Katie Simpson Spain: 'Our Own Jungle' at Tyson Gallery

Work from 'Our Own Jungle' by Katie Simpson Spain
Work from 'Our Own Jungle' by Katie Simpson Spain
Brightly colored, intricate sculptures constructed out of recycled plastic bags make up a large, new installation entitled, “Our Own Jungle”. Artist, Katie Simpson Spain created these pieces by crocheting yarn fashioned from strips of plastic bags.

The opening is First Thursday, October 1st from 6 to 9 pm at Tyson Gallery located at 625 N.W. Everett Street, #116.

If you’d like to learn how to turn plastic bags into art, Katie is teaching a class in Salem. Check the description below.

Plastic Bag Yarn and Crochet Class
Mission Mill Museum in Salem
Saturday October 24 from 1 pm to 4 pm
Mission Mill – 1313 Mill St SE Salem, Oregon 97301 (503) 585-7012
See details and sign up here: http://www.missionmill.com/fiber.html

You can visit Katie’s studio and watch her work both weekends during the Portland Open Studios Tour, October 10, 11 and 17, 18. Pick up your Tour Guide at New Seasons, Art Media, Powell’s and our website.

Kate Krider, Riding the Waves

By Shu-Ju Wang

Kate Krider had a recurring dream—trapped in a house suspended above a body of water, she was about to fall through the floor into the churning waves below where ‘evil’ lurked. The waves splashed and slapped, and Kate was afraid.

One night, she finally did fall through that floor, and found herself falling upon the ‘waves’ in the raked gravel of a Japanese garden. It was beautiful, peaceful, and delightful.

She knew she had to paint this image, and the dream has never returned.


Below, Kate Krider’s first painting, that of her falling through the house into the ‘waves’ below.


As an artist, Kate Krider has always known what interested her. The signs of civilization that give us comfort—whether it’s a house, a cairn, a spirit dwelling or a holy object—form a continuous thread from her days as paper-maker to the mid-career artist of today, working in painting and 3-dimensional collages.

But at the same time, that other sign of civilization, water—both comforting and menacing—is also evident in her work. That water is absolutely necessary in the art of paper-making and paper-casting balanced against her struggles and fears of water in her dreams. Or that she loves to paint cairns of rocks made smooth by water, precariously balanced and reaching up to the sky.

Her travels to Vietnam in 2001 served to heighten her interests when she instantly connected with Vietnamese paintings of houses on water and the ideas of spirit houses. And she has been painting houses on water and making spirit houses elevated on stilts or ball feet ever since.

Although Kate considers herself to be a self-taught painter, she has a formal arts background with an MFA in Mixed Media from JFK University in California. Looking through her portfolio of her paper-casting pieces (her specialization in graduate school), the themes of ‘house’ and ‘water’ were clearly present then. Paper-making and casting eventually gave way to painting and 3-dimensional collages as she found her paper-casting more and more commercialized and less personally and artistically satisfying. But as she switched mediums, the threads of house, home and water continued.

Family, home, and finding home are the big themes in my work,” Kate says. I also see that looking for that point between comfort and uncertainty being an important aspect of her work. She puts the water above the stilts; she makes the house with an invisible floor, or a floor covered in undecipherable writings; and finally, her anything goes attitude when it comes to making spirit houses. There’s a spirit house for Keith Richards, for example, covered in guitar picks for roofing materials.

In recent months, Kate has focused on making 3-dimensional collages based on cigar boxes. But perhaps you won’t be surprised to find that house, water, and spiritual places play an important role there too!

Below, a recent 3-dimensional collage based on a cigar box.


To see more of Kate Krider’s work, visit her website at http://katekrider.com/. Kate is artist #43 in the 2009 Portland Open Studios tour. To learn more about the tour, visit https://www.portlandopenstudios.com/. Tour Guides are available online through the website, or at New Seasons, Art Media, and other retail outlets listed on the website.

