This Portland Agency Is Looking for Artists to Gussy Up Its New Space

By Doug Zanger Comment

The art-show-in-an-agency is not necessarily a new phenomenon. Out here in this little corner of the world, Wieden + Kennedy Portland has long used their space at their entrance as a rotating gallery. Over the years, W+K has hosted several one-off shows, including one featuring Donald Trump protest art.

In the case of Red & Co., founded by Mira Kaddoura, moving into the larger space next to the agency presented an opportunity to have a consistent flow of artists’ work shown. The new space is flexible and not always used. With that in mind, Kaddoura, one of Adweek’s Creative 100, identified that the free real estate, coupled with large windows, provides a perfect opportunity for local artists, no matter the medium.

At present, the agency, that had a massive hit in a Netflix campaign last March, is in the midst of its call for proposals and is making decisions for the exhibitions which will start early next year.

AgencySpy caught up with Kaddoura to find out more.

AgencySpy: What were your first thoughts when you saw the space? What popped into your mind as to what to use it for?
Kaddoura: We’ve had this new space for a few years. It was used for another business, our sister company. This year, we decided to take over both the new and old space because our client load increased. We saw the opportunity to inject new energy into Red & Co. and create the kind of space that reflects who we are and where we want to go.

Although the advertising world is not that far removed from the art world, it is exciting to find unexpected examples of people doing this. Like, what if a gas station had an art gallery, or a grocery store, or your friend’s apartment? We had the space and figured, why not use it to celebrate the creative people that inspire us?

Offering up space for artists isn’t necessarily anything new … but how do you hope this program differs from simply giving space to artists? What do you hope to accomplish with the program?
For sure, window galleries or exhibition spaces are nothing new. I think the difference here is that an agency has created a space to showcase the work of artists with a relatively loose set of guidelines. Another difference worth pointing out is that many exhibition spaces like this don’t pay artists for exhibiting, they simply allow the artist to sell their work. We give the artist a stipend and the choice of selling. My hope for this space is that, over time, it becomes a platform for dialogue about the neighborhood it is situated in and that artists can start thinking critically about the people who will experience the work and creations firsthand and on-site. For example, the first artist is featuring is creating a sculptural piece to generate conversation around a topic that we believe needs systemic change … not unlike some of the best communication we create for brands.

How many artists have submitted so far? What are some of the styles of art you’re seeing from submissions?
Since opening up the call, we’ve received 119 submissions, and we will continue to accept them on an on-going basis. The range of art we’re seeing is broad and includes emerging artists and artists who have exhibited in more traditional venues like galleries or museums. Photography, sculpture, painting, and digital video pieces have all been submitted.

How will you make your decision about choosing artists?
When we announced the call for artists and art, we stated, “New work. Old Work. Sculptural work. The only criteria [we are looking for] is that it is incredible work.” Some submissions rise to the top, others hang out around the bottom. We then began sequencing our favorite work into a schedule that will go through the new year.

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