From the outside, Project Object doesn’t look like much more than an unassuming storefront on NE Sandy, but sneak in through the courtyard—it’s shared by a number of artsy-crafty tenants, including Studio Mega, Leeward Surf, Pickathon, Kate Bingaman-Burt, and Guerrilla Development—and you’ll find the secret passageway to the store’s vibrant back-room studio space, which is like a dreamy minimalist Candy Land.
When I visited on a recent weekday afternoon, the Project Object team was assembling work for the print-focused show that opens in the space this week, Unobstructed Views. As the Project Object crew carefully unwrapped a number of delicate prints, patterns quickly emerged: This is a show heavily concerned with timely themes of identity and self-care, with a swath of local artists working in a mix of represented styles. Among them: Lisa Congdon, Ana Serrano, Emily Small, Amy Martin, Subin Yang, and Lindsey Walker. It’s part of Project Object’s broader initiative to showcase visual art and design work from women, LGBTQ artists, and people of color. It’s a goal they’ve already carried out through a rotating pop-up gallery, which is updated with new work every few months–when I visited, one wall of the shop was given over completely to Klai Brown’s cartoony, but painterly large-scale portraits of huge-eyed women.
Since the space opened in April, a sense of fun seems to pervade almost everything about Project Object, from the studio space’s constant supply of ice cream and LaCroix to the shop’s packed social calendar, which includes a vast array of pop-up events like last weekend’s Self Care Sunday, which was exactly what it sounds like—a massive celebration of leisure and caretaking, complete with Tarot readings, a yoga class, and hair and makeup services. For National Dog Day, which is a real thing that happens on August 26, Project Object is collaborating with One Tail at a Time, Mud Bay, and Meat for Cats and Dogs to supply dog goodie bags to any neighborhood pups who may stop by. (I’m also told they’ll have a dog photo booth. A DOG PHOTO BOOTH!) And later in August, Meggyn Pomerleau, the author of The Post-Structuralist Vulva Coloring Book, will be leading a cannabis-friendly workshop called Lady Bits.
It’s a lot of programming, but one of Project Object’s aims is to bring people together. Project Object owner and Upper Metal Class jewelry designer T. Ngu says she hopes “to create community and support for people,” and so far it seems she’s succeeding. Project Object is one of many women-led arts spaces and projects that have cropped up locally over the past year, filling a necessary niche where community and art-making practices intersect. And there’s a satisfying aesthetic of softness to Unobstructed Views, whether it’s in Es Super Fun’s adorably cartoony cutout pieces, Emily Small’s depiction of a very cute Teva tan and a bag of Doritos, Amy Martin’s women playing basketball, or Subin Yang’s blissful, sweaty yoginis. Pieces like these are aspirational in this particular political moment, and while there’s a strong vibe of fun at Project Object, it seems almost radical. The world is a scary place right now. Let’s get high and eat ice cream with our friends.