SOME OF YOU might recognize this column location as the one previously inhabited by "Art Walkin'" by the lovely A.L. Adams. Her coverage of First Thursday's offerings frequently touched on the Everett Station Lofts, a collection of live/work spaces that offers the prospect of gallery ownership to renters. The current resident of #101 at 625 NW Everett is Compliance Division, a mutable project space/gallery/performance zone curated by Tabitha Nikolai and Hannah Piper Burns. At a time when "artist-run" tends to be the prerequisite for many galleries, nonprofits, and artsy businesses, Compliance Division houses new media art practices in a critical yet approachable space.
From their beginning in 2015, Compliance Division's aimed to push non-dominant narratives through the kind of inclusive, diverse programming that's frequently lacking in Portland. One recent example of this is Snap, a group exhibition curated by the local pop-up art school Home School.
Using Compliance Division's focus on new-media artwork, Home School's Victoria Anne Reis and Manuel Arturo Abreu brought together a group of artists whose poetry and video works expressed a diverse, critical, and multifaceted digital landscape. Works from Mx Angel, Hamishi Farah, Jamondria Marnice Harris, Porpentine Charity Heartscape, Devin Kenny, Elizabeth Mputu, and Saige Rowe were included alongside found-object art by Abreu and sculptural beanbags by Reis and Adam Benjamin Smith.
This show had an empowered digital vernacular that's too often erased from our seemingly egalitarian internet spaces; it was an inclusive experience that reflected both Home School's classroom dynamic and Compliance Division's curatorial aims.
While both Nikolai and Burns acknowledge moments of fatigue, their gallery is a consistent reflection of the importance of holding space even when exhaustion or frustration arises. By maintaining an openness toward the improvised and unexpected, Compliance Division makes room for exhibitions like Snap, which redefine what some may consider "radical inclusion" as standard practice for arts organizations of every size.
Compliance Division's latest show is Daydreamjob, featuring work from Portland artist Jea Alford. Home School's first semester finishes this month, with classes at locations around the city. More information can be found at homeschoolpdx.tumblr.com.