In a time and a town where everything is changing, this relatively new concept really captures the spirit of the “old Portland.” It combines art, relationships, community, and neighborhoods, highlighting strong women…it is the perfect example of the best of Portland. 

On the ground floor of the Ellen Browning Building, there is The Lobby. The Lobby is a public art space that encourages creativity, community, and connection. The exhibits, which rotate every four or so months, have art from building founder Molly McCabe’s personal art collection. The current show opened in May. It is called “Between Two Points.” The pieces are curated by Sima Familant, a private curator and art advisor. Familant says The Lobby was Molly McCabe’s brainchild.

According to The Lobby’s website, Molly McCabe had a vision inspired by her great aunt Ellen Browning to create a comfortable home for a group of friends who could age in place. The Ellen Browning building offers its residents a unique and elevated approach to retirement, designed for its residents to transition to and enjoy the very last years of life.

If this gallery wasn’t on your radar, add it to your list. The Lobby is a wonderful place for kids, families, and even schools. The guides at The Lobby offer gallery tours. They provide tailored educational experiences for the tours. In addition, they include children with activities and different ways to learn about the art. There is also a once-a-month family day. What a wonderful way to introduce children to art in a non-intimidating way. 

The gallery hosts a variety of art-focused workshops throughout the year. These events are led by experienced artists and educators, and these sessions offer hands-on learning experiences in a supportive and inspiring environment. If you want to participate in student workshops and art classes at The Lobby, please contact them here. Sima Familant says they would love to include more children and schools at The Lobby. 

The art that The Lobby highlights ranges from a variety of genres. There is new multimedia art; there are more traditional art pieces and everything in between. The collection is diverse and comprehensive. It allows for an excellent introduction for kids but also is interesting for serious art lovers. 

The building that The Lobby resides in is the Ellen Browning Building, and it is named after Ellen Browning, an amazing woman and building owner Molly McCabe’s great aunt three times removed. 

As stated in The Lobby’s website, Ellen Browning was a trailblazer in her own right. Ellen Browning became a passionate philanthropist. Her interest in science and education inspired her to donate a large part of her fortune to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Scripps College. She was an early supporter of the San Diego Zoo, the Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California, Torrey Pines State Preserve, Constantinople Women’s College, and more philanthropic causes. In the 1950s, Ellen Browning donated $2 million, equivalent to $37 million today, to organizations that promised to advance democratic principles and women’s education.

According to their website, Ellen Browning embodies the strong, supportive, and creative spirit of her namesake building. A hummingbird sculpture by Reinmuth Bronze Studio in Eugene, Oregon, was installed outside the building and inspired the building’s logo. The hummingbird, as a symbol, reflects Ellen Browning’s instrumental philanthropic pursuit of Ellen Browning Park, where many hummingbirds and other wildlife reside.

The building owner, Molly McCabe, the originator of The Lobby, has worked as a lupus advocate since 2007 and serves on the board of the Lupus Research Alliance in New York as well as the board of the Randall Children’s Hospital. Her vision for the Ellen Browning Building is to offer residents a comfortable, supportive, independent lifestyle deeply connected to the Portland community. McCabe is certainly making her mark on the Portland art scene and in the community. 

Be sure to check this gem out. It is so important that we spend our time in Portland exploring these hidden treasures. It is part of what makes Portland Portland, and that is worth our time and energy. Have you checked out The Lobby? If so, we would love to hear from you if you have not put it on your list. Are there any other galleries that should be on our radar? Let us know!