Merry Scully
new director of the Elizabeth Leach Gallery

After last year's relocation to its new digs in the Pearl, the Elizabeth Leach Gallery has made another big change by bringing in Merry Scully as its new director. After two years as the San Francisco Art Institute's director of exhibitions and galleries and three years working with the L.A.-based arts funding group, the Fellows of Contemporary Art, Scully brings a national perspective to Portland's most consistently high-quality gallery.

Coming from San Francisco and L.A., what's your outsider perspective on Portland's art scene?

Portland seems to be a really conducive environment for artists to work and the scene itself seems vital. Even the kid who lives next door to me is an artist. Especially with younger artists, there's a really active dialogue going on that is thinking about art in a much broader context.

Over the years, the Elizabeth Leach Gallery has focused on bringing in nationally known artists and exporting local talent. Are you planning to head even more in a national direction?

Liz and I have a very similar philosophy. We both want to create a broad dialogue about the arts that extends well beyond the Pacific Northwest. There's always more good work out there than there are places to show it. I'd really like to push some of the young artists here—who are doing work of the same caliber as artists in San Francisco or New York—into a national sphere.

What kind of art are you hoping to bring in?

The shows I've done over the years have been very eclectic and they typically feature artists working outside-of-center, who are as invested intellectually in what they're making as they are physically. My interest tends to be in more obscure, under-recognized artists, and always in a whole body of work. I think that many of the so-called "art stars" only had a couple great years, instead of a great career. But when people ask me to name my favorite artist, I always think, "my favorite artist is somebody who nobody has ever heard of, making stuff like nothing anyone's ever seen before."