Image: Kristin Belz
Art that you can – and should – touch, use, and enjoy every day: Lynn Everett Read's Rothko glassware, at the MoCC's Gallery Store, exhibits this axiom of craft.

The Museum of Contemporary Craft will let you walk away with some of its beautiful pieces – that is, the pieces on the shelves of the newly revamped MoCC Gallery Store. Of course you still have to pay, but the the range of beautifully crafted, artistic and useful items is broader now than it ever has been.  The museum has widened its horizons on retail offerings as it widens its curatorial vision.

Museum Director Namita Gupta Wiggers explains the philosophy. “It’s important to us not only to display objects in the Museum, but also to extend that connection beyond the Museum’s doors and into visitor’s homes with objects like those in the Gallery Store.” Actually, the retail element has always been important to the Museum; volunteers founded it in 1937 as the Oregon Ceramic Studio during the Great Depression in part to be a shop where Oregon ceramists could sell their works year round

Now, the museum has ventured far beyond its volunteer set-up and small, ceramics-focused home on SW Corbett in Portland. Its Pearl District space (a beautiful old building on the North Park Blocks, which it restored and moved into in 2007) shows international exhibitions yet still is rooted in our city and region; Wiggers describes the museum as being concerned with where you’re "feet touch the ground."

The new Gallery Store space and its offerings fit perfectly into this philosophy. Most of the artists represented are local or regional; the shop is a great place to check the pulse of Portland craft and design. You’ll find some favorites like Nikki McClure, and “legacy” artists that the craft museum has long represented. But you’ll also discover locals whom you’ve probably never heard of, and imports from artists whose work is otherwise unavailable here.

The range is beautiful. It’s also financially smart – pieces can be art-gallery-expensive (and incredibly unique and intricate as well) or simple (stocking stuffer notebooks and postcards). It’s not an unheard of combination, but to see it rounding out the shelves of the airy, inviting space of the shop at MoCC is a welcome addition to Portland’s options for decorating the home or giving a friend a token of appreciation.   ­

Randy Higgins of Vizwerks is the designer who spearheaded the revamp of the retail space. As a new member of the Museum’s board, he was eager to see how to improve the shop. Luckily for us, Wiggers and other staff didn’t put up a fight.

The Gallery Store
Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art
724 Northwest Davis Street
Portland, Oregon 97209 
503.546.2654 
Extended Gallery Store Hours for the Holiday Season:?
Open 11 am until 8 pm on Thursday evenings from November 29 through December 27;?
Open 10 am until 6 pm every Saturday in December.