About the Art Gym at Marylhurst University
The Art Gym is nationally recognized as a vehicle for the contemporary art practices of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.The Art Gym’s ambitious exhibitions by emerging and established artists have created the standard for culturally significant art in our region, primarily focused on the makerships of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. Our mission is to support a diverse group of artists working in thoughtful, experimental, and critically engaged ways through exhibitions, performances, publications and adaptable opportunities for public engagement.
Exhibitions and Performances
The Art Gym is a non-collecting, non-commercial gallery that supports artists in creating ambitious and risk-taking projects at various stages in their careers. As an art space working within an academic venue, we are committed to providing artistic and intellectual freedom. The diverse exhibitions and projects produced for the Art Gym provide a context for the region’s makership through public programs and catalogs that situate them among national conversations in contemporary art. Examples include the production of new bodies of work, group exhibitions that broaden and deepen connections for Pacific Northwest artists, and the presentation of installation or processed-based works that unfold over an a-typical duration.
Publications and Discourse
History and Audience
The Art Gym began as the vision of Kay Slusarenko (chair of Marylhurst’s art department from 1978-1998), who saw the potential of the unused college gymnasium. In collaboration with faculty members Terri Hopkins and Paul Sutinen, the decision was made to dedicate the space to exhibitions and publications featuring artists of the Pacific Northwest. Sutinen supervised the initial physical transformation of a gymnasium to a gallery, and the community donated $1,500 and 400 hours of volunteer labor to the cause. Under the direction of curator Hopkins, the Art Gym opened its first show of contemporary Northwest art and published its first catalog in September 1980.
The Art Gym organizes exhibitions and publications for artists at various key stages in their careers. The Art Gym publications are often the artists’ first catalogs, supporting their pursuit of artist fellowships, grants, residencies and exhibitions at other institutions. The Art Gym has a strong history of serving as a springboard that launches the careers of emerging artists and providing future opportunities, as well as being a landmark destination for artists’ retrospectives later in their significant careers.
Exhibitions have toured to such museums as Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, the Schneider Museum of Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon and the Museum of Northwest Art in Bellingham, Washington. We have been reviewed in national and regional publications and online resources, including Art in America, Artforum, Sculpture Magazine, Artweek, The Oregonian, Portland Mercury, PORT, and Oregon Arts Watch.
In 2005, the Art Gym was honored with a Governor’s Arts Award; recipients are selected on the basis of dedication to the advancement of the arts in Oregon, length of commitment to the statewide arts community, the highest level of artistic contribution and extent of reputation in the county, state, and nation. The Art Gym is a member of Portland Art Focus, a collaborative venture designed to increase cultural tourism to the region.