William Park at Mark Woolley Gallery

By Shu-Ju Wang

Life is Good
Recent Paintings by William Park

Mark Woolley Gallery
817 SW 2nd Ave, Portland, Oregon
April 29 – May 31, 2008

4 + 3, 2008

You know how sometimes there’s a word that’s just right for something, and you know you know the word, yet the word does not come to you? In the days since I interviewed William Park for this article, that was the situation I found myself in.

Then the other day, out of nowhere, it came to me. Baryshnikov. That was the word.

I’m not comparing William Park (a painter and printmaker) to Baryshnikov (the dancer and choreographer). I am not in the position to do so. But there are so many qualities about William Park’s work, the person, and even his studio space, that conjure up the image of a dancer and choreographer for me.

For starters, the movements and gracefulness of his lines. In his current exhibit at Mark Woolley Gallery, you see that in the long curves of the geese’s necks, their egg shaped bodies, the trees the Goldfinches inhabit, the pools of water. These qualities are also ever present in his abstracts, his land and water paintings, his images of agile athletes at play.

Although you see these finished paintings in their final state as two dimensional objects, the creation of them involves the creation of a three dimensional space, a world that he describes as surreal, with multiple images on multiple walls, surrounding him as he works. Within this environment, pieces in progress engage each other in a conversation, with the painter as the conductor and choreographer.

Park physically creates this space within a space by using movable walls in his otherwise cavernous studio—a space possibly large enough to stage Swan Lake! In this space, he paints, prints, teaches, photographs and stores his finished work. And created a movie—an animation of an evolving painting (the animation is the artwork, the painting is the medium). He quite literally, in my mind, danced his way through it.

With canvas and camera set up, and a decision made about his next move, he would take the next couple of hours to execute his plan by alternating between painting and photographing each quarter inch stroke. He moved rhythmically and unwavering from his initial take until the plan was completed. Only then would he stop to take another reading, and whatever his gut reaction was at that moment, he followed through with another few hours of this dance. The result is a spectacular 7 minute movie set to original cello music by Gabe Leavitt.

Between his painting, printmaking, his figurative work, and abstracts, he struggled for a while with the need to find a direction. Or in his own words, ‘to grow up.’ Happily, he has since come to his senses and has decided that he will simply do what he wants to do, go wherever the work takes him.

There are just a few more days to see his exhibit this month at Mark Woolley’s. In the fall, during Portland Open Studios, you will have the opportunity to see the full spectrum of his work, to see the printing presses in action, and best of all, to hear him talk about his own work.

Below, several pieces in progress in a corner in William Park’s studio.

Work in Progress

And the printing presses that Park shares with experienced printmakers.

To see more of Park’s work, go to his web site at http://www.williampark.net/.

To read more about his exhibit at Mark Woolley’s, go to http://www.markwoolley.com/.

An Unusual Occupation

Debbie Marble, a long time Portland Open Studios artist, is also an experienced court room sketch artist. Her most recent work—on the cover of the March 11, 2008 Oregonian—concerned the trial of Dr. Jayant M. Patel:

Pacific Northwest Sculptors at Gottlieb Gallery

Gottlieb Gallery presents:

Pacific Northwest Sculptors
Featuring sculptural works by Pacific Northwest Sculptors Association members, in glass, stone, metal, clay and other materials, including works by Bonnie Meltzer and Sara Swink

November 1-30, 2007
Gottlieb Gallery
220 SW Yamhill
Portland, OR

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 1, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.


The Pacific Northwest Sculptors juried exhibition at Gottlieb Gallery in downtown Portland will include work by Portland Open Studios artists Bonnie Meltzer and Sara Swink. Each of these sculptors has a unique sculptural vision.

Bonnie Meltzer calls her work 2.5 dimensional because although it is sculptural in its rich surfaces of found objects they are usually added to flat substrates rather than being sculpture in the round. “Recording Memory”, rising seven feet high with its fringed usb cord sleeves is reminiscent of Southwest Native American costume or figures. Originally made for an exhibition with a totem theme, Meltzer’s initial idea was to use floppy disks as quilt blocks, further connecting the textile connection. Pencils, crayons, hard drives and other writing tools embellish the work and are icons of how we store memories and retrieve them.

Sara Swink’s ceramic sculpture called “Imperfect Offering” addresses compassion for oneself. No matter how imperfect one feels there is still something to offer. “I can’t wait until I get perfect to make my offering.” The figure is hand built with slips, oxides, under glazes and glazes for coloring.

