Guest Blog: Indie City Guides: Portland by Charissa Faire Day#3


It’s the final day of  Charissa Faire’s Indie City Guide for Portland (which was supposed to go up yesterday, but I dropped the ball).  Read Day #1 here and Day #2 here

If you are interested in writing an Indie City Guide, shoot me an email.

by guest contributor Charissa Faire

Day three of my Indie City Guide to Portland covers two of the areas most near and dear to my heart: Art and shopping. I’ve included just a small sampling of the local art galleries and favorite places to shop, and hope they’ll at least provided a starting point to begin exploring this city should you ever visit (or move!). And if you do, stop by and say hello to me.


Hello Portland is in my neighborhood, so it’s the first place I go when I need a fabulous last minute birthday gift or just something to cheer me up. They’ve got it all: Great locally made bags and purses and barrettes, cute pins made from Spanish bingo cards, stationery and cards by NobleWorks Inc. and Curly Girl Designs, and gadgets and gizmos galore. They also have an elaborate selection of party favors which never fails to make me wish I threw more parties. Of course I still don’t, but it’s always nice to feel temporarily inspired!


525 NW 23rd Ave
Portland, OR 97210
(503) 274-0771

Ah, the famous Powell’s Books. You may have a branch in your city, but not like this one. An actual warehouse filled with books, covering an entire city block, with so many rooms and floors there are maps and color-coded rooms to help you navigate. When I first arrived in Portland at the train station and there were flyers for Powell’s at the depot, I wondered what kind of bookstore would count as a tourist attraction. I’m glad I found out. Definitely don’t miss checking out the gorgeous rare books room, the changing art exhibits in the art section, the staggering array of local and independent press items, and the items for sale by locals scattered throughout the store. I recently picked up some great magnets by local artist Trish Grantham, who is one of my absolute favorites. So cute!


1005 W. Burnside
Portland, OR‎ 97209
(503) 228-4651

Billy Galaxy has such a dense collection of vintage toys, comic books, video games and memorabilia arranged into such a tiny store, it’s a wonder it’s as easy to navigate as it is. But it’s such a delight perusing their jam-packed shelves, going “ooh! I remember that! I HAD one of those!” and hurrying to snatch up that old Care-a-lot Playset before someone else gets her grubby hands on it. So I don’t think you’ll mind one bit.


912 W Burnside St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 227-8253‎

Moshi Moshi is the art space adjoining Billy Galaxy, and it has a lot to offer on its own. They recently featured shows by artists Junko Mizuno and Brett Superstar, and have lots of terrific Japanese toys, t-shirts, and stationery items in their shop. A very fun place to browse!


916 West Burnside
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 227-8253

Tender Loving Empire is the creme de la creme of indie Portland, as far as I’m concerned. They offer custom screenprinting. Music. Art. Local books and comics. Events. Handmade jewelry. Handmade pins. Handmade t-shirts (including stuff by the Timber Preservation Society, which I love!). Wallets by Tiny Meat. Cards from Ryan Berkley. I am having trouble even putting into words how happy I feel every time I walk into this store, and all of the kooky little items I’ve found among their shelves that they weren’t even aware they had. And what’s best of all is, they’re always looking for new music and art to have in the store. So if you’re interested in having your own wares on display, stop by!


1720 NW Lovejoy St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 243-5859‎

Cannibals is an art gallery in northwest Portland featuring handmade pieces by local artists for a variety of budgets. The art is made mostly from recycled materials, and is some of the most unique, whimsical, and sometimes downright creepy stuff I have ever seen. There is always something new to marvel at and get my imagination working at this store. Plus, it really IS affordable. I recently picked up a tiny comic book about a mayonnaise-eating baby, drawn and written by local artist Alicia Justus, for only five dollars. What kind of person wouldn’t treasure something like that forever?


518 NW 21st Ave
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 224-2663

The 3D Center of Art and Photography is a small shop and museum dedicated to — you guessed it — three dimensional art and photography. It’s a wonderful way to spend an hour or so, walking around with your complimentary 3D glasses, looking at the current 3D photography display (with bunnies that look like you could pick them up and hold them!), and examining the relics and gadgets from the history of 3D photos. Very cool, interesting stuff. Plus they offer classes so you can learn to do this yourself. But the biggest reason I’m including this here is because they also offer View-masters(tm) for sale, as well as the incredible work of local resident Vladimir. Her “Vladmaster” reels illustrate different narratives from literature using the View-master(tm) format, and are truly marvelous to behold. It’s about time the View-master(tm) got the recognition it deserves!


1928 NW Lovejoy St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 227-6667

Together Gallery is a gallery in the Alberta Arts District of Portland which has a variety of creative shows drawing on a pool of local and non-local artists alike. My personal favorite was “The Tent of Technicolor Bliss”, featuring “a psychedelic tent of afghans,” but you can view more here. Plus one of their artists is Seth Neefus, whose work I am particularly nuts about.


2314 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 288-8879

Just Be Complex/Compound Gallery is a very cool store with vinyl toys and the like downstairs, great gallery upstairs. The work of Oregonian Evan B. Harris is on display now, with a recurring marine-life theme and an old-timey look to the characters that really appeals to me. Lucky for us, a lot of work is online.


107 NW 5th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 796-2733

Just like the San Francisco sister site, Upper Playground and Fifty24PDX here in Portland are dedicated to awesome street art, great art shows, and a fabulous selection of shoes, t-shirts and more.

23 NW 5th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 548-4835‎

Wham! has t-shirts and cards and toys and other fun items — it’s the kind of place to go when you want to chuckle to yourself and say “what will they think of next?”. Nice selection of indie stationery and other assorted gifts.

617 NW 23rd Ave
Portland, OR 97210
(503) 222-4992

Calling itself an “Independent Press Emporium,” Reading Frenzy is exactly what it advertises. This month’s events include an exhibit of self-portraits by local female comic book artists and the 8th annual Portland Zine Symposium. They show a total dedication to alternative press and lesser-known artists with talent, which makes this place a real asset to the community.

921 SW Oak St
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 274-1449‎


I wanted to include a few of my favorite local artists. I could rhapsodize about their work for several paragraphs a piece, I’m sure, but a picture’s worth a thousand words, right? I’ll just add a few words (because I’m chatty) and then let their work speak for itself.





And that concludes my City Guide to Portland! Way longer than I intended and still not nearly long enough to cover all the unique large and tiny indie wonders of this city. Thanks for reading!