“That’s Two Artists That Said There is No Wrong Way!”

NOTE: Portland Open Studios President Kerri Hewett has new roommates: her friend Anna, and her two daughters, ages 9 and 13. While she’s done the tour many years, this is the first year she’s taken kids with her. Read her account below:

Preparing for the tour this year I had my work cut out for me. The car was packed with five of us: Amy from Umatilla, Anna and her two daughters Christina (13) and Ralphie (9), with me driving. Amy had visited during the tour last year as well, so we needed to maximize her visit. My goal this year was to visit new studios to see artists practicing in a wide variety of media, and with two kids this year, I was looking for high volumes of interaction.

From the first studio visit, we struck gold.

Visiting the studio Rick Wheeler and Chas Martin share, the girls immediately fell in love with Rick’s wild cat portraits. His images appear to have been drawn with black ink. I asked Rick to demonstrate scratchboard techniques and explain this medium. He held up his exacto knife and declared, “This is my tool, not a pen or a pencil.” He was using a reference photograph he took of the bear at the zoo in Salt Lake City. Christina’s jaw dropped and eyes widened as he skillfully scraped away the black ink on the image of the bear. Seeing this subtractive technique was definitely a paradigm shift for the girls.

Next, we visited Beth Yazhari to see her intricate, exquisite mixed media beaded artwork. As she explained where individual pieces came from and how she recycled them in a meaningful way, she was revealing her passion for bringing cultures together, across different eras. The kids also got to try it: Beth had three canvas pieces she was opening up for collaboration during the Open Studios weekends and engaged Christina’s interest in sewing to add beads to a piece that was recently started.

We must have talked for nearly an hour about the inspirations and meanings behind the work displayed on the walls of her studio. After a while, and with a little encouragement Ralphie joined in and started a brand-new piece with a completely white canvas.

What I love best about Open Studios is that we aren’t just looking at the “successful” fully finished, framed works we see in a gallery, or at a show opening. Open Studios allows us to view a process, the length of time it takes to get from empty frames, white canvas, or mounds of clay, through the experimentation of image, building skills, creating or avoiding muscle memory techniques –  all leading to those finished products.

Interacting with the girls at home, in their artistic endeavors, I see their frustration at not being able to create a replica of what is in their imagination. Learning a new skill, though frustrating at times, will inevitably bring new ideas to the table. Getting this point across to a younger audience is challenging. They intend a different outcome while confronting this learning curve, and start believing their work is a failure, ugly, incorrect. Beth was the first artist of the day to state that there are no mistakes, no wrong way to add the beads.

Comments from the girls:

“I didn’t know that was a kind of art!”

“She spent 200 hours on that picture!”

We continued to Erin Leichty’s studio nearby. Erin regularly provides hands-on interaction during the Open Studios weekends. The girls got to coat a piece with drywall compound, scrub the paper off an image transfer process, and use chisels and other tools to carve and scrape a sample piece representing the final stages of Erin’s work. Again, “no wrong way” is heard, and duly noted in the car by Christina as we head to Aloha to visit a glass studio offering a sandblasting experience. Additional ah-ha moments include the realization that Erin’s photo transfer process requires a mirrored image to start.

“That stuff (drywall compound) is cool. I kept getting my fingers in the way.”

“I didn’t know some artists let you touch their artwork.”

“That’s two artists that said there was no wrong way.”

Watching a 9-year-old girl sandblast a water glass – Empowering.

Dropped jaws and wide-eyed wonder at nearly every studio – Priceless.

Our mission at Portland Open Studios is to create a direct relationship between working artists and the public, so that we’ll engender a passion for and connection to the arts with the public. There is no more direct way of experiencing this than through the eyes of a child.

Join us!

Friday the 13th

Here we are, the day before the tour starts. Our artists are making sure they’re ready for your visits!

Some last minute announcements: 

Oregon Society of Artists, one of our supporters this year hosting two artists: #42 – Farooq Hassan and #43 – Susan Kuznitsky. Additional artist studios in the building are welcoming visitors – see their ad on page 37 of the 2017 Guide to Local Artists.

The Terwilliger bridge will be closed Oct 14-15  making it difficult to find #15 Leslie Lee and #16 Dennis Meiners during Portland Open Studios. 

