Reopening to Say Farewell

Goodbye from Portland

Three art shows close out the year and put down a pet project.

Sometimes a good thing comes to an end, or it never really happens, or it’s something in between the two: A dream woken up from. That’s my gallery, studio, and media brand. I put in a lot of energy to build THRU and now I’m trying to glean what I can from dismantling it. One way I’m doing that is by hosting three more art shows in November and December, featuring McCall, Jason Traeger, and a salon style party with guests to be announced.

McCall, will display the range of work that the self-taught artist practices: painting, sculpture, sketch, photography, and video. Their solo show entitled Ephyra will be on display from Oct 30 to Nov 13, with a reception on Wednesday night Nov 1.

Collage piece by McCall as part of Ephyra collection.

McCall was scheduled originally to share an August show with Jessica Brackett, the first show that I had curated in the proper sense of the term by doing outreach and pairing artists. I named it Luscious Graze. But it burned up.

McCall was patient with me as I fumbled through a minor disaster at the end of July. It lasted through mid-September and caused me to cancel two shows. Our building was damaged by a fire on the NW Flanders side of the building, close to our entrance.

In fact, the main electrical grid was incinerated, whereas most of the building went undamaged. Our place went unharmed, but a power outage is detrimental to just about every modern business. The art gallery and media studio became a storage unit, for seven weeks. And I was bummed out.

Jason Traeger was already scheduled for November. He’s always been reliable and flexible to work with on comedy shows when I produced them years ago. An early painting of his coincidentally has been on permanent display in the studio since I moved in. He let me borrow it years ago, when I hosted his work at a place called The Point. He was also an early podcast guest, after my run through the Portland comedy gamut.

The former Kill Rock Stars punk-singer-songwriter and PNCA graduate is perpetually redefining himself as an artist, and he seems to be finding new overlap between stand-up comedy and visual art in Traeger Method: Recent Findings. He’s performing with a video for a kind of spoof presentation bit for the reception on Wednesday, November 15.

Screenshot of digital art by Traeger to show at THRU Gallery.

As for all the other artists booked for the year, they either dropped out or agreed to bring something just for the salon in December. The lineup for that show will be announced in a couple of weeks.

The Dream Ends

One reason that I didn’t just reschedule everyone is that I’m closing the gallery, and studio, and moving out of Portland, with my fiancé and THRU co-creator Kate Dolan. So the salon is a farewell party.

In the month leading up to the fire and subsequent power outage, I had interviewed several talented people about partnerships, seeking a new crew that could include some of the early THRU contributors. But after the fire, and after a vacation to the East coast, visiting New Jersey, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, where I visited loads of family I didn’t even know I had, ancestral roots I’ve never observed, the decision was made: Move back east.

I’ve been here 14 years. I’ve been an active member of the music and arts scene all this time, from just about every angle you can take: musician, comedian, arts presenter, blogger, curator, broadcaster, and producer. Perhaps my identity is a little stretched and I need a thorough refresh.

Although the work has been very rewarding, none of it has properly rewarded me. I make my meager living in IT and bartending, something I can do in more affordable cities. Before that I delivered a paper that I previously had ambition to write for.

One really has to admit their failures. For someone whose personality ranges from Aspergers to Manic and is very charming in between but incredibly difficult at the extremes, I’ve found myself with mixed success in all of my projects. Most of the folks I’ve worked well with have said, from experience, that I belong on the East Coast.

But I’m from California, so Oregon expanded my West Coast identity. But I moved here as an impressionable kid looking for creative energies. I got it, and accomplished all that I set out to do (except monetarily). Portland isn’t the same place I loved 14 years ago, however. It is an imitation of the place I loved, adding the bourgeoisie aspects of California I ran from.

Portland is still a remarkable city to live in, and it remains quite enjoyable in the most objective sense of it. Many of my friends are benefiting from the economic boom, and I am too, mostly because I lucked out on cheap housing last year. The bottom line is to live closer to family roots, and more affordably. So that is the strategy.

Please come and visit, say bye, and support these fine artists. Hope to see you around. THRU Gallery and Studio is located at 1706 NW Glisan Street Suite 7 (Entrance on Flanders).




There are 4 comments

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  1. Vicky Gutierrez

    It has been a pleasure contributing to THRU and I wish you great success in your new ventures. Thank you for creating this beautiful daydream.

  2. Terah Van Dusen

    Wow, Sean and Kate! First of all: congratulations! Congratulations on the companionship you have discovered in one another, congratulations following your roots back to New England (a wonderful place!), and especially congratulations on bringing so many visual artists, writers, photographers and other artists together for collaboration and to express themselves with THRU mag. I was incredibly honored to be a part of THRU as a writer and I regret not doing more to support its success. I hope that you can see the success of THRU mag in all the people who got to know one another through you and Kate and all the truly amazing visual art you brought to the internet/gallery. THRU may have been an undiscovered gem, but that doesn’t make it any less rad. Thanks for all you two have done. Thank you so much.

    • Sean Ongley

      Wow, what a thoughtful comment! I’m honored to have learned from so many folks. I’ll always have my particular regrets and personal failures, but all in all, exercising the will and taking the initiative to do something like this will never be the regret. I’m proud of the work we’ve all produced here and humbled that anyone would have given us a shot.


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