HOLDING Contemporary presents exhibitions and programs by emerging and established visual artists across disciplines. Through a deliberate curatorial vision and a strategic business model, we position ourselves towards challenging the economical and social privilege of the art world.
Iris Williamson and John Knight started Williamson | Knight in 2016. They were invited by Hap Gallery owner Judy Jacobson to take over her space at a subsidized rate and to start a challenging exhibition space in Portland, Oregon's Pearl District. Recognizing the opportunity presented, they still found it to be financially beyond reach (being artists/curators/arts workers). Embracing the challenge, Williamson and Knight researched different gallery models within the art world, and then looked at broader business structures outside of the art world. Nothing seemed to be feasible until arriving on the concept of a Shareholder Program as the framework for the gallery. This allowed the gallery, Williamson | Knight, to face the problems of the economic structure that we were in; to be able to focus on the artists while being critical of—and sustainable within—the capitalistic art-world reality.
In 2018, John Knight relocated to Missoula, MT and later realized it would be untenable for him to stay as involved as he needed to be. Knight and Williamson mutually decided it was best for him to move on from the gallery. In 2019, Tiffany Harker then came on as the new partner for the gallery, and the gallery name changed to HOLDING Contemporary.
After relocating to Portland in 2016, Tiffany Harker first met Iris Williamson through photographer Dru Donovan and later worked together for the nonprofit arts organization, Converge 45. Harker has worked in the arts for 18 years, first in San Francisco at SFMoMA, Crown Point Press, and Fraenkel Gallery. She is currently Board Vice President of the Contemporary Art Council at the Portland Art Museum, works part-time at Elizabeth Leach Gallery, and assists artists as a consultant and Project Manager.