Robert McWilliams: Visionary/ Outsider

by Carolyn Hazel Drake

You could describe Dr. Robert McWilliams as a career outsider artist.  For almost forty years, he has been channeling his humor, collector’s eye, and unique perspective into sculptures that resonate with human experience on an individual, yet somehow universal, scale.  He is quick to point out, however, that while he has been in dozens of shows, “I still tell people that I am an amateur artist rather than a real artist… I’ve never had any art training and I’m more amazed than anyone that I’m still making and showing art at age seventy.”

Yet it’s difficult to reconcile the word amateur with Robert’s work.  The freshness and playfulness in his approach to form, surface, and subject matter come from a thoughtful, practiced hand and mind – a mind that just happens to have a good sense of humor. The success of a piece like Conductor, for instance, demands that the relationship between the metal (early 19th century hand-forged gate hinges) and the wood (walnut), the diagonal angles, the distribution of emphasis, and the negative space all combine to strike a balance that still maintains some tension.

Conductor

The title Conductor also works at several levels: the implied conductor at his podium, but also the original role of the gate hinge as a sort of conductor of individuals going to and fro, and finally the electric and thermal conducting quality of metal.  Many of his titles play with meaning this way, simultaneously poking fun and making reference.

Robert’s love of folk and outsider art initially evolved from a very practical need: inexpensive furniture.  He turned this need into a skill: “My experience refinishing and repairing furniture gave me an appreciation of the complex patinas that old wood and iron surfaces acquire.  My interest in antiques, crafts and folk art led me to begin woodcarving, which later came to include other kinds of sculpture.”

With a doctorate in geology, Robert had a successful thirty-year career as a professor at Ohio’s Miami University.  He sees his career as distinct from his life as a collector and maker of art, but inasmuch as geology is also the study of the effect of time on the earth, it seems fitting that the themes and materials in his work acknowledge time through personal narrative, found materials, and patina: “Almost every piece I make has a personal story behind it.  My work combines whimsy, humor, irony and nostalgia.”

If Dreams Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride

“I carved If Dreams Were Horses Beggars Would Ride, and like many other times, I named my work after I made it, using Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for inspiration.  The quote is from John Ray 1627-1705, who I have never read or heard of, but who also coined the phrases ‘blood is thicker than water,’ ‘money begets money’ and ‘misery loves company’.  The quote fits the piece … I guess it reminds me of when I was an impoverished student.”

The Cow that Jumped Over the Moon

The Cow That Jumped Over the Moon is made of a foundry wheel, drawer pulls, a wooden salad bowl and the bushing from the wheel.

Portrait of the Artist as a Turkey

Portrait of the Artist as a Turkey is made from a stainless steel teapot, a stove burner liner and the front of an old drawer.  The back has a bull’s eye for aiming your foot at his rear end.  The inscription is ‘Lord, I am not worthy’.  It is painted with artist’s lead base oil paint, which gives it an unusually solemn patina.  It’s all about pomposity and a reminder not to take myself too seriously, which most of the time I don’t.”

Robert’s studio is not to be missed during the tour.  He openly acknowledges just how fortunate he is to have space, light, and a view from Mt. Tabor (not to mention parquet floors, a wet bar, and a fireplace!).

“I call my work Visionary Sculpture because I don’t know what else to call it,” says Robert. The title seems apt – and anything but accidental.

Scott Conary and Analogue Jane

by Careen Stoll

Every so often on the journey of life, one reaches seemingly impassable terrain.   In January of this year, Scott Conary’s wife gave birth to a girl with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.  Within a few days, she endured the first of three surgeries to be spaced out over her childhood.  Scott describes the surgery as something from science fiction, and the experience of those weeks of raw fear and unreal, unavoidable processing of each family member’s pain as akin to stopping a train.

