Even on a street bustling with galleries and boutiques, Ampersand Gallery stands out. Owner Myles Haselhorst opened the intimate space in Portland, OR in 2008 to create, he says, something that “feels less like a retail store and more like the interior of someone’s home, someone who is a collector of art, books and found artifacts.”
Having collected vintage photography for about a decade, Haselhorst presents shows at Ampersand that range from the serenely beautiful, like a series of 19th-century hand-colored Japanese photographs, to the downright macabre. “There are billions of snapshots of cute babies, but it’s less often that you find a whole series of morgue photos that were shot in Hoboken, New Jersey, back in the 1930s,” Haselhorst said, referring to a show that he curated, framed and presented in 2010.
Ampersand also serves as a vintage bookshop and publishing house, whose works focus on photography and design and are arranged in between antique cases, custom-made furniture by Kerf Design in Seattle and rolling carts that were designed and built by Haselhorst and his father. The furniture serves as the perfect foundation for Haselhorst’s extensive collection, from a set of typeface archives to camping brochures from the 1960s.
At a time when most publishers are scrambling to reinvent their materials in all-electronic formats, Ampersand’s treasures offer a reminder that a beautifully printed and published book is an art object that you can hold in your hands. “In today’s economy, you have to stay on your toes,” Haselhorst said, “especially if you are selling books and art, which more and more are getting absorbed into the endless offerings on the Internet.”
Ampersand’s next exhibition, “Gazed Upon”, will open on 29 March 2012. Guest curated by photographer Amy Elkins, the show examines the questions of female beauty and self-identity and will feature work by Cara Phillips, Stacey Tyrell and Jen Davis. Head to the Ampersand online shop to see more of what’s in stock.
2916 Alberta Street
Portland, Oregon 97211