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by Bonnie Meltzer
Portland Open Studios artists at Museum of Contemporary Craft
Showcase in the Lab, 2nd floor
September 14 – October 23
724 NW Davis

Artists will be at the museum from 6:00 to 8:00 on First Thursday, May 7
Admission free during First Thursday

Final Demonstrations
October 23, 1:00 – 4:00
Glass: Carli Schultz Kruse and Kat Hargis

view of the full case


Portland Open Studios is open to artists of all visual art disciplines
In the call to Portland Open Studios artists for this exhibit there were only two restrictions.  The obvious one was that it had to fit in the case but the second was more ambiguous. The work had to be craft. That might seem straightforward as well until you see that Portland Open Studios artists have stretched and pulled the definition of craft.  They have blurred the definitions even within their chosen craft as well. It used to be that craft meant a beautiful functional object.  Yes, there are those items in the case but ….  There is an unreadable book, its pages shredded and sewn; a clay quilt; a giant bead that would cause the wearer a trip to the chiropractor if worn; an unwearable wooden dress with crocheted wire; a bowl that is not a container but a slowly revolving landscape; and a piece of sculpture that has a surprising opening devise that reveals a space for storage.

There is a national annual exhibition that might help define craft a bit.  It is called “SOFA”, sculptural objects and functional art. Gwen Jones adds this definition, “Craft is art at work”.

Gwen and her husband Kenneth Forcier of Gracewood Design fit that definition very well.  If their stencil painted floor cloths were hung on a wall would they be paintings and not craft? Is it their functionality that makes them craft?  The stencils can be used more than once to create editions (like printmaking) or used in different configurations and combination to make a whole new design.  Does that change the art/ craft balance? Because they are floor cloths and not just paintings they need more technical prowess to make them withstand footsteps and heavy tables. In any case they are also well crafted.

Sewn Clay by Carolyn Drake

Carolyn Drake’s thoughts give insight into the subject in general and specifically to her own work.  “Each craft has traditional associations that accompany it; in ceramics, for instance, vessels nourish, sustain, store, keep things safe.  They imply longevity and are a measure of plenty.  Sewing and quilting bring to mind comfort, security, making-do, warmth, family, and tradition (among other things).  What I am currently utterly fascinated with is what happens when you mesh crafts, and therefore mesh associations. The familiar turns strange, and the associations can become complicated and destabilized”. You can see what happens when you combine media when Carolyn Drake sews clay.  At one of the museum demonstrations at the museum she brought leather hard clay sheets which were perforated with hundreds of holes. A conversation with the visitors to the museum revealed all the technical problems so many holes can cause.  She solved the problem of glaze which would fill the holes during firing necessitating labor intensive reopening them.  Instead of glaze she uses oxides rubbed onto the body of the clay and different kinds of firing methods to obtain color.  The piece in the showcase is made of many small clay pieces sewn together.  In subsequent work she is making larger slabs with a carved block pattern replicating the quilt blocks. Technically, she isn’t sewing to connect her pieces of clay “fabric”  she is embroidering on one bigger piece of clay .

Cat Hargis and Christine Zachery

Cat Hargis and Christine Zachery

When one mixes two different media the attachment of the two takes thought from the inception of the design. Cat Hargis’s combines semiprecious gems and other stones onto her kiln-formed glass platters as a kind of jewelry for glass. Attaching the gems and stones create some of the same kinds of issues Carolyn faces. She has to drill holes in the glass to accommodate the “necklaces” before the final firing. If she does it later she can’t achieve the textures she wants on the final piece. It is no surprise that she once was a jeweler.