Scott Conary at work in his studio. Photo by Aaron Rogosin

How does the creative person navigate such shifts in their personal landscape?  Scott’s paintings are at once straightforward and mysterious:  figures stand in undefinable communication with each other, and farmhouses might be placed on only semi-recognizeable land.  When describing his paintings, he writes that he tries to create a “solidity” in the play between the subject matter and how much he enjoys using the paint itself as subject matter.  Where, then, is his new reality, as the fragile child that he loves is subjected to tangles of probes and tubes.  She was given the name Analogue Jane in reference to her eventual ability to escape these impositions of her surgery.  His painting is  “driven by a love and curiosity of the natural world and how we live within it.”  As his internal creative narrative incorporates a new character, how will his dry and kind sense of humor assist him in the description of this beloved new life?

Scott will be opening his studio again in October.  Be sure to check out his portfolio at Conary.org.

Elisabeth Walden's meta-modernism

by Careen Stoll

Elisabeth Walden is one of the two recipients of the Kimberly Gales Scholarship for Young Artists this year. She has moved here recently from New York to refine her print technique in preparation for continued studies in the arts at a graduate school. The arc of her brilliance is likely to be long: with a BA Cum Laude from Yale and a naturally confident manner, she brings a consideration to her making process that will easily translate to any expression she may choose.

Elisabeth Walden at the Bite Studio. photo by Aaron Rogosin

Walden describes a feeling of ambiguity when representing the gallery spaces in which she has spent considerable time as an undergraduate and as an intern. In the jewel-like format of an aquatint print with inlaid chine-colle, she deconstructs the spaces that are designed to bring light to the art while maintaining their own spine. Walden’s fascination rests on clarifying the existence of that light caught in the geometry of walls and shadows which she then repeats via the print suite in subtle variations of mood and focus.

"African Art Gallery" from the Yale Art Gallery Suite. Aquatint with Chine Colle, 8 by 10

Take, for example, her suite based on the Yale University Art Gallery designed by Louis Kahn. Pictured above is a print clearly showing the relationship of the ceiling to the walls designed to be portable and floating above the floor. Walden loves the mathematical origins of the ceiling design inspired by the pyramids of Giza. She also loves the light that passes under the wall, and chose to draw the viewer’s focus towards it by zooming in until the prints became abstract theme and variations. Yet within the context of the suite, the viewer is given the necessary meta- awareness: this is a print hanging on a wall, of walls on which are hung prints. Her use of chine-colle heightens the experience even more: by adding a mild slip of colored rice paper, to denote the wall, she is formally adding light behind the darkness of the inks.

Concerning her internship at the Guggenheim, which she enjoyed in the summer after her degree, Walden has some pointed commentary on Frank Lloyd Wright’s use of the spiral. She remarks that Lloyd Wright hated the New York grid, and would have like to tear it all down and rebuild the city with spirals. She says the grid is what New York is all about, and so in her prints, she has shoved the Guggenheim back into the box-shaped buildings. Again she explores the suite, which she is completing: subtle moods, abstract composition, focusing on the light.

"Stiles Courtyard" early 2009. Aquatint with a rollover, 4 by 5in.`

Elisabeth currently works at Bite Studio and her work can be seen there on First Fridays. She loves the sense of community that comes with this studio and the wider art world here in Portland. Just last month, she was awarded an Honorable Mention in the juried show associated with the Cascade AIDS Project. Her participation in Portland Open Studios as a scholarship winner was also a pleasant surprise, and we are pleased to support her.

For more information and images of Elisabeth’s work, go to elisabethwalden.com
Information about bite studio is available at bitestudio.org

Be Prepared for Anything to Happen When You Visit Mary Bennett's Studio

By Shu-Ju Wang


Above, gallery installation by Mary Bennett.

By her own accounts, Mary Bennett’s work is all over the board. She’s passionate about the collaborative process and public participation, both of which are notoriously difficult to predict and project what the end results will be.

She’s also new in town, having just moved here one week prior to the 2009 Portland Open Studios weekend. After crisscrossing the country from San Francisco to Santa Fe, Savannah, New York and Boston before settling in Portland, she’s ever eager to delve deeper into the artistic community and in engaging the PDX public in her work.

And here’s one example of what Portland might be in for—while in San Francisco, she spent two years developing a public art concept that involved random mailings of handmade postcards, dialogues & interactions with perfect strangers and documenting it all. The project never happened, although she did pay two years worth of rental on a post office box in anticipation.

