Portlanders are known for out-of-the box thinking, maverick action and putting crazy ideas into motion – in general, keeping it weird. Portland Open Studio artists are no exception to the rule – you will no doubt be amazed by the 99 artists who will show you their processes over the second and third weekends of October (Oct. 13-14 and 20-21). But even amongst this powerhouse creative group, some have risen above and beyond to create innovative, interesting, and – dare we say it – weird ways of making art.
So where can you find the top most unusual artistic processes during open studios?
Angela White-Wenger (Studio 74, North Portland Community 5), harvests orb weaver spider webs on porcelain forms in her backyard, and fires the designs into the final product. “I imagine them lasting for billions of years,” she says. “The webs are records of many things. In their design, scale, shape, captured contents (bugs, seeds, leaves, dust and debris), in their broken and repaired areas – they reflect and record the bodies, locations, surrounding conditions and daily activities of their creators.” Linda Ethier (Studio 30, Southeast, Community 3), creates delicate, intricately constructed glass sculptures with an ancient glass technique known as pate de verre, a process using finely ground particles of glass packed into molds and fired until they melt into forms. She then piles these delicate glass objects layer upon layer, firing each layer, and using molds to maintain the shape of each individual piece. “I use images of the natural world of things gathered and cherished since childhood: feathers, leaves, bones, egg shells, twigs and the odd mysterious trinket, saved as treasures to be revisited, to be seen and pondered during quiet moments.”
David Friedman (Studio 53, Northeast, Community 4), is a paper cutter who uses color optics to add depth and texture to his work. That involves cutting more than one layer, and putting colored pastel papers behind black pastel paper, creating a duplex paper to cut from, then mounting it up so its colorful shadows reflect on a white matteboard to which it is attached. “That makes color an integral part of each piece,” says Friedman, who developed the technique on his own. How unusual is it? In July, he did a demo for the Guild of American Paper Cutters, which met in Portland. “None of them had seen anything like it,” he said.
When we tried to hand sculptor/welders Rio Butler (Studio #92, Southwest Portland, Community 8) and Robert Travis Pond (Studio #3, Oregon City/West Linn, Community 1) an art store coupon, both turned it down. “I never use art supplies,” says Pond, shrugging. His beautifully gestural, crafted sculptures of animals and other objects are based on materials he pulls from scrap heaps. “I look for objects with significance and meaning,” he says. Butler, whose whimsical structures create an entirely new, mechanical world, agrees. “I scavenge things from every job I’ve ever done,” he says, “and then I let the pieces talk to me to tell me what to make.”
Photographer Jon Gottshall (Studio #69, North Portland, Community 5) and multimedia artist Kit Carlton (Studio #93, SW Portland, Community 8), both fuse old-school and new school artistic processes. Gottshall starts by printing a photograph onto clear, non-absorbent acetate, which allows the ink to remain fluid as it prints – and the longer he waits, the more it changes. He scans several changes, then overlays the scans into the original photograph, before printing a final copy. The result? Photographs that look like paintings. Carlton creates marks using pen, paint, and other art supplies on various surfaces, then photographs and layers those images using a computer – a process she terms “digilog – a combo of analog and digital art.”
And finally, Elise Wagner (Studio #73, North Portland, Community 5), combines encaustic painting (mixing wax with paint) with collograph printmaking. She now teaches this process nationally.
This Friday, July 13th from 6-9pm you can see many artists drawing, painting and mixed media–ing to help benefit the Portland Art Museum. The Monster Drawing Rally will be held between the buildings of the Portland Art Museum. Several Portland Open Studios artist will be drawing at the event including Jesse Reno, Melissa Monroe and David Friedman. Past PDXOS artists will also be drawing. All finished works will sell for $35.
Proceeds support free school and youth programs at the Museum.
Bring the Family!
Stop by the L’il Drawing Rally an area where kids and families are encouraged to sit down and draw. This year’s L’il Drawing Rally features a fun experimental figure drawing activity led by artist Kristin Musser.