Here’s the quickest re-route off I-5 South: Take the Terwilliger exit – stay in the left lane and turn left onto Barbur Boulevard. Turn left on 19th St. by Safeway, turn left on  Spring Garden Road, left onto Taylor’s Ferry, cross Terwilliger, turn left on 4th, or 3rd  or 2nd Ave. to 8225 SW 3rd Ave.  It’s a quick detour REALLY 

Also, Multnomah Blvd will take you to the east end of the bridge via the Terwilliger exit off I-5 N.

Have a great tour and drive safe!

Introducing Artist No. 50 – Dane Eisenbart

Dane Eisenbart is new to the tour this year, and we’re excited to have him on board. He was born and raised in the surrounding forests of the Tualatin Mountains, where he could often be found drawing or exploring outside. It’s here that he developed a fascination with the natural world which continues to inspire his artwork today. He enjoys exploring remote wilderness, hunting for small treasures, sea kayaking, and sharing stories of all kinds.

His work is characterized by anthropomorphic depictions of wildlife, dueling archetypes of light and dark, and an aesthetic of motion. He weaves together visual stories that resemble dream-like scenarios where nature’s laws are bent and new mythologies are born.

I had to ask how he got involved with art, because his art is so unusual. He explained “My mom is an incredible artist and I grew up idolizing her. There was always a variety of art supplies laying around the house and I took to art making really early. It was an intuitive way for me to spend my time and channel my energy. I think I proclaimed I would be a professional artist when I was four or five years old.”

“Every composition begins with the process of brainstorming, research, and stock image collection. I piece my findings together and begin sketching out the idea small before translating it to canvas. I work in multiple layers of oil paint. I rough in the first layer quickly without worrying too much about perfection. The second and third layers are often semi translucent glazes that shift the colors in the right direction and fine-tune the shadows and highlights of the piece. Each subsequent layer focuses more intently on details and my brush tends to get smaller the longer I work on a painting.

If you visit Dane in his studio this weekend or next, he will be showing several paintings in varying stages of progress and many more that are finished. He feels …”it’s is a great opportunity to learn about my process and see my creative space in person. As an added bonus you get to check out the Falcon Art Community which is home to an impressive collection of large format paintings. The space kind of has the feeling of a secret museum / art dungeon”

VISITORS 101 : GUIDE TO PORTLAND OPEN STUDIOS

So you want to experience Portland Open Studios over the next two weekends (Oct 14-15 and 21-22).  You’ve got a choice of 103 artists to visit over four days.  It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that planning for your tour might help.

Start by picking up our tour guide:  You can download a free phone app, or one with more bells and whistles for $5.99.  Or you can buy our commemorative full-color print guide for $15 at New Seasons, most art stores, and other select retail locations.   The guide is organized by communities (there are eight communities this year), and includes maps and addresses of participating artist studios in each community.  You can find artists by location, by medium, or by name!

We talked to two long-time tour goers, Sharee Schreiner and Diane Hunt, to get some advice on how to best do Portland Open Studios.  Some practical tips:

  • Plan ahead. Spend some time deciding which artists you want to visit.   Diane does this by getting familiar with the tour guide during the weeks before the tour (specifically, she keeps it on her passenger seat in the car, and skims the guide while stopped at traffic lights).  Sharee determines whom she might be interested in visiting by perusing the guide, then going online and researching those earmarked artists, and by visiting their personal websites. Once you decide whom you want to visit, mark them on the calendar, and plan your tour around the map itself, maximizing the experience.   You can also buy the phone app for $5.99, and mark favorites (it will automatically give you driving directions).
  • Don’t be shy, ask questions. The artists have been preparing for this tour for months, and they have a lot to share with you.  Just let them know what interests you.
  • Expect a really personal experience. Immerse yourself in the fun of it.  Especially if you buy something.  Says Diane:  If you go into each studio in the right frame of mind, you’re not just buying a piece of art, you are buying the story of your encounter with the artist.  When we visited her house, Diane had a story for each piece of art she bought during the Portland Open Studios tour.
  • If something grabs you, buy it. There’s a good chance that if you don’t, it won’t be there when you come back.  “I have missed things,” says Diane ruefully.  Remember that many of these artists will let you buy a piece in installments if you need it.  Don’t be afraid to ask about an installment plan
  • Follow us on Instagram (pdxopenstudios) and watch for chances to win prizes during the tour.
  • Be respectful to the artist and their space, because in so many cases the studio is their home. You’re going into someone’s private space, so it’s important to be respectful of that.

