Gallery curator Mo Bowen looks to revamp art scene in Whiteaker

by Michael Munoz

At the Voyeur Gallery on Blair Blvd, curator Mo Bowen sits alone at her desk and thinks on the growing art community in the Whiteaker neighborhood. “This community totally needs it,” she said as she takes a sip of her coffee. “I think they’re hurting for more of an art scene.”

Just last May, Bowen opened the Voyeur gallery with an exhibition of her own photography. Since then, she has been working tirelessly to ensure new art by different artists is constantly making its way through the gallery. While Bowen is open to most styles of art, she likes to focus on modern art and has some strict requirements for the artists showing at the Voyeur. “They have to teach a class at some point while they’re showing and at the end of the month they do an artist critique or discussion,” She explains. “All are welcome, but I really encourage other artists to come to kind of practice that lost art of critiquing and let the artist get some feedback.”

Curator Mo Bowen stands before some of the art at The Voyeur gallery. Michael Munoz

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Bowen decided to move out to Eugene when visiting her sister. “I always wanted to move to the west coast,” says Bowen. Over the past six years, she has been working on her photography and has had it featured at the Jacobs Art Gallery in the Hult Center and will have her art featured at the Jordan Schnitzer Art Museum on campus this spring.  With a BFA in photography, it only seemed natural that Bowen would get involved in the Eugene art scene.

As a Chicago native, it’s no surprised that Bowen saw some flaws in the growing art community in Eugene. “There’s kind of a big gap between bigger galleries and coffee shops. This is kind of the happy medium,” says Bowen. “That’s why I started this place, I wanted there to be a decent sized place to show and actually talk about the work.” With different shows every month, the small gallery is certainly starting to create a buzz in the neighborhood.

Michael Munoz

The Voyeur is also home to Whiteaker’s Last Friday Art Walk. On the last Friday night of every month, residents from all over the area have the opportunity to check out local art at businesses in the neighborhood such as the Wandering Goat Coffee Co. and Sam’s Bond Garage. Bowen is also hoping to expand her gallery to the empty space right next to the Voyeur. “I have a lot of plans for that,” she says with a menacing smile. By the spring, Bowen hopes to use the lot to feature movies, projections and sculptures that she couldn’t normally fit in her gallery.

Bowen is also involved in her neighborhood and hopes to see the Whiteaker cleaned up in the near future. “This is like the only sense of community here that I have. This neighborhood is amazing.” As part of the Blair Blvd Community Project, The Voyeur is teamed up with other local businesses such as the Ninkasi Brewing Company and Laughing Planet to ensure their community stays clean. They are currently trying to raise money to improve the sidewalks and roads and to have more street lights installed.

With monthly art shows and the Last Friday Art Walk, it’s clear that Bowen has big plans for the Voyeur as well as the budding art community in the Whiteaker area. “There’s a lot to be looking forward too,” says Bowen with a grin. “Especially in the Whiteaker.”

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