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Arts & Life

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Artists Turn A Mall Into a Settlement


Finn Paul / OPB

When local artist Chris Haberman gazed upon the third floor of the Pioneer Place mall in downtown Portland, he saw an opportunity. It had wide-open storefront spaces, left vacant and unused by the recent economic downturn. It had descent light and lots of potential foot traffic due to its location in the midst of downtown’s upscale shopping district. It was, he thought, a great place for an experimental art gallery.

Haberman also happens to be the nephew of Bob Buchanan, the general manager of Pioneer Place. So Haberman convinced his uncle that he and his artist friends could make legitimate use of the empty space and help the mall cover some of its costs for utilities and insurance.

The result is the Settlement, a collection of four artist-run galleries, each with a different focus.

Peoples, curated by Chris Haberman and Jason Brown, operates under the motto “cash and carry.” This gallery offers works for sale by local artists which passersby can view and purchase.

Place, co-curated by Gabe Flores, Palma Corral and Gary Wiseman, is built on creating a process-based installation space where artists are encouraged to work on their pieces as they hang in the gallery, allowing them to evolve in the space. 

Store, in collaboration with local art schools, is currently being run by Zachary Sea and the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Trade is curated on a rotating basis and brings in the talents of local institutions and people who fill a creative and experimental niche in Portland.

So far, the experiment has been a success. Without large financial pressure, these galleries are able to use the 10,000 square feet for a wide range of creative cultural events along with exhibiting contemporary work by local artists to a new audience. The Settlement’s two-month temporary lease has recently been extended to one year, and these spaces are considered to be among the best of the new local galleries.

Meet the team running Place and take a look at some of the artists’ work:

Video produced by Finn Paul. Music courtesy The Satin Chaps

Go See It

  • The Settlement galleries are open 12-6 pm, Thurday - Sunday
  • Learn more about Place and follow their blog at placepdx.tumblr.com

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