There are several locations in Portland where seemingly random governmental entities have slipped into the art business. Or at least showing the stuff. Typically these come as simple space fillers, when leases get complicated or facilities managers overreach. Some track lighting, a brochure, a call to RACC or some other clearinghouse, friendly signage and bingo. You’re in business.

Above, and below, are some snapshots of one of the oddest, the Justice Center Sidewalk Gallery. Originally the County jail was to be the awkward combo of jail + shopping mall (and at one time there were tenants, warmly remembered is Dave’s Delicatessen, which was extraordinarily funky in it’s first location, on Yamhill between 4th and 5th, in the old Corbett block – one of Portland’s only Jewish cafes; ahh I remember the knishes! Can you get a good knish now? No!)

But with an entrepreneurial and expansive criminal justice system and the excuse to raise the walls taken from 9/11, the mixed-use notion has mostly faded. Remaining is this goofy window space on SW Madison, between 2nd and 3rd. And it’s available for the asking. First come, first served.

Not much foot traffic – but you could be there. Your very artwork. Just think of it. In jail.

Write Mark Gustafson at

He is facilities manager for the Multnomah County Jail. His phone is 503-988-4208. Send him a description of the type of artwork to be displayed, the number of pieces and approximately when you would be ready to set up the display. There may be a waiting list of a few months. I am pretty certain gallery curator is not in his job description, so be nice.

Currently there is a display of masks and small sculptures.

Speaking of jails, looking how your percent for the arts dollars attached to the Wapato Jail were flushed down the toilet. I’ll write more about these later. It’s like getting stuck in a droll video game.