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Gallery Homeland Seeks Inspiration With East/West Artists Exchange Program

Portland has a vibrant array of art galleries, probably most widely seen on First Thursdays.  Most of them display art, support artists and sell the work. But Gallery Homeland also travels from its base in Southeast Portland.

Along with the Dam, Stuhltrager gallery from the East-Coast, they’re going to Berlin, Germany for seven months, to establish their EAST/WEST Project. 

It will take artists from both U.S.-coasts to cities with unique art identities and bringing local artists from those places back to the U.S. Barbara Leidl reports.

A painting shows a woman wearing a ski mask – she's laughing; her teeth are shiny white.

 Josh Arseneau

Josh Arseneau: "A lot of what I try to do in my art, is to confuse people and mess with them a little bit and so I combine images that shouldn’t really go together and things that make you a little uncomfortable like a person having a really good time in a ski-mask."

Josh Arseneau is 34 — he's a bartender and artist. He makes drawings, paintings and installations — mainly dealing with political issues like war. And Arseneau is one of over a dozen artists participating in Gallery Homeland’s EAST/WEST Project in Berlin.

Josh Arseneau: "It’s just another art scene and art scene arevery secular andseparated, as global as the art scene is, each individual city has itsownlittle thing going on, and it’s nice to be privy to that."

Arsenau's aim in traveling to Berlin is just to meet other artists and gallery owners — he's hoping to find inspiration and a set up a network across oceans. On a wider scale that's what Gallery Homeland director Paul Middendorf has in mind with his satellite at Berlin Alexanderplatz.

 Paul Middendorf
 Paul Middendorf

Paul Middendorf: "With the seven months project you really have time to really nurture relationships and for the artist to create whole new bodies of work, to really set their roots in the city instead of going there and then just leaving."

Middendorf and his East Coast gallery partner took a trip to arts events in Germany and Switzerland, and he says Berlin has what it takes.

Paul Middendorf: "We were really excited about the energy that was put out by the German artists and the gallerists that we met there. Everything seemed tofit very well with the projects that we were doing locally."

The exchange is mainly financed by donations – and there are plans for an EAST/WEST project in South America next year.

The only thing left for Paul Middendorf to do before the Grand Opening in Berlin next monthis to improve his German.

The Berlin gallery show opens on September 19th.

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