A New Kind of Paris-Meets-Portland Cultural Exchange is Coming

What happens when a Portland art gallery connects with a Parisian art gallery, and comes up with a novel idea? A cultural collaboration of swapped spaces, trans-Atlantic travel, and Oreo-eating Frenchmen.

By Megan Haverman July 29, 2015

Screen shot 2015 07 29 at 9.03.12 am alxxmi

The Yale Union Building. Photo by Ian Poellet. Image cropped. Via Creative Commons.

Yale Union’s latest art show is under construction, and this one is made in France. Kind of.

The Portland gallery is part of a cultural exchange: three curators from Paris are now resident and mounting a show at the Southeast gallery, while Yale Union's executive director and curator are in the French capital to plan a sister show.

The team from Paris’s Castillo/Corrales gallery is living and working within the Yale Union building to curate the Portland show, a feat not without its challenges. The gallery’s walls largely comprise enormous windows, letting in light from every angle and leaving no room for art to hang. Yale Union solves this problem by erecting custom walls within the cavernous space to build a show from the ground up.

The three French delegates are enjoying the opportunity to work with American artists, who ordinarily would be too expensive for them to bring to Paris. Their planned group show features New York’s Jason Simon, Lily van der Stokker who divides her time between New York and Amsterdam, and LA-based Richard Hawkins, who will be giving a talk at the gallery Sunday evening.

Meanwhile Yale Union's executive director and its curator head over to France to plan their takeover of Castillo/Corrales for a show opening September 12. They’ll be working with Belgian artist Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven.

The small French gallery—only about as big as the Yale Union's kitchen—is situated just north of the famous Père-Lachaise cemetery, and is run by a rotating staff of volunteer artists and designers.

The Paris-PDX culture­ swap has been in the works for over six months: getting the timing right was the hardest part. When schedules aligned, both galleries jumped at the opportunity to take on the novel experiment.

As for the Parisians in PDX, they’re enjoying the “natural environment” of our “differently-shaped” city. “You can do anything without a car,” says a heavily-accented Julien Laugier, gesticulating with an Oreo in hand. He’s just come back from a hike in Mt. Tabor, proving an Oregon cultural education is a well-rounded endeavor.

 Theory of Achievement opens Saturday, August 1 at Yale Union.

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