North View Gallery Remains a Fixture in PCC’s Art Community
Outgoing Gallery Director Mark Smith on his tenure and final show
by Ryan Lawrance McGreer
Mark Smith has served as the director of Sylvania Campus’ North View Gallery for ten years, but the current staff group show entitled ‘What is Consideredand Shared’ will be his last as curator before a sabbatical, then returning as full-time painting faculty and as the art department chair. The show contains a broad range of works across all media contributed by PCC faculty and staff in the art department and beyond, from large scale installations and mixed media sculpture to intricate handmade books and drawings.
“We haven’t had a full faculty show in 5 or 6 years,” says Smith,“it used to be more of an annual thing but I liked to feature faculty with two to three person shows, so that you could concentrate more fully on the work, but for the final show as my tenure I wanted to go back and try to be very inclusive and represent everyone working here.”
Amongst the broad selection of offerings, Smith speaks on his own contribution featuring layered embroidery, fabric and collage with a landscape of camp tents: “I created this piece years ago around the time of the Occupy movement, when there was this incredible surge of community action with direct movement from campers that sprung up in Pioneer Square—it was just shortly thereafter that urban camping became such a major fixture in our city for the homeless population and become a permanent part of our landscape, so I felt this was an important and timely piece to showcase here.”
A sculptural piece by director of the Sylvania Makerlab Amy Petit consists of a copper sheet cast and engraved to look like a torn sheet of binder paper contains motion sensors and LEDs that respond to movement. A piece by sculpture instructor Crystal Schenk cast in metal features her son seated, with ceramic barnacles attached as, says Smith, “a lovely metaphor for parenthood, how as a parent you struggle to maintain your sense of self while you’re nurturing a child who is attached to you.” Newest faculty member Zeinab Saab contributes small, immaculate works of handwritten calligraphy in tiny folded handmade books drawing on the rich traditions of Arabic calligraphy.
The centerpiece of the room, an installation by Maria T.D. Inocencio invites visitors to step into a mixed media canopy of hanging leaf shapes forming a room within a room, where once inside you see light shining through human silhouettes to represent a “‘beloved embrace’ in remembrance of past friends and loved ones, and how you would go to and comfort underneath the canopy of a tree and see the silhouetted shapes above.”
Sylvania’s annual student show will be coming up in May: “While I’ve been the director it has grown to include more people and to represent more of what the students are doing, so it’s hung salon-style (large massed works covering the majority of a wall, as opposed to a single museum-style row.) We always have an outside juror who we ask to be inclusive as possible and make sure everyone is well represented,” Smith said. Look for applications for the show to circulate in early May.
“It’s been an exciting time to be the director of the gallery, in a time where university gallery spaces have been closing, at an especially alarming rate in the past few years… Marylhurst’s well-respected gallery space— with endowment and paid curator—were lost when they closed, the Hoffman Gallery at Lewis& Clark had their directorship defunded, and the Hoffman Gallery at Oregon College of Art was lost when the school closed. Keeping and maintaining spaces like this at PCC is very important because local artists in the region see this space as a really valuable resource.”