WHENEVER I ASK someone if they think galleries serve artists, I'm often met with confusion. It's not that I think galleries don't serve artists—I think they're a crucial part of the arts ecology—but given how many spaces are traditional, white-walled rooms, you'd think presenting work in anything but a white cube was somehow offensive. There are many ways to showcase visual work, just as there are many ways to serve artists and communities, and for that reason I'm always glad to see an organization challenging expectations.
In 2014, frustrated with the gallery system and wanting to see experimental artists' work, HQ Objective opened its first gallery, under the name HQHQ Project Space. HQ Objective Executive Director Johnny Ray Alt and his then-collaborator, André Filipek, graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art at a time when a number of alternative spaces had closed, so launching HQHQ Project Space, as a white-walled gallery, seemed like the right way to go. Their Industrial Southeast location hosted traditional-seeming gallery shows by younger artists, as well as symposia and artist collective gatherings. That first year, the space's offerings were extremely solid, but Alt admits to a steep learning curve. After a year of back-to-back shows, in part supported by a 2014 Portland Institute for Contemporary Art Precipice Fund, HQHQ Project Space closed its doors, and HQ Objective underwent restructuring.
After hard work, occasional missteps, and a reinvigoration of their goals, HQ Objective opened a new storefront gallery, this one called Fortune, on West Burnside last month. Part gallery, part publication workshop, Fortune presents a new business model for alternative spaces. Alt, along with Will Elder and Alden Rivendale Jones, will present visual art, performance, and publications in new ways.
Armed with federal nonprofit status (get your tax-deductible donations ready!), HQ has business savvy and awareness of how to best serve artists. Alongside their storefront shows, HQ will offer for-hire printing and binding services as a means of financial support. The current show at Fortune, Folded Object Instructions, features writings and objects by local artist Jabari Jordan-Walker and San Francisco's Marc Matchak. The pair's intelligence as writers as well as visual artists make their show an ideal representation of HQ Objective's new direction, with a mix of visual art and publishing. While still a labor of love, HQ Objective is now primed to benefit a community beyond those white walls.