Below, her sculpture Family Arc presents herself as a newborn, coming home from the hospital with her mother, enclosed in a transparent arc on stilts surrounded by water. Only the watery waves are between the arc and the stilts, almost as if she is telling her baby-self to see the water, to be on the water, and to not fear the water.


Late Bloomers:Artists find creativity is central to life no matter what your age.

By Lisa Griffen

For several of the artists in the Portland Open Studios Tour, art came as a later career. Some had early artistic ambitions but postponed pursuing them. Others only discovered their need for creative expression after doing other kinds of work. Regardless of their age at starting, art became central to their lives.

Below: Kelly Williams working in her studio

Kelly Williams in her studio

Kelly Williams began painting with watercolors as a way to relieve the stress of her work with troubled children. With her background in psychology, she quickly realized that art could give children a way to express their feelings about traumatic experiences. It ended up serving the same purpose for her, becoming an important outlet.

Kelly found that art allowed her to communicate about issues emotionally rather than intellectually. Painting became a bigger and bigger part of her life. She eventually became dissatisfied with watercolors and found that encaustic painting felt like a more dynamic medium. People responded. They asked for her paintings and encouraged her to share her work.

The most important aspect of Kelly’s work is truthtelling. She says, “To live like I want to live, I have to paint like I want to paint.” She strives for emotional honesty in her art. She is currently combining her former work and her art career into a project that she hopes will help people deal with the pain of addiction and recovery.

George Perrou working on a new painting

Above: George Perrou

George Perrou had no background in art. He was in his early thirties and working as a waiter when he started feeling a need for a creative outlet. He made collages from magazines, then got interested in photography. His black and white images quickly found an audience. Within a year of buying his camera and learning to print photos, he was selling prints. This early response encouraged him to try painting.

George painted a few paintings freehand but was dissatisfied with the results. Preferring clean edges, he developed his own technique of using masking tape templates. Despite a positive reaction to his art, George was reluctant to give up the security of his restaurant job. He continued to do both for several years, even after sales of his art matched his earnings as a waiter. In the end, the restaurant closed suddenly and he began painting full time.

George thinks his lack of training let him develop his own unique painting style. In fact, George’s art education has occurred backward: he learns about past artists when people relate his work to theirs. He believes that every person has the seed of an artist inside, but the hustle and obligations of our daily lives can mask that creativity. He seems awed that art has become his career and the center of his world.

Carole Zoom working on a woodcut

Above: Carole Zoom working on a woodcut

Carole Zoom had always taken photographs as a hobby but when her life changed dramatically, art became a new calling. In her mid-thirties, Carole was hospitalized for months and had to accept that she would physically dependent on others from that point forward. She says, “I drove myself to the hospital but when I got out I couldn’t even lift a cup of tea.”

During her recovery, Carole started painting with watercolors. Then her mother asked Carole to reprint the woodblocks Carole had done as a middle school student. Printing was something Carole could do on her own. She had some extra ink so she bought linoleum and began carving blocks.

A five-day class with a master printer from Japan helped show Carole the potential for a career in printmaking. She also realized that art could help inform people about issues affecting people with disabilities. She says she is trying to communicate “a fairly raw message” about losing independence. Since 2006, Carole has combined working as an artist with being an activist for social justice.

Below: William Park
William Park

William Park always thought he would be an artist but had not gotten around to it. At forty-one years old, he was working as a sign painter. One day he pictured his life at age seventy and imagined the regret he would feel over not pursuing art. He began painting that day. He did not think of art as a career but simply something he needed to do.

He kept working full time and spent four or five hours each day painting. Gradually, the time he spent on his own work increased. He considered going to art school but felt that he had already lost too much time and could learn faster by painting as much as possible. He did take several classes over the years and says they helped teach him what it means to be an artist. Technique, he believes, is something that is mainly gained through practice.

Below: Nicky Falkenhayn welding
Nicky Falkenhayn welding

Nicky Falkenhayn also had an early interest in art but decided to coach and teach Physical Education because she thought there would be time to be an artist later. When she moved from Switzerland to the United States she decided it was time to focus on art rather than getting certified to teach.