ARTISTS: TOP 6 TIPS FOR MAXIMIZING THE STUDIO TOUR

Hey artists: the tour is just days away. Are you excited? Long-time tour goer, Diane Hunt, wants you not to downplay the importance of this event: “My moment with these talented people of great innovation and creativity, they make me feel like I’m being lifted up to their world, just talking to them, hearing their creative process. Watching them do their thing, it lifts me up into that world, and then I get to bring some of it home and I always remember being inspired or moved by what I saw.”

Here are a few practical tips to make Open Studios a success:

  • Be welcoming to the guests. As Diane says, they are stepping into your world, many times into your private home, so they will naturally be just a little anxious. Be sure they know how glad you are to see  them. Acknowledge them immediately, and if in conversation with other guests, invite them to join you.
  • Don’t go it alone. Because you need to be attentive to all your guests, make sure that you’re able to give them your full attention by enlisting other people to help – relatives, friends, your intern for sure. They can help by handling your sales, your zip code list, any hands-on activity you have planned, etc.
  • Build your mailing list. Board member and participating artist Maude May has a great way of getting people to sign her mailing list. “When people arrived at my studio last year, they had the opportunity to create their own small encaustic artwork,” she says. “Many people wanted to pay me. I told them the blocks were free and I’d very much appreciate if they’d sign my mailing list. I had more than 200 signatures that weekend.”
  • Think small – dream big. You might have some big sales, and that would be great. But don’t count on it. What’s more likely is sales of small works. I’m not an artist myself, but I, like Diane, have been going on the tour for many years. I always have gift-giving in mind during the tour. Things I can get for under $50. Big sales can happen later, as you develop a relationship with patrons. And what better way to start a relationship with a potential patron then to meet them in your studio? Collectors like Diane tend to gravitate to the same artists and collect from many of the same artists.
  • Don’t forget to post, post, post on social media. Dig out that Instagram sheet we gave you last week and start using it. Encourage visitors to post while they’re in your studio. If you don’t have a copy, you can find it here.
  • Log your visitors. Please print out and get everyone who comes to your studio to note their zip code on this zip code sheet. It helps PDXOS by letting us know where our visitors are coming from, so we can apply for grants and offer more services in upcoming years, and it helps you by keeping track of how many people are visiting your studio during the tour.

Our Glass artists

How do you like your glass? This year Portland Open Studios welcomes four very different artists working with this tricky medium: Bob Heath, Kurumi Conley, Carli Schultz, and Heather Fields. These four artists have very distinctively different working styles.

Kurumi Conley (studio #66, NE Portland) is a fused-glass artist returning to Open Studios this year. Walking up to her studio you’ll see glass mushrooms and other elemental forms decorating her lawn and driveway. Entering her working space you may see pieces and parts of many projects, all in different stages. From creating frit in a mortar, to drawing delicate geometric patterns in powdered glass on a tile, the resulting works of art embody organic, three-dimensional shapes and multi-layered fused tiles and dishes. Kurumi also teaches workshops for students of all ages.

Heather Fields (Studio #60, N Portland) is a well known glass-blowing artist with Portland Open Studios. Heather and her husband and partner in the studio are primarily creating blown glass pieces shaped as broad pouches or more round forms and incorporating unique shades of color to create depth and variegation from the different metal oxides in the glass. Various sized glass bits and chunks along with strings are swirled together during the blowing process create layers that seem to emerge from the background.

Bob Heath (Studio #32, Forest Park) is new to Portland Open Studios this year. An engineer and member of the Oregon Glass Guild, Bob was also a finalist in the 2014 Bullseye Emerging Artists bi-annual competition. His work requires multiple components or sub-assemblies after fusing items, cutting, reassembling and fusing again to create kaleidoscopic and geometric patterns. When you visit Bob during Open Studios event, you can participate in a hands-on, low-cost activity: sandblasting a water, wine or beer glass!

Carli Schultz (Studio #24, Beaverton) also returns this year. Carli works with torches and hand tools to create beautiful pendants, ornaments and various pieces. She has a long-standing love of jewelry which combines her skills in metalsmithing and stone setting with the slow flowing glass at her workbench. Take a look through the protective glasses to see the hidden details behind the orange and blue flame that envelop her creations as she adds color, shape and texture.

While all these artists use supplies and glass from various manufacturers, Portland’s own Bullseye Glass is supporting Portland Open Studios by purchasing ad space in our 2017 Guide and offering their own hands-on activity at the SE Portland Resource Center. Stop in to make your own magnet during the Portland Open Studios event! Page XX of the guide has more details.