Christine Zachery applied to Portland Open Studios as a painter so I was surprised when her mosaic was entered into the MOCC exhibit.  The thing that makes this piece so successful is that she has made the technique of mosaic fit to her work rather than the other way around. Look closely, this is no normal grout filled mosaic. She says, “My method was not to try to do anything new but simply to enrich the surface”.  She may have done both. She develops her  composition as an oil painting and then applies a loose collage of glass pieces over it.  Silver leaf under the glass adds to the sparkle. The painting shows through, in various levels of transparency,  the clear or monochromatic glass. Previous to making these hybrid mosaic paintings she had been adding metal shavings, ground glass and glass pieces directly onto the paint surface. ”Later, I realized that I could go deeper by having an underpainting which shows through the surface”.

Amy Maule

Amy Maule

Although Amy Maule’s work is clay she works in contrasts. The elegant, sleek, smooth white teapot sits atop a pair of chunky, sturdy and textured toddler legs. “I combine tight, wheel-thrown pieces with loose, organic, coil-built pieces to emphasize the difference between the two methods of construction.”

The exhibit and the demonstrations at the museum can help YOU define craft for yourself but it is only a sliver of what each artist does.  To get the whole picture visit the studios of these artists (and others) to see everything– Not only the techniques but all that surrounds an artist at work. The tools, materials, and, of course, many pieces of artwork in various stages of doneness. Factors that influences artists — the article pinned up on the wall; the collections of objects artists use for inspiration; the gardens surrounding the studios are what you can expect.  At the museum see the breadth of Portland Open Studios with artworks of many artists in a pristine environment. During Portland Open Studios you get the depth of each artist.
See it all and continue the conversation.

Tour Guides to Portland Open Studios can be purchased at the Museum shop.

These artists have work in the exhibition. A”*”  indicates additional article about the artist on this blog.

Mary Bennett *
Debra Carus
Carolyn Drake
Sylvia Emard
Greg Hanson
Barbara Gilbert
Gracewood Design-Gwen Jones & Ken Forcier
Cat Hargis
Jeanne Henry
Laurene Howell
Thomas Hughes *
Carli Schultz Kruse
Amy Maule
Robert MC Williams *
Bonnie Meltzer *
Carole Opie
Careen Stoll
Marcy Stone
Christine Zachery

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Navigate the Portland Open Studio tour from the palm of your hand.  If you have an iPhone, we have an app for that! This year you may use your Portland Open Studios iPhone app as your tour guide and map to make it easy for you to find the art you love.

Indulge your curiosity with this interactive version of our time-tested Tour Guide. The new iPhone app includes information for all 100 artists, images of their artwork, plus information about our 2010 community partner, Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP) which brings the healing power of art to children in crisis.

The 2010 tour is on October 9, 10 and 16, 17 (always the 2nd and 3rd weekends of October). All 100 artists’ studios are open from 10am to 5pm, and artists will be on hand to demonstrate their process and answer questions during those hours

Info for an artist you can watch at work

Featuring the same quality images of work by every artist, their contact information and directions, the application places each studio location on a map. Then, when you are ready to travel to the next studio, the app links into iPhone’s GPS-guided maps function to take you there step by step.   Other features of the application include the ability to highlight your favorites artist studios, sort by medium of choice, make notes about your experience at the studio, receive last minute information from the tour organizers, and provide feedback that will help all visitors and artists in the future.  Then keep the artists contact information for future reference as holidays, anniversaries or birthdays approach. A list of wheelchair-accessible studios is also available.

The application is $14.99  a penny less than the printed Tour Guide:  Download your Portland Open Studios iPhone app here!

Find out more about the Portland Open Studios tour at .www.potlandopenstudios.com

A special thanks to board member Shu-Ju Wang and developer John Roberts at MindWarm, Inc. for creating this wonderful application.

By Shu-Ju Wang

A visit to Martin Waugh’s studio is a singular experience.

The art being made is invisible to the naked eye for its size and the speed at which it’s traveling. In the time that it takes a water droplet to fall 10 inches and a second water droplet to follow right behind, the camera and multiple flashes must be synchronized to  catch the droplets in action at the precise moment. Timing is everything and it’s measured in 1/1000 of a second.