Nicky took classes at Oregon College of Art and Craft. She chose fiber arts as her field because she had sewed her own clothes as a teen and felt comfortable working with cloth. When a close friend had breast cancer, Nicky wanted to figure out a way to make her a metal bra. She had no experience working with metal so she crocheted the piece out of wire. This led to a new interest in sculpture and jewelry making.

Nicky got involved in welding because she wanted to make more interesting supports for her crocheted wire sculptures. Once she started welding, she was hooked. She appreciates the immediacy of the results. It is an art form that is well suited to public pieces, a challenge that Nicky especially enjoys. Nicky believes she benefitted by starting her art career later in her life because she has more confidence and more life wisdom to put into her art.

As Nicky and these other 4 artists illustrate, art and creativity can become a central part of life, no matter your age.

You can visit the studios of Nicky Falkenhayn, William Park, Carole Zoom, George Perrou and Kelly Williams during the Portland Open Studio Tour, October 10, 11 and 17 ,18 from 10 am to 5 pm. Pick up your Tour Guide at New Seasons, Art Media, Powell’s or on our website at www.portlandopenstudios.com

Bridget Benton wants your plastic bottle caps!

By Bridget Benton


I am a woman obsessed with making art from just about anything I can get my hands on. I naturally tend toward collage and assemblage art, and have
incorporated this approach into my work making jewelry, fiber art, acrylic
paintings, and now encaustic art. The more media I can combine—and the more crazy materials I can incorporate—the happier I am. In fact, the materials often guide my work. Later, I will discover themes and meanings emerging, but in the magical moment of making, the materials are the driving force.

About a year ago, a material that grabbed my attention was all the plastic
that I couldn’t put in my new blue curbside recycling bin: plastic bags,
clamshell containers, and the humble plastic bottle cap. It looked like a
whole lot of potential art to me! I made a few necklaces from bottle caps,
and then started thinking about what I could do if I had a lot of bottle
caps, maybe even hundreds or thousands of bottle caps.

So, my boyfriend and his family started saving me bottle caps. I got a few
from other friends. I started experimenting with different ways of
connecting them. You look at things differently when you have a lot of them:
in many ways, they become more interesting, more beautiful. You see
patterns of shapes and colors, and you begin to see patterns of consumption.
And then I got involved with the group Leave No Plastic Behind and their
plastic art challenge. I learned more about the impact of plastic on the
oceans, as well as the fact that bottle caps come right after cigarette
butts on the “Most Common Beach Litter” hit list.

All of this collecting, connecting, and consciousness-raising culminated in
the construction of this chandelier, called Drifter. It’s now on display in
the lobby of the office building next door to SCRAP off of MLK. The piece
is over 5 feet tall, and includes a long string of Christmas lights. I
haven’t counted how many bottle caps are in there, but it’s a lot, and it
was all collected over a relatively short five-month period from only a few

[Above, the chandelier constructed from bottle caps.]

Now, I’m in the process of collecting another big batch of bottle caps for
the creation of several more light fixtures. If you have plastic bottle
caps – any size, any color – from beverages, shampoo, household cleaners,
peanut butter, whatever – bring them on over when you drop by my place
during the Portland Open Studios tour. My demos will all be about encaustic
painting, but as for the conversation, well, all materials are welcome.

Below, Bridget’s collection of bottle caps.

To learn more about Bridget Benton’s work and classes, please visit her website at http://www.eyesaflame.com/.

You can visit Bridget and 99 other artists during Portland Open Studios weekend. To learn more about the event, visit https://www.portlandopenstudios.com/.

Kitty Wallis: Artist, Teacher, Entrepreneur and Founder of Portland Open Studios.

By Susan Gallacher-Turner (Published on: Sep 9, 2009)

Kitty Wallis with pastel portrait
Kitty Wallis

“I’ve spent many, many years waking up in the morning saying what do I feel like doing today? As an artist, do I feel like going into the studio? Do I feel like going out meeting people? Do I feel like getting reference material? I’m very young looking for my age. And I think that’s one of the reasons,” says Kitty Wallis.

