There’s nothing newsy about the ever-changing structure of the contemporary newsroom, but an office that morphs into a gallery or public discussion space is, by just about any account, different. Beyond regular use by newspaper staffers, the Corvallis Advocate’s space has so far been used by Poetics for readings, the Corvallis Independent Business Alliance for an after-hours mixer, and most notably as a regular destination for the Corvallis Arts Walk.
Housed in the old J.C. Penney building at 425 SW Madison, the Advocate office occupies a space just above Einstein’s Bagels that was formerly a boiler room, so the look is industrial. With only minimal restorative effort, the space had in the past also been used as studio space for artists and a photographer.
There is a patina to the place, a feeling that dangerous things have happened there, could happen there, but it is confusingly comfortable and reassuring at the same time. It’s like the worn surfaces want you to live within them, but not change them. Somehow, since the Advocate took the space over, most everyone seems to refer to it as “the Loft.”
The main room is about 1,200 square feet; this is where most of the art is exhibited. For this month’s Arts Walk, Tony Fisher will be the featured artist. Fisher’s art started with fabricating parts and pieces for hot rods and developed into large-scale, wall-hung metallurgical pieces. His current work is a tribute to his brother, Deputy Sheriff Terry Fisher, who passed away unexpectedly in 2014. The Corvallis Arts Walk falls on Thursday, July 16 this month; the Advocate Loft will be open for viewing from 4 to 8 p.m.
Publisher Steven Schultz says, “There are times that we’ll be interviewing or having staff meetings where art is being installed around us, but it really doesn’t seem to bother anyone, most of the staff is supportive.” Schultz goes on to offer, “We’ve actually decided to seek a very part-time gallery curator, which to my knowledge is a first for a newspaper, even an alternative newsweekly.”