A little inside scoop on our jury

A little more information on our jury process.  Each year, the board selects an artist, an art educator, and a gallerist distinguished in their fields to jury in the 106 artists who will participate in Portland Open Studios. In this way we are assured that we are giving opportunities to emerging artists while staying on the forefront of the Portland art scene.  

Our President, Kerri Hewett, feels strongly about the jury process.  “It is important to us that our jurors are actively participating in the Portland art scene. The jury process is deeply rooted in each juror’s interpretation of the local climate and helps us curate the large amount of talented work being submitted.”

The deadline for artists to apply for the event is March 3, and jury results will be announced  April 1.  Apply here

Artists will open their studios and demonstrate their work process to the public throughout all four days of the event, this year on Oct 14-15 and 21-22.

The event is free and open to the public – people can download a free phone app to locate the studios.  For those who want to support Portland Open Studios, a non-profit, we produce a full-color tour guide listing all participating artists and their studio addresses available for $15 at New Seasons grocery stores and most art stores.  Go to www.portlandopenstudios.com for more information.

Jill McVarish is a painter who has been living and working in Oregon for the past decade.  She became serious about her art at age 4, and dropped out of high school at age 15 to dedicate more time to her painting.  She received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1994, and then enrolled in the prestigious Garrett Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, where she was told that “painting is a dead art form.”  She bought a pass to the Rijksmuseum and let the Dutch Masters be her guide, an influence that you can see in her work today, which reflects both classical painting methods and composition, and very contemporary (sometimes absurdist) ideas.

Jiseon Lee Isbara is an artist and educator living and working in Portland, Oregon.  Since 2012, she has served as the Dean of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) where she has also served as faculty in Undergraduate and Graduate programs since 2003.  Prior to joining OCAC as Fibers Department Head, she taught in the Textiles Dept. at East Carolina University in North Carolina.  She earned two MFA degrees in Fibers from Colorado State University and Ewha Womans University in South Korea.

She was born and raised in South Korea, and her work reflects her experiences as an immigrant by creating anxiety with pristinely orderly and delicate forms. Lee Isbara’s current body of work tempers the chaos of communication through simple, essential techniques and fluid textile materials.  Her work has been exhibited and published in the United States and internationally. She gives back by serving as a committee member for a variety of non-profit arts-related organizations.
Caitlin Moore is an arts professional living and working in Portland. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2001. Since moving to Portland in 2005 she has worked with non and for-profit arts organizations curating, directing and mounting a variety of arts programming including the management and operation of art galleries both here in Portland and abroad in Berlin, Germany. She is the Gallery Manager at PDX Contemporary Art, has served on an advisory committee at the Art Gym at Marylhurst University, and is currently the Board President of the Northwest Art Council at the Portland Art Museum.


Welcome to our 19th year!

Thank You to our visitors, artists, and supporters!

As our year ends we celebrate the 106 artists that invited the public to become immersed in the creative process and learn about the expression of art. I visited studios across the city last October joining hundreds of patrons watching live demonstration of the creative process, Continue reading

The Figurative Tradition in Portland

Eduardo Fernandez started Kenton Studio, a drawing and painting atelier well equipped for artists to come and work in the figurative tradition. The studio is offering the following workshops in addition to drop-in life drawing every Saturday. Workshops and dates below, please email or contact Eduardo at 971-998-3155 for details.

Open Session Life Drawing
Saturdays from 10 – 1pm

Great lighting, atmosphere & quality models to inspire your work.

Portrait Painting
Jan 29th -31st, 2010

Build likeness and structure with paint!

Intro to Academic Figure Drawing
Feb. 26th – 28th, 2010

Invigorate your drawing practice – tried & true.

Still-life Painting
Thursday mornings, with Julie Ann Smith

In addition, a series of Artist Talks is scheduled to begin in February. Come meet David Riedel, last year’s winner of the Oil Painters of America top prize, and hear him talk about his work on February 6th.

The studio is available to rent for workshops and other events. Please email or contact Eduardo at 971-998-3155 for more info.

Visit www.kentonstudio.com and check out the Mentored Drawing Studio and Artists Talk Series starting in February.

8371 N Interstate Avenue, Portland, Or, 971-998-3155

Below, Ward, pencil on paper, by Eduardo Fernandez.

Kelly Williams wins 2010 RACC Project Grant

“Recovery Panes” by Kelly Williams is a multi-phase community project involving those who have been impacted by addiction. Participants will create a small encaustic painting representative of their personal experience, strength and hope. The complex elements of encaustic wax will uniquely allow a symbolic and cathartic exploration of their experiences. Participants will also share a short, written response to the process to be paired with their painting.

All individual paintings will be joined to form larger works, framed and presented to resemble large windows with each painting representing a single window pane. All participants, whether artists or viewers, will have the opportunity to gaze into these powerful windows and see not just an individual’s experience, but a whole community of shared experiences, strengths, and hopes uniting us in our recovery journey.

Both the ‘Recovery Panes’ and an accompanying journal will be shown at multiple venues in late 2010.

To learn more about Kelly’s work, see her website at http://kellywilliamsart.com

Bridget Benton wants your plastic bottle caps!