Portland Open Studios is pleased to announce the 2018 participating artists, in alphabetical order. Welcome to the 20th year!!!
Maude Anne May
Lulu Moonwood Murakami
Joanne Radmilovich Kollman
Randall David Tipton
Lisa M Wiser
By Leah Kohlenberg, President, Portland Open Studios
As we announce our latest round of Portland Open Studio artists, I am struck by how the blind jury process raises the quality of our group. Each year, three respected art professionals volunteer to review applicants as part of a jury and score them. This process ensures that we have one of the best art studio tours in the region.
But today, I don’t want to talk about the successes. I want to talk about the tremendous value of failure.
I’m continually brought back to a major teaching moment of my life, which was applying to Portland Open Studios — and getting rejected.
Back in 2014, two years after I’d moved here, I had met enough artists applying to the yearly event that I wanted in, too. I sent in what I considered my best paintings and was soundly told “No thanks.” As someone who had been painting for 12 years at that point, spending five years in Eastern Europe studying with classically trained artists there, and someone who was teaching art classes out of my studio-living room, that was a tough pill to swallow.
But it also spurred me. I reevaluated the imagery I was focusing on, which resulted in me simplifying and honing in on my subjects more tightly. It moved me away from what I now think of as a “gimmicky approach” (more on that later). I took two drawing classes at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. And I continued to paint and boost my skills. I befriended artists who had gotten into Portland Open Studios, saw the quality of their work and talked to them about what made a successful painting.
The next year, I got in. I was then invited to join the Portland Open Studios board. For the first time, I was allowed to sit in during the final selection process – and I learned even MORE about what works and what doesn’t in a juried show. And every year since then, I have juried in. (Yes, board members have to go through the jury selection process too).
Each jury panel brings its own set of values to an event, and that jury changes each year. Each year, we have a new and (particularly this year) a widening playing field. That means each year, to continue the sports analogy, is a brand new ball game. I also know that each year, it remains nerve wracking for me to apply – just because I’m president of this organization doesn’t mean I’m assured to jury in. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’ll submit. Do the images read consistently? Are they photographed well, and cropped correctly? Are they my best work?
But don’t just believe what I say – let me show you what I mean. I’ve chosen to share the three images with you that did NOT make the cut. Read the analysis of each painting in the caption beneath it. Let my errors be your teaching moment.
I want to emphasize here that while I am critiquing each painting, I also still love all the paintings. One sold, one I gave away as a gift, and one hangs in my studio today. I love them because each painting is a step towards something better. And there are elements of each that I think do work. I love them because they refer me to the next jumping off point. They are still my creations, and they’ve taught me so much.
Painting 1: This oil painting suffers from what I think of as “trying too hard” syndrome, or “too gimmicky.” As a newbie to Portland, I was caught up in all the goofy stuff you see here – and I tried to create a composition and stuff it all into one painting. This creates a lot of inconsistencies – the detail of the architecture plays badly against the simplicity of the figures. That strange thing (it was a cow head) with the jeans tossed over the side – what is it? The plusses on this painting: composition isn’t bad, some elements are well rendered and it does appear I’m aiming at storytelling (even if the story isn’t clear).
Painting 2: The first problem? This entry is very inconsistent with painting one. It’s a different medium (pastel on acrylic paint), and it doesn’t have the same narrative attempts as No. 1. Also, this painting does not “pop” – meaning there isn’t enough strong lights and darks, so contrast isn’t good. It’s hard to tell what we are looking at. This was a fancy lunch I had in Croatia, and the tiny orange wedges on the right are whole fried fish. Again a vague attempt at telling a narrative, but here, the painting elements aren’t so strong.
