Portland is home to a plethora of art galleries, public murals and events for beginner, intermediate and experienced artists alike. From the Portland Art Museum—the oldest art museum on the West Coast—to the many local colleges and universities that showcase the creative works of current students and faculty members, there’s no shortage of activities for artists who wish to explore the art scene in the City of Roses.
Read on to explore some of Portland’s best local attractions for artists, art collectors and art enthusiasts.
The Portland Art Museum
Founded in 1892, the Portland Art Museum (PAM) is the oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest and the seventh-oldest art museum in the U.S. Featuring more than 50,000 art pieces from collections such as Native American art, photography, Asian art and graphic arts, the PAM is a must-see for even the most seasoned of art tourists. In addition to its culture-rich art collections, other activities such as public tours, lectures and discussions with local artists are also available to interested parties.
Through the Multnomah County Library, local cardholders can even reserve a “My Discovery Pass”, a voucher that provides them with one- to- two free tickets to participating art galleries, theaters and film centers—including the Portland Art Museum. By providing their library card number and password, current Multnomah Library cardholders can reserve their annual pass online.
The Disjecta Contemporary Art Center
Located in North Portland, this former bowling alley features 6,000 square feet of contemporary art exhibits from famed artists such as Lita Albuquerque and Laurie Anderson, as well as local artists such as James Lavadour. The Disjecta Contemporary Art Center also organizes the Portland Biennial, a popular event that showcases the works of local contemporary artists. While PAM started the Portland Biennial in 1949, the Disjecta Contemporary Art Center began hosting the event in 2010.
Pacific Northwest College of Art
Located in the heart of Portland, the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) displays 10 revolving works of art each year. Among these art collections are works of glass, wood and ceramics from famed artists such as Otto Natzler, Toshiko Takaezu and Lucie Rie.
During each academic year, the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery at Reed College features three- to- four artworks from current students and faculty members. To experience these works of Portland art firsthand, parties can visit the Reed Library between the hours of Noon and 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
Located in Southeast Portland, Yale Union is a contemporary art center that was created in 2008 by artists Curtis Knapp and Aaron Flint Jamison. While Yale Union is a small, non-profit group, each year the organization holds eight musical performances and four major art exhibits in its 40,000-square foot space known as the Yale Union Laundry Building.
The Portland Institute of Contemporary Art
Founded in 1995 by young artist Kristy Edmunds, the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) now features a variety of unique exhibitions and performances—including sculptures, paintings and works of sound, poetry, media, music and film. In September, the PICA also hosts its annual Time-Based Art Festival (TBA), a 10-day event that features the works of artists from around the globe.
While the group once operated without a formal exhibition space of its own, the PICA now operates out of a former indoor skate park in the Eliot neighborhood of Northeast Portland. In its 18,000-square foot space, art tourists can find the works of Laurie Anderson, Coco Fusco, Robert Creeley and more than 600 others.
The Lumber Room
The Lumber Room showcases the private art collection of Sarah Miller Meigs, a local collector who founded the organization in 2010. Featuring nearly 1,000 pieces of contemporary and modern art from famed artists such as Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Eva Hesse and Dan Flavin, the Lumber Room offers free admission and guided tours.
Note: The Lumber Room is temporarily closed as it undergoes renovations. However, it will reopen in March of 2020.
PDX Contemporary Art
Located in one of the oldest buildings in Portland’s Pearl District, PDX Contemporary Art is said to be one of the more “forward-thinking” commercial galleries in the area. Since its opening in 1996, PDX Contemporary Art has represented local artists and makers from around the world, including Nick Blosser, Amjad Faur, Justin L’Amie and Gus Van Sant.
Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Founded in 1981 by Liz Leach, the Elizabeth Leach Gallery is the only gallery in Portland belonging to the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA). Here, visitors can take in the works of artists such as John Baldessari, Richard Diebenkorn, M.K. Guth and Malia Jenson.
Adams and Ollman
Located just outside of Portland’s Pearl District, Adams and Ollman is a small exhibition space that was originally founded in 2013. Featuring contrasting pieces of artwork from self-taught contemporary artists of the 20th century, here visitors can explore the works of Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Katherine Bradford and Ellen Lesperance.
Fourteen 30 Contemporary
Located just outside of Downtown Portland in the Goose Hill neighborhood, Fourteen30 Contemporary operates out of a former bakery that was originally built in 1891. Here, notable works of art include abstract paintings on linen and figurative paintings from artists such as Mike Bray, Kristan Kennedy, Rainen Knecht and Devon Oder.
Founded in 2013 by Portland’s own Theo Downes LeGuin, Upfor Gallery showcases the works of early- to- mid-career artists—including contemporary painters, photographers and videographers. To date, Upfor Gallery has featured the works of Iran-born media artist Morehshin Allahyari, Texas sculptor Heidi Schwegler and Ecuador-born sculptor Ronny Quevedo.