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More Than A Museum, PMOMA Becomes Houseguest At The Square


Curator Libby Werbel says, "The most amazing thing has been how fortunate I am to know so many talented people. It's the sum of all the people who make PMOMA possible."

Curator Libby Werbel says, “The most amazing thing has been how fortunate I am to know so many talented people. It’s the sum of all the people who make PMOMA possible.”

Courtesy of Portland Museum of Modern Art

This weekend, Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square transforms into a two-day-long art party.

Libby Werbel of the Portland Museum of Modern Art will take over the square through a cool new residency series called Houseguest.

She’s also programming one night of The Works — that’s the raucous nightly afterparty for PICA’s Time Based Art Festival — with some of her Houseguest performers and a few choice Portland artists.

Werbel grew up in Portland but left after high school to study and work as an art handler in New York’s Whitney Museum, the New Museum and the storied exhibition space MoMA PS1.

Returning to Portland, she couldn’t find work. Remember the city’s art scene was small and insular. After a couple of years, she got a microscopic basement space in her friend’s music shop Mississippi Records. She decided to start a gallery that was an homage of sorts to some of the amazing contemporary institutions she had explored. The result is a tiny space that wittily challenges ideas about the nature of museums and the art-watching experience.

At the same time, Werbel says Housegest is giving her a chance to immerse herself in what happens when a lot of people experience art together in a completely different experience.

Take a listen to hear about the visual artists Werbel chose for her big stage, the thrill she got programming Fred and Toody Cole (Dead Moon/Pierced Arrows), and what she envisions next for PMOMA.

Werbel’s night at The Works is Friday, September 9th. If you’re lost, try Oregon Artbeat’s behind-the-scenes feature about how TBA comes together.

The Houseguest Residency welcomes PMOMA and Libby Werbel Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m., with live performances all day, every day.

The current exhibition at PMOMA, Raoul DeNeeves and Jason Fitz, is on view through Oct. 12.

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