Painting 3: Although this painting has a certain drama, once again, it’s an example of “too gimmicky.” I went through a period where I painted reflections, and this is one of them – buildings and a tree reflected in a back car window in the neighborhood where I lived in Brooklyn, New York, just before I moved to Portland. I even have the car side windows and rear-view mirror included. At the time, I thought that I wanted the viewer to have to look closely to see what was going on. Now, it just seems extra confusing, and I can see why the jury didn’t like it. On a side note: I still like this painting – perhaps for the turning point it represents to me – and it’s hanging in my studio now.
And with that, let the twentieth year of Portland Open Studios officially BEGIN!
Many aspects of the 2018 Portland Open Studios Tour will be different this year. Besides the new presentation of the tour guide, we will be looking at ‘Community’ in a different way. We would like to build more community and commitment within our artist communities and our group as a whole.
To that end:
The artists will be delineated into groups, but there will be no group leaders, so we’ll be asking artists to come up with ways to make connections with the other artists in their PDXOS neighborhood.
We’ll be asking artists to promote PDXOS by volunteering to do demos and spreading the word to their own networks via social media promotion.
We’ll be asking for help with tasks that need doing.
We’ll also be holding PDXOS artist community building/networking gatherings to share ideas, ask questions, and support each other.
We are looking forward to working with this year’s artist group to make Portland Open Studios 2018 a great event!
We’re so excited about the three individuals who agreed to judge the applicants for our 20th year Tour. As usual, our jury is comprised of a working artist, an art educator and a gallerist.
Our art educator this year is Victor Maldonado, also a working interdisciplinary artist who creates conceptually driven multidisciplinary works. He is an Assistant Professor and Inclusions Specialist at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, a freelance writer and an independent curator of Northwest art. He received his BFA in Painting and Drawing from the California College of Art and his MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Victor draws his inspiration from his upbringing in California and Mexico in a family of migrant field workers. Deploying both traditional mediums including painting, printmaking and drawing alongside contemporary strategies such as performances, installations and interventions, Victor expresses the challenge and power of identity to author experience and perception. His work has been acquired by the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX. He is represented exclusively by Froelick Gallery, Portland.
Arvie Smith, our ‘working artist’ jurist, also qualifies as an art educator, as he is a Professor Emeritus of Painting at Pacific Northwest College of Art where he taught since the mid 80’s. He spent his childhood in rural Texas and South Central and Watts Los Angles, California. He received his BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art and his MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Hoffberger School of Painting under Grace Hartigan. During a sojourn in Italy in 1983, Arvie studied at Il Bisonte and SACI in Florence. From 1998 to the present he has traveled extensively through Ghana, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso, West Africa.
Arvie Smith transforms the history of oppressed and stereotyped segments of the American experience into lyrical two-dimensional master works. His paintings are commonly of psychological images revealing deep sympathy for the dispossessed and marginalized members of society in an unrelenting search for beauty, meaning, and equality. His work reflects powerful injustices and the will to resist and survive. His memories of growing up in the South add to his awareness of the legacy that the slavery of the African American has left with all Americans today. His intention is to solidify the memory of atrocities and oppression so they will never be forgotten or duplicated. Arvie says he creates this work “because he must”.
Our gallerist this year is Donna Guardino of The Guardino Gallery. For most of her life, art has been Donna Guardino’s livelihood. In the 1970’s she applied to the Mill Valley Festival and was turned down. The next year, she was asked by the same organization to be a juror for their show. This experience gave her a life-long lesson: There are so many variables in the jury process, you can’t take it personally. You just have to try again. This is the advice she is still giving artists today as she looks at work from hundreds of artists as the curate for Guardino Gallery.
With her history as a painter, printer, etcher and sculptor she was exposed to many art forms. Helping set up two non-profit art organizations, running several galleries and ultimately her own gallery, seeing art makes her curious about each artist’s process. She saw that for her, there wasn’t a strict boundary between fine art and craft. Now, as a curator, she looks for art that has a visual impact on her.
Are you an artist? Thinking about applying to Portland Open Studios, but have questions? Want to meet others in the art community?
