A quick start

So far, PiP Gallery has had a quick path to success.

So far, PiP Gallery has had a quick path to success.

“I’m in the black,” says new owner Ryan Dobrowski about his space in the Everett Station Lofts, where he set up shop a little over a month ago. Along with his own work, all the art up in the gallery is by Portland painters with innovative, dreamlike landscapes featured in their work.

A native of Eugene, Dobrowski has been making a living off his paintings since he graduated from the University of Oregon in 2002. He credits the university with some of his sense of self-sufficiency, explaining, “it was really nice not going to an art-specific school. You get more perspective.”

While the Everett Lofts are mostly known for their tendency toward an unfinished, DIY aesthetic, PiP Gallery is sparkling clean, with new furniture and an open office and kitchen area, where Dobrowski keeps a pot of green tea warm for art lovers.

“It keeps people around a little longer,” said Dobrowski, almost as an effort to excuse himself for his hospitality.

“I’m going for a clean sparkle as well as a welcoming gallery,” he added, explaining that he simply took a vacuum to the crumble-prone brick wall.

The effort is impressive, considering that many of the galleries in the subsidized live/work space have limited hours and some have a fairly rapid turnover rate. The spaces themselves can be rugged, with exposed brick walls and a complex system of internal electric and cable lines that up until recently had prevented the gallery from setting up Internet access.

Dobrowski’s perspective is remarkably wide. It was made that way from the summers he spent organizing children’s summer camps abroad, not to mention his recent stint on a bicycle tour with his Kikitat band mate Israel Nebeker. For the tour Dobrowski outfitted a trailer for his drum kit and played in venues all along the West Coast.

PiP Gallery is a brief insight into Dobrowski’s perspective and some of the themes he is invested in.

“I’m not too worried about finding artists that are accessible and compelling in Portland,” Dobrowski said. He added that he wants to “help artists get to the point where they can sell paintings and make a living off of art,” which, he insisted, “isn’t impossible.”

Along with succeeding financially as an artist and gallery owner, helping people seems to be key. Along with his full-size paintings “Please Leave Right Now” and “Red Sky On Black Poppies” up in the back room, a wall of Dobrowski’s paintings in the “Glimpse” series is displayed up front.

The series is made up of 5.5-inch square canvases portraying landscapes, narrative scenes and object studies rife with dreamy symbolism. The exhibit opened in December, with a percentage of the sales going to buy art supplies for the charity organization Schoolhouse Supplies. The donation was matched by a Fred Meyer grant, in a scheme that Dobrowski first formulated for the project when it was displayed at Common Grounds coffeehouse in 2006.

Next month, PiP will feature a solo show of installation works in ceramics by Roger Lee, another Portland artist who recently relocated from Wisconsin. At the same time, the back room will serve as a temporary gallery for p:ear, the downtown organization for homeless youth, while it moves to its new location in the Northwest.

As committed as he is to Portland, though, Dobrowski is also eager for PiP’s continued success. “I’m trying not to book too far in advance. Things are evolving really quickly,” he explained, discussing his plans for visiting artists’ studios in New York and getting the word out about PiP. At the same time, he expressed his desire for things in Portland to stay the same.

“I hope now that the Pearl’s bleeding into Old Town that they won’t sell it,” Dobrowski said about the Everett Lofts. “This place is really important for artists.”