This week we are taking a look at another gallery that combines both work space alongside a well lit and curated viewing space. Oranj Studio blends together a hair salon with a fine art gallery. The studio located in the newer construction of SW Portland is unique and amazing how it blends the two spaces. The perimeter of the studio is filled with large and small pieces of work that flow with the multi-leveled floor of the space. The salon is housed down the center of the studio with big mirrors reflecting back at the art. I image that if you were seated and getting a cut you would have a number of good angles to view the various pieces of art adorning the walls. Because the sock game never stops, I didn’t have time to sit and my ears lowered. Walking around the gallery still feels comfortable and relaxed even with stylists busy at work and patrons happily talking about their day. You might even get the pleasure of being asked what you think about the art by a nice lady getting her hair colored. Oranj Studio does a great job finding and pairing artists that create work that pairs well with a working salon, especially the show we were there to visit The People’s Liberation Army Goes Shopping.
The artist behind the show is Jim Riswold, formerly of Wieden + Kennedy and since 2006 full-time contemporary artist. During his time at W+K Jim created some truly iconic work like a Honda ad featuring Lou Reed that captured the NY experience at the time (It’s almost guaranteed that you have been shown this piece of work if you taken any advertising class ever). However great Jim’s work for Honda was, we were most influenced from his work with Nike. In 1991 the world was introduced to Mars Blackmon though Jim’s ingenious writing of Nike ads. An excitable Spike and cooler than cool Mike were absolutely perfect together in the ways they complemented each other to highlight Jordan’s domination of the sport and the fanfare that surrounded his persona. It’s not only great to rewatch these ads to see Jordan do some pretty incredible 360-dunks but also to see some drool worthy Air Jordan IV’s, gotta love that white/cement-grey colorway. We would be more than happy to go down this rabbit hole but let’s get back to the matter at hand.
The People’s Liberation Army Goes Shopping is a continuation of Riswold’s previous work with photographed figurines. Riswold gained a lot of notoriety with a past show that used the same technique of using socially charged figurines in comical or silly situations to defuse tensions. In this case Jim took the People’s Liberation Army of China which is usually seen as a symbol of oppression in the modern world and contrasted that with China’s tremendous buying power for western fashion & luxury goods, often associated with self-expression and individuality. Setting this show inside of a high-end salon is kinda like doubling down on the social commentary. Oranj Studio filled the main gallery space / salon space with large prints of female soldiers all uniquely dressed in their own fashion. The large prints enhanced Riswold’s reality by making the dolls life size. The hair dryer area hosted smaller prints that showed neatly uniformed soldiers toting Saks Fifth Ave. and Coach bags in a unified stride.
Oranj Studio will continue to host The People’s Liberation Army Goes Shopping until March. Stop by the salon, check out some art and get a cut. We can't wait to see the evolution of the space and what comes next!
Last weeks Out There:
Together Apart at Fisk Gallery