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The Galarage: A neighborhood modern art-happening just round the corner

By Brenna Wiegand

Artist Laura DeVito is taking art to the streets by converting her garage into an art studio and gallery
of sorts.

“I have a friend who is doing a garage gallery in Portland and I thought it was a really great idea,” DeVito said. “It’s dialing into the neighborhood and enabling more people to have an art gallery. It also cuts down on cost and allows for a lot more freedom.

“I’ve noticed that I talk to my neighbors more, telling them about what’s going on, and that aspect is really great,” she said. “I love museums but there’s something to be said for such things as trick-or-treaters running through here and having a great time and calling it modern art.

“I want a spectrum of people to stumble upon it or have access to it and not necessarily just those interested in art.”

DeVito, who supposes she’s an interdisciplinary artist, has led stop-motion animation workshops for youth throughout the years at the Silverton Arts Association and teaches art and design at Oregon Tech. She has led many collaborative projects including “Epiphanies” in which people personalize wooden frames and place them in the landscape. They then share with the group why they did what they did.

“It was really interesting how some of them spend 45 minutes just personalizing this wooden frame and all of a sudden they get really attached to it and don’t want to see it destroyed or changed,” DeVito said. “I feel like that’s very representative of our own perspectives; we view them as concrete and precious when perhaps we really need to evaluate them every so often because this life is ever changing and perspective should also go with the flow, you know?”

“Orange Threshold,” October’s featured exhibition at The Galarage’s Grand Opening on Halloween, was made of Cheetos and, like most of her work, geared toward bringing certain world events to light.

“There are many facets to the Cheeto project,” DeVito said. “Cheetos are one of the most engineered foods… What does that mean? Is that good? Is it bad? Does good or bad exist?”

The exhibition featured a “threshold” constructed entirely of hanging Cheetos in the manner of a bead curtain.

“What threshold are you going to cross with something that’s the most engineered food? It’s the same when it comes to the political climate,” she said. “I want people to have this invitation into something that makes them a bit uncomfortable and to choose whether they want to step through it or not.

“When you go through the threshold you will get Cheeto dust on you and your own skin cells will be getting on the Cheetos and what does that mean as far as changing the threshold?”

“Silverlining,” The Galarage’s Dec. 6 event, is a performance piece consisting of video and music composition.

“It’s me in a silver suit, running and wading through water with lots of different things going on with the idea that we must keep moving through life,” she said. “The music adds another sensory dimension.

“I’m very interested in that moment where a person’s mind changes,” she said. “I think that nudge is extremely fascinating; that moment that makes you think differently and may lead to different actions, whatever that means.”

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