The Remains rebounds.
“It has been like a total comeback,” artist and owner Nik Vik said. He started the gallery four years ago with his friend and fellow artist, the late Nate Chavez, who died in August 2017.
Vik is sole owner of the gallery now, and while Chavez’s memory will endure with the enterprise, Vik has spent the last six months transforming the space beyond its beginnings.
The first show in the renovated space opens Friday at 5 p.m., with a 16-artist exhibition, and music by DJ Mex and Hood River band The Antonyms.
Vik, who also works as an orchardist, responded to the grief he felt in late 2017 by completing the Remains mural along Third and Columbia streets two blocks from the gallery, which features sections he created on his own and in collaboration with Chavez.
Over the winter, Vik transformed the underground space itself. And he acknowledges that Chavez’s death puts him in a new role.
“Where Nate was kind of the front man, he could sit there and BS with people while I was in the background drilling holes and hammering nails, now I don’t have that luxury of being able to disappear into the shadows,” Vik said.
At Remains, he created two interior passage ways (knocking out one wall in order to do so) with graceful human facial profiles providing room-to-room transitions.
The result is three distinct, yet connected spaces: an exhibit space on one end, studio space on the other, and a new retail room in the middle.
“More merchandise and more art,” is how Vik described it. “We’ll have some high end and a little bit of vintage,” when it comes to gear and accessories, including boards, and the Remains-branded gear that will include images from the Remains wall.
The Remains gallery-store, while a work in progress, will be a blend of retro and new. On Friday, Vik plans “fully stocked shelves, 15 artists’ work, and the big reveal for the retail space.
“We’re trying to get crazy with it,” he said. “The type of stuff we’ll be selling is similar to what I’ve seen in places in Portland, art galleries that have combined themselves with little apparel shops. I think it’s going to be unique, even to out of towners,” he said of the revived Remains space.
The dominant color is “room 237 green” — which may be familiar to fans of the Stanley Kubrick film “The Shining.”
“I looked it up and brought a photo into the boys up at Benjamin Moore, and we matched it as best we can,” to the unique pale green seen in the film. “They dealt with me for the entire mural project, so they know about my colors,” Vik joked.
“It’s kind of shocking,” Vik said. “These rooms are at least annually going to be switched up so it’s an installment piece within itself, we want people to come here and take pictures for Instagram.”
Another anachronistic touch is the 1960s Hoffman television set.
“It matched the green, and we spliced the cord and actually got it going, but then it smelled like it was starting to catch on fire, and we pulled the plug on it,” Vik said.
Vik has expanded on the chain-link fence display rack that’s been a gallery feature from the start, but there’s more of it, and more secure.
The work space is a work in progress, but on hand will be artist Stump One, George Winn, who creates art work as well as fashion items and will be artist-in-residence there.
“He’s one of my favorite artists around here,” Vik said of Stump One, who has exhibited in Hood River and Portland; last year he painted a mural on the entry wall of the Remains.
Vik announced that he is embarking on the Remains branded gear — primarily t-shirts, sweatshirts, and tank-shops — to go with clothes, hats and boards featuring the Supreme brand. His sister-in-law, Faith Hickson, who works in the New York apparel industry, facilitated getting in-demand Supreme gear to Hood River.
“Our own line of apparel will probably be switching back and forth between the Remains and 500 Industrial Avenue, we’ll use one or both depending on what it’s for.
“It will be a big part of what we do, and we’ll have something for everyone,” Vik said.
Remains is located at 500 Industrial Ave., next to Underground Music Station.
Entry is down a set of stairs at the west end of Union Building. Look for the covered plaza containing the Art of Community “Big Art” sculpture by Hood River artist MacRae Wylde.
The Remains art extends along a streetside wall
The Remains Gallery and the Remains Wall will be forever linked along Industrial Way and Third and Columbia Streets, where the three-block mural has redefined the northeast edge of downtown Hood River. The gallery is located below ground next to the Union Pacific tracks, two blocks west of the mural.
Look at hoodrivernews.com for a video and full narrative of the Remains wall by artist and gallery owner Nik Vik. In April 2017, he and the late Nate Chavez, his gallery partner, began work on the colorful and evocative mural. Following Chavez’s death in August 2017, Vik continued the work and finished it in November.
The two artists said a year ago they would start with little or no actual idea of what would go into the mural, besides a motif honoring the late Forest Andrews (who died at age 18 at the site in 2011) and some Gorge landmarks. They would rely on three things: inspiration, spontaneity, and the experiment of coalescing the ideas of two artists and friends who, while like-minded, possessed disparate artistic styles.
Some of the panels are stand-alone, some blend with adjacent ones, and as Vik describes, some reflect creative confluences between himself and Chavez.
A solemn irony is it began as a way to memorialize Andrews and evolved as a memorial to both Andrews and Chavez. Andrews’ motif “Umbrella Man” was, from the start, the heart of the piece. Vik and Chavez labored long hours in May and June creating the center wall, honoring Andrews, and visitors to the mural are invited to stand within the Umbrella Man image.
Off-center of the mural, meanwhile, is the wind-blown fedora that Vik painted as a tribute Chavez. The iconoclastic Chavez was known for a number of fashion expressions: a velvet green jacket, feather boa, and a variety of porkpie and fedora hats.