It's pretty hard to ignore a show with a title like Portland? Fuck Portland!: The Influence of Oregon on Oregonians, which opens this week at the brand-new Rocksbox gallery in North Portland. To back up the provocative title, the show boasts one of the strongest lineups we've seen in forever, with artists like Storm Tharp, Malia Jensen, Natascha Snellman, and more contributing work. Rocksbox is the latest venture from artist and curator Patrick Rock, who answered some of our questions about the gallery.
MERCURY: Where did the title Portland? Fuck Portland! come from?
PATRICK ROCK: After Keith Boadwee's and my recent opening, Cult Classics, Not Bestsellers, at Queen's Nails Annex in San Francisco, we retired to the bar next door to celebrate, and a minor "art star" approached me and asked me where I had gone to and what I was doing. I told him that "I had moved to Portland and surrounded myself with a high fence and animals of questionable intelligence." He responded with: "Portland? FUCK Portland!" and I knew I had to use it.
Even though a lot of artists live in North Portland, it's not exactly known as Portland's art center. Are you going to need to rely on regular traffic to survive as a gallery?
I have been reading recently that a lot of artists live in North Portland. I rarely bump into any of them. I think that is why they like living over here. I am not really concerned with survival. The pursuit of art is cheaper than children, heroin, or a dragster in my garage. I am not sure Rocksbox fits the time-honored definition of a "gallery" per se. It is more of an unpretentious place for unpretentious people to come see pretentious work. I have never felt comfortable in the center of anything unless it is a doughnut. I prefer the gravitational pull of outer orbits.
What can we expect from upcoming programming?
Three or four exhibitions a year—Rocksbox has a weakness for bad boys, bad girls, and honest-to-goodness geniuses. If a local artist approached me with a proposal and told me that they wanted to stuff 1,000 pounds of hot delicious brownies in my heating ducts, I would be hard pressed to tell them no.