Friday, October 24, 2008

Sculpting Show and Tell.

(Doing my copper repousse' during Portland Open Studios. Photo by Lisa Griffin)

For two weekends in a row, I've been part of the Portland Open Studios Tour. That means from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday, I open my studio to the public. But it's more than an art show and sale. It's more like art show and tell.

Remember when you were in kindergarten and you brought something to school to share with the rest of the class? Well, this is something like that. As a participating artist, my job is to show people where, what and how I work. It's been an interesting process.

When people come to my studio, I show them how I bend, shape and pinch window screening into sculptures of animals and people as well as push copper sheeting into masks and landscapes. I tell them how color is added and answer questions about where I get my materials. I let them wander through my home looking at my some of my other pieces explaining how the original stories and found objects give the pieces unity. I listen as they tell me about their experiences with art and sometimes, show me some of their artwork.

I must admit, I wasn't sure what this experience would be like. Opening up my studio to strangers seemed a little scary at first. Not to mention, putting many of my sculpture pieces on display in my own home for people to see and touch. Talking to all the people for 7 hours each day was both invigorating and exhausting. It was a lot of work, more than I expected. And it gave me an even greater appreciation of all the work that gallery owners put into every monthly show.

But I'm glad I did it. They learned about my art process and I learned about their art experiences. I told them about how my work evolves with each piece and they told me how they felt about the sculptures. It was a wonderful exchange of appreciation, knowledge, creativity and ideas. And isn't that what show and tell is all about?

Visit my website at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008



Saturday and Sunday, I unlocked my front door and welcomed strangers, friends and neighbors into my home and my studio. It was a little scary, to be honest, to open up my solitary studio space and process to new people. I felt a little uncomfortable letting others see unfinished work especially pieces still in process. But I loved doing the demos, showing children and adults how I do what I do.

That's the mission of Portland Open Studios Tour, to let the public see artists at work. And I believe and support that mission. I feel strongly that the more people see working artists, the more they'll understand and appreciate finished art work.

I've never done anything like this before, so it's all been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Since being juried into this year's tour in March, I've had a lot of new experiences. There were meetings large and small. I was a little intimidated attending the first large group meeting but very quickly felt at ease as everyone introduced themselves and we split up into smaller groups by our volunteer jobs and neighborhood areas. I went to smaller meetings for publicity. I volunteered to write for the group blog. I was a professional writer in a previous 'career' but hadn't used those skills in a while, so this was another new adventure for me.

During the course of the last seven months, I've met many wonderful, fun, creative and supportive artists. At my 'cluster' group get togethers, I met 8 other artists who all live within 5 minutes of my studio. I've demonstrated my copper repousse' work next to printers, stone sculptors, painters and weavers on a beautiful summer day in a park. I've interviewed at least 7 other artists for the group's blog site as well as writing the audio scripts for podcasts.

But most important of all, for me, was meeting all those curious 'tour' visitors. I showed how I form my screening sculptures and copper repousse' to men, women and children of all ages. As they wandered through my studio and home gallery, they asked all sorts of interesting questions, made wonderful observations and showed their appreciation of my work.

There are many people in my own neighborhood who have no idea what I do all day. So it gave me an opportunity to show my work to them. It also gave me a chance to display the pieces in a home setting, as well as explain the concepts and stories that direct and inspire my pieces.

I admit, I was exhausted at the end of the weekend. It was a lot of work. But it was also a very rich and rewarding experience especially when the last visitor of the day said that my studio was the best one yet!

For anyone in the Portland area this next weekend, my studio will be open again both Saturday and Sunday from 10-5. Buy a tour guide at then come on by and visit!!!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

(Top-'Reflection' copper repousse',
Bottom-'Spring', screening sculpture)

It’s been a week of new opportunities and experiences. I was part of a group show at a new gallery, ONDA. And I was interviewed and had an article about me published in a local paper.

The “Celebrating Nature” show at ONDA in Lake Oswego this month is a benefit for the Friends of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. A local wildlife sanctuary located along the Tualatin River that is home to a wide variety of animals and birds including eagles, great blue herons, egrets and more. At the opening I met many new people including fellow artists and volunteers at the refuge.

The Times, a local community newspaper, called to do a story about me and my participation in this year’s Portland Open Studios Tour. This tour, which is in its 9th year, is an opportunity for people in the community to watch artists at work in their studios. For me, working in my studio is a solitary activity and this is my chance to share my process with the people in my own neighborhood. When the article came out on Thursday, it was amazing to see my picture in the paper. And I felt a little shy, but I was glad to have this wonderful opportunity to be featured in a local paper.

Check out the ONDA show online at
And check out The Times article online (no picture of me or my art, unfortunately) at