Near the Point of Beginning, the installation currently on display at the Autzen Gallery, is not only unique for its mixed media content but also for the slick, cleanly designed posters that are piled in the MK Gallery, Art Building and in Neuberger Hall, advertising the show. This commitment to getting the word out is a new occurrence for the gallery and it can be happily attributed to one Patrick Rock.
Near the Point of Beginning, the installation currently on display at the Autzen Gallery, is not only unique for its mixed media content but also for the slick, cleanly designed posters that are piled in the MK Gallery, Art Building and in Neuberger Hall, advertising the show.
This commitment to getting the word out is a new occurrence for the gallery and it can be happily attributed to one Patrick Rock.
“I’m hands on,” says Rock, the new coordinator of the Autzen and MK galleries, where student work is often shown. “The first thing I did was go in and clean up the galleries,” he says, by sanding, painting and removing superfluous structures.
The next thing Rock did was to begin advertising.
“I’ve actually inherited a year of [ex-Gallery Coordinator] Jenene Nagy’s shows,” Rock said in an interview at his own gallery, ROCKSBOX, on North Interstate Avenue.
However, instead of treating this inheritance as a burden, Rock has been heartily promoting the shows Nagy booked while filling in gaps with work he has curated, such as Ben Rosenberg’s Thank You For Having Me in the MK Gallery this month.
Rock is concurrently teaching the Gallery Management class, which meets on Fridays with students from all disciplines and has been an important resource for about-to-graduate art students.
Rock is the third person PSU has hired for this dual position in as many years, so it is especially refreshing to hear about his clear goals for the class, and for the galleries.
“I’m trying to get them to develop a conceptual gallery,” Rock said. “These [students] are actually going to start using [their skills] immediately,” he added, referring to the projects the students will have to complete that require competence in graphic design, writing press releases and ads, acquiring funding and delivering effective critiques of an artist’s work, as well as painting and installing art with power tools.
Since the class meets for four hours at a set time each week, almost every class is a field trip to a different gallery, museum or alternative space, with guest speakers and Q-and- A sessions that give the students a chance to see what is going on right now, and how it all works. Instead of simply running the Autzen and MK, which was largely the goal of the class as it was taught by Nagy last year, the students are presented with a broader range of ways to show art.
Rock also presented a clear plan for the galleries he is now responsible for, saying that he wants to put younger artists in the MK Gallery, “hopefully creating a dialogue with the MFA students,” and mostly solo shows from mid-career artists in the Autzen, where he is “leaning toward conceptual-based artists.” He also aims to focus on advertising and making the gallery better known, so that it can start showing artists from overseas as well as from Portland.
Rock’s own gallery is in a space outside a well-known destination for art parties. Along the MAX line in North Portland, the space is in the basement and some upstairs rooms of a building Rock purchased with his sisters several years ago. Originally using the rooms as studio space, Rock realized that they would serve a more important function if they were shared.
Now, the building houses international residents and shows each month.
“It’s kind of international and a little bit local,” Rock said of the gallery, which also houses the publishing company Rock started with Thomas Moecker, an artist and friend who publishes their joint efforts in Leipzig, Germany. “It’s an exhibition space for people to come and do whatever they want to do.”
With any luck this ethos will bleed over to PSU’s gallery spaces, and allow their new creative leader the freedom to develop them into something exceptional.
This week in Arts: Go to the closing reception for Ben Rosenberg’s Thank You For Having Me in the MK Gallery. The party will be Thursday, Oct. 23, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the exhibit closes Oct. 30. The MK is on the second floor of the Art Building, at Southwest Jackson St. and Fifth Ave.
Also, Peter Happel-Christian’s Near the Point of Beginning is in the Autzen on the second floor of Neuberger, until Oct. 31, and Bruce Conkle’s Friendlier Fire is up at ROCKSBOX (6540 N. Interstate Ave.) until Oct. 26, open weekends Noon to 6 p.m.