"DISTANCE DON'T MATTER" Swoon's 2009 installation transformed SPACE "in ways that nobody had thought possible," says executive director Nat May.
It's been 10 years since SPACE Gallery, founded by Jon Courtney and Todd Bernard, opened to the public. The multidisciplinary, non-profit gallery and performance space has become an Arts District anchor on Congress Street; the last year has seen expansion into "the annex" and the big-news award of a three-year, $150,000 grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Over the past decade, they've hosted dance parties and documentary screenings, immersive installations and indie concerts, theater productions and costume parties, bringing a unique and creative sensibility to Portland's cultural landscape. To come up with this compilation of SPACE highlights, we dug into the Phoenix archives and sought input from Courtney (who currently serves as SPACE's films director) as well as from executive director Nat May. We'd love to hear your best SPACE memories in the comments section.
NOVEMBER 2002: ZADIE SMITH READING WITH ARTHUR BRADFORD
Unique literary events have always been part of the SPACE scene. "Zadie Smith felt like as big a literary rock star as I was likely to meet back in 2002, but Arthur almost stole the show with his quirky stories and guitar playing," May says. "He cut his hand somehow but continued playing, bleeding all over the stage, with a real 'show must go on' kind of an attitude."
APRIL 2003: GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
The widely toured post-rock band played one of the earliest shows at SPACE, going on the give the venue their profits from the night's show to help get SPACE on their feet and show the band's support. GY!BE's performance was passionate and moving — as Courtney recalls, "the Iraq War was unfurling itself around us at the time and the band was able to channel all the rage, frustration and sadness in the air into a performance that resonated into your bones."
MAY 2003: OF MONTREAL
These Georgian rockers, who now have a dozen albums in their discography and a few hundred thousand Facebook fans, played at SPACE for a very small crowd their first time — the crowd was under 50 people. The few who went saw an awesome show, word about their impressive performance spread, and Of Montreal's subsequent shows at SPACE have been better attended.
APRIL 2004: THE KILLERS
It's incredible to me that The Killers, whose albums have sold millions of copies, who have been featured in Rolling Stone's "100 Best Albums of the Decade" list, and who were even invited by President Obama to play on the White House lawn, played a set at SPACE for $6 tickets.
APRIL/MAY 2006 : SALVAGE + ASSEMBLE: THE BARNSTORMERS INSTALLATION
The Barnstormers, a Tokyo- and New York-based art collective, made their Portland debut by transforming SPACE with salvaged Maine materials (boats, barn facades, steel drums) and urban-style murals. "This felt like a remarkable collaboration between gallery and artist&ldots; that seemed to envelop SPACE and all the performances that happened during the time that it was up," Courtney says.
APRIL 2007: AIR GUITAR NATION SCREENING AND COMPETITION