art (back in 2002 this was a contentious idea). What's more, unlike other PSU galleries the Littman isn't hidden away in a building only art students see and fondly remember the interactions I've had with casual visitors to the exhibitions I've curated at the Littman.
As an art city that needs spaces open to new programming Portland simply cannot lose this valuable cultural resource and the fact that it is run by the students also makes it more susceptible. It greatly diminishes the invaluable experience that the student gain from running the space as well.
The Littman Gallery staff has asked you to email them with your support here: firstname.lastname@example.org and please spread the word.
in a rare bit of good cultural news for Portland the Littman Staff just announced that the gallery is no longer in danger of being closed, mentioning that the all of the responses made the difference.
Cass Ray here, a student curator that has been on staff in various roles since June, 2012. I wanted to start by thanking Port and Jeff Jahn for your immediate and sustained support of the gallery.
I also would like to reiterate some content of our outreach letter, which I will append below.
As a student-run gallery, we believe strongly in the need for the university to support all of our students, and that goes in particular for the Student Union building, which the gallery calls home. In this, our current staff stands in solidarity with our fellow students in their pursuit of resource centers specific to their needs, in this case the African American and Asian-Pacific Islander student centers our university president has formalized. The students have worked hard and organized against a great deal of systemic adversity, and we laud our university's swift response in support, which to date has been unfortunately lacking.
As a student that has worked in the Smith Student Union for years, I can say that there is a great deal of space, and with a bit of work and dialogue, we're absolutely confident that the university can provide a pair of amazing cultural resource centers, while sustaining the Littman Gallery as a Portland institution and Contemporary Arts access point for our PSU student body. With your letters of support we seek to ensure our staff is included in the conversation concerning our space's future.
We'll be grateful for any moral support, memories, and the like from our beloved Portland arts community. The support of PSU alumni, faculty, and current students is also important, and we thank anyone that takes the time to email us or otherwise reach out.
Thanks again, Port, and thank you all, for keeping this dialogue productive and positive, and showing the world that our Portland arts community really can be a vehicle for support and change.
(Below, the initial letter drafted by the full staff)
Dear community members,
We are reaching out to you today with a sense of urgency regarding a situation at Portland State University that will drastically affect the Littman Gallery:
The administration at Portland State is planning to restructure the Smith Memorial Student Union Building with the intention to either relocate the Littman Gallery or close it down, in order to provide additional space for two new valuable cultural resource centers. As the student staff who run the Littman Gallery, we are enthusiastic about the university’s announcement to provide these crucial resources for students and wish to join in the efforts to open the African American and Asian-Pacific Islander student centers. We also believe that alternatives to closing the gallery doors can be found.
We need your help to get the word out about the potential closure or loss of space that the gallery is facing. We ask that you help us vocalize the need for the decision-makers at Portland State to allow for a transparent process that involves affected students and results in a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Without knowing exactly when the decision will be made about the gallery, we need to engage our supporters and illuminate the situation for Portland State community members—as broadly and as soon as possible. If you are able to share resources, testimonials, or letters of appeal with us, we appreciate it deeply. We invite you e-mail us at email@example.com to share and vocalize the ways in which the Littman Gallery has affected you and Portland State University.
Littman + White Galleries Staff
Sasha Jones, Director
Cass Ray, Curator
Chloe Thompson, Curator / Preparator
Carlin Brown, Curator / Preparator
Piper Hayworth, Design / Communications