Numbering over 100 members, Pacific Northwest Sculptors is a volunteer driven 501(c) (3) organization comprised of sculptors and persons in associated fields who live and work in the Northwest. Its purpose is to foster the art of sculpture by increasing public awareness of the issues and techniques that surround sculpture and to facilitate communication between member sculptors. PNS sponsors seminars, studio tours, workshops, lectures and art events that are open to the public.


Above, Recording Memory, by Bonnie Meltzer. Below, Imperfect Offering, by Sara Swink.

imperfect offering

For more information about Pacific Northwest Sculptors, Gottlieb Gallery, Bonnie Meltzer, and Sara Swink, see these following links:


More media coverage for Portland Open Studios

Although the 2007 Portland Open Studios weekends are now over, things have been happening and continue to happen for Portland Open Studios artists:

AM Northwest hosted Denise Sirchie and Bonnie Meltzer, go here to watch the video of Denise doing a demonstration.

The DIY PDX: Portland Open Studios article on LivePDX.com featured several artists and their work. Connie Whelan, Natalie Warrens, Babette Harvey, Ann Munson, Sarah Swink, and Miriam Badyrka were highlighted, and Lorna Nakell was shown working on one of her very large canvases.

The New York Time’s Sunday Magazine of Oct 21 included a column on the Print Gocco, The Cult of Gocco, that included interviews with Shu-Ju Wang, a long time Gocco enthusiast and veteran Portland Open Studios artist.

Local media highlight Portland Open Studios artists

Daniel Ng, Samyak Yamauchi, Ming Wei, and Shu-Ju Wang are highlighted in the October 2nd issue of The Asian Reporter. The article, titled Ateliers Unlocked, is available on-line here on The Asian Reporter’s web site.

Lisa Kaser, Linda Womack, and Gloria Kelman are highlighted in the October 4th issue of The Southeast Examiner. The article, titled Savor the Flavors of Art at Portland Open Studios, is available on-line here on The Southeast Examiner’s web site.

Chris Knight, Shu-Ju Wang, Don Griffith, and Heather Leklem are highlighted in the Oct 9th issue of Portland Tribune. The article, titled Art Happens Here, is available on-line here on the Portland Tribune’s web site.

Ann Munson is highlighted in the October 11th issue of The Oregonian in the NWHG special insert. The article, titled Mixed-media Menagerie, is available on-line here on The Oregonian’s web site. Don’t miss out on the wonderful photographs which are on 2 separate pages here and here. Other artists Tom Soule, David Kerr, Babette Harvey, Natalie Warrens, Shu-Ju Wang, Nancy Tongue, and Pam Greene were also mentioned as having either a garden or a studio of note.

And the October 13 issue of The Jewish Review highlights the works of Bonnie Meltzer, Hillary Barsky, Gloria Kelman, Allen Schmertzler, Debra Meadow, Susan Kuznitsky, Jane Levy Campbel and Kindra Crick.

To see each artist’s work or to purchase a tour guide, please visit the Portland Open Studios web site.

Linda Womack on AM Northwest

Portland Open Studios artist Linda Womack was featured the morning of October 1 on the Portland Oregon talk show AM Northwest. With only a few minutes for her segment, Linda demonstrated a very abbreviated form of encaustic painting with wax, dried plants and oil pastel. That’s tough to do in 5 minutes!

You can watch her wax collage segment online at http://www.katu.com/amnw/seenonamnw/10114296.html or learn more about this technique at http://www.lindawomack.com.

You can also drop by Linda’s studio to see a live demonstration of her wax paintings next weekend during Portland Open Studios! On October 13 & 14 she’ll be doing live demonstrations from 10am – 5pm at her studio in SE Portland.

Below, a snapshot of Linda’s segment on AM Northwest.

linda womack on am northwest

Ming Wei, at the Intersection of Art & Science

From art to geology and back to art again, Ming Wei‘s life has straddle two fields that, at first glance, seem opposite to each other — ink brush painting and the study of earth’s structure and substance. But before long, you will see that in each, Ming has been conducting a dialog with nature, coming to an understanding of the spirit of the landscape through his study of geology, and then expressing that understanding through his art.

Since immigrating to the Pacific Northwest in 2004 to be with his daughter Susan, Ming has discovered the landscape of the region, going out with a plein air painting group to make impressionistic sketches and finished compositions at places such as Multmomah Falls, and then returning to the studio to paint from memories of the visits. As Ming explains, xuxu-shishi, the contrast between the imagined vs. the real, is an important quality in Chinese painting. Through his plein air painting and studio work, Ming has been able to examine and express both the real and the imagined.

