The Blind Insect leads the way
By Olga Sanchez
Are you looking for the art of your dreams? Something that intrigues and delights you and maybe even celebrates Latinidad at the same time? I’d recommend a trip to The Blind Insect, located on SE Division and the corner of 32nd St. in Portland. This bright, high-ceilinged shop is filled with unique gifts that reflect the stylish and surreal tastes of its owners, clothing designer Alejandra Oyervides and visual artist Pepe Moscoso.
Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Oyervides and Moscoso moved to Portland six years ago. They had spent some time in Vancouver, B.C. and grew to like the cooler Northwest climate, but found Vancouver too fashion-conscious for comfort. So, when friends in Oaxaca recommended Portland, they decided to give it a try. They found in Portland a community that shared their values: creativity, environmentalism, and entrepreneurship.
For five years, they worked at numerous art fairs, sold their creations at Portland Saturday Market and the Oregon Convention Center, and travelled to Seattle and San Francisco, where they participated in larger art fairs and placed their works in shops and boutiques. They would always return to work in their private studio in Southeast Portland, where they created new pieces using recycled materials. They enjoy giving new character and life to things that that have been discarded by others.
After a few years, Oyervides and Moscoso decided to transform their studio into a place that could be open to the public throughout the week, and where they could expand the offerings to share the work of the many talented artists they had met in their travels. In February of this year, the Blind Insect was born.
Why The Blind Insect? It comes from their influences as artists and their experiences. Moscoso explains that the word “blind” describes for him the feeling one has when one moves into a new culture. There are so many things a person doesn’t know about their new surroundings, it’s as if one were walking around blind, just trying to not bump into things. Regarding the insect, he shares that he has always been fascinated by surrealistic art that surprises the viewer (like Salvador Dalí’s melting clocks) or presents an unexpected juxtaposition of unrelated elements, such as one might see in a dream. For Moscoso, the insect is a surreal creature, something so strange that it might have come from another planet.
Moscoso’s art reflects his interest in surrealism. His delicate collages are created from photographs mixed with images that look like they might have been cut out of early 20th century children’s books, creating a striking contrast between the solid colors of the two-dimensional children’s images and the depth of the three-dimensional photographs. His selections are not random; his goal is to tell a story that reveals something about the strangeness of life. Framing his artworks on wood recycled from old kitchen cabinet doors, Moscoso shares Oyervides’ commitment to creating work that is eco-friendly.
Oyervides is a textile designer who has created her own line, Muluk. Committed to sustainability, Oyervides designs hats, ties, wallets, sweaters, t-shirts, and trousers. Reminiscent of the close-fitted cloches of the 1920s, her hats are a perfect example of the Blind Insect aesthetic, a mixture of retro, modern, and totally fun.
Oyervides and Moscoso’s works are only a small portion of what’s available at The Blind Insect. The store is filled with affordable items from soaps to statuettes, created by artists and craftspeople from the West Coast, Canada, New York, and, of course, Latin America. A number of local artists are represented, such as William Hernández of Peru and Susana Espino of Mexico. The Blind Insect also participates in the popular “First Friday” events, during which stores and galleries of SE Portland stay open late and host receptions that are open to the whole community in celebration of art and artists.
This is ultimately one of the biggest dreams for couple behind The Blind Insect, to raise the visibility of the community’s vibrant arts scene. For them, art is a means of communication, a way to share the human experience. In order for art to be fully realized, it must be seen.
The Blind Insect brings us a new way of seeing art in Portland, through a retro/modern lens that looks to the past and the present for inspiration, and with an eye on the future of the environment and the growth of the cultural landscape of our community.
The Blind Insect
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
3601 SE Division St., Portland, OR
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