Below, Good Catch.

Martin Waugh is a physicist and engineer, a tinkerer, builder, an inventor, artist, and is on his way to become a noun as well. A “Martin Waugh” is something that people refer to when they talk about one of his images. You may have already seen his work without realizing it–he has created commercial and design work for advertising, magazines, corporations and television. And he lives among us, right here in Portland!

Above, Narcissi.

While high speed photography has been with us for over a century, first made famous with Muybridge’s photographs of the horse galloping, and then later Edgerton’s image of the bullet piercing an apple, the advent of digital photography revolutionized the field. Timing became much more precise and minutely adjustable. And with the camera tethered to and controlled by a computer, you can see the images immediately and continue to fine tune until you capture the exact moment, whether it’s time of impact or 3/1000 second past impact.

Having this level of control with his equipment, Martin is able to experiment and play with other variables, such as different liquids used or different coloring agents. He has photographed cream dropping into coffee and he can tell you which kind of dyes changes the water behavior (aniline dyes) and which muddies up the water (food dyes).

But hold on, not so fast, for all is not so easily said and done.

While Martin has built a high speed photography studio to control timing and lighting, and to reduce vibration, there is much that is beyond his control. Take water, for example. Even with the water that comes out of his tap, there are many parameters that influence the outcome that can be out of his control–minute changes in water temperature, ambient temperature, changes in the amount of water in his catch basin. And although he didn’t say so, I imagine the hardness or softness of the water matters, and that probably changes in minuscule amounts constantly.

Above, Martin setting up his rig and camera, getting ready for another shot.

It is clear that Martin finds pleasure and joy in these unknowns; it’s what gives him room for play and opportunity for chance encounters. And from these unknowns, a wonderful world of motion, color, form and science are captured and presented to the audience.

Martin has the kind of humor and innocence that one associates with a creative genius who doesn’t have a clue that he is one…although I think he might be catching on. Having been a photographer since junior high, he always thought the real photographers were those other people who were doing this or that; in other words, somebody other than him, doing something other than what he was doing. Until he realized that he was making a real contribution to the field of high speed photography–mainly, the use of backlighting to photograph transparent subjects.

And in another first that he’s eager to try–high speed photography of DNA suspended in water. The long strands of DNA creates a ‘stickiness’ in the liquid that Martin expects will change the behavior of his liquid sculptures in unpredictable and exciting ways.

You can visit Martin’s studio during Portland Open Studios on October 9, 10, 16 & 17. Martin is artist number 21.

You can also see some of his work at the Art Institute of Portland, 1122 NW Davis Street; the exhibit is up from September 2 through 30.

To see more of Martin Waugh’s work online, please visit his website at http://www.liquidsculpture.com/.

To learn more about Portland Open Studios, please visit http://www.portlandopenstudios.com/.

by Carolyn Hazel Drake

You could describe Dr. Robert McWilliams as a career outsider artist.  For almost forty years, he has been channeling his humor, collector’s eye, and unique perspective into sculptures that resonate with human experience on an individual, yet somehow universal, scale.  He is quick to point out, however, that while he has been in dozens of shows, “I still tell people that I am an amateur artist rather than a real artist… I’ve never had any art training and I’m more amazed than anyone that I’m still making and showing art at age seventy.”

Yet it’s difficult to reconcile the word amateur with Robert’s work.  The freshness and playfulness in his approach to form, surface, and subject matter come from a thoughtful, practiced hand and mind – a mind that just happens to have a good sense of humor. The success of a piece like Conductor, for instance, demands that the relationship between the metal (early 19th century hand-forged gate hinges) and the wood (walnut), the diagonal angles, the distribution of emphasis, and the negative space all combine to strike a balance that still maintains some tension.

Conductor

The title Conductor also works at several levels: the implied conductor at his podium, but also the original role of the gate hinge as a sort of conductor of individuals going to and fro, and finally the electric and thermal conducting quality of metal.  Many of his titles play with meaning this way, simultaneously poking fun and making reference.

