I'm sure it has somehow gone unnoticed in the rush of all other things, but one of the really premier art galleries in Juneau has been forced to close its doors! The Portfolio Arts Gallery, once located on Ferry Way and, until its closing, upstairs from the Shirt Factory, has for these last 10 years been one gallery in town that has made a concerted effort, a policy really, through the encouragement of artist-owner Karen Olanna, to show as much original painting and sculpture of both Native and non-Native artists as limited space allowed.
The reasons for its premature closing was, I believe, fairly straightforward:
One, the extraordinarily high rents being asked by our local or absentee landlords. Two, the low economy fares now available on the gargantuan-style cruise ship.
In terms of original art purchases, tourists on these economy cruises have only a local merchant's choice of items to pick from: cheap, mass-produced objects like offset-lithography calendar-art prints; imported cast-stone impressions of West Coastish totem poles; or vast, unending racks and huge mounds of everything -emblazoned-on-it T-shirts. This is a bazaar, whimsical-blizzard of mediocrity to ultimately carry on board. An international "treasure" to wrap-up for the home port. Obviously, this is a purely business matter of supplying a rather plain-vanilla demand. Of course, this has nothing to do with cultivating a visitor's interest in the art of learning to make reasonable aesthetic choices for themselves. In contrast, it has all to do with making a rather bullish profit!
For we local artists who are quite literally left homeless at the Gallery's step, I say with heartfelt gratitude: Farewell, Portfolio Arts and thanks for a solid decade of aesthetic opportunities!
Alan R. Munro