Paul Middendorf and Paige Saez
of Homeland, 620 SE 3rd

After a lease snafu that nearly left Homeland, uh, homeless three days before its opening party, the new gallery and project space has found temporary digs in the basement of Southeast's Hall Gallery. Founded by artists Paul Middendorf, who last served as Disjecta's visual arts director, and Paige Saez, a member of the Red76 collaborative, Homeland will showcase interdisciplinary work that, according to Middendorf, will "challenge the typical relationship between artists and gallery goers." Their plans include everything from large-scale public works to participatory projects like Take Home Lover, which will let guests of the gallery fabricate their own customized cuddle-buddies from a pile of dismembered stuffed animals. But Homeland's main mission, supported by a transcontinental artist exchange program, will be to push some of Portland's lesser-known artists into the spotlight.

What are your plans for Homeland's exchange program?

PAUL MIDDENDORF: When I was in New York recently, I partnered up with a few galleries in Chelsea and Williamsburg—including Ethan Cohen Fine Arts and Jack the Pelican Presents. We've been talking about an exchange program that would send Portland artists out there to show at their galleries and, in return, they'd send some of their artists to show here at Homeland.

And you're considering a residency program, too, right?

PAIGE SAEZ: Yes. I did a trial run on a small scale with Harrell Fletcher as an advisor, but I'd like to grow it into something bigger. I think it's really important to help people who are excited about creating work find a place to do it. It's hard starting a career as an artist. There's just no money for it. So I'm really interested in developing a way to create a sustainable community to help support artists here.

So what will Homeland's niche be in the city's gallery scene?

PM: We're approaching Homeland as more of a project space and less of a conventional gallery. We'll still have monthly or bimonthly exhibitions to showcase the artists we work with, but we want to make sure we keep our programming fresh and exciting.

PS: I know too many talented people that aren't being helped by traditional [Portland] galleries. They're all moving to New York or San Francisco or going to graduate school. If part of Homeland's mission is to act like a "commercial" gallery, it's so these people can make money and keep working. Everyone says what a creative city Portland is, but there aren't many people willing to pay for it. Even when people go to see a band, they end up being like: "Three dollars?!" It's a crying shame.