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In Memoriam: Jennifer Zika

It is with great sadness that the Museum shares the passing of Jennifer Zika, Portland Art Museum Rental Sales Gallery Manager. Jennifer worked at the Rental Sales Gallery for nearly 21 years, building a true community of artists, volunteers and clients who championed Oregon and Washington artists. She was kind to everyone she encountered and had an ability to see the positive in almost any situation.

“Jennifer has been the heart and soul of the Rental Sales Gallery, and saying she will be greatly missed is an understatement,” said Museum Director and Chief Curator Brian Ferriso. “We are keeping Jennifer’s family in our thoughts as they go through this difficult time.”

Jennifer Zika was a beloved colleague and a dear friend to many of the local artists and volunteers she worked with as head of the Rental Sales Gallery, a Museum department founded in 1959 as a nonprofit gallery to help promote public awareness of regional artists. Jennifer saw the gallery through many changes, including increasing the types of work accepted, standardizing the jury selection process, creating an online database of more than 1,000 artworks, and overseeing the move to the gallery’s current home on SW 10th Avenue. She also oversaw milestone anniversaries for the gallery: The 50th anniversary saw the publication of a catalog, and in 2019 the gallery celebrated its 60th anniversary. In recent years Jennifer led an effort to enhance the gallery’s online presence, and during the pandemic her tireless efforts led to some of the most successful months in gallery history, as more people retreated to their homes and sought the comfort of art.

Jennifer was known for hosting lively receptions and seasonal artist shows where everyone felt welcome; she often encouraged dressing in costume or theme. The Rental Sales Gallery also began hosting the Museum Employee Art Show three years ago, offering a place for staff artists to showcase their talents. 

The gallery is currently closed and will reopen on April 7 with the assistance of Mark Tindle, Jennifer’s former assistant. Donations to the Rental Sales Gallery in Jennifer’s honor can be made here.