Portland Open Studios: What Art has to give to You

On Tuesday morning, at 5:30 am, I watched as KOIN 6 news correspondent Kohr Harlan’s face lit up – literally and figuratively!

He was holding a welding tool, which was spitting out hot metal, flame and sparks, attempting to seal a piece of metal onto a wreath shape of metal pieces. Beside him was Travis Pond, one of our participating artists, walking him through the process. Harlan’s face mask was awash in blue and yellow light.

“Yup,” said Harlan, as he lifted his mask and grinned widely. “It doesn’t get better than this. I got to WELD something.”

Which reminds me why it is we do what we do at Portland Open Studios. We are not your typical art experience. Where else can a visitor immerse themselves in up to 99 different ways that artists make art, in their studios, with their tools, with work in all its various states around them? It is exhilarating. All of our artists will be demonstrating their process. Many will have something for you to try out, too.

I know people who like to romanticize the job of an artist. Let me tell you, if you are making art for a living, there are definite ups and downs, just like any other job. But the biggest up is the thrill of making something with your hands and using your right – or visual side – of the brain. Those of us who participate in Portland Open Studios know that this meditative, out-of-time feeling is what gets us through even the most difficult of days.

We also know that this feeling is not unique or special to us – anyone can get it by learning to hand-make something. Whether it’s fine art, working on a car engine, knitting, cake decorating or carpentry, taking things apart and putting them back together again is an experience that builds your brain and your soul. The artists who participate in open studios aren’t just hawking their wares. We want you to share that experience, that feeling, with you. Our connection to art is very human and very universal.

This year, Portland Open Studios celebrates 20 years, and our hope, our dream, is that you walk into open studios with curiosity, and walk out having your mind blown – that process was so cool, that painting so beautiful, that studio so amazing. We want you to walk away feeling like you must have more art in your life, and that art has something to give YOU, personally.

We want you to walk away feeling like it doesn’t get any better than this.

Much love,

Leah and the Portland Open Studios Board (Maude, Shelly, Jolinda, David, Pat, Janie, Sam, Kit and Duck)

A word from the president

This October, Portland Open Studio’s 20th year offers both something old and something new.

Unchanged is the event itself, in which 99 artists will open their studios to the public on the second and third weekends of October (Oct. 13-14 and Oct. 20-21). Visitors can expect artist demos, the chance to try out some artistic processes, and the chance to get to know artists and procure some amazing local art.

How you’ll find the artists this year – our tour guide – has gotten a serious makeover. We noticed fewer people were seeking out our printed guide, which was distributed by our amazing partners New Seasons grocery, and appeared in many forms over the years, from a calendar to an 80-page bound book. The tour guide typically cost between $10 and $15 to purchase.

Meanwhile, the phone app version of our tour guide, first developed about five years ago by artist and former board member Shu Ju Wang, was becoming increasingly popular. Last year, nearly 1,500 people downloaded the app, while only about 300 bought the paper tour guide.

This year we have three ways to find our artists:

  1. The Printed Guide, an 8-page insert listing all artists, with addresses and contact information, organized by neighborhood, will be in the center of the October issue of Portland Monthly Magazine (price: $6). That issue, the Weekend Getaways issue, is out on the newsstands now (as of 9/10/18)
  2. The Phone App Guide will be available in both the apple store and google play stores on Sept. 20 (Price: $4.99). You’ll be able to review three photos of art from each studio, get driving directions between studios, and new this year, a calendar that will tell you what your favorite Portland Open Studio artists are doing ALL YEAR LONG. (How’s that for added value?)
  3. Artists and their addresses are listed on our website (free), at www.portlandopenstudios.com

Want to catch all these artists in one place? We’ll launch our 20th year with a group show of most participating artists and party at the Oregon Society of Artists, on Friday, Sept. 28, from 6-9 p.m. And save the date for our big birthday gala bash, the Art Ball, on Nov. 8 at the Hilton downtown (Come dressed as your favorite artists, art time period, or painting).

Hope to see you at the studios this year!

Warmly,
Leah

A Word from the President

You might think of Portland Open Studios as an October happening. And yes, while it’s true our flagship event – the citywide open art studio tour – takes place over the second and third weekends of October, our 100 artists are around and visible  all year round. And we want to do more!

You’ll see us demoing and sharing our process at the art stores Blick, Artist & Craftsman and Collage all summer and into the fall. We are showing art in venues all over the city. We are working with high school interns (our application program is still open, go  here  to register.  And this year, our interns will be showing WITH us during the October tour.

Many of us offer classes in our studios all year long. We believe with a passion that everyone should love art, do art, and appreciate art. We think your life will be better for it, and we want to connect with you! This year, when we launch our new October tour guide phone app (in late summer), we will include a calendar function – that means all our artists can report on classes, shows, public exhibitions and other events all year round. It also means you can find them, in one place. (Thank hard-working board members David Friedman, Maude May and Duck Holland, and volunteer/data administrator Charlotte Cunningham for all the ground work they are doing now to launch this project).

But we are also open to ideas from you, the community. Please tell us if you have ideas about how we can interact with YOU! We love visiting schools, public offices, corporations, nursing homes. We are open to programming ideas of all kinds. We are an army of 100 artists, and we would like to serve our community. So please do tell us how: Write to me with any ideas, at leah@portlandopenstudios.com.

We are listening.

Much Respect,

Leah Kohlenberg
President, Portland Open Studios
www.portlandopenstudios.com