(Above: The New Zone Gallery, a collective of local artists of all ages, mediums, and artistic bents, will be open at 22 W. Seventh Ave. during downtown Eugene’s First Friday ArtWalk on April 5)

By Taylor Griggs

The New Zone Gallery seems to be Eugene’s vagabond art gallery, moving among locations around the city often.

“We’re a nonprofit, so we cannot pay the going market rate. We need a landlord who values the arts,” Dianne Story Cunningham, president of The New Zone Gallery, said. “We’ve always been kind of nomadic.” 

Carolyn Bloom’s Timeless is part of a show on display at The New Zone Gallery

The gallery now resides at 22 W. Seventh Ave. in downtown Eugene, across the street from the Hult Center. It has been granted a month-to-month lease by the city of Eugene, which owns the space, meaning that until somebody offers going market rate for the otherwise vacant building, New Zone can live there.

Cunningham and Steve La Riccia, New Zone’s treasurer and gallery coordinator, are trying not to get too comfortable in their new, temporary space.

“This space was pretty much gallery-ready,” La Riccia said. He cites proper track lighting as one example of the advantages of the gallery’s current location, in contrast to some of the fluorescent-lit spaces of their past.

That’s probably because the previous tenant also ran a gallery of sorts, showing and selling fine rugs — many handmade — from around the world.

“I look at this as the pinnacle,” La Riccia said. “I don’t think we’ll ever find another place as big as this, with a location right across from the Hult Center.”

But Cunningham and La Riccia are still on the watch for a more secure home, something that they say will come eventually, with the help of local benefactors.

“We need a permanent location,” Cunningham said. “And we’re on our way to that.”

A painting by local artist Hito, titled “Homage to Van Gogh’s Bro: The Water Bearers” has been on display at New Zone, on sale for a tongue-in-cheek $1 million (or best offer). A piece of paper illustrating the meaning behind the unusually priced artwork.
“Vincent Van Gogh’s brother stood by the artist by financially supporting him,” Hito’s description says. “The NEW ZONE ART GALLERY has helped hundreds of artists for 30 years, becoming an embodiment of caring, sharing and support in our community. We ARE the ZONE 4 ALL. We need help now.” 

Hito pledged the proceeds from the sale of the piece toward purchase of a permanent location for the gallery.

Joseph Lieberman’s painting, Mary Louisa Boit at 28, can be seen at The New Zone Gallery

Cunningham values New Zone’s inclusivity when it comes to the arts, and she thinks that makes it unique among Eugene galleries..

“I’m really enthusiastic about New Zone,” Cunningham said. “Almost anyone can become a member.”

Cunningham said that when evaluating potential members of New Zone, the most important criteria is that the artists care enough to present their pieces professionally.

“What we look at mostly is the presentation,” she said. “It needs to be presented in a professional manner, with the proper hanging on the back.”

No matter the odds at finding a perfect place for New Zone in Eugene and the threat of being moved out of the current location, Cunningham and La Riccia are optimistic about the value of the gallery.

“We’ve been there, done this before. We’ll find another space,” La Riccia says. “If we lose this space, I don’t think we’ll find something as nice as this, but we’ll come back.”

The New Zone Gallery will be open during Lane Arts Council’s First Friday ArtWalk on April 5 in downtown Eugene.

Glenn Dow’s Take a Ride is part of the Zone 4 All show on display at The New Zone Gallery; the longtime Eugene art collective is looking for a permanent location