Blackfish Gallery is the brainchild of a loose affiliation of artists interested in supporting each other professionally and exhibiting their work without the usual constraints of a commercial art gallery. They rented an empty storefront, and with their own labor and skills, they created a cooperative art gallery that opened in May 1979. The gallery has moved exhibition space twice since that time, and over 150 prominent Oregon and Washington artists have been represented as members of Blackfish Gallery over the years.
We are on the move again! After 35 years in our beloved gallery, our building has been put up for sale and redevelopment. Although we knew this day might come, we are sad. However, we couldn’t be more grateful to our landlords, the Wongs, for our long tenure in a prime location at an "old Portland" rental rate. That sweet deal allowed the gallery to survive and thrive, even in hard times. After a long search, we have found the new very best home for our collective at 938 NW Everett St. in the historic Otis Elevator Building, just blocks from our current location. We are thrilled to be able to stay in the heart of the Pearl Arts District among neighboring galleries.
However, cost-wise, things look different now.
Though we have secured a fantastic new gallery space, the move comes with considerable and unexpected costs, putting overwhelming financial strain on our small not-for-profit. For starters, we face double the operating expenses of our former gallery, such as more utility costs, property taxes, and higher rent. We need to dress up the new space to accommodate the needs of our talented artists, and the gallery’s business needs, which means new drywall, a full paint job, new shelves and eventually, the funds to build a mezzanine office space. We are also cleaning out the artist studios we have rented out for the last decades, costing us lots of money for trash hauling, repairs and repainting. Anyone who has moved recently can easily understand there are all sorts of hidden costs. We have worked so hard and put hundreds of hours of our collective labor into these big jobs. An important point: Leaving our current space in tip-top condition has ensured that the Wongs will allow us to continue exhibiting artists from our underrepresented communities through our year-long BIPOC Curatorship Project in the Fishbowl Windows on NW 9th.
With this big change comes big opportunities! In our new location, we are excited to announce a third exhibition space and a beautiful new art prints area where you can collect affordable art from some of your favorite Oregon artists. This new opportunity enables us to increase visibility, rise to the next level of professionalism, and rededicate our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. We plan to bring Portland more provocative exhibits, collaborative shows, and above all, opportunities for local Oregon artists to present the work they are driven to create, regardless of its commercial potential.
We could use your support to get us through this huge transition. We are so grateful for anything you can donate to our move and help us keep the legacy of Blackfish going and the Portland art scene vibrant and alive. Would you consider contributing to this Go Fund Me and helping us spread the word by sharing on your social media channels or sending an email out to family, friends, and the art lovers you know that might also be willing to chip in to help us meet our goal?
We hope to see you all at our new space starting this December 2022! In a narrative arc made for the history books, the first show in the new gallery features one of the collective's founding members, painter Barbara Black, who puts the “Black” in Blackfish. Her invited guests, fellow painter Angela Passelacqua and mixed media sculptor Barbara Conyne, are longtime colleagues and friends for over 40 years. Their exhibition is aptly titled “What’s Past is Prologue.” It runs from November 29 to December 31, with an opening reception on First Thursday, December 1, from 6-9pm. We look forward to welcoming you to the new Blackfish then!