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Gimme More SPACE! Portland’s Most Trafficked Gallery Expands

Space Gallery, annex, Portland, Maine, 2011

SPACE Gallery—or just “SPACE”—is a mainstay of the First Friday Art Walk circuit here in Portland, Maine. This downtown nonprofit arts organization also functions as a hub for the city’s most mind-blowing concerts. Shows this year included Dan Deacon, Titus Andronicus, and my favorite, The What Cheer! Brigade, a 19-piece marching band that played Balkanesque beats while snaking impishly through a dance-crazy audience. Throw in events like the four-day screening of Matthew Barney’s epic The Cremaster Cycle, pornstar Annie Sprinkle’s disquisition on “eco-sexuality,” and a live storytelling series called SLANT, and you’ve begun to taste the SPACE mission: to provide a venue for what is contemporary, emerging, and unconventional.

A room that frequently approaches critical mass with sweaty dance parties certainly limits its full potential as a gallery. Installations in the ilk of Dale Chihuly would not be safe near a mosh pit! For many of us, that tension between art and livability gives SPACE its special flavor. Executive Director Nay May describes it as both the gallery’s “greatest strength” and the “biggest challenge” he’s had to navigate over the years. On July 1, and for the first time since opening in 2002, SPACE will move beyond the one room operation. They’ve usurped an adjacent property in order to have more—ahem—space. 50% more on the floor, 75% more on the wall, to be exact.

“SPACE Gallery annex” will form a dynamic duo with the main room and will moonlight as an all-purpose performance venue. In the words of May, “The dire need in this case was for us to allow some projects more room. This separate space will give us a chance to do some projects, installations, etc. that don’t coexist with other things the way we need most things to coexist in our current space.” The first annex exhibit (I was instructed to use lowercase "a") will run from July 1 to August 5. It’s a drawing show of New York-based artists who work in various media and explore the shapes, textures, and lines of memory. For more information on “Elia Bettaglio, Selena Kimball and Tatiana Simonova: Drawings” click here.

The extra breathing room also means SPACE will be more amenable to working with local businesses and organizations. They’ve occasionally rented out the main floor for fundraising events and the like. The annex will offer Portland more opportunities to bring communities together within the walls of our creative imagination.

So thank you, SPACE, for giving us more of you! We're looking forward to what happens next.

Above photos on left: Elia Bettaglio's drawing "Magnifying Glass". On right, Tatiana Simonova's drawing "Eventuality 1." Both artists will be featured along with Elia Bettaglio in the annex's opening exhibit.

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