February 3, 2014
By Trista Cornelius, Contributing Writer
Those of us who live in the Portland area get a little spoiled with the wealth of vegan restaurants and businesses available to us. We even have a vegan bed and breakfast, but a vegan art gallery? Yep, we’ve got that too, since 2009!
Love Art! Gallery, in the heart of Sellwood features over eighty local artists, from ceramics and paintings to jewelry and candles, and all of it is vegan.
The gallery space exudes warmth and welcome. If one (or all) of the four rescue dogs don’t greet you at the door, Ruby or Ted will. Every surface and wall neatly display a rich variety of art. But I wondered, other than leather or fur, what might not be vegan about art?
Ruby pointed to some encaustics on the wall. Encaustics mix paint with wax to create a rich, layered result. To show in Ruby’s gallery, the artist must use soy or paraffin, not bees’ wax. Painters must use synthetic paint brushes. “There are alternatives to ever-y-thing,” Ruby insists. A maker of silk scarves wanted to show work at the gallery, so Ruby found a similar material made from hemp the artist could use instead of silk.
That’s what makes this place so special, Ruby’s passion and attention to detail, but also her resolve to live out her values. “You can’t violate your own ethics to run a business,” she said.
Although artists who show at the gallery do not need to live a vegan lifestyle, for the many events held at the gallery, artists contribute 100% vegan dishes, extending their imagination and creativity to food. Sometimes, however, they need Ruby’s help, like the time she had to explain why deviled eggs are not vegan.
Customers don’t have to be vegan either, of course, but when Ruby talks about the vision of the gallery, “it plants a seed,” she said. “They can’t stop thinking about it.”
Both Ruby and Ted are also artists. Ruby makes glass mosaics and Ted creates outdoor sculptures and trellises. “The way we run the gallery,” Ruby explained, “is exactly how we’d want people to treat us.” Artists are in charge of their space in the gallery, rotating art and keeping it fresh, and pay a sliding-scale commission. Even the maximum percentage the gallery keeps from each sale is half of what most galleries take.
If you need an eye-catching painting to color your walls or a captivating sculpture for your shelf, or if you need a sweet valentine's day gift like a necklace or lusciously scented soap, Love Art! Gallery can meet your needs. Besides, you’ll get to visit four incredibly soft dogs, catch a glimpse of Ted, and be cheered by the the warmth and wisdom of Ruby.
Please visit all of Northwest VEG’s Business Supporters at nwveg.org/businesses!