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As of this Thursday, there's a new stop on the Pearl District gallery-hopping route. Quality Pictures, a photo-centric gallery run by Atlanta transplant Erik Schneider, opens this month with two exhibitions: POW! (Pictures of Women), a group show of A-listers such as Cindy Sherman and Katy Grannan, and a solo show by Southern portraitist Chris Verene. We pressed Schneider for more info on Quality Pictures.

MERCURY: What brought you to Portland?

I decided I wanted to open an art gallery, and you can either do that in New York or you can do it anywhere else in the country. You're either in the middle of the game, or you're not. I think Portland is a great city, and while the art community isn't huge, it's really well organized, and the public here is really interested in and passionate about art.

How do you describe the type of work Quality Pictures shows?

It's contemporary art with an emphasis on photography. I'm really an idea-driven guy when it comes to looking at art. It's the ideas that are most interesting to me. But you really can't get away with the straight conceptualism that was popular in the '60s and '70s, where it didn't matter how the finished product looked so much. Now we've come full circle to where the idea still matters very much, but so does craftsmanship and that unexplainable allure that great art possesses.

What about the ratio of photography to other media?

This year, it's about two-thirds photography, and I have some painting and video artists as well. Then going forward, it'll probably be about 50/50. I want to be known as a contemporary art gallery, not a photography gallery.

Have you been doing studio visits with artists here in town?

Yes, but slowly. I've met a number of artists and have been going to a lot of shows. It's a process.

But you do show a few local artists.

I did pick up Holly Andres and Mark Hooper. I think their work shows a lot of promise and I'd like to try to help their careers. I really wanted to come here and find a couple solid artists and help promote them, and Holly and Mark were the first that I thought had the total package. We'll see where it all goes.