By Susan Gallacher-Turner

Megan Delius and Shelley Hershberger

This year, Portland Open Studios paired up 21 artists with about 40 students in a new mentorship education program. Students from four area high schools, Wilson, Century, Grant and Arts & Communications Academy were offered a unique learning opportunity to work with artists in their studios during and after the Portland Open Studios Tour.

Education program chair, Allen Schmertzler, describes the program, “The focus was to educate the public about the process of art making. Students were able to make art with the artists, have their own portfolio/artwork critiqued, learn about organizing and maintaining an art studio, gain sales experience, and spend time in a hands-on manner in the artist’s studio. Students also were able to get credit towards Career Pathways, Career Education, Senior Project, Job Shadow, and/or an Internship for their school’s art graduation requirements.”

Shelley Hershberger, an artist in North Portland was paired up with Megan Delius from Arts & Communications Academy in Beaverton. Here’s what they have to say about their experience with the new mentorship program.

Shelley Hershberger said, “My high school student, Megan Delius, was helpful, polite, showed up on time and respectful of my space and tools. She was in heaven having an opportunity to make monotypes all weekend with ample space and an etching press pretty much to herself. We had great chats during lull times and she pitched in graciously when things were busy. She would be welcome in my studio anytime.”


Megan Delius

Megan Delius said, “I definitely loved working with you. It was a fantastic learning experience and overall a really good time. I feel so honored to be able to work with a professional artist, and learning how to do monoprints.”

Susan Gallacher-Turner, a sculpture artist in Tigard was paired with Dani Goodman from Wilson High School in Portland. This is what they have to say about the program.

Dani said,“I learned that you don’t have to limit yourself to one type of art. I learned the different effects you can create with metal using chemicals and heat and how to make different imprints on copper. I learned that by working on a number of projects at once, you can be more patient with your work by moving onto something else. I find myself experimenting with tools to create new effects.”

Susan said, “It was a delight to have Dani in my studio before and during open studios. She greeted guests and gathered contact information. Dani listened so well as I talked and demonstrated, she was able to talk about my art to some visitors while I was talking to others. When we had a lull, I was able to get her started on her own copper repousse’ project. I enjoyed teaching her something new and her energetic help during the tour was wonderful.”

Allen Schmertzler, artist and teacher was paired up with Chrissy Hoover from Century High School in Hillsboro. Here’s what Chrissy said about her experience at Allen’s studio, “I really enjoyed my experience. It was both culturally and artistically enriching. It is fascinating to watch artists get in their personal creative zone and just manipulate ordinary concepts of life into alluring works. The beauty of the movement captured from a split second and transferred to paper has an almost hypnotic appeal to the mind’s eye. Hence, I love the look in the admirer’s eye when they’ve found a piece that really strikes them. This was a great learning experience and also a joy to help with. I give my 100% thanks for this incredible opportunity.”

Students from Wilson High School wrote about their experiences with their artist mentors. Here are some of their experiences in their own words.

Marina Palmrose about artist mentor, Mark Randall, “I experienced a part of the business side to being an artist. Gratification does not come right away, but if you are doing something you love, then following your passion is the most important idea.”

Alex Sanchez shares working in the studio of Shawn Demarest, “Watching her spread the ink on the copper plate, she told me about types of ink and how to handle the cloth as you rub it onto the plate. I ended up taking the copper plate along with the etching needle to work on, once I return, I’ll be looking forward to the outcome of my piece.”

Magali Lopez was inspired by mentor, Kitty Wallis, “I really loved this opportunity. She has been doing art professionally for 50 years, creating her own paper, pastels and techniques. Kitty Wallis is an amazing artist, and very inspiring.”

Dani Goodman about artist mentor, Susan Gallacher-Turner, “I got to see behind the scenes of how a talented artist works. She showed me her sketchbook and her research. How she uses her hands as her main tools. I felt like I stepped into a real artists shoes for a moment, it was a rewarding experience.”

Emily Hall recommends all art students try this experience after being in the studio of Careen Stoll, “This is a great opportunity for students to learn from people at a high level in the artistic field. Anyone who is considering art as a profession needs to experience this. I found it very interesting to see how professionals live and interact with their customers. It definitely opened my eyes to the fact that creating art for a living isn’t a walk in the park like I imagined. I learned so much in just a few hours from an amazing artist.”

Art Teacher, Susan Parker of Wilson High Schools sums up the programs success, “It was an amazing opportunity for these students. I hope Portland Open Studios artists will consider doing something like this again.”

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