Talented? Undiscovered? Want to see your best piece hang? Thanks to local downtown restaurants, you can! No need to be famous, or fill out fancy applications. You can even host a gallery night with you and a few of your favorite friends with more pocket change than sense.
However, if you are a professional photographer like Diane Beals, famous for her Salem A-Day-in-the-Life Project, don’t discount the experience. Venti’s Café has opened up its walls to two artists a month, and Beals took them up on the offer while between studios. “It was a great place and I got a lot of feedback. I am a professional documentary photographer, and I spent a year documenting people’s lives in black and white.” This was not Beals’ first time to hang in Salem, but she liked the opportunity to reach enthusiasts somewhere outside of her studio.
“I was on the third floor of the Reed Opera House, so there wasn’t a lot of walk-by traffic. I don’t think I had hung anywhere where I had gotten as much feedback on my art,” said Beals.
Venti’s, Brown’s Towne Lounge, and Coffee House Café have all opened up their dining rooms to local artists. “We have been rotating artists every six weeks or so,” said Gary Brown, owner of Brown’s Towne Lounge. Brown doesn’t charge a hanging fee, but ten percent of sales from the show do go towards Marion Polk County Food Share.
Getting artists to come in and show is easy. “For us it has been word of mouth. We have a couple artists waiting their turn now,” he said.
Venti’s puts family-friendly art upstairs, and downstairs, it can be a bit more edgy. “We have people who come to us, and as long as it matches the feel of our restaurant we are happy to show them off,” said Tricia Hande, manager at Venti’s Café. “We personally don’t take sales through the restaurant. We set out the artist’s business cards.”
For Myka Lee, the support from Venti’s gave him the boost for other people to see his art, other than his friends at home. Lee showed his large canvas collection at Venti’s in July and August.
“It has given me incentive to keep being productive and so I have new stuff to put out.”
For Lee, the goal wasn’t so much to sell, but to determine what direction he should go. What did people like? With one of his canvas frames measuring eight feet long and forty inches tall, that is a tall order.
“I find inspiration around me. Sunsets and ocean scenes are a few of my favorites. But I use a mix of graffiti, metal, and sculpture,” Lee said. An artist on the side and a builder in real life, often the two complement each other.
“If you look at the culture downtown – art, good beer and music – we have a very strong pulse on the downtown community. We have the bicycle community, artsy community and the downtown environment; we are all combining into one. By putting art up, it’s a good way to draw people in. It works well in our restaurant; there is always something different and we get a new feel every month,” said Hande.
Lari DeLapp, owner of Coffee House Café, believes that art is in the eye of the beholder, and if someone sees something they like they should buy it. The walls in his café and an art show each month are two ways he gives the art community some steam. He is willing to let that happen every month at Emerge Oregon, an art series that happens the first Friday of every month. It appears in his back room, and it’s a one-night art and music show. “The show costs $5 to show three pieces of art. Whatever art sells, they get 100 percent of the proceeds,” he said.
“We are pretty much open to anyone. We have been known to be six months out. If an artist doesn’t have enough art to hang to fill the room, there are opportunities to hang in other areas. We don’t charge to hang the art, and we don’t take a commission on the pieces. We are just trying to support the local artists.”
Check out these “micro” galleries
325 Court Street NE
Contact: Tricia Hande, manager
Brown’s Towne Lounge
189 Liberty Street NE
Contact: Gary Brown
Coffee House Café
150 Liberty Street NE
Contact: Lari DeLapp