Here’s the second interview, a couple named Lauren and Evan, young collectors and committed Portland Open Studios participants. They have just begun to purchase local work.
Tell me about the first pieces you purchased. Were those from your first year on the tour?
Evan: Those are from the first studio we went to.
And you bought something? Were you planning on that?
Lauren: No. We just picked her out of the calendar. She had some huge pieces, which were really beautiful, but a little outside of our price range. These made us think, we can get something! Let’s get something!
What drew you to them?
Lauren: They are pretty unique. They sort of glow with light. At the time we were living in a house that had lots and lots of blue walls, so when we brought them home they looked really perfect. Just the little slivers of blue picked up on all the colors in the house. I think the paintings just seem sort of magical and wonderful. We’re not too into realism, so I think that was appealing. And they were attainable.
How has your experience been interacting with the artists?
Lauren: For me, it’s interesting to see the different personalities. All these people and they open up their homes to Portland, which is amazing to me. All of them, whether they’re organized or not. I don’t know how on earth I would prepare for open studios if I were an artist.
Evan: It’s nice to get the artists who are personable and will reach out and explain the process. The process and their process. How they conceptualize it and go about doing what they do. Certainly there are items we would never be interested in buying—a gilded sword or a mace—but are just beautiful and amazing. To have people say: I do this and then I do this. Really, that they’re so passionate about it. It’s neat to see that.
Lauren: Because you don’t get that at museums and galleries. If you go to the gallery opening, maybe you can see the artist talking about their stuff. But I love that it’s so unique. There have been very few places where we haven’t had the opportunity for a one-on-one.
Has participating changed your perspective on art?
It makes me appreciate being able to see the open studios more. When we go to museums and things. Its just there’s a booth with a bunch of art in it and you don’t really know how it came to be there or why they’ve chosen these things. I like when you can see things in process. You can see a painting at the beginning and something they’ve finished. The tour personalizes it.
How will you decide what piece you will buy?
Lauren: Part of the great thing about the tour is getting a piece and being able to talk about it. There’s a potter or sculptor in north Portland who collected his mud from very specific places and they all had different looks. When you fired them, they looked totally different. Those stories are the kind of things that are important.
Evan: In the past, we’ve walked into a place, looked around, and starting looking at each other and then looking back at a couple of pieces. For something like fifty bucks, if we like it, let’s get it. For our largest piece, we thought about it for a year. It’s what plops in front of our eyes and grabs our attention.
But the story is important?
Lauren: Yeah. And having a good interaction with the artist. In a situation such as open studios, I can’t see us walking in somewhere, seeing something we thought was cool, and then without talking to anybody, checking the sticker and saying, we’ll just take that. Being able to talk about it is very important. Even if no one ever asks about it.