‘Pop-up Art Gallery’ enlivens Lents neighborhood

Discover who’s behind this unique photography exhibition, and what it means to residents of that outer East Portland neighborhood …

Hundreds come to an ostensibly empty lot at SE 88th Avenue and SE Foster Road to view the new Lents Grown Story Yard installation.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Most people who drove past a vacant lot at 8801 SE Foster Road in mid-August were surprised and delighted to see an outdoor art gallery there.

The art installation, called the Lents Grown Story Yard, opened on August 18.

The Lents Grown Story Yard was developed by ROSE Community Development Corporation (ROSE) as a way to bring more art to the Lents neighborhood, and to involve youth in celebrating the multicultural business community, explained ROSE Executive Director Nick Sauvie.

“Working with the Portland Development Commission (PDC) and Propel Studio Architecture, we assisted Southeast Portland photographer Dawn DeAno in photographing local business owners and farmers market vendors,” Sauvie told East Portland News.

Portland Development Commission Executive Director Patrick Quinton; photographer Dawn DeAno, creator of the gallery’s images; and Rose Community Development Executive Director Nick Sauvie together look over the installation.

“This project is important to our mission, because we are all about community-building in outer Southeast Portland and the Lents Town Center, and supporting our local business community and celebrating our multicultural identity,” Sauvie said.

Musician Joaquin Lopez accompanies himself as he sings, while entertaining at this “Lents Grown” event.

PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton commented, “Our mission is to help revitalize the communities in which we work. There are a lot of possibilities and opportunities here in Lents.

“The first step toward this goal is to get people to think about, and consider, the possibilities,” Quinton expressed. “This temporary art installation is a way of opening people’s minds about what a neighborhood can be like, and what kind of activities it can support. Hopefully, this is the beginning of other, both temporary and permanent, developments here in Lents Town Center.”

Volunteer servers dish up a free dinner for guests to enjoy.

Lents-grown sparkplug Brandon Rhodes, of Rolling Oasis Grocers, enjoys supper at the “pop-up” gallery opening.

“The heart and soul of the ‘Lents Grown’ concept is to identify a unique legacy for this neighborhood,” commented Brandon Rhodes, who was pointed out to us as being a driving force of the “Lents Grown movement”.

“Here in Lents, we have a combination of blue collar people and green thumb enthusiasts,” Rhodes went on. “We’re working to find ways of supporting both of these groups, and other developing enterprises here, in new and quirky ways.”

More than its just promoting the neighborhood, Rhodes opined, “It’s about having a sense of pride. It’s about being in our neighborhood, telling our neighborhood story, and figuring out where we want to go from here.

“The ‘Lents Grown’ phrase encompasses people who are already here,” continued Rhodes. “We’re also sharing stories about people coming from outside the neighborhood and, honestly, gentrifying it. ‘Lents Grown’ characterizes an identity and the future that is homegrown, and comes within – rather than being imported.”

Guests at the gallery opening, mostly local neighbors, enjoy artwork, music, dinner and conversation.

Lents Neighborhood Association Chair Jesse Cornett smiled as he looked over the gathering of some 200 people who were sharing supper, talking, and looking at the artwork. “ROSE and the PDC have done a tremendous job of bringing something attractive to an otherwise vacant spot. Any time you can put on something creatively visible like this, it is great, and to their credit.”

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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