By Bridget Benton


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

[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.

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

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…

And Shu-Ju Wang Gocco printing.

Seeing Green During Portland Open Studios

The word ‘green‘ is prominent in this year’s Portland Open Studios, a tour of 98 artists’ workplaces throughout metro Portland.

‘Green’ and ‘art’ said in the same sentence usually means the color. Marcy Baker uses a lot of green, gentle new grass green and deep rich pine, in her prints and paintings which are abstractions of her garden and the plants in the backyards of her neighborhood.

Below, Marcy Baker’s work:

These days ‘green‘ means the use of recycled materials. Many of the artists use found objects. Allen Kinast makes one of a kind furniture out of reclaimed lath left over from remodeling sites. He uses the cut narrow pieces of wood both on end and flat for a mosaic-like technique that yields geometric designs that are anything but static. His furniture is a great marriage between function and art. He uses the same techniques to make wall works, from tile sized to those that fit on a whole wall.

Allen Kinast:

What do french fries and ceramics have in common? Sure, you could eat a bowl of fries in a beautiful ceramic bowl thrown by Careen Stoll. But you would be wrong. Stoll uses recycled vegetable oil to fire the kiln that she has built in her backyard to turn raw clay into beautifully colored, elegantly shaped bowls, cups, plates and other utilitarian objects. The technical and physical challenges are numerous in both building the kiln and every time it is fired. She has to be part scientist and part magician to get the desired results in using this unusual fuel. Who said being green or an artist is easy?

Careen Stoll’s work, and her building her kiln:

Tom Soule, another artist on the neighborhood has his studio in a green house, actually gray in color, but has a 3.5 KW solar panel system on the roof that feeds directly into the (PGE) grid. The southward, oriented system has no “dark” periods during the day, and is on a slant with the roof to make its exposure 95% efficient. It has radiant floor heating, a passive solar heat storage in the concrete floor and low E glass on the windows. Don’t neglect Soule’s watercolor and gouache paintings which combine strong color with textured areas to create abstract images suggestive of buildings or geometric structures. His wood sculpture is more organic in form.

Tom Soule’s work and studio:

Whether you go by bicycle, car, bus or walk your own neighborhood you will be transported to the land of imagination, craftsmanship and beauty. Go ahead, paint the town green.

You can watch artists at work in your green neighborhood during Portland Open Studios and other areas throughout the metro area on October 11, 12 and 18, 19. New this year is that many are open both weekends. Check the map and Tour Guide for the complete schedule, then cross the river both weekends. The $15 Tour Guide comes with two tickets, maps, pictures of all artists’ artwork, and contact information (in 2009 calendar format). Children under 18 are free. Available at Art Media, New Seasons, and other stores listed on www.portlandopenstudios.com.

Meet the press

Portland Open Studios artist Linda Womack met with a reporter for an upcoming article about her and her work. Below is Linda’s write-up about her preparations to meet the press, “reprinted” here with her permission from her blog http://embracingencaustic.wordpress.com where you can see the original article along with images. You can see more of Linda’s work on her web site at http://www.lindawomack.com/.

My Closeup
by Linda Womack

OK, so it wasn’t on film at all but I did get up close and personal with a local reporter. Yesterday I met with Josephine Bridges who writes for numerous papers including a local favorite that covers my neighborhood: The Southeast Examiner. Josephine is writing a story on four Portland Open Studios artists who work with unusual materials, and our resident publicity hound, Bonnie Meltzer, put her in touch with me.

Josephine and I had met before, but last time I was doing demos in my dining room so she was very excited to see my new studio and all of my new work. I was nervous because I don’t usually get to talk with reporters — they usually review my work without any interaction from me — but she put me right at ease. We just sat and had a conversation as if she just stopped in for tea and the time flew by. Of course I did my homework beforehand and had a press kit ready. I haven’t made too many of those either but it’s easy to find advice online on what to include.

My press kit included:

  • A copy of my resume
  • My art statement
  • My two latest press releases (about the HGTV show and my solo show at City Hall)
  • A sheet titled “What is Encaustic?” so she can write knowledgeably about my technique without having to do any additional research
  • Two promotional post cards with images on my work on them, one with a sticker announcing upcoming shows.
  • Two business cards (Someone once told me to always include two so they can give one to a friend or have one at the office and one at home)
  • A CD with high resolution images of 5 recent paintings, an image list with titles and sizes, 2 images of me with my work, 2 images from my book (Embracing Encaustic). After looking over the book she was so enthusiastic that I gave her a copy of that too!
  • What I forgot: Copies of previous press clips (duh!) and a class schedule. It turns out that she wants to take a class!

Josephine was pleasantly surprised when I gave her the folder containing my press kit. Hopefully it will make it that much easier for her to use one of my images in the story. I shamelessly pointed out that I haven’t even done a press release on the book yet, so it’s something she might consider for another story. It seems like it could have a good DIY angle.

She did ask one question that I hadn’t had before: “What’s the one thing you want people to know about your work?” This is a great question! I told her that all the technical aspects of encaustic tend to scare some people off and they should know that it’s really not that hard to get started if you just know a few basic techniques.

Look for the article in the October issue of The Southeast Examiner.