Bullseye Glass, Portland’s storied maker of art glass, is closing its Pearl District art gallery in June.settled a class-action lawsuit with neighbors of its southeast Portland production facility this year, agreeing to pay out $6.5 million. But a vice president for the company, Jim Jones, says that amount was paid out by Bullseye’s insurer.
“We’re really just trying to regroup our finances. We’re definitely not closing the factory.”
Jones says the financial pressures leading to the downtown closure are associated with the regulatory attention that began in 2016.
“The emissions controls we agreed to put on when DEQ first approached us, that was $2.2 million. But we’ve spent another $2 million-plus dealing with the lawsuits and the regulatory requirements to get through this.”
The downtown gallery, Bullseye Projects, has been a showplace for work made by artists-in-residence, as well as some who took classes with the company.
The company’s operations came under scrutiny in 2016 as part of a firestorm of interest in Portland’s air quality. While the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality did not consider the company in violation of standing laws, Bullseye and other glass makers were revealed to have no external filters on their furnaces. Glassmakers use a variety of toxic metals in the coloring process, and demand for health information about their work skyrocketed in the surrounding neighborhoods.
A health assessment for Bullseye is still in development. A similar report, for a smaller glassmaker, Uroboros, determined the company’s emissions were too low to harm human health. Uroboros was sold and relocated to Mexico before the report came out.
Jones says plans for the downtown building are still under discussion.
“We’re not sure at this point. We’ll be looking at leasing it out or potentially selling it. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Bullseye intends to relocate gallery staff, who will continue to work at the company’s headquarters in southeast Portland, without a permanent exhibition space. Curator Michael Endo left Bullseye Projects this year for a job at a residency program in California.