After moving to Santa Fe, she implemented the project. This time, using her home address and phone number, she created untold numbers of handmade postcards (each in duplicates) and randomly chose 180 recipients from the telephone book. Over the following 6 months, each person received up to 8 postcards in sequence. The first postcards said “hello,” the second said “how are you?” And so on. The postcards could be stopped if the recipients called or wrote to put a stop to them.

Because Santa Fe was a small community, she imagined that this would be a conversation starter among those who received postcards, such as “hey, who do we know in that part of town that might be sending these?” But instead, the dialogues and interactions seemed strictly between her and her recipients, her and the police, and her and the local prison warden.

She had people question her sanity, she received anonymous phone calls, strange home visits, and became friends with the warden’s wife. At the end of six months, the duplicate postcards, documentations of the interactions, and all the recipients who hung on to the end all came together in an exhibit, which one critique called the best racial integration experiment the city had ever seen.

Mary Bennett installation
Above, installation view of the Dialogue Project.

The project was repeated in Memphis. And once again, the process was able to cut through racial & economic lines, to bring groups of people together at events that otherwise rarely drew a diverse crowd.

Mary Bennett installation 2
Above, detail of installation view.

When Mary is not devising ways to mix things up for the public, to move & blur rigid social & economic lines, she’s busy tearing up her paintings & prints and old books & newsprint to breathe new life into them:

“It’s very important for me to start with materials that have had a former life, I want them to have been something else, and  I want to transform or reconfigure or make them something different. I don’t care if you recognize it or not, this former life, and I almost always use text.”

Although she makes this statement about the personal art that she creates, the objects that she makes, its relevance to her public art is clear.

Mary Bennett received her BFA in Painting and Printmaking and her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts; when you visit her studio, be prepared for anything & everything to happen. And the next time you walk out of the grocery store, the woman asking you for your now-useless shopping list might just be your chance to participate in a public art event!

To see some of Mary Bennett’s book arts work in June:

Book Power!
23 Sandy Gallery
June 3 — June 26, 2010
Artist Reception on Friday, Jun 4, 5-8pm
http://www.23sandy.com/

Students and artists speak out about Portland Open Studios new mentorship education program.

By Susan Gallacher-Turner

Megan Delius and Shelley Hershberger

This year, Portland Open Studios paired up 21 artists with about 40 students in a new mentorship education program. Students from four area high schools, Wilson, Century, Grant and Arts & Communications Academy were offered a unique learning opportunity to work with artists in their studios during and after the Portland Open Studios Tour.

Education program chair, Allen Schmertzler, describes the program, “The focus was to educate the public about the process of art making. Students were able to make art with the artists, have their own portfolio/artwork critiqued, learn about organizing and maintaining an art studio, gain sales experience, and spend time in a hands-on manner in the artist’s studio. Students also were able to get credit towards Career Pathways, Career Education, Senior Project, Job Shadow, and/or an Internship for their school’s art graduation requirements.”

Shelley Hershberger, an artist in North Portland was paired up with Megan Delius from Arts & Communications Academy in Beaverton. Here’s what they have to say about their experience with the new mentorship program.

Shelley Hershberger said, “My high school student, Megan Delius, was helpful, polite, showed up on time and respectful of my space and tools. She was in heaven having an opportunity to make monotypes all weekend with ample space and an etching press pretty much to herself. We had great chats during lull times and she pitched in graciously when things were busy. She would be welcome in my studio anytime.”


Megan Delius

Megan Delius said, “I definitely loved working with you. It was a fantastic learning experience and overall a really good time. I feel so honored to be able to work with a professional artist, and learning how to do monoprints.”

Susan Gallacher-Turner, a sculpture artist in Tigard was paired with Dani Goodman from Wilson High School in Portland. This is what they have to say about the program.

Dani said,“I learned that you don’t have to limit yourself to one type of art. I learned the different effects you can create with metal using chemicals and heat and how to make different imprints on copper. I learned that by working on a number of projects at once, you can be more patient with your work by moving onto something else. I find myself experimenting with tools to create new effects.”

