A selection of artists you might see on the Portland Open Studios tour of 100 this weekend:
Bridget Benton demonstrates how to work with molten wax to create colorful encaustic works, embedding personal symbolism.
EMEK has created rock posters for artists from the Decemberists to Erykah Badu. He works in layers of silkscreens, but also experiments with new techniques, such as laser cutting, holographic printing, and resin casting.
Kim Lakin works with abstract textiles.
Dan Pillers works with words and found objects, to comment on the experience of being gay in a homophobic culture.
Sculpter Nik Mills speaks about his practice and studio.
“Watch Artists at Work” this weekend during the Portland Open Studios tour. This is a great way to meet your favorite local artists and see where they work. You’ll probably discover some new favorites as well! Get more info and purchase a Tour Guide
By Rebecca Conant
I recreate in my weaving my experience of the natural world, incorporating randomness, asymmetry and balance in designs that express memories of my personal geography. –Sylvia Emard
The one line that defines a brand may sum up an artist on a jury application, but it does not begin to define the richness that Sylvia Emard brings to her work. From dye pot to loom, Sylvia plays with color like a painter painting a landscape. Indeed, landscape has been her source of inspiration in playing with color as living or traveling at one time or another in most of the Western states, Sylvia has taken in the wondrous variety and combinations of color that exist in nature.
Many of us first love the colors that look good on us and make us happy. Were she to work only in those colors, Sylvia exclaims she would make everything blue—perhaps allowing the occasional purple with accents of copper. So, preparing to weave a project her process is very organic. Sylvia will stand before her cones of yarn like a patient project leader, waiting to see what colors come forward and volunteer for a project. It may not be until the weaving is completed, and she sees how the colors play out that she realizes, “Oh, these are the colors of the bottom of that lake.
Or, when weaving a commission for a person who doesn’t wear vivid colors, all the neutrals stepped forward resulting in a scarf with every color of mushrooms—and which the client wears when mushroom picking.
Occasionally inspiration comes in more mundane settings, such as the view outside her office window of autumn maple leaves of the trees surrounding a parking lot.
When you visit Sylvia’s basement studio you will marvel at how she is able to bring her personal geography to life in the colors of her textiles. In addition to weaving, she also dyes fabrics using a variety of techniques, including shibori, creating veritable works of wearable art as the scarf shown in this photo suggests a gentle interplay of Earth, Wind, and Fire.
Sylvia Emard is perhaps most in her element when summer comes; and she can spread her garden fairy wings and paint the colors of nature into the warp threads of her loom.
To see what is on her loom and learn more about her process, visit Sylvia Emard’s studio during Portland Open Studios October 8-9 and 15-16. She is artist #23 on the map.
by Careen Stoll (as printed in the Hollywood Star)
One of the intriguing aspects of the annual Portland Open Studios Tour is being able to catch a behind-the-scenes look at the everyday lives of the participating artists. Two artists in NE are dedicated creative mothers with a full family and social life who still manage to devote time to their artistic work. Dafna Margalit and Rebecca Conant are both participants on the Tour this year. Margalit is deeply devoted to her family and its extension, the human family of patients who she nurses at the cardiac ward of OHSU. Conant has enjoyed a lifetime of explorations in the folkloric dances of the Middle East, which have inspired her creative output of accessories for the expressive costumes of belly dancers.
The strongest theme running through the sculptural work of Dafna Margalit is that of family health. In one piece, as many as 20 small sewn stuffed felt “manbirds” are hanging from the ribs of a birdcage, mouths open in animated conversation, with one fallen to the floor of the cage. This is a family, perhaps her large and loving extended family, all chatting away at a gathering, and the one on the floor is the one remembered but lost to the passage of time. Margalit herself is of Middle Eastern background, and her partner is from the Philippines. Though she felt a very strong connection to her extended family in Israel during her younger years living in Eugene, the past few have been full of distraction. She is anticipating an upcoming reunion with great excitement, and it seems evident in her process.