Below, a view of Ming’s studio.

studio wall

While he has immersed himself in the environment of his new home, he continues to work with tools and materials that his daughter brings back from China during her many business trips — brushes made from wolf’s hair (prized for its springiness) and sheep’s hair (prized for its absorbency), xuan paper (also spelled shuen), both in ‘raw’ and ‘cooked’ forms. The different brushes and different papers are used for different styles of painting and calligraphy. Ming practices both the gongbi and the xieyi styles of painting. To someone who is not a practitioner, the two styles can be roughly distinguished as ‘realistic’ (gongbi) vs. ‘impressionistic’ (xieyi). Ming gives a more nuanced explanation of the two:

Xieyi (literally ‘writing ideas’) — brushwork of the Southern school, supple in general appearance, but the individual storkes are firm. Paintings in this style are typically signed by the artist as ‘written by.’

Gongbi (literally ‘fine brushwork’) — style of the Northern school, it is the opposite of xieyi — the individual strokes are supple, but the overall appearance is firm. Artists sign gongbi paintings as ‘made by.’

Below, Ming at this work table, with a few of his plein air sketches.

ming wei at this studio

Just as Ming has lived and worked as both scientist and artist, and his art has spanned both the Southern and Northern schools, his subject matter also crosses boundaries. From landscapes to flora & fauna, Ming combines the observation skills of a scientist with the sensitivity of an artist to depict the xuxu-shishi view of the world around us.

During Portland Open Studios, Ming will be assisted by his daughter Susan, a clothing and textiles engineer. Susan is a gracious host and capable translator who clearly adores her talented father. To witness their warm and loving interactions with each other is an added bonus for any visitor to Ming’s studio.

After Portland Open Studios, Ming has two more exhibits coming up — one March through May and another in August, both 2008. To find out more about these and other coming events, please see Ming’s blog at http://www.mingxwei.blogspot.com.

Mary Wells at the 2007 Craft Biennial at OCAC

The Hoffman Gallery at Oregon College of Art & Craft presents:

2007 Craft Biennial
Featuring fine handmade work of the Pacific Northwest, including the paper mosaics of Portland Open Studios artists Mary Wells

August 2 – September 27, 2007
Oregon College of Art & Craft
Hoffman Gallery
8245 SW Barnes Road
Portland, OR 97225

Please also join Mary and other OCAC alumni at the Century Celebration
Art show & sale, live entertainment, free food & beverage
Oregon College of Art & Craft campus
11am – 4pm, Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mary Wells has been exhibiting widely in the past few years and receiving recognition for her work. She has garnered an impressive list of awards:

2007 Merit Award, 2007 Craft Biennial
Hoffman Gallery, Oregon College of Art & Craft, Portland, Oregon
2007 Popular Opinion Artist’s Award, Oregon Visions
ArtCentric, Corvallis, Oregon
2006 Curator’s Choice Award, Parts and Pieces
ArtCentric, Corvallis, Oregon
2006 First Place Mixed Media, Visual Arts Showcase
Beaverton, Oregon

Mary works her paper magic in a light filled main floor studio cum gallery space. Although she’s best known for her paper mosaics — which she has been making since she was a late teen — she’s a versatile artist, trained in both painting and book arts from the Oregon College of Art & Craft. Her studio is well organized to accommodate her many talents, and is a reflection of what is apparent in Mary’s work — fine craftsmanship and elegant simplicity.

To create her award winning mosaics, Mary starts with a well composed image. This can be a photograph, an historic image, or something that she conjures up from her imagination. From there, she prepares her ‘medium’ — searching through discarded paintings, calendars, or magazines (Architectural Digest being a favorite, for the fine quality paper and printing) for the right colors, textures, and imagery for the particular piece.

A long horizontal scroll that hangs in her studio depicts an abstract slice of the American landscape from coast to coast, based on her memories of her many cross country journeys. It was created from Mary’s discarded paintings. The scroll was part of her thesis project that also included painting and artist’s books.

studio view

Above, a portion of the scroll, paintings, and artist’s books from Mary’s thesis project.

A small copy of an historic image of Haystack sits on her desk, next to some small brushes, a bottle of glue, and a pair of scissors, all tools of her craft. An old Ansel Adams calendar will soon be cut into pieces about 1/8″ high and 1/3″ wide, and from this confetti, the haystack image will be reconstructed.

Below, Mary’s work table, all set up to work on her new mosaic.

mary’s work table

Mary’s work has been impressing jurors and audiences through out Oregon. When you visit, don’t forget to bring your glasses!

