Pioneer Place terminates art gallery's lease - KPTV - FOX 12

Pioneer Place terminates art gallery's lease; gallery director questions motive

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Pioneer Place is terminating the lease of an art gallery, and the gallery curator believes it's due to the content of three contemporary art exhibits.

Place occupies two storefronts on the third floor of the downtown Portland shooting center. The gallery's lease ends March 31.

Curator and director Gabe Flores says mall management told him they've found two tenants willing to pay full rent prices for the spaces the gallery gets at a subsidized rate.

But the lease termination comes weeks after Flores says the shopping center's general manager contacted him with concerns about three current exhibits.

The exhibits are [Expletive] Balloons, described in Place promotional materials as an "installation that utilizes waste materials and celebratory aesthetics to seduce viewers with tricks and humor;" Parking Lot Dance, a video response to American shopping culture; and A High Improbability of Death: A Celebration of Suicide, described in promotional materials as "an attempt to couple his personal struggle with a wider conversation concerning the devastating effects of suicide on families and society."

On Place's website, Flores posted text from an email he says general manager Bob Buchanan Sr. sent him about the exhibits in February, which reads "Why would you imagine that this would be OK here?"

Flores also posted photos of violent video games, novelty items and clothes with curse words he took in Pioneer Place stores.

"That is bizarre to me, that there can be a double standard for what art is allowed to do and what maybe consumer culture is allowed to do, in the same space," said Flores.

General Manager Bob Buchanan Sr. released a written statement to Fox 12.

"We do not publicly discuss tenant lease agreements, but please know Pioneer Place is very much a fan and in support of the arts," Buchanan's statement read. "Our goal is to create a unique and enjoyable shopping experience for all our customers."

Flores said he booked art exhibits at Place through the end of the year, leaving dozens of artists looking for new galleries to show their work.

Flores said he does not harbor any ill will toward Pioneer Place. 

"When I look at our website and I look at all the shows we had and I look at the list of names of all the artists we've shown, I can't be anything but ecstatic," said Flores.

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