>re.view< Graeter Art Gallery
GRAETER ART GALLERY: The Bar Has Been Raised
by Jonny Boys
August 9, 2011, was a normal day for the rest of us, S&P downgraded the US government's credit rating, we were trying to find hope in what seemed to be constant economic despair. For John Graeter, it was a great day, he had just signed a three year lease on his new gallery space. As I watched his Facebook pictorial updates on the construction process I began to get more and more excited.
So many galleries open and struggle to make it. What it all comes down to whether the owner knows not only how to curate a good show and have a cool opening reception, but whether they understand how to sell art.
John Graeter is the embodiment of the term, gallerist. Going into his new gallery space he had already developed a group of collectors and is actively developing new collectors, something missing in most galleries in the US these days. He not only has an eye for great art he has a following of great artists so he doesn't have to go far to find new works. It was a calculated move to put the gallery in old Chinatown, as it's still downtown but it is separated from the main body of galleries in the Pearl District.
I attended the Graeter Art Gallery's first opening and was stunned. The art spoke volumes. The space was packed, the DJ was mixing some chill house music, his wine bar buzzed with activity. I went through careful to view each piece and really take it in, a hard task in a crowded space. One artist's works really stuck out to me, Theodore Holdt.
Holdt's 72” x 72” piece, Space Girl, sucked me right in like a tractor beam. Whether intentional or not it had elements of Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights, painted roughly 510 years ago. The piece was intentional chaos, it was beautiful and haunting all together. As to be expected the work sold.
I returned once again, camera in hand to the January showing of A Nashville to Portland Skyline Boulevard. Bret Hostetler's work was brilliant. Each piece was uniquely different yet tied together by the underpinnings of his five personal guidelines to create art.
Refreshment was my favorite of his works in the show. It seemed to have been painstakingly covered in layer after layer of paper and paint. His mixture of blues and earth tones are reminiscent of Rembrandt's work, it doesn't appear to be intentional but it is remarkable. If the viewer were to look back at The Mill and The Bridge it would be an uncanny comparison to colors. Hostetler rounds out the work with dabbles and throws of yellow, which is part of what draws the viewer in to the piece. His style is that of a seasoned painter, all the while he is just in the beginning stages of his career.
Standing in the back of the gallery I admired a large piece of bricolage, Untitled 12 by Andrew Enna. It was made up of pieces of tin from old signs. To create his pieces he collects things and then surrounded by these items he allows them to speak to him, to come together and create each work.
The Graeter Art Gallery has helped to restore hope to Portland's art scene in my opinion. Graeter has set the bar for this next generation of gallerists, proving that you can still have a world class gallery that not only shows the work of exciting emerging artists, but one that sells it.