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!
By Samyak Yamauchi
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.
What an exhilarating moment – Portland Open Studios turns 20!
What started out as an idea to connect artists directly to the public in the basement of our founder, Portland artist Kitty Wallis, has morphed into an annual, educational, citywide art studio tour. Though it’s taken many forms over the years, for at least 15 years the second and third weekends of October are reserved for art lovers to meet and explore the artists living and working in their neighborhoods and beyond in their natural habitat – the art studio. As we have grown, we’ve recognized the increasing need for this type of art exposure, because we believe that creativity empowers and everyone should experience it, do it, and feel it directly.
At age 20, we can assure you – our 2018 Art Studio Tour will be better than ever! As usual, we’ll jury in 100 artists to represent our city’s professional working artists. As usual, during Oct. 13-14 and 20-21, we will invite the public to join us in those 100 artist studios, seeing (and often participating in) the creation of art.
What we will change this year is how we deliver our information about the tour. While our printed guide, so generously distributed through New Seasons grocery stores, used to be the main information source for locating artists during the tour, that is no longer the case. Now, most tourgoers opt to purchase the tour guide in the form of a mobile app. Meanwhile the printed guide sales have steadily declined over the years – it’s become a very costly brochure that fewer people pick up or even notice.
That’s why we are excited to announce our new partnership to print and distribute our paper version of the tour guide – with Portland Monthly Magazine! This year, tour goers can find the guide in the October issue (which focuses, appropriately, on weekend getaways). That brings the cost of the guide for tour goers down from $15 to $6, and with circulation numbers of 55,000, we are anticipating dramatically increased exposure! This new guide will be a streamlined version of our former 80-page tome – so you’ll be able to access the information much more quickly.
We’ll also be rolling out an updated mobile app tour guide (more details on that to come), and we’ll be updating our website so that people who want to access the artists can do so for free.
Welcome to Portland Open Studios 20th year – or as we like to think of it, Open studios 2.0!
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.