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About The Art Gym
The mission of The Art Gym is to increase public understanding of contemporary art in the Pacific Northwest through thoughtfully organized exhibitions, publications and public discussions. Founded in 1980, The Art Gym has produced hundreds of exhibitions, hosted as many public conversations and published more than seventy exhibition catalogs and books, which are available in print and online. Local, regional, and national press regularly covers the exhibition programs and the gallery is known as one of the most important contemporary art venues in Oregon.
The Art Gym's regionally recognized program was awarded the Governor's Arts Award in May 2005. Recipients are selected on the basis of dedication to the advancement of the arts in Oregon, length of commitment to the statewide arts community, highest level of artistic contribution and extent of reputation in the county, state and nation. The Art Gym is a member of Portland Art Focus, a collaborative venture designed to increase cultural tourism to the region.Image by Brian Foulkes, Fernanda D'Agostino – Method of Loci
Blake Shell, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Director and Curator
Terri M. Hopkins, Curator Emerita
The Art Gym and its programs are made possible by the support and contributions of the art & interior design department at Marylhurst University. The exhibition program is an integral part of Marylhurst's Department of Art & Interior Design, which serves approximately 150 art and interior design majors, 25 students preparing for graduate studies in art therapy, and many interdisciplinary majors with a focus in art.
In 1980, few institutions took the art of the Northwest seriously. The Portland Center for the Visual Arts focused on national and international work, while the Portland Art Museum mounted infrequent regional shows and published only rarely. The handful of commercial galleries and artists' spaces concentrated, as they do now, primarily on recent work by individual artists.
The Art Gym began as the vision of Kay Slusarenko (Chair of the Art Department from 1978-1998), who saw the potential of the unused college gymnasium. In collaboration with faculty members Terri Hopkins and Paul Sutinen, the decision was made to dedicate the space to exhibitions and publications featuring art of the Pacific Northwest.
Sutinen supervised the initial physical transformation of gym to gallery, and the community donated $1,500 and 400 hours of volunteer labor to the cause. Under the direction of curator Hopkins, The Art Gym opened its first show of contemporary Northwest art and published its first catalog in September 1980.
Since 1980, The Art Gym has shown the work of more than three hundred artists, produced more than seventy exhibition catalogs, and sponsored numerous roundtables and public forums. Exhibitions have toured to such museums as Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, the Schneider Museum of Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon and the Museum of Northwest Art in Bellingham, Washington.
About the Curator
Blake Shell is a contemporary art curator and artist. She received a Bachelor of Art from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and an MFA in Photography at Savannah College of Art and Design. Shell served as director of the Archer Gallery at Clark College from 2009 to 2012. She then worked as the project manager for the Stroemple Art Collection in Portland, managing a collection of 1700 artworks, as well as a curatorial assistant for the Hoffman Gallery at Lewis & Clark College.
Her curatorial work has gained regional attention in the Pacific Northwest, and a national review on Artforum.com's Critic's Picks. In December 2013, Shell was announced as The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Director and Curator of The Art Gym and Belluschi Pavilion at Marylhurst University.