Stephan Alexandr Makes It Home

The local artist and designer's show at Gallery Zero reflects on a decade of creating in Portland before a big move south to LA.

By Nathan Tucker November 15, 2013

Even a cursory survey of Stephan Alexandr’s work makes it clear that the artist and designer has a unique vision for what makes comfortable living space. Alexandr transforms natural materials from the Northwest—including animal bones, skulls, and fur—into simultaneously striking and functional wall mounts, light fixtures, and other household decor. So it’s not surprising that a man who fashioned an elk skeleton into a chandelier has been thinking about what makes a place home.

Throw in an upcoming relocation from his hometown of Portland to the “bigger pond” of Los Angeles, as he describes it, and you’ve got the makings for Alexandr’s current show at Gallery Zero, entitled “Make It Home.” The show is a mixture of old and new pieces from Alexander, interspersed with photographs, friends’ work, and other memories that Alexandr says are “all rooted in thinking about the last decade of my adulthood in Portland.”

“I’ve spent so much time here and seen the city morph, and seen friends come and go. I’ll always have a huge place in my heart for Portland, but home is just you, you know? It’s wherever you’re at.”

At a time when economic realities are forcing plenty of creative types out of bigger cities into smaller markets like Portland, Alexandr is ready to make a new home for himself in LA. “A lot of my sales are happening overseas now, and in LA and New York. Portland’s always going to be there, but I felt for me, as a creative person, it would be nice to be in a bigger pond, one where there’s a lot more people moving and doing things.”

Alexandr isn’t leaving the design aesthetic of the Pacific Northwest behind, though. “The foundation of my work, as far as the natural materials, has already been built. I’m still probably going to be sourcing from Oregon.” The new show at Gallery Zero sees that aesthetic being brought to bear on increasingly functional pieces, a development in Alexandr’s work about which the artist talks excitedly. Some of the newest pieces on display are benches he’s decorated with animal horns sprouting from their centers, eye-catching but not so intrusive as to render them impossible to sit on. “I’ve realized I can fold the legs inside of them and then they can become a wall mount, for people who have a small space and want to have seating for guests, but don’t always want to have furniture out in the middle of their floor.”

It’s a focus on the intersection of functionality and art that complements the timelessness of the materials Alexandr repurposes. “It’s still natural materials, rare materials, and handcraftsmanship, but a lot of thought has to be given to what is going to stick around for a while.”

Make It Home will be at Gallery Zero through November.

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