Monday, April 13, 2009

the Mark Woolley Gallery

I left London for Portland in 1978 and spent only 3 years here then, but would continue to return for vacations. In 1996 I made what would be a fateful trip, as I met my husband to be. I also met Mark Woolley that year, who is now closing his gallery.

Pietro Ferrua, famous conscientious objector and anarchist, was curating an INI group show at Mark’s. I figured that Mark Woolley could be no ordinary gallery as this INI group (such as it was) was based on international mail art – not your typical commercial gallery fodder.

Once I moved out here I was haplessly working out wedding details in a rush, something I don’t wish on my worst enemy. There are things I would do differently but I have no regrets about having my wedding reception at Mark’s gallery, which was then a warm, upstairs space in the Pearl, still rough around the edges.

Little did I know that I would eventually clock in hundreds of hours at that space - it no longer resides in my mental sphere as just my wedding day. But the way that gallery space lives in my mind is just as good. That 9th Avenue space was where you ended up after a night of gallery hopping. You settled in with a glass of wine poured by great gallerinas like Carol Yarrow and Leah Emkin and had real conversations.

Still, the wedding reception was memorable - Three Leg Torso played. We had guests from all across the country, including a bevy of gorgeous girlfriends from New York, all from the fashion trade. And the current exhibition at the gallery stayed up during our reception, which was work by MK Guth. Could you have asked for a better exhibiting artist? I don’t think so. Nonetheless some of my relatives couldn’t understand the notorious soap sculpture of a wedding dress in the gallery, with words like Bitch and Whore on the individual bars of soap. My poor aunt and uncle from Wenatchee couldn’t wrap their heads around that one.

2 comments:

CAP said...

Sadly, I think everywhere we'll be seeing a lot of closures this year.

But like a lot of others, Mark will be there in the background still, as a private dealer and occasional curator. This seems to be a trusted strategem in hard times, not quite going underground, but becoming more private.

It may not be such a bad thing.

leah said...

so many good memories! hope you are well, leah