Trying to pinpoint the name inspiration for her snug downtown Portland residency space, Allie Furlotti gets generational. ““ILY2’ represents, for me, this youthful generation that talks in abbreviations, which I grew up doing in the ’90s,” she says. “But everyone made fun of me, so I kind of love Gen Z’s whole situation.”
Opened last September in the suite on SW Oak Street that once housed West End Select (sandwiched between Sizzle Pie and Måurice), ILY2 hosts artists and makers for monthlong residencies, most of them retail-focused. Furlotti collects 20 percent of artists’ earnings to help cover rent, and the rest goes into their pockets.
“I’m aware that it’s very out of most people’s equations to be able to have a retail space,” Furlotti says. “So all these people who are going to flea markets and trying to sell stuff on Depop, who could never match the overhead of a retail, can come by and have one. Try it on, see what it feels like, sell your stuff, and get the experience you may not otherwise have at other venues you’re trying to sell.”
Furlotti was friends with Andi Bakos, the former owner of West End Select, and says the idea came up when Bakos announced last fall that she wouldn't be renewing her lease. ILY2 was Furlotti's stab at "boosting morale" in local artists and downtown residents during that dark season, dedicating a low-on-red-tape space to an ever-changing set of projects and experiences. (It's not her first Portland art rodeo: Furlotti was a member of the Calligram Foundation, which awarded enormous grants to various local artists throughout the 2010s.)
To date, 10 artists have set up shop at ILY2: Ruby Webb, Alec Marchant, Max Miller, Zachary Augustine, Manu Torres, Diona Jackson, Ashley Thornton, Abigail Saaadeh, and current resident Sam Reynolds, who sells candles and rugs under the brand name Late Breakfast. During their residencies, some artists have invited musicians and comedians to share the space with them, organizing "fishbowl performances" inside the shop, with audio piped onto the sidewalk for passersby. Furlotti has also hosted a small number of parties in the space, including a first birthday celebration in late July.
Until now, ILY2 has operated on a first-come, first-served basis. Furlotti, who is also a founding partner of the clothing brand Doen and operates a vineyard in Paso Robles, has done very little outreach about the project, instead relying mostly on word of mouth. Every artist who's asked her about taking over the space since September has been granted a residency. Moving forward, though, she's looking to change that.
"I want to get a board," she says. She's tapped friends in a variety of disciplines—someone from Wieden & Kennedy, a goth techno DJ, a seamstress—to help her field new requests for residencies, and to provide support for those residents as they navigate ILY2. "Whether it's a ceramicist, whether it's a performance artist, or whether it's someone doing straight retail, they'd all have a resource to then ask: How do I merchandise stuff, because I've never done this before? I want to do an installation, but I've never done one anywhere, how do I troubleshoot?"
She also hopes for the store to start sustaining itself financially, and is entertaining the idea of creating a permanent for-sale online archive of residents' work to help cover rent for the building, and potentially support future locations. "More" is the name of the game right now for ILY2: more marketing, more residents, more locations. Plus, a begrudging betrayal of its Gen Z ethos: "I have to suck it up and get a Facebook," Furlotti admits.