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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

You can see more of Bonnie’s work at

And you can see more of Trina Hesson’s work at


Guardino Gallery presents:

Sea Change
new ceramic sculptures by
Sara Swink

May 31-June 26
Guardino Gallery
2939 NE Alberta, Portland, OR 97211

Below, Poisson, 2007, clay, 21″ x 19″ x 6″


In 2006, Sara Swink established Clay Circle Studio in West Linn where she creates her ceramic sculptures and teaches studio classes in clay as well as creative process workshops. Her exhibit at Guardino is stunning and has been very well received; there is still time to see the show if you have not done so. She will be participating in the Portland Open Studios Tour for the second time in October, 2007.

Sara graciously gave a private studio tour this morning to talk about her creative process.

At first glance, her work appears whimsical and light hearted. Her use of animal imagery and human figures creates combinations that are sometimes unexpected and sometimes as familiar as a mermaid. But as she says about Poisson, her fish-headed woman, “don’t be fooled.” Keep looking, and you will see mouths, gaping, exposing well formed teeth; eyes, closed, half open, downcast, or hidden behind swim goggles; surfaces, encrusted with inner thoughts, or poisonous octopus suckers, and you will know that it’s an open invitation to explore Sara’s psyche, as well as your own.

Perched between working and playing, she improvises and she creates collages, doodles, writing and sketching that she has been forming into books for many years. Through this half play, half work, she delves deeply into her conscious and unconscious self. From this beginning of images and texts on paper, through the touch of hands on wet clay, to the transformation by pigments and intense heat, a personal narrative emerges from her kiln.

She returns to these books again and again to seek meaning, understanding, and inspiration. These books are not only a treasure trove of ideas and a personal document, they are artistic objects in their own right. Like the sculptures that are the end results of this process, these books are also symbols of the connection between her (and our) inner and outer realities.


Above, a few of Sara’s working notebooks. Below, the back half of her spacious studio.


Visiting an artist’s studio is always a privilege, and Sara is a generous host who is happy to share her working methods through Portland Open Studios tours and through her creative process workshops.

For more information about Guardino Gallery, see

To learn more of Sara’s work and her classes, see

Portland Open Studios Homepage

Learn more about the Open Studios weekends, where to purchase tour guides, see images of each artist's work, find links to artists' web sites, and much more at Portland Open Studios.


Listen to interviews with Portland Open Studios artists (and more) at Mike Turner's website.


June 2007
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