gallery 6 pdx owner Liz Cohn says it took her a long time to open her own gallery.
“I thought about it for about 10 years, but always talked myself out of it. But then when I turned 50 I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something big.’ It was either get a mohawk, a tattoo or open a gallery. And my friends voted for the gallery.”
gallery 6 pdx opened in November 2012 in a small space on 6th Street, just off of East Burnside. The gallery specializes in collage, assemblage and mixed media and features the work of a guest artist each month, as well as Cohn’s own collage and assemblage work. June’s featured exhibit is Scrapped, Fragmented and Glued by Maryland-based collage artist Audrey Smith.
Cohn says the decision to open the gallery was an evolutionary process. She credits the community of collage artists she’s developed through her collaborative art project, Playing with A Full Deck, with giving her the courage and confidence to finally take the leap.
Playing With A Full Deck started in 2010 when Cohn was looking for a way to collaborate with the artists she was meeting through online sites such as Deviant Art and through social media.
“As an artist, you end up spending a lot of time alone,” says Cohn. “I wanted to reach out and make some real connections with people and it seemed like collaborating on an art project was the way to do it.”
Inspiration struck one day when her husband brought home a stack of 128 decks of old playing cards he had found while cleaning out his father’s house.
“The cards seemed like the perfect little canvas for art that could easily go through the mail,” says Cohn.
She started creating collages on the cards and mailing them to her online friends to work on. The artists add or subtract elements using whichever medium they choose and mail them back to Cohn. Most pieces average two collaborators, but some circle the globe, passing through the hands of as many as five different artists before being declared complete.
The Full Deck project has helped Cohn build working relationships with artists all over the world. To date, Cohn says they have created nearly 2,000 cards and more than 235 different artists have participated, some from as far away as New Zealand. Many of the artists she now features in the gallery come from the project.
“I feel a sense of responsibility to everyone involved in the project,” she says. “I know so many collage artists that love the medium, but have a hard time getting shows. Now I can offer that to them. Maybe that sense of responsibility gave me the push to open the gallery. It certainly gave me the self-confidence to take that step.”