Susan said, “It was a delight to have Dani in my studio before and during open studios. She greeted guests and gathered contact information. Dani listened so well as I talked and demonstrated, she was able to talk about my art to some visitors while I was talking to others. When we had a lull, I was able to get her started on her own copper repousse’ project. I enjoyed teaching her something new and her energetic help during the tour was wonderful.”

Allen Schmertzler, artist and teacher was paired up with Chrissy Hoover from Century High School in Hillsboro. Here’s what Chrissy said about her experience at Allen’s studio, “I really enjoyed my experience. It was both culturally and artistically enriching. It is fascinating to watch artists get in their personal creative zone and just manipulate ordinary concepts of life into alluring works. The beauty of the movement captured from a split second and transferred to paper has an almost hypnotic appeal to the mind’s eye. Hence, I love the look in the admirer’s eye when they’ve found a piece that really strikes them. This was a great learning experience and also a joy to help with. I give my 100% thanks for this incredible opportunity.”

Students from Wilson High School wrote about their experiences with their artist mentors. Here are some of their experiences in their own words.

Marina Palmrose about artist mentor, Mark Randall, “I experienced a part of the business side to being an artist. Gratification does not come right away, but if you are doing something you love, then following your passion is the most important idea.”

Alex Sanchez shares working in the studio of Shawn Demarest, “Watching her spread the ink on the copper plate, she told me about types of ink and how to handle the cloth as you rub it onto the plate. I ended up taking the copper plate along with the etching needle to work on, once I return, I’ll be looking forward to the outcome of my piece.”

Magali Lopez was inspired by mentor, Kitty Wallis, “I really loved this opportunity. She has been doing art professionally for 50 years, creating her own paper, pastels and techniques. Kitty Wallis is an amazing artist, and very inspiring.”

Dani Goodman about artist mentor, Susan Gallacher-Turner, “I got to see behind the scenes of how a talented artist works. She showed me her sketchbook and her research. How she uses her hands as her main tools. I felt like I stepped into a real artists shoes for a moment, it was a rewarding experience.”

Emily Hall recommends all art students try this experience after being in the studio of Careen Stoll, “This is a great opportunity for students to learn from people at a high level in the artistic field. Anyone who is considering art as a profession needs to experience this. I found it very interesting to see how professionals live and interact with their customers. It definitely opened my eyes to the fact that creating art for a living isn’t a walk in the park like I imagined. I learned so much in just a few hours from an amazing artist.”

Art Teacher, Susan Parker of Wilson High Schools sums up the programs success, “It was an amazing opportunity for these students. I hope Portland Open Studios artists will consider doing something like this again.”

Susan Gallacher-Turner's Delicate Shape-shifting, X-treme Handiwork

By Shu-Ju Wang

susangt3
Above, a corner of Susan’s studio with various complete and in-progress work.

Susan Gallacher-Turner is fascinated by shape-shifters. Characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, stories from Native American traditions, or even looking out the car window where faces appear in the distant hills and trees…these are all sources of inspiration for her boxes, repoussé work and aluminum window screening sculptures.

Susan is a bit of a shape-shifter herself…

Wait, did you say aluminum window screening?

***

Yes. Lets talk about that, it is a bit unusual. Although Susan did not start out intending to create sculptures with aluminum window screening, she now does much of her work with that particular material. Previously, she had been working with beadwork and fabric and was trying to create a painted fabric piece that needed to be shaped and formed. After trying various methods, she hit upon the idea of using aluminum screening to shape the fabric and brought it in to consult with her sculpture instructor.

“Why are you bothering with the fabric?” was the instructor’s response.

Once Susan let go of the fabric, it all came together and she started working with the screening material more and more, and she hasn’t looked back.

One might call aluminum screening sculpture X-treme Handiwork. Instead of holding a silk handkerchief and slowly building an image thread by thread, Susan holds a giant piece of aluminum screen in her hands as she slowly and gently pushes into the material to create a form. There are no molds or drawings, she just holds the material in her hands and starts pushing. The nose comes first, but only barely at the beginning. The first round of ‘pushes’ creates the sketch, if you will. Once the sketching is complete, she then goes back and pushes again, to deepen the definition. The process is slow, as once done, it can not be undone; Susan is careful to not over-push it.

