Awhile back there were several interviews done with people in the Portland art community and visitors to the tour. In the next few days I’m going to share them with you so that you can get an idea of what you can expect when you participate in Portland Open Studios yourself.
The first interview I want to share was done with Donna Guardino, the owner and curator of the Guardino Gallery in Alberta. http://www.guardinogallery.com/The Gallery has been a staple of Portland’s art scene for over fifteen years.
A. I think it has opened the eyes of people. There was a time when Portland was not an art town. And Portland is an art town now. Everybody recognizes it. There are a tremendous amount of artists here.
Q. You show a lot of emerging artists.
A. I like emerging artists. I want someone to come in with a nice portfolio, a CD and a resume and all of that kind of stuff. But if they come in, and they don’t have it, and their work is dynamite—that’s all that matters. I have to keep my mind open because I’ll miss it if I don’t.
I was on a panel for emerging artists about getting started and somebody else was saying the portfolio has to be this way or that way, it has to be slides, etc. I thought, you know you could be missing that gem there. Over the years, I have given people their first shows. Shows where I’ve watched them develop. It’s pretty exciting.
The tour helps me keep abreast of the scene. I always look at the calendar to find out who’s who. I think it’s good for Portland because it does expose the fact that there are a lot of artists and a lot of studios in Portland. A lot of people are working here.
Q. How do you choose what will show in the gallery?
A. I really like to look at the artwork personally. Touch it. Hold it. And talk to the artist. It’s important to me to know the direction of an artist.
Q. How does that affect your experience of the work?
A. I can give you a little example. Somebody came in and showed me six paintings. Three I liked a lot and for three, the direction was strange. So I asked the person, what do you think? What’s your direction? And they said, oh, those three there, those are the past. I don’t want to do those anymore. And the three that I was less interested in were the direction they wanted to go in. So, when you get to talk to an artist one-on-one, you get to find out where they’re going, what their ideas are, and what kind of a show they would give you.
A lot of what I do in the gallery, even though the artist is not present, I really want to know about the process. If you ask me about solar plated intaglio, I can tell you about solar plated intaglio. I grill each artist to find out about their process. My belief is that when you come and buy a piece of art you want some identity with it, you respond to it somehow, and sometimes when you get that extra bit of information about well, this is done this way or this person has this kind of history. You know, she used to be a potter and now she’s a glass blower or whatever. Those things factor in to how you buy or how you look at a piece of art.
I don’t believe in telling people this means this or this means that. I think a viewer should look at it and respond to it in their own way. The open studio does the same thing. A person goes in, sees a piece of art, and they connect with the artist or they connect with the process. There’s some history there. I know that in my house I have lots and lots and lots of art from over the years. And when I look back on it, it is all from people I have connected with in some way.