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On Broadway

That's where Beaverton's newest art gallery is located
by: Jaime Valdez Art on Broadway co-owner “Bert” Cohen pauses in front of the gallery’s west wall, where monthly exhibits are displayed. This month's show is a juried exhibit featuring the work of ORA Northwest Jewish Artists.

Roberta 'Bert' Cohen and her partner Donna Sanson are attempting to turn Beaverton's oldest street into a happening place again.

Oh, sure, Broadway was already home to Beaverton Bakery, Giovanni's and the Beaverton History Center, just to name a few local fixtures - but since September of last year it also has been the place you'll find Art on Broadway, featuring fine art from award-winning local artists, specifically at 12570 S.W. Broadway.

And, to spark a continuing interest, the gallery has been the scene of numerous regular exhibits, usually running two at a time.

Right now, for example, the ORA Northwest Jewish Artist exhibit is going on there. The special show, of juried artwork by members of that organization, opened earlier this month and will run through Dec. 30.

At the same time, an exhibit of artistic holiday trees by 20 local artists has been on view - and for sale, with 20 percent of the proceeds from those sales going to the Community Transitional School of Portland, a private school in Northeast Portland dedicated to the needs of children of homeless families.

'My partner found them,' explained Cohen, of the school located on Northeast Killingsworth (transitionalschool.org).

Cohen's husband Paul is also a regular presence around the gallery. Even though he insists the responsibility for the multi-room gallery 'is all her thing,' she's quick to point out that her husband, who retired from Intel and now operates a travel agency, is always available for hauling things, installing art, keeping the computer system running - whatever needs doing.

The gallery itself hasn't changed much since last fall's opening, although the art on display changes constantly. One of the original partners, a florist, has moved on, and so has a third partner who decided to move to Arizona.

Still, said Cohen, what remains is 'a semi-co-op arrangement,' with 18 members, not counting Cohen and Sanson.

'I do jewelry,' said Cohen, adding that Sanson is a painter.

The membership the gallery has now is about all they can handle, she explained.

'We have a limit on space,' said Cohen. 'For 2D artists, we're kind of at our maximum right now.'

Conducting a quick tour of the place, she pointed to the west wall of the gallery, reserved for the guest shows.

Because of those exhibits, she added, 'We're doing receptions once a month.'

The gallery partners take some pains to scatter the work of their members around, mixing and matching various media and styles to keep visitors on their toes. In one area they're liable to find sculpture by Beaverton artist Roberta Babcock, paintings by Bruce Ulrich and Annie Salness, photography by Willy Paul and the unique creations of Joe Pogan, who turns nails, nuts and bolts, eating utensils, keys and other odd items into stunning structures and animals.

The best seller in the shop, said Cohen, is 'definitely, Joe's found metal art.'

In the center of the gallery is the 'gift table,' and artfully strewn all over it is small prints (many framed), cards, jewelry even tree ornaments.

'Because it's December, we decided to have this one area where everything is $20 or less,' said Cohen.

The Cohens, who live in the Murrayhill area, migrated here from The Bronx, N.Y.

'We moved out here about 22 years ago,' she said, explaining that Intel had dangled a job before Paul. 'We thought, 'it's all the way across the country, but we can always go back.' Once we moved here,' she added, 'we were done for.'

They have high hopes for the future of the gallery and the part of downtown Beaverton it inhabits. 'With the urban renewal bill passing, we're hoping this is a targeted area,' said Cohen, who, like many artists, is on something of a mission.

'The idea is to not only bring art to downtown Beaverton, but also to give local artists a place to display their art,' she said.

Toward that end, Art on Broadway already has its next few shows planned, and they include the Winter Group Show, featuring work of gallery members Jan. 7 through 28, with a free reception set for Saturday, Jan. 7, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Also coming next month is 'Romantic Forms,' another juried exhibit from Jan. 5 through Feb. 25, with its own reception set for Saturday, Jan. 14. also 6 to 9 p.m.

Later on, in June, said Cohen, watch for a show of 'Man cave art.'

'That came about with one of these chance remarks somebody made, that 'oh, that was one of those pieces of art that only a man would display,'' she said.

The key, she said, is this: 'All of this art changes every month.

'We try to keep thinking of new things to keep people coming back,' she said.

Art On Broadway is located at 12570 S.W. Broadway St., Beaverton - 'within walking distance of the MAX stop at Beaverton Round and just a few doors west of the Beaverton History Center,' they say in all of their promotional materials. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 503-601-3300 or visit artonbroadway.net.