As she works, if appropriate, she also starts to shape the entire piece into a form that can stand up by itself. Again, all by pushing and shaping with her fingers. Slowly, the aluminum screening transforms into a human face, an eagle, a lion or a variety of other half animal, half plant creatures. Then Susan paints the sculpture. Coats and coats of paint are needed for the colors to finally built up and be visible on the mesh material. As she paints, she watches for where the material needs more definition and she returns to pushing again.

Back and forth, back and forth, until she’s satisfied with the form, the colors, and the balance. The standalone pieces stand up by themselves indoors; outdoors, they do need some support so that they don’t blow away.

***

Now, where were we? Oh, yes.

Susan is a bit of a shape-shifter herself — she’s a professional writer, and for those long time readers of this blog, you know that she has contributed much to this forum; she’s also a sculptor of many different mediums, including clay, copper repoussé and, of course, aluminum screening.

To see Susan’s larger and smaller sculptures (many are jewelry pieces), visit her studio during Portland Open Studios on Oct 17 and 18, 2009. Susan is artist number 79 on the tour. You can see more of her work at her website at http://www.susangt.com/.

To learn more about Portland Open Studios, visit their website at https://www.portlandopenstudios.com/.

Below, top: Susan’s workbench where she works on her repoussé work. With the copper sheets, she does sketch first and follow the sketch; bottom: The Shape-shifter Polar Bear.
susangt4
susangt5

Late Bloomers:Artists find creativity is central to life no matter what your age.

By Lisa Griffen

For several of the artists in the Portland Open Studios Tour, art came as a later career. Some had early artistic ambitions but postponed pursuing them. Others only discovered their need for creative expression after doing other kinds of work. Regardless of their age at starting, art became central to their lives.

Below: Kelly Williams working in her studio

Kelly Williams in her studio

Kelly Williams began painting with watercolors as a way to relieve the stress of her work with troubled children. With her background in psychology, she quickly realized that art could give children a way to express their feelings about traumatic experiences. It ended up serving the same purpose for her, becoming an important outlet.

Kelly found that art allowed her to communicate about issues emotionally rather than intellectually. Painting became a bigger and bigger part of her life. She eventually became dissatisfied with watercolors and found that encaustic painting felt like a more dynamic medium. People responded. They asked for her paintings and encouraged her to share her work.

The most important aspect of Kelly’s work is truthtelling. She says, “To live like I want to live, I have to paint like I want to paint.” She strives for emotional honesty in her art. She is currently combining her former work and her art career into a project that she hopes will help people deal with the pain of addiction and recovery.

George Perrou working on a new painting

Above: George Perrou

George Perrou had no background in art. He was in his early thirties and working as a waiter when he started feeling a need for a creative outlet. He made collages from magazines, then got interested in photography. His black and white images quickly found an audience. Within a year of buying his camera and learning to print photos, he was selling prints. This early response encouraged him to try painting.

George painted a few paintings freehand but was dissatisfied with the results. Preferring clean edges, he developed his own technique of using masking tape templates. Despite a positive reaction to his art, George was reluctant to give up the security of his restaurant job. He continued to do both for several years, even after sales of his art matched his earnings as a waiter. In the end, the restaurant closed suddenly and he began painting full time.

George thinks his lack of training let him develop his own unique painting style. In fact, George’s art education has occurred backward: he learns about past artists when people relate his work to theirs. He believes that every person has the seed of an artist inside, but the hustle and obligations of our daily lives can mask that creativity. He seems awed that art has become his career and the center of his world.

Carole Zoom working on a woodcut

Above: Carole Zoom working on a woodcut

Carole Zoom had always taken photographs as a hobby but when her life changed dramatically, art became a new calling. In her mid-thirties, Carole was hospitalized for months and had to accept that she would physically dependent on others from that point forward. She says, “I drove myself to the hospital but when I got out I couldn’t even lift a cup of tea.”

During her recovery, Carole started painting with watercolors. Then her mother asked Carole to reprint the woodblocks Carole had done as a middle school student. Printing was something Carole could do on her own. She had some extra ink so she bought linoleum and began carving blocks.

