N ever anything but a temporary installation, the enormous 120,000-square-foot Modern Zoo gallery has reached the end of its summer reign.
In terms of sheer spectacle the Zoo never disappointed, even if its actual content was hit-or-miss. Its curatorial team, the Portland Center for the Advancement of Culture (PCAC), worked valiantly all summer long to keep it stocked with fresh works. But with so much space to address, the process of filling it was never exactly selective, but rather a free-for-all of works from established, emerging, and brand new artists. The resulting chaos may not have been consistently brilliant, but at least there was a lot of it; an explosion of public creative expression unlike anything this town has seen.
More than anything, the Modern Zoo had a sense of wacky, anything-goes potential (whether it was ever capitalized on or not), a crackling tension, that will be sorely missed around these parts.
"It was a great way to celebrate the art scene in Portland," says Bryan Suereth, PCAC's creative director. "Generally I'm very pleased... In another five years or so another Modern Zoo will be needed. I don't think it needs to be recreated until there's a brand new group of artists who can be placed into an exhibit like that and sort of be let loose."
To celebrate its demise, PCAC is having a farewell party and barbecue at the Zoo that Suereth claims is "going to be really big... That's the only way this thing can go out: a massive party."
The so-called massive party will include a fashion show from Fresh Cookie, whose apparel is, in a word from Suereth, "scant," and also music from the Rob Scheps Big Band. A beer garden and a DJ will be on hand, and of course plenty of grills as well for some good barbecue action. Capping off the festivities will be a 24-hour music installation by Pete McCracken out in the Zoo's thus-far unused parking garage. So drop on by. Ogle a model; wolf down a hotdog. Bid farewell to something we can safely say won't be seen in this town again for at least another five years. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS