Meet our 2019 Jury

By Janie Lowe

This year, we decided to increase our jury from three to four judges.  They will be judging the artwork together and in person.  We feel that we will have a better idea about what the jurors are looking for and what impresses them in this way. As usual, the jury is comprised of working artists, an art educator and a gallerist.  Here they are:

Stephanie Chefas

Stephanie Chefas Projects is a labor of love from its owner, Stephanie Chefas, who has been independently curating art exhibits for nearly a decade in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other locations.  Now calling Portland home, Chefas retains an eye for cutting-edge and often challenging work that demands attention. Highlighting a diverse blend of contemporary artists from around the world, the gallery features monthly exhibitions with an emphasis on cultivating new talent and encouraging risk and evolution among established visionaries. StephanieChefas website

Lisa Congdon

Fine artist, illustrator and author Lisa Congdon is best known for her colorful drawings and hand lettering. She works for clients around the world including Commes des Garçons, Ernie Ball, Crate and Barrel, Facebook, MoMA, REI, Sonos, Harvard University, Chronicle Books, and Random House Publishing, among many others. She is the author of seven books, including the starving-artist-myth-smashing Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist. She was named one of 40 Women Over 40 to Watch in 2015 and she is featured in the 2017 book, 200 Women Who Will Change the Way you See the World. She lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Lisa Congdon website

 Adriene Cruz

Harlem native Adriene Cruz received her BFA from the School of Visual Art in New York, and has been creating art in Portland for over 30 years.  Best known for her brilliantly colored and adorned art quilts, she has exhibited internationally and also designed, among other public works, the colorful Killingsworth Station on Interstate.  Adriene Cruz website

 Una Kim

Una Kim was born and raised in South Korea and immigrated to Los Angeles, California at the age of sixteen. She attended undergraduate school at the University of Southern California and graduate school at the Parsons School of Design, New York. She has shown her work nationally and internationally, with solo exhibitions in Gwangju and Daegu in South Korea, and Ningbo, China.  She  has completed two large murals in the Portland area,  and participated in international women’s exhibitions numerous times, the latest being at the National Museum, Beijing, China and Ho Chi Minh Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Una Kim FB

Introducing Artist No. 36 – Susan Harrington

Susan Harrington grew up in a family that loved to create. With a father that was an engineer and a mother who was a self-taught artist, her developing years were spent in an environment that included all sorts of designing, building and making activities. She discovered her love of art in her teens in the field of ceramics and also worked in textiles, printmaking and drawing before she found her true love – painting.

Born and raised in Oregon, she studied with Douglas Campbell Smith, Nelson Sandgren and James Kirk before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area where she studied with Ralph Borge, Charles Gill and Harry Krell while obtaining her BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts (now called the California College of Arts – CCA). After graduating, she spent several years painting while working in Membership and Development at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and obtaining her MA in Education.

She currently maintains a studio in a community of artists in the industrial area of northwest Portland and shows her work regionally.

“I see one of the roles of an artist is to share our interpretation and experience of the world to inspire people to feel and encourage people to think. My recent paintings center on my environmental concerns by following two themes, one theme being a dystopian look at our human impact on the planet and the other theme being a utopian vision about the regenerative strength of nature and the interconnectedness of all things. These paintings are about the random, organized chaos that happens when seeds are scattered, rain falls and sun shines. They’re about the Darwinian qualities that are inherent in adapting to survive and the harmony and disharmony between human beings and our natural earth. They’re about creating a space for the viewer to be in, feast upon and visually wander. They’re about hope, because nature is amazingly resilient in spite of the abuse we bring upon her. More than anything they’re about joy, and are my celebration of the beautiful gifts that surround us.”

Introducing Artist No. 7 – Ruth Armitage

“I am a painter because I enjoy making beautiful things. More than that, though, my work is a way for me to tell a story. Even though the art is abstract, I think of it as narrative, with each piece telling a personally meaningful tale.”

Ruth’s mom was a painter and always encouraged her creativity. “I had great teachers in high school and after college. I started with community ed classes and have pursed self-directed study with various master classes across the country. I draw inspiration from life, reading, and other artists. I am particularly drawn to work by Diebenkorn, Frida Kahlo, and Emily Carr and Emily Mason.”

Ruth paints in Watercolor, acrylic or oil, depending on her mood and the scale of the work. “I begin

with a general idea or memory, which I narrow to a title or more specific idea. Once I have that, I try to decide on a dominance – maybe mostly warm or cool colors, shapes etc. From that point on, I work very intuitively.” Ruth’s creative process has changed over time. “I have become more abstract in my expression, and have added various media over the years.”


Best advice:

Don’t push the river. Start where you are, and work with your natural abilities and tendencies, not against them.

If you stop by her studio during the PDXOS tour in October, she will be giving a couple of demonstrations and will be serving some great snacks and hot cider.

Introducing Artist No. 95 – Kirk Weller

“For me, doing art is always contemplative, sometimes reverential, and occasionally worshipful.

“Imagine—or maybe remember—coming upon some work of art, some creation, in which an ineffable perception of beauty fell upon you. It might be a particular combination of texture, line, hue, value and contrast born upon some degree of realistic imagery, itself symbolic of something a bit beyond words so that by the time you have been pulled away by the mundane, you are nonetheless changed. Now imagine conceiving of that creation before perceiving it, attempting to create it and ending up with something else equally ineffable but still a startling discovery. I experience this in my studio on a frequent basis.

“Having this opportunity makes me blessed. So I paint mainly to paint. In my studio, I give up my hand to something that allows me to create, but which I experience as discovery.

“It is likely that one day not too far away now, humanity–out of an abject and persisting inability to maintain a sustainable co-existence–will find itself without wild vistas. Instead the playas and deserts and plateaus will be festooned with windmills, solar panels, power lines and vats of genetically engineered algae—palatable for the post-modern palate. I presume these landscape paintings might then say something about not only the world—precious beyond redemption–but about humanity. Maybe, in this way, at long last, we will know what our place is, or should have been.”

Introducing Artist No. 31 – Anji Grainger

Anji Grainger is currently working on a body of work exploring the world of raindrops. The series is called Pacific Northwest Raindrops.

“If we look closely, there are many wonders to see inside a raindrop – its own little world so to speak – but actually it is  refraction of what is around us.  In this painting series my goal is to give the viewer a look into the tiny world of raindrops and to create a feeling of magic and mystery.  The challenges I face are accomplishing the combination of the exactness of a raindrop with the blurred and distorted effects that happen in the refraction process of a round and clear sphere.  With watercolor as a fluid medium, it was very difficult to get sharp clear lines so it took many hours of working slowly to achieve my goals.

“My work derives its inspiration from the magic and wonders of nature.  I paint with the movement of nature and visualize the growing twists and turns of a twig or a leaf.  I try to capture the stillness of an early morning walk in a field, along a river or in a forest.  I also focus on detail whether it’s simply the blending or bleeding of two colors like one would see on a ripening peach or the finite lines and edges of a raindrop. My current explorations are in the discovery of how elements of nature and texture react in watercolor to leave beautiful patterns and surprises in unique patterns on the paper.”

Four years ago Anji quit her day job and began a full time career as an artist and instructor. “It was a leap of faith and has taken many hours of hard work. This last year I made it past the earnings mark and had a great year supporting myself solely as a working single artist.”

To see her beautiful paintings, and visit with her about her art and her process, stop by her studio during the Portland Open Studios tour this fall.

Introducing Artist No. 11 – Rick Wheeler

Rick Wheeler has been a working artist for most of his adult life. “My art career includes working as a ‘commercial’ artist, doing illustrations for clients around the country, as well as being an art instructor to several art organizations and private students for about the last 20 years. This is balanced with my studio work, which includes painting (acrylic and watercolor), drawing (varied media), and mixed media projects (found objects). My work has been jury selected to a number of national and international exhibits, and has been collected by local, regional, and international clientele.

“My style of work also covers a broad range of interests, from tight realism to a looser, more painterly approach to my work, as well as outdoor/plein air work. Subjects range from landscape, wildlife, to figurative. Exploration in media, subjects, and style of work is one of my great pleasures as a visual artist. As a result, I can’t be easily categorized. And I’m okay with that.”

Rick is looking forward to seeing you all at his studio during the PDXOS tour, and he plans to be working on a painting in his studio so he can share his technique with his visitors.  “I find working with the public in this way an enjoyable opportunity to exchange ideas.”

Introducing Artist No. 73 Samyak Yamauchi

Samyak Yamauchi is one of the most interesting artists I’ve ever met, or maybe it’s just because I’ve gotten to know her personally.  Read her blog at and you will have the privilege of seeing directly into her psyche, and learn just what she is thinking and visualizing at any given moment.  And you can immediately see the expression of those thoughts in her paintings. As we all show only part of who we are to the rest of the world, I’m fascinated to know more.  You can learn more too, by visiting her in her studio during this fall’s Portland Open Studios tour.

She describes herself as “Third generation Japanese-American – mostly self-taught painter – native Portlander – partner, parent, grandparent – tree-hugger – color lover – hair enthusiast – retired teacher – friendly introvert – Superpower: big inspiration in a small frame.”