A five-day class with a master printer from Japan helped show Carole the potential for a career in printmaking. She also realized that art could help inform people about issues affecting people with disabilities. She says she is trying to communicate “a fairly raw message” about losing independence. Since 2006, Carole has combined working as an artist with being an activist for social justice.

Below: William Park
William Park

William Park always thought he would be an artist but had not gotten around to it. At forty-one years old, he was working as a sign painter. One day he pictured his life at age seventy and imagined the regret he would feel over not pursuing art. He began painting that day. He did not think of art as a career but simply something he needed to do.

He kept working full time and spent four or five hours each day painting. Gradually, the time he spent on his own work increased. He considered going to art school but felt that he had already lost too much time and could learn faster by painting as much as possible. He did take several classes over the years and says they helped teach him what it means to be an artist. Technique, he believes, is something that is mainly gained through practice.

Below: Nicky Falkenhayn welding
Nicky Falkenhayn welding

Nicky Falkenhayn also had an early interest in art but decided to coach and teach Physical Education because she thought there would be time to be an artist later. When she moved from Switzerland to the United States she decided it was time to focus on art rather than getting certified to teach.

Nicky took classes at Oregon College of Art and Craft. She chose fiber arts as her field because she had sewed her own clothes as a teen and felt comfortable working with cloth. When a close friend had breast cancer, Nicky wanted to figure out a way to make her a metal bra. She had no experience working with metal so she crocheted the piece out of wire. This led to a new interest in sculpture and jewelry making.

Nicky got involved in welding because she wanted to make more interesting supports for her crocheted wire sculptures. Once she started welding, she was hooked. She appreciates the immediacy of the results. It is an art form that is well suited to public pieces, a challenge that Nicky especially enjoys. Nicky believes she benefitted by starting her art career later in her life because she has more confidence and more life wisdom to put into her art.

As Nicky and these other 4 artists illustrate, art and creativity can become a central part of life, no matter your age.

You can visit the studios of Nicky Falkenhayn, William Park, Carole Zoom, George Perrou and Kelly Williams during the Portland Open Studio Tour, October 10, 11 and 17 ,18 from 10 am to 5 pm. Pick up your Tour Guide at New Seasons, Art Media, Powell’s or on our website at www.portlandopenstudios.com

Bridget Benton wants your plastic bottle caps!

By Bridget Benton

bridgetbenton

I am a woman obsessed with making art from just about anything I can get my hands on. I naturally tend toward collage and assemblage art, and have
incorporated this approach into my work making jewelry, fiber art, acrylic
paintings, and now encaustic art. The more media I can combine—and the more crazy materials I can incorporate—the happier I am. In fact, the materials often guide my work. Later, I will discover themes and meanings emerging, but in the magical moment of making, the materials are the driving force.

About a year ago, a material that grabbed my attention was all the plastic
that I couldn’t put in my new blue curbside recycling bin: plastic bags,
clamshell containers, and the humble plastic bottle cap. It looked like a
whole lot of potential art to me! I made a few necklaces from bottle caps,
and then started thinking about what I could do if I had a lot of bottle
caps, maybe even hundreds or thousands of bottle caps.

So, my boyfriend and his family started saving me bottle caps. I got a few
from other friends. I started experimenting with different ways of
connecting them. You look at things differently when you have a lot of them:
in many ways, they become more interesting, more beautiful. You see
patterns of shapes and colors, and you begin to see patterns of consumption.
And then I got involved with the group Leave No Plastic Behind and their
plastic art challenge. I learned more about the impact of plastic on the
oceans, as well as the fact that bottle caps come right after cigarette
butts on the “Most Common Beach Litter” hit list.

All of this collecting, connecting, and consciousness-raising culminated in
the construction of this chandelier, called Drifter. It’s now on display in
the lobby of the office building next door to SCRAP off of MLK. The piece
is over 5 feet tall, and includes a long string of Christmas lights. I
haven’t counted how many bottle caps are in there, but it’s a lot, and it
was all collected over a relatively short five-month period from only a few
households.

[Above, the chandelier constructed from bottle caps.]

