In Portland, a city with dozens of galleries and (count ’em) three bona fide art districts, the question is both where to go— and when

"WE DON’T GO to First Thursday anymore,” says Michael DeAngelis. The 42-year-old Intel manager and his partner, Eddie Creech, have a home filled with works by rising local talents such as Storm Tharp, whose richly emotive ink drawings and sculptures are sold at PDX Contemporary Art. “We go to the preview receptions on Wednesday.” That’s right, most dealers in the Pearl District, Portland’s gallery motherlode, lay out the wine and cheese for collectors and VIP guests the night before the hordes arrive for the Pearl’s monthly gallery walk. Ask to get on a gallery’s invite list to attend these sociable gatherings, where you’ll be able to meet the artists and to actually see the art, instead of just the backs of drunken gallery-hoppers’ heads. And if you simply want to browse, pick any lazy afternoon (galleries are typically open Tuesday through Saturday) to amble through one of the city’s three distinctively different art districts—making sure to stop at the venues highlighted below.


Roughly bordered by W Burnside St, NW Fifth Ave, NW Johnson Ave and NW 13th St

What you’ll see: Everything from paintings to conceptual art by emerging and midcareer talents from the Pacific Northwest and beyond; prints and drawings by “blue chip” greats ranging from Andy Warhol to Louise Bourgeois.

When the crowds roll in: First Thursday 5:30-9

Don’t get run over by: Ladies in spike heels, boomers in berets or PNCA students on acid

Be sure to visit: NW Ninth Ave between NW Flanders St and NW Glisan St, where three of the city’s top galleries—Pulliam Deffenbaugh, PDX Contemporary Art and Elizabeth Leach Gallery—are lined up conveniently in a row, across the street from Blackfish Gallery, the city’s oldest cooperative art venue. Also make a stop at the revamped

DeSoto Building, which now holds two stellar photography galleries (Charles A. Hartman Fine Art and Blue Sky) and two veteran contemporary art dealers (Froelick and Augen). This is also the home of the Museum of Contemporary Craft, which houses a sales gallery full of decorative and functional craft-art ranging from woven textiles to wooden furniture.

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Not exactly a walking district, this loose consortium of galleries fans out from the the Central Eastside Industrial District all the way to SE Division St and the middle reaches of NE Sandy Blvd.

What You’ll See: Trend-conscious works by emerging artists (and a few established ones) in all types of media.

When The Crowds Roll In: First Friday 6-9

Don’t Get Run Over By: Tousled-haired hipsters clutching copies of Cabinet magazine

Be sure to visit: Small A Projects, where owner/director Laurel Gitlen sells cutting-edge works by career-minded young artists from around the country, such as Los Angeles-based Zoe Crosher, whose crisply alluring photographs explore the myths and realities of life in Southern California. (Thur-Sat 12-6; 1430 SE Third Ave; 503-234-7993;

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NE Alberta St between NE 14th and 30th

What you’ll see: A handful of galleries showing, mostly, emerging local artists, often with an Outsider bent—meaning either they’re self-taught or their rugged, quirky style suggests as much; plus, every last Thursday in the warmer months (roughly April through October), sidewalks teem with stalls selling everything from crocheted beanies to cheap paintings by the next great George Rodrigue of the Willamette Valley.

When the crowds roll in: Last Thursday 5-9:30

Don’t get run over by: Packs of anarcho-hippies on tallbikes

Be sure to visit: Guardino Gallery, where husband-and-wife owners Sal and Donna Guardino personify the district’s friendly, funky vibe. (To celebrate the pioneering gallery’s 10th anniversary last year, Donna even handed out hand-drawn paper dolls based on wildly attired Last Thursday regulars.) Works in all media, from inexpensive paintings to silver jewelry, crowd Guardino’s cozy back galleries, with rotating exhibits in the front. (Tue 11-5, Wed-Sat 11-6, Sun 11-4; 2939 NE Alberta St; 503-281-9048;

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There are galleries all over Portland, from downtown to St Johns. You can download an excellent citywide gallery map at :Click on “Arts & Culture,” then “Visual Arts.”