Her parents were both artists and worked in the fields of architecture and engineering: Margalit was exposed to the arts constantly as a girl. She says that she tends to absorb the details of a whole room. Her work is similarly of multiple dimensions: the tactile but also the auditory. She might incorporate the sound of a heartbeat into a piece. As a mother, she spends a lot of time sitting with her children, so she finds a way to carefully stitch scores of die-cut felt hearts.
When you visit Margalit’s studio during the Portland Open Studios Tour, you will also see one part of her extended project to create a cross-cultural understanding of women’s experience of childbirth. Wedges of a wooden octagon are the foundation for a grid texture of the bulb syringes, which are given to every new mother at the hospital. One space is a window peep through which you can see the transcript of a new mother’s recounting of her experience. Each wedge of the octagon is devoted to a different culture.
Rebecca Conant’s attention to detail is focused on character expression in the folkloric dances of the Mediterranean Rim. A performer who is often complimented on her authentic portrayals, she captures the essence of the dance in both the soul of the movement, the costuming, and the accessories that compliment the costume. These accessories she makes for herself and for others. Bias-cut silk ribbon is folded and sewn in such a way that it captures the essence of light and movement in a flower. She delights in creating hairpieces, corsages, and fascinators that move with the person wearing them, that move as if integrated with the character and costume, not distracting from the real star of the show, which is the person.
Describing her flowers as “impressionistic”, she is most pleased when they show “aire”, translated as breath or spirit. Using terms like ‘aerodynamic’ and ‘roll’, she describes the qualities of bias-cut silk as particularly suited to the purpose, since the fabric is luminous and lightweight. That it is cut on a bias (45 degrees from the directions in which it is woven) lends it a slinky open quality. She says, “think of Jean Harlow in the 1930’s- that flow…” Her historical research into regionally accurate costuming pushes her into combining colors that she might otherwise not dare do. Now she adds details to more complicated compositions, such as beaded leaves, feathers, or a berry that only the wearer might see.
You can see Rebecca Conant, stage name Far’ha, perform at the Blue Monk once a month with the band Arabesque. You can see these two artists’ studios on the tour this weekend. Rebecca is number 60 and Dafna is 48.
What really knocks me out about Angelita Surmon’s work is her uncanny ability to go directly into the chaos of lines and layers of tangled branch and twig; into the complexity of shadow and reflection; and to arrive at peace and quiet. Her current paintings on canvas and fused glass are derived from her frequent walks through the local and regional forests and wetlands close to home. Movement in branches, the play of light, and the contrast of textures are what most capture her attention as she revisits each place over the change of seasons. She takes refuge in these frequent meditations on foot, which provide respite from the stresses of daily life in the city; and she invites us to share the peace.
Her work reflects a willingness to investigate her surroundings, and communicates this experience of deep seeing. Her use of color is both rich and subtle, by turns… undemanding. Viewed at close range, the images are abstract and impressionistic. Step back and the images are ordered and classically representational. She paints in a manner that is both fluid and meticulous. The work is careful, but not cerebral.
Surmon’s new work in fused glass is reminiscent of her earlier lithographs. It retains the delicacy and fluidity of her sketches, but now it is infused with light. In fact, she refers to the technique as “painting with light”. The work has this light, intuitive feel to it…just enough information to create the illusion of depth.
Angelita is intrepid in her willingness to re-invent herself artistically, over time. I’ve watched her work evolve over the past 25 years, as it has passed from watercolor landscapes; to pattern and decoration on her own handmade paper, influenced by the a kimonos she saw in Japan; then a preoccupation with antiquities in the form of fabric scraps and mummy wraps, and the way things look after aging. Her work then turned toward illusive space, and became looser and more influenced by Abstract Expressionism. When the work became too predictable she shifted again, this time to the innocence of children’s drawings, and the shadow puppets she found while traveling in Bali. Later, a shift toward more classical representations of the human figure, and the classical roles that having a child presents. This work evolved into a more psychological study of figure in landscape. And now the work has come full circle, with a return to landscape.