From the streets of New York to a California commune, Kitty has always lived an artist’s life. As a child growing up in a small, poor Pennsylvania town, Kitty’s mother was proud of her artistic daughter and encouraged her to draw. Later, it was a high school counselor who, saw Kitty’s talent, took her to New York City to apply for a full-tuition art scholarship at Cooper Union. Only 10% of the applicants to Cooper Union are accepted into this privately funded 150 year old college. After passing the difficult 8 hour entrance exam, Kitty was accepted into the program. Making her first move away from her small town home, in 1956, Kitty describes how it felt in the big city, “Culture shock! The first day was traumatic because I didn’t realize the importance of the fact that no one would know me. Because everybody knew me when I was growing up, there were only 2,500 people in my town. But people helped. By the end of the first day I had a place to live and a job. It’s amazing.”

Although being a student at Cooper Union is an honor and Kitty learned to work in a variety of media, she had her difficulties. The school was embracing abstract impressionism, the new wave of art in the 1950’s and Kitty wanted to do realistic work. Walking from her office job to school one day, Kitty passed by a group of sidewalk artists looking for customers when one of the artists said, “Get your portrait done.” Kitty replied back, “If I wanted a portrait of myself I would do one myself.” He challenged her to do his portrait right there and then. “So I did. And I was so excited by the whole thing because I did a good portrait of him. It was just a little charcoal sketch but it was right on.” The artist was so impressed with her skill, he suggested she set up her own street portrait business. Kitty says, “I was out there the next night with my chairs, easel and art supplies, the whole thing. That was the first move I made to be independent instead of having a job.”

Kitty’s journey began doing portraits on the streets of New York, but has taken her many places along the way. After three years at Cooper Union, Kitty got married and with her husband set up a shop in Philadelphia. He made sandals and she did portraits. Deciding to join a commune, they moved to California and a year or so later, Kitty moved to Santa Cruz. Kitty has traveled the country and the world making art and money, seeing old friends, making new ones and setting up gallery shows featuring work from her travels. Kitty says, “I first wanted to travel around the country so I could learn to be a traveler. So I got a van and some art supplies and started across the country for a year and a half.” Kitty found ways to make money along the way doing portraits, plein air painting and working with a therapy community. This led to a unique opportunity Kitty explains, “I got to a gallery in Dallas that had a few of my pieces. They were excited by what I was doing and said let’s do a show of your work when you get back.”

For a while, Kitty settled back in Santa Cruz, California enjoying the artistic lifestyle there. Then, she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where the gallery scene was thriving but after a few years, missed California and moved back to Santa Cruz. It was in Santa Fe, she overheard an art store conversation that led her down another professional road. “I had been using sandpaper and that gave me that painterly quality, rich hard edges color on color. It was sold in art supply stores as pastel paper even though it was disposable paper,” says Kitty. “I heard the art company rep tell the store owner that they weren’t going to supply the sandpaper anymore. I knew I had to have a paper with that texture and a product that wouldn’t fall apart after 50 years. And it had to have the sandpaper surface but smooth.”

It was a personal need that drove Kitty to develop her now famous Wallis Sanded Paper. At first, she made it herself on a Santa Cruz hilltop. With a spray gun in each hand, she sprayed resin on the paper first, then pumice. At the end of the sessions, covered with paint and pumice, Kitty would have enough paper to last her several months. But when her students wanted to know how she achieved her unique pastel effects, she realized she had to share her paper with them. And it was a student with manufacturing experience who helped her find a way to get the paper mass produced. Introduced at the first semi-annual International Association of Pastel Societies in Denver, Colorado in 1995, the paper was a hit and Kitty began receiving a regular salary for the first time in her life. “When I first got into this business I was very excited about finally having an income that didn’t depend on selling paintings. I wanted to see what I would paint if I didn’t have to pay the rent with the sale of my work. So the first thing I found out was, I depended on that need to sell for my painting discipline,” explains Kitty.

