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The Dregs

January 11 - February 11, 2010

The Dregs
Brandy Cochrane and Paul Middendorf

Gallery 2: The Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things
Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen

This winter we are presenting two exhibitions that explore the relationship among people, their belongings and their homes – and what happens when part of that equation changes.

In The Dregs, Brandy Cochrane and Paul Middendorf take the remains of an estate sale to create an homage to and portrait of a family that has passed into history. In The Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen, whose apartment was lost to fire in 2008, think about experiences in the months that followed and their pending return to a new dwelling at their old address. ­­

– Terri M. Hopkins, Director and Curator, The Art Gym

The Dregs
Brandy Cochrane and Paul Middendorf

What is left of a life? What is to be had of your things when you are gone? Who will tell your story? After the willed items are taken, after the estate sale is held, after the remainders are scavenged, only The Dregs are left. The story of a life can be composed from these dregs, pieced together from objects un-sellable, unwanted, unexpected – and bound for the trash heap. There are yet treasures in this so-called trash.

– Brandy Cochrane and Paul Middendorf

The Dregs is an exhibition about two people, their home and the evidence it provided of the lives they lived. Larry F. (1931-­­2007) lived with his parents Elsie and Ross. Larry attended Fernwood Elementary and Grant High School, and worked at the Meier & Frank department store for many years. The family home was a mirror-image duplex on NE 21st Avenue and Stanton Street, built in 1923 in Portland's Irvington neighborhood. From the beginning, the family lived on one side and rented out the other. After Ross died, Elsie and Larry continued to live in the home together. Eventually Larry lived there alone, occasionally with a roommate, surrounded by the kinds of things that can accumulate over several lifetimes.

After Larry's death in 2007, Brandy Cochrane, an artist and friend of the home's new owners, managed an estate sale of the family's belongings. Even after the sale, many things remained – things no one wanted, including 10 mattresses, Elsie's lingerie, 11 TVs, 16 spools of ribbon, 21 aprons, 46 brushes, slides and photos, 60 decks of cards, wrapping paper, greeting cards and 154 bars of travel soap. Cochrane invited artist Paul Middendorf to look at what was left, and he suggested a collaboration using the material to tell the story of Larry and Elsie.

Cochrane and Middendorf's intent is to "honor the story of a unique Portland family." The Dregs starts with a slide show of the family, and continues with altered objects and artworks made from "collections" of leftovers. In the absence of family, the artists have taken on the responsibility of telling and preserving a part of the story of a family that has come to an end. The artists hope that viewers will be immersed in an experience that will allow them to absorb "the details of one man and his small family in a big house, and the family's various undertakings and guests – a story told from the history-rich ephemera left behind."

The Dregs exhibition was funded in part by a project grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Work for Art. The artists and The Art Gym express appreciation to RACC for its ongoing support of ambitious new work by the region's artists.

Since graduating with a BFA in Crafts from the Oregon College of Art & Craft in 2004, Brandy Cochrane completed a public artwork for the Portland Children's Museum and participated in a number of exhibitions in Portland, including shows at goodgallery, Rake Art Gallery and Launchpad Gallery.

Paul Middendorf founded and is currently co-director of Gallery HOMELAND in Portland. Gallery HOMELAND has an ambitious program of exhibitions and performances in Portland and Berlin. Middendorf co-curated the Modern Zoo series of mega exhibitions in 2003, and co-founded Disjecta Interdisciplinary Art Center in 2004. He has curated, performed and exhibited in projects at Miami/Art Basel, PS1 in New York, the Istanbul Biennale; and is co-curating for EAST/WEST located in Berlin. He earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000. Middendorf lives in Portland, Oregon and Berlin, Germany.

Gallery 2: Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen
The Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

In 2008, Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen published a small book, Integrating a Burning House. In the introduction they wrote:

On September 10, 2008, a 96-year-old house on SW Cable Avenue in Portland, Oregon, caught fire and burned down. The house was inhabited by Stuart Baxter, its owner of twenty years, and a couple, Anna Gray and Ryan Paulsen, who rented the first floor apartment. It was also the home of a tabby cat named Brillo Box and a black dog named Maggie. Everyone is safe. A lot is different.

In the exhibition The Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, a title taken from the 1971 novel by Gilbert Sorrentino, Gray and Paulsen give some thought to the experiences of the months since the fire – months in which they have lived in a small space with very few possessions, anticipating a move back to Cable Avenue.

The Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things will be presented in The Art Gym's Gallery 2 project space. Around the perimeter of the room, several objects salvaged from the fire and slightly altered, will be embedded in the gallery walls. In the center of the room a large wooden crate, partially filled with packing boxes, will hold two projections: one, a still image, of an empty chair in an empty room, and the other ­­ the phrases of a subtly animated poem. The photograph was taken the day the two originally moved into the Cable Avenue house. The poem was written more than three years later. It begins:

We thought there was an internal logic
if we ran the circumference of a year
we would land again
on somewhat the same shore.

But, we neglected to consider
sometimes there are facts:
time is a mostly fictive system
patience is a virtue, not a guarantee
and the equator
an imagined line.

Although these have been months of waiting and limbo, the two artists, who work collaboratively and are now married, have also been very active. Gray and Paulsen participated in eleven exhibitions in 2009, including an exhibition at PDX Contemporary Art in Portland. They are currently MFA candidates at Portland State University and are expecting a child about the time of the opening of the Marylhurst show.


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