Friday, March 20, 2009

Art opening in the suburbs:
(Left:Shapeshifter-Polar Bear ribbon, Right: Black Sheep, Shapeshifters- Polar Bear, Wolf, Owl, Lion & Sheep.)
subject object show at The Kingstad Gallery.

There’s a prejudice out there about the suburbs. People who live in city say the suburbs are a bland, boring, homogenized, cultural wasteland. I’ve lived in the suburbs for many decades now, and I’m here to tell you it’s not true.

Take a walk in the park, 5 minutes from my house on a Saturday and listen to all the languages spoken. According to a recent survey, there are over 90 languages spoken in Beaverton alone. The resources include large public libraries, parks, lakes, bike paths, recreation centers, dog parks, farmers markets, and, yes, art galleries.

On third Thursdays every month, at The Kingstad Gallery in Beaverton, you can view a wide range of art, savor and sip delicious food and wine, and mingle with artists, musicians and performers who might also be your friends and neighbors.

The new show, ‘subject object: exploring the human impulse to hunt, gather & tell tales’, features paintings, sculptures, watercolors, photography, mixed media collage, assemblages and mosaic work from over 20 national, regional and local artists.

On opening night, I took in the wonderful array of work by local artists. I saw Becca Bernstein’s elder portrait series, Buck Braden’s ‘Street Car of Desire’ series, Allen Schmertzler’s powerful political paintings, Kurumi Ishikawa Conley’s gorgeous, fused glass pieces, Mark Randall’s ‘Life in the Circus’ series, Celeste Bergin’s wonderful paint boxes, and Uta Felhaber-Smith’s found object collages, just to name a few. And I’m honored that my Shapeshifter series and two of my Myth series pieces were also on exhibit.

This relatively new gallery in Beaverton shatters the assumptions of the suburbs in many ways. The art is professional, the crowds diverse, and music eclectic. The building also houses a comedy club and theater group as well as hosting many local meetings and luncheons all year long, giving the art and artists a wide viewing audience.

I think once you see the exhibit at The Kingstad Gallery in Beaverton, you’ll realize that powerful art and talented artists live and flourish in the suburbs, too.

For more information about The Kingstad Gallery, drop by at 15450 S.W. Millikan Way in Beaverton, Oregon or visit their website at

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meeting and Greeting.
Learning and Teaching.
Doing a demo at the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

This month, one of my Season’s series sculptures, ‘Spring’, is part of the March community showcase at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. As part of Portland Open Studios Tour showcase, I was asked to do a demonstration of my sculpture process for visitors to the Museum.

So Saturday, I packed up some small pieces of aluminum mesh and some examples of the finished process and headed over to the Museum. I was looking forward to it for many reasons. One, I really like doing the demo. It’s fun.

And this time, it was even more fun, because I was there with three other artists from the Portland Open Studios Tour; Bonnie Meltzer, Wendy Dunder and Careen Stoll. We all do very different work. Bonnie crochets copper wire. Wendy makes lamps with tissue paper and paint. Careen throws pots but on this day, she was making a pinch pot. And although, I’ve used wire, tissue, matte medium and clay, I’ve never used like they do. So for me, it was an opportunity to learn from watching their demos just like the other visitors. And I got a chance to talk shop with co-workers in the same line of work.

It was also a chance to meet and greet people from all over the city and country who love art. They wandered through the museum, took in our art showcase and came up to our demo tables. They asked questions about what we do and how we do it. We told them about our art, each other and the Studio Tour that brought us all together.

Portland Open Studios Tour has been a wonderful experience for me. It all started last year, when I timidly filled out the application and sent in my fee. I didn’t know whether I’d be accepted or not. I tried not to think about it. But when I found out I’d been accepted, I was elated and scared.

Because, now, I’d be opening up my home for two days, two weekends in a row, to people from around the city and country to watch me in my studio do my art work. As a solo studio artist, this seemed overwhelming and terrifying.

I did it anyway. And I’m so glad I did. I met six other artists who lived in my own neighborhood as well as many other artists in the Portland area who participated in the tour. As part of the tour volunteer requirements, I got the chance to interview and write about other tour artists. It was a wonderful, eye-opening experience to peer over the shoulders of other artists as they work and ask questions about their process. I learned about stone carving, printmaking, weaving, bead sculpture, pastels and European egg painting. It was so much fun. And that was all before the tour even started.

The tour came and went with surprising ease. I had so many wonderful, interesting people visit me. I learned more about myself and my art through the process of sharing it with others. One couple donated their kiln to me. Sure, I sold art work. But the biggest benefit for me was doing the demonstrations for the visitors, explaining what I do, how I do it, answering their questions and listening to their stories about their own art experiences.

Before this wonderful experience, I never would’ve pictured myself doing art demos for people at a museum or in my own studio. But that’s what’s great about trying something new, isn’t it? I may have taught others about my work, but I learned so many new things about myself, about other artists and about my community.

Friday, March 06, 2009

King Arthur: Real or Imagined.
It makes a great story either way.

Book review: The Kingmaking
by Helen Hollick

Just like everyone else, I’m familiar with the stories about King Arthur, Guinevere and the knights of the round table. Are they true? Did all this really happen? Did Arthur and Guinevere really exist? The fact is, nobody really knows. The real question is, does it matter? No.

And author, Helen Hollick would agree.

I’ve seen the movies and read other books about Arthur, so when I was received Helen Hollick's ‘The Kingmaking’, a 500 plus page paperback from Sourcebooks, I wondered if this would be another journey into myth and fantasy or an attempt at history. It’s a little of both.

A good book lets me explore new lands, experience life in the past, present or future, and get to know the hearts and minds of the characters. It’s an enriching experience that comforts and inspires me. I treasure my nightly reading time so, if I don’t like one book, I go onto the next. I have to say that I looked forward to picking up 'The Kingmaking' every night. I savored every page.

Author, Helen Hollick created a more ‘real’ Arthur and Gwenhwyfar than I’ve ever encountered before. She creates a world that is believable and realistically detailed. I could tell that she’d actually seen some of the locations she describes. I liked the depiction of the characters daily lives in a down to earth way, the familiar family dramas such as sibling rivalry and the conflicts between paganism, Christianity and the monarchy. Even though it’s not historically accurate, it feels real.

Hollick says, “I am not expressing fact, merely what might have been. The dates are my own interpretation, gleaned from a hotch-potch of muddled theories and chronologies. They may not ally with those proposed by the professional historian, but as virtually no date of this period can be established as absolute fact, I feel I can justify my theories.”

With this in mind, Hollick sets out to tell her story of the Dark Ages of Britain around 450 AD. The Roman Empire is crumbling leaving tyrant, Vortigern, to rule the British until Arthur, the son of Uthr, can grow up and fight for his right to the throne.

There are battles and lovemaking, political marriages and mistresses, deaths and births, and squabbling heirs to the throne. The usual Arthur, Merlin and sword in the stone myths are missing here.

Hollick explains, “As for Arthur, no one knows if he was real. A few scattered poems and early Welsh bardic tales were adopted by the twelfth century Normans who were responsible for the stories we know so well today. The knights, chivalrous deeds and Round Table belong to this later period, as did the fictitious invention of Lancelot, his adultery with Gwenhwyfar, and Merlin the wizard. You will not find them in my tale.”

Although, I didn’t miss the myths because Hollick’s depiction of a more ‘real’ Arthur was much richer even if it’s not an accurate history, it’s still a great story.

If you ‘d like to learn more about Helen Hollick, her website is ‘The Kingmaking’ is book one in the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy