Taking over the notoriously urban loft-space and party-soaked floorboards of Gallery 500 is no simple task. Many are holding their breath to see if the renegade spirit, and captivating means of display and interaction will continue to draw crowds of both the recklessly hip, and the sensibly acute. Striking quickly and while the iron is still melting, the newly-named Sugar Gallery is pleased to announce their grand opening show with “Seven Day Weekend, the paintings and photographs of Portland artist, Corey Smith. With Smith’s knack of capturing the joys of plasticity and absurd recreation, Sugar Gallery strongly upholds the expectations and convivial air of this innovative space.

The push and pull of hyper-reality, and pre-manufactured dream are in steadfast dialogue with each other throughout the photographs and paintings of Corey Smith. By setting oneself between the lacquered Pop-Paintings of his modern icons and senseless illusions, and the everyday snapshot of figures existing and acting only for the click of the camera shutter, visitors meet the eyes, ears, and existence of the television youth. While the paintings lack any sense of depth through his masterful use of contour, flattened background, and attention to the surface, his photographs lack depth in pre-set story-telling, and quintessential reasoning; the figures simply exist in the moment they do.

All is not abysmal according to Smith however. His paintings shine with a pedestrian baroque quality that fills ones vision with hope and inspiration in an age of consumer driven advertisements. Figures facing overwhelming odds are oblivious to their surroundings. Paris Hilton stands in for the Madonna. A young boy replaces the outstretched and surrendering arms of the Messiah. The icons are still there, they are simply replaced with hope and longing in advertisement gimmicks.

His photographs are memorials to the joys of thoughtless reasoning. They cleverly celebrate the spontaneity of humanity through Smith’s quick eye, provocative surroundings, and daring to represent the instant and consequences of decision making. Figures and outcomes are left unvarnished, unfiltered, and untainted through his hands, showing the effects of immediacy and quick planning in today’s love-it-and-leave-it culture. If only for an instant, they stand as quick moments, worthy of reflection.

Corey Smith has been gaining national notoriety within the past few years in various different arenas. Either through, group shows in galleries or museums, such as his involvement in the Orange County Museum of Art earlier this year, his solo shows, such as the one at KCDC in Williamsburg, New York, or his notable one at Backspace here in Portland last year, he continues to add impressive show upon impressive show in his dawning career. Sugar Gallery has picked a safe bet in Smith for their grand opening this December, as this show promises to set them off steadfastly succinct with Portland’s urban art landscape.

JAN. 5 -- JAN. 31, 2006