We are participating with two uber-cool galleries, Ori Gallery and Una Gallery, in the Feb. 26 Art Spark organized by the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC). The event is from 6-8 pm at the Lagunitas Community Room, and like all Art Sparks you’ll get to meet and mingle with many other folks in our multi-faceted art community with music, beer and food.
There will also be a brief talk about the barriers and best practices for responding to open art calls, and talk about what we are all doing to address equity, inclusion and diversity. Plus there will be a raffle with swag, and we are giving out slots to ten artists to get your art professionally photographed FOR FREE if you’d like to apply to our open studios event this year. More details here: https://portlandartspark.com/
Leah Kohlenberg, our President, is a professional, internationally known artist, educator and published author, but she is even more than that to our Board. She joined the board in 2016 and has been a force of nature ever since. Leah is a visionary who has exciting ideas for Portland Open Studios and the determination to inspire the Board and others surrounding us to bring them to fruition.
Maude May, Vice President, joined our board in 2017 and has been a source of energy and enthusiasm ever since. She is a working artist, with a background in graphic design, having run her own graphic company for over 15 years. This year she takes over the position of Vice President and she promises to be a guiding force for all the exciting things about to happen.
Jolinda Miller, new to the board this year, is the PDXOS Secretary. She is a teacher for Portland Public Schools and sees each day the power of art to lift and inspire her students.
When Shelly Edwards isn’t rockin’ our books as Portland Open Studio’s Treasurer, she’s helping people understand Alzheimer’s and its effects or serving as a worship leader and pianist for Portland First United Methodist Church. She gives an exceptional amount of her time to serving others, and our Board is grateful to have her watching over our funds.
Kit Carlton, a working mixed media artist, serves as our Events Chair and periodic contributor to our blog and newsletter. As a bit of a polymath, she revels in all things art history, music (especially of the synth variety), neuroscience, philosophy and poetry. She obtained her dual-degree from Texas State University before eventually transplanting to the PNW over a decade ago. Her degrees in Anthropology and English (as well as her constant self-directed research) invariably shape her aesthetic, which focuses on the intersection of science and pnuema. This is Kit’s first year with the board, but given her versatility and task-drive undoubtedly our events will come off without a hitch.
Charlotte Cunningham, while not a formal member of the Board, still serves in a vital capacity as our Administrator, managing the artist application and acceptance process and the database. An artist herself, she also spends time sketching, crocheting, and assisting in the art department of her son’s grade school.
Kerri Hewett is our President emeritus. She spent the last three years reforming the board when we lost our administrator, Jason Kappus. She also updated the website and is the reason we are able to take off at a run this year with new ideas and a new energetic spirit. We treasure her knowledge and welcome her input.
David Friedman, our co-Communications Chair and Webmaster, is new on the board this year. David is a working artist, focused on the media of papercutting. He is also a website specialist and graphic artist (he designed and maintains the Art in the Pearl website). We are extremely fortunate that he will be shepherding our Website and helping with our new app.
Duck Holland, new to the Board this year, will be involved in fundraising as well a serving as our Community Liaison. Her background spans art restoration to corporate executive to advocate for artists and the artist community. “My mission is to make PDXOS a ‘must see’ on every Portlanders’ calendar. And I play bass.”
Pat Kane is our co-Communications Chair. This will be her sixth year on the Board. She publishes the newsletter and the blog, focusing on our artists and their accomplishments. She also utilizes her writing experience to edit all written content that goes out.
Janie Lowe, new to the Board this year, is our Education Chair. She studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Janie already has some great ideas to energize our education program. She co-founded YOLO ColorHouse, designing the harmonious palettes in the ColorHouse collection. Thankfully for all of us she is back in her studio now, and painting again.
Samyak Yamauchi, our Volunteer Coordinator, is a spontaneous painter who joined the board in 2017, after four years as a participating artist. She’s had a challenge from the start since we removed the volunteer requirement for our artists. Even so, she has helped the board stay on track with her loving attitude towards all things Portland.