For more information about Oregon College of Art & Craft, please go to http://ocac.edu/.

To see more of Mary’s work, please go to http://marywells.net/.

Corporate Waste Turned into Art

Portland City Hall presents:

Corporate Waste Turned into Art

July 1 – July 20
Portland City Hall
1221 SW 4th Ave, Portland, Oregon

Opening reception First Thursday, July 5 from 5:00 – 7:00pm

Artists gleaned materials from company storerooms to make commissioned artworks. It is a great way for businesses to support artists and it keeps trash out of the landfill. Funding for the project comes from the businesses and from Cracked Pots.

The organizers of this program used the 2006 Tour Guide to select half of the artists. Mar Goman, Susan Levine, and Dawn McConnell were in last year’s tour. Trina Hesson and Bonnie Meltzer are 2007 Portland Open Studios artists and were also in the 2006 tour.

Below, the 4 sides of a sculpture by Bonnie Meltzer created from the castoffs supplied by Pavelcomm.

Bonnie Meltzer’s sculpture made from telephone parts

We asked artist Bonnie Meltzer to talk about her experience of creating this particular piece for the exhibit, and she generously contributes not only her own story but also that of Trina Hesson’s:

Trina Hesson, a sculptor who makes colorful wooden and found object portraits, took cutoff ends of 2 x 4’s and 2 x 6’s at Hampton Lumber. The pieces are the result of cutting boards to the size needed. There are always leftovers. She decided to make a wall piece made up of wooden wafers to be used like mosaics. She sliced the ends of the lumber like you would slice salami and then glued the “salami” on to a board. By using the ends of the wood rather than the sides she could make use of the more heavily patterned grain. She further intensified the patterning by rubbing thin paint into some of the slices. Others she painted with opaque paint. The wafers fit together to make a bigger than life expressive portrait.


Above, detail of Trina Hesson’s sculpture at the exhibit.

About her own piece, Bonnie adds:

Talks with other artists in the program revealed that artists were having some of the same problems and joys that I was having about making art with an unusual array of materials. It is always good for artists to be thrown off their comfort zones. Unless, of course, it is the artist it is happening to or more specifically me. Well frankly, it is uncomfortable. Until the magic happens. This is a short story about how the uncomfortable became Ok and even good. I am used to working with computer parts and a variety of found objects. I usually chose them for either symbolism or because they are just beautiful. The object of this project was to mainly use what each company had. When I walked into the warehouse at Pavelcomm, a phone and networking company, there was a mountain of cartons in the middle of the floor. These were things ready for the scrap heap — old models no longer sold, broken parts, or parts with no place to fit. As I pawed through the boxes and boxes of phones the first dilemma was what to take. What things would give me ideas. What do I have too much of already and shouldn’t take. I did not need one more circuit board. The curly cords looked interesting, and so did other cords with plastic connectors that I thought could be incorporated into a crocheted wire wall piece with dangling phone fringe. I drove away with a car full of things, mostly phone receivers,cords, and designs in my head..

In the studio I emptied the boxes on the floor…what to do, what to do? Nothing was particularly gorgeous, but I had a lot of each thing. To complicate matters, I dropped by the company to measure a wall and the owner asked if I could do a free standing sculpture…SURE, I said. So I emptied my head and filled it with 3d visions. I spent a day playing with phones fitting them together like children’s blocks. There is hardly a flat surface on a phone so two phones could be glued together. I guess that is because our heads aren’t flat. New idea! Great, I thought. I can crochet around the cords and make the piece self supporting so it could stand up. Bonnie Pavell generously offered to have a sculpture stand made if I needed one. Without belaboring my trials, tribulation and frustration the piece was just not working. Yikess, 2 weeks wasted. Back to the drawing board and the phone pile. (some other artists i talked to had the same experience of abandoning their first attempt).

Break Through…Two sculpture stands that have been in my way for quite a while because the base wasn’t big enough to accomodate my sculpture became the structure for a shrine to the phone. it is an obelisk with operators taking your call on its sides. I collaged yellow and white page; took phones apart for the goodies inside; glued, screwed and crocheted parts together. Painted phones; and went back to one of the earlier phone structures and figured out how to get it together for the top. I am happy that I abandoned my first idea for this later better one. I have found my equilibrium and am comfortable again, until the next challenge. Got to go, the phone is ringing.

For more information about this exhibit, see http://www.commissionersam.com/greenartshow.

You can see more of Bonnie’s work at http://www.bonniemeltzer.com.

And you can see more of Trina Hesson’s work at http://www.trinahesson.com.