About that time, Kitty moved to Portland from Santa Cruz, bringing with her the studio tour idea that she’d been involved with there. “When I moved to Portland, my heart was so much involved in the open studios idea that I felt that Portland needs this,” she says. “But I didn’t want to come busting up here with, “In California this is how they do this.” So, she waited 3 years, meeting artists and collecting the names of artists whose work she liked. Kitty explains, “I got eight people to come to a meeting in August of 1998. We put up our own fees for the first year, $80 dollars a piece, enough money to print applications and send them out. And when we got applications back and juried, we had 49 people in the first tour.”

Ten years later, the Portland Open Studios Tour has grown to feature 100 artists at work in their studios all around the Portland Metro area. Kitty has watched Portland Open Studios grow with pride. Although she’s not as actively involved, she still enjoys participating in the tour every year. Kitty says, “I am so proud of how people took the ball and ran with it because you don’t want your baby to die. And to have such strong legs on your baby is a very nice thing. Because it’s growing in strength, vitality and popularity every year.”

In addition to Portland Open Studios, gallery shows, Wallis Paper company, teaching around the country and doing her own studio work, Kitty, at 71, is busier than she’s ever been. Retirement is not in her future, says Kitty, “I have never been so busy in my whole life. I’m 71 and I’m far from retiring. “I never thought of it as a goal. I would brag to people I’m so glad I belong to a profession that I don’t have to retire from.”

All those years ago as a young Cooper Union student, Kitty says she wanted to develop the chops of a master. As an internationally known, award-winning artist, teacher and entrepreneur, she’s done all that and more. Now as she works in her studio, she’s painting not just what she sees around her but what she feels within. “I finally allowed myself to understand that I was bored with realism,” she explains. She wants the colors and shapes to come from her gut, and her work continues to grow and evolve. “Now I seem to have found a new challenge. I’m doing something new and I don’t know how to do it. It’s a good thing. I want to learn how to create an expression that is mine,” Kitty says. “This is who I am.”

New work by Kitty Wallis
New work by Kitty Wallis

You can visit Kitty’s studio during the Portland Open Studios Tour, October 10, 11 and 17, 18 from 10 am to 5pm. Tour Guides are for sale at New Seasons, Art Media, Powell’s and on our website at Portland Open Studios.

Hear the podcast about Kitty Wallis at Voices of Living Creatively website.

From Pulp to Prints, three artists coordinate their hands-on demonstrations

Above, Helen Hiebert making paper.

Helen Hiebert, Diane Jacobs, and Shu-Ju Wang are 3 members of an art collective who have been meeting and working together for several years. Their most recent collaboration, the installation For the Love of Food, was shown at Cedar Crest College in Pennsylvania earlier this year.

They are also participating in Portland Open Studios this year and have decided to coordinate their hands-on demonstrations. Visitors will have a chance to see the process of creating a print, starting from making paper from pulp to letterpress and silkscreen printing.

Start at Helen Hiebert’s studio (artist 49), where visitors are invited to make paper. From there, visitors can go on to Diane Jacobs’ studio (artist 44) and Shu-Ju Wang’s studio (artist 90) to see how text and images can be printed using letterpress and silkscreen printing techniques. You are encouraged to visit both Diane’s and Shu-Ju’s studios (in either order) to see how the two different printmaking methods can be combined to create a finished print.

Between the three, they will also be showing finished work that range from handmade paper, lanterns, prints, artist’s books, sculptures, paintings, photographs, cards and more.

They are also in 3 different regions of metro Portland – N Portland, NE Portland, and SW Portland, perfectly spaced for people doing the tour throughout the Portland metro area. Note that Helen’s and Diane’s studios are open on October 10 & 11 only, 10am-5pm; Shu-Ju’s studio is open October 10, 11, 17, and 18, 10am-5pm.

To see more of Helen’s work, visit www.helenhiebertstudio.com; Diane’s work at www.dianejacobs.net; and Shu-Ju’s work at www.fingerstothebone.com.

For more information about Portland Open Studios, visit the website at www.portlandopenstudios.com.

Diane Jacobs setting type…

And Shu-Ju Wang Gocco printing.