LET'S PRETEND that my rent doesn't devour all of my Writer Fun Bux™, and I can actually shop for art on NW 9th, where a row of galleries shamelessly proffer pieces that—beyond concept—are priced to move. People come here, one imagines, with a checkbook and a dilemma: Which piece will enliven the waiting room? Pop with the plants? Complement the divan?
Let's just go down the row. Annie Meyer has a helluva whimsical weather vane; part of Thomas Rude's EAT 14, it features carved, whitewashed wooden figures of cooks, a cow and a pig, bunnies and carrots. Larry McLaughlin's "Flock of Sheep," concrete/wire congloms, are sold separately... maybe rebel, and nab the black one. Meyer's own painting "Eastern Oregon" fills the front window with six parts blue sky to one part yellow field, and four droplets' worth of distant fluffy tree.
Quintana Galleries has Native American pieces in many scales and prices. Big spenders with big space might go for Joe David's red cedar "Salish House Post" totem: four lizards climbing toward a serene human face, trisected by a pink-pigmented cross. Yakima/Warm Springs artist Lillian Pitt's offers far more modest drypoint etchings that revive cave-sketch simplicity. A happy medium price-wise is Francis Horne's "Heron Ladle," a red cedar sculpture with a sharp bird head and a graceful swoosh.
Gallery 903 is, to my eye, gold-standard retail, showing consistently crisp, 'spensive-but-salable works all along the abstract-real spectrum. In Wynter Jones' "Holding Up the Sky," two figures in noirish light manage allure without specificity. Can't tell their gender, though nudity is implied; can't tell their race, though you see faces. Gallery 903's abstract pieces are never slapdash... a piece by Alan Fulle is expertly slick stripy resin, Tatiana Montoya's "Landscape 2"—not a landscape—accents wide vertical lines with exclamatory splats in opulent Ming Dynasty gold-and-red. It looks more Asian by Catherine Foster's Kimonos series, wall sculptures of elaborate garment patterns; but it also matches the broader abstraction of Korey Gulbrandson's "Animus Vox," with cruddy layers in a Halloween palette. And if you eschewed small sheep earlier, maybe you favor Georgia Gerber's giant bronze mice? "Boy's Night Out" sells as a trio or piecemeal. Too Disney? Maybe Pasha Stinson's rectangular eaten-away stone slabs are more your speed.
Lastly, at Blackfish, Christopher Shotala-Hardt un-hate-ably channels Audubon with light-handed bird paintings on a blonde wood panel. Tori Bryer's fern print is equally natural, but less literal. If you stuck Stephan Soihl's rotating kinetic sculpture in your lobby, you'd buy your receptionist weeks of irritated explaining. Beauty, meh; function, hmm... it moves often; it's noisy and shiny. Steve Tilden's steel horses are distinctively fat-haunched, spiky-maned, and headlong, if you're into that. And if Clint Brown's tangled nudes and snarling hounds in "Persephone and Hades" are too scary, Michael Knutson's got a giant canvas of intricate ovoid shapes in similar rust hues.
Decisions, decisions. Where to spend my millions? Ultimately, though, you have to ask: Does the artwork match the drapes?