Now, I’m in the process of collecting another big batch of bottle caps for
the creation of several more light fixtures. If you have plastic bottle
caps – any size, any color – from beverages, shampoo, household cleaners,
peanut butter, whatever – bring them on over when you drop by my place
during the Portland Open Studios tour. My demos will all be about encaustic
painting, but as for the conversation, well, all materials are welcome.

Below, Bridget’s collection of bottle caps.
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To learn more about Bridget Benton’s work and classes, please visit her website at http://www.eyesaflame.com/.

You can visit Bridget and 99 other artists during Portland Open Studios weekend. To learn more about the event, visit https://www.portlandopenstudios.com/.

From Pulp to Prints, three artists coordinate their hands-on demonstrations

helenhiebert
Above, Helen Hiebert making paper.

Helen Hiebert, Diane Jacobs, and Shu-Ju Wang are 3 members of an art collective who have been meeting and working together for several years. Their most recent collaboration, the installation For the Love of Food, was shown at Cedar Crest College in Pennsylvania earlier this year.

They are also participating in Portland Open Studios this year and have decided to coordinate their hands-on demonstrations. Visitors will have a chance to see the process of creating a print, starting from making paper from pulp to letterpress and silkscreen printing.

Start at Helen Hiebert’s studio (artist 49), where visitors are invited to make paper. From there, visitors can go on to Diane Jacobs’ studio (artist 44) and Shu-Ju Wang’s studio (artist 90) to see how text and images can be printed using letterpress and silkscreen printing techniques. You are encouraged to visit both Diane’s and Shu-Ju’s studios (in either order) to see how the two different printmaking methods can be combined to create a finished print.

Between the three, they will also be showing finished work that range from handmade paper, lanterns, prints, artist’s books, sculptures, paintings, photographs, cards and more.

They are also in 3 different regions of metro Portland – N Portland, NE Portland, and SW Portland, perfectly spaced for people doing the tour throughout the Portland metro area. Note that Helen’s and Diane’s studios are open on October 10 & 11 only, 10am-5pm; Shu-Ju’s studio is open October 10, 11, 17, and 18, 10am-5pm.

To see more of Helen’s work, visit www.helenhiebertstudio.com; Diane’s work at www.dianejacobs.net; and Shu-Ju’s work at www.fingerstothebone.com.

For more information about Portland Open Studios, visit the website at www.portlandopenstudios.com.

Diane Jacobs setting type…
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And Shu-Ju Wang Gocco printing.
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Artists Drawing and Photographing Other Artists

By Bonnie Meltzer

Several Portland Open Studios artists visited some of the other studios on the tour to document what artists do. Lisa Parsons, a painter and photographer took pictures of the art process. Allen Schmertzler and Deborah Marble drew the artists at work. Here is a small sampling of all the drawings and photos.

Allen Schmertzler is a master craftsman. Whether he uses chalk and conte crayon for quick drawings or acrylic paint for his people filled paintings, he is able to make the people come alive. They aren’t frozen in stop motion, they are still dancing across the page.

Deborah Marble is one of those artists who makes drawing seem easy. With just a few lines she gets everything just right, from body language to the motion of a scene.

Gene Phillips builds sculptural vessels out of flat slabs of clay that are joined together. The result is a happy marriage between rectangular and curvy shapes that are inspired by the human form and plants. He carves the clay before it is fired to create highly textured repeating patterns.

Wendy Dunder creates lighted sculptures that are made with a process akin to paper mache. The shapes have their roots in nature, resembling giant blooms or pods.

Lisa Parsons, who photographed Allen and Gene is a painter who uses bold sharp shapes as a metaphor for the conflicts in the Middle East.

Each of the individual artists has a unique way of working. The beauty of Portland Open Studios is that you can see a pantheon of art diversity in just two weekends.

Below, Allen Schmertzler drawing Gene Phillips at work (photographed by Lisa Parsons):

And the result:

Below, Lisa Parsons’s photograph of Gene at work:

Below, Debbie Marble’s drawing of Wendy Dunder at work:

To find out how to visit 98 artists’ studios over the weekends of Oct 11, 12, 18, and 19, visit www.portlandopenstudios.com.