Robert’s love of folk and outsider art initially evolved from a very practical need: inexpensive furniture.  He turned this need into a skill: “My experience refinishing and repairing furniture gave me an appreciation of the complex patinas that old wood and iron surfaces acquire.  My interest in antiques, crafts and folk art led me to begin woodcarving, which later came to include other kinds of sculpture.”

With a doctorate in geology, Robert had a successful thirty-year career as a professor at Ohio’s Miami University.  He sees his career as distinct from his life as a collector and maker of art, but inasmuch as geology is also the study of the effect of time on the earth, it seems fitting that the themes and materials in his work acknowledge time through personal narrative, found materials, and patina: “Almost every piece I make has a personal story behind it.  My work combines whimsy, humor, irony and nostalgia.”

If Dreams Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride

“I carved If Dreams Were Horses Beggars Would Ride, and like many other times, I named my work after I made it, using Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for inspiration.  The quote is from John Ray 1627-1705, who I have never read or heard of, but who also coined the phrases ‘blood is thicker than water,’ ‘money begets money’ and ‘misery loves company’.  The quote fits the piece … I guess it reminds me of when I was an impoverished student.”

The Cow that Jumped Over the Moon

The Cow That Jumped Over the Moon is made of a foundry wheel, drawer pulls, a wooden salad bowl and the bushing from the wheel.

Portrait of the Artist as a Turkey

Portrait of the Artist as a Turkey is made from a stainless steel teapot, a stove burner liner and the front of an old drawer.  The back has a bull’s eye for aiming your foot at his rear end.  The inscription is ‘Lord, I am not worthy’.  It is painted with artist’s lead base oil paint, which gives it an unusually solemn patina.  It’s all about pomposity and a reminder not to take myself too seriously, which most of the time I don’t.”

Robert’s studio is not to be missed during the tour.  He openly acknowledges just how fortunate he is to have space, light, and a view from Mt. Tabor (not to mention parquet floors, a wet bar, and a fireplace!).

“I call my work Visionary Sculpture because I don’t know what else to call it,” says Robert. The title seems apt – and anything but accidental.

The Passion Lab Gallery @ Contemporary Arts Kitchen in Klamath Falls presents New Paintings: The Body and Society in Motion.  These 17 recent works by Allen Schmertzler will be presented in a one-man show that will reflect on current concerns of our contemporary society.  September 9th thru October 7th, 2010


The gallery is open from monday – sunday 10 – 5 pm and is located at 809 Main Street in Klamath Falls, Oregon
passionlabgallery@gmail.com


for further information, contact:
aschmertzinger@comcast.net

An exhibit by Anne Greenwood, Helen Hiebert, Diane Jacobs and Shu-Ju Wang, and a video by Andrew Wade Smith.

Glenn and Viola Walters Arts Center
527 East Main Street
September 7 – September 29, 2010
Gallery Hours & Info

Opening Reception: Tuesday, September 7, 6-8pm
Potluck Picnic: Saturday, September 18, 11:30am-2:30pm

The installation For the Love of Food had its genesis in a conversation between Anne Greenwood, Helen Hiebert, Diane Jacobs, and Shu-Ju Wang, a group of Portland, Oregon artists who have been meeting monthly for the past five years. Greenwood’s concerns about the decline in the nutritional value of the foods we consume prompted the group to investigate the various issues surrounding food in our modern cultures.

The exhibit will feature an installation of an imaginary dining room table and also includes a video component with the assistance from media artist Andrew Wade Smith.

Please also join the artists in a potluck picnic on September 18, 11:30am to 2:30pm, on the east lawn of the Walters Arts Center.

September is Hunger Action Month and the Walters Arts Center is hosting a food drive for the Oregon Food Bank; please bring a can of food or other non-perishable items when you come see the show!