Her art background:  “I am pretty much self-taught.  I’ve always made art, but I was a ‘closet’ artist until 2001 when I started making and showing glass mosaics. Through many years of making mosaics, I learned a lot about color, composition, and ‘seeing’ imagery.”

While she is self-taught, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been learning.  She has taken figure drawing classes through PCC and from artist Phil Sylvester, who helped her get out her head and draw the way she sees things.  Serena Barton taught her to use her hands and paper towels; Jesse Reno taught her about letting things morph and change. Most recently she took a class from Bill Park who taught her to embrace drips!  “Mostly I have learned to paint by going into my studio almost every day and moving paint around and paying close attention to what the painting has to say and how it feels to paint.”

Her actual process has changed very little over time. The biggest change is her color palette. “When I started I painted dark abstracts. Then I began using mainly primary and very bright colors. My paintings got more and more colorful and bright until suddenly last winter I started using mostly black, grey and pale blue. I think I was feeling sort of overwhelmed by things going on in the world, and the change in my color palette was calming. Getting ready for a recent show at the P 5, I knew I need to have lighter backgrounds to show off the paintings on those dark walls, so I did a series with white backgrounds, bold black lines and little pops of color.  Now, I’m using subtle color and lighter backgrounds. My challenge is to figure out how to get adequate contrast in value with such subtle colors because I really like contrast, so I’m interested in incorporating black lines in interesting ways.”  She’s always growing.  I love that.

She tells me she has had many ‘pivotal’ experiences, but she tells us about three.:

“1. Being featured on Oregon Art Beat gave me more confidence in calling myself an “artist”. At the time I was facilitating painting workshops, and sharing my painting process with others. The Art Beat episode reached a lot of people who wouldn’t have seen my art otherwise. Because so many people started signing up for my workshops, I met lots of really lovely people, so that really opened my world up a lot.

“2. Another really life changing event was the day I met Portland artist, Fred Swan. Fred is one of the most gracious, creative, authentic people I’ve ever known. Meeting Fred, and coming into his orbit has brought me a beautiful sense of grace and gratitude. And

“3. The last experience was not really an art experience, but a recent spiritual retreat from which I returned, surprisingly, without a desire to call myself “artist” anymore. I believe that as I let this settle in, it will probably be the most important experience of my life.”

I asked her what the best piece of advice She’s ever been given was.  She had two: First: “If something in your painting isn’t moving the piece forward, get rid of it.” – Jesse Reno   Second. “Change direction.” – A voice in a dream.

Introducing Artist No. 23 – Rob Sanford

Rob Sanford comes from an artistic background. His Mother was an artist and musician. He entered his first art contest in second grade. “I was hooked after that.” He earned a degree in industrial design and worked as an Engineer, but has always painted.

Rob works in acrylic on canvas. Right now he’s focusing on wildlife art, but he has also won many awards in the science fiction/comic book industry. He is inspired by wildlife and landscape artists Jay Moore, Carl Rungius and Robert Bateman.

While Rob sees the art world changing from digitization and computer generation, he feels that even though the tools change, the inspiration remains.


He will be demonstrating his process during the fall PDXOS tour. Before he begins a project he takes photos and sketches ideas, then begins the piece. Before he considers the painting complete, though, he takes advice he has been given and lets the painting rest for a while. His goal is to become better with each new painting.

Introducing Artist No 72, Jonathan Glowacki

Jonathan Glowacki’s greatest inspiration is Mother Nature, who he describes as “perfection defined”. He particularly loves the trees. If you visit his studio during the tour you can expect an interactive live wood turning experience.

“After five years of running a successful but uninspired used consumer electronics business, I decided it was time to pursue something more meaningful. I closed the business, sold my belongings, and moved to Hawaii. There I discovered a bottomless well of inspiration. I began working with the trees, making wooden bowls on a lathe.

A few years later I found myself living in Portland, Oregon, turning wood full time from my home studio. At first focusing on creating art pieces using rare wood and stone, I began to recognize the inherent beauty of simple forms, and felt inspired to share this. I wanted to create something that was more accessible for people than lavish art pieces. I wanted my creations to be both beautiful and extremely useful.

Form married function & the Portland Peppermill Company was born. All of my pieces are hand turned on a wood lathe. I use subterranean root burls that have numerous naturally occurring voids and cavities. I grind up different stones and inlay the crushed stone into these crevices. My pieces are finished with oil and wax to maintain the natural feel of the wood.

I am dedicated to bringing back the disappearing art of handmade craftsmanship. Every piece I create receives my undivided attention when it comes to form, function and quality. It brings me joy to create functional art pieces that will be well loved and well used & that will last for generations.”