Painting the Piazza

Dear Liza,

This past Saturday , we got to be part of a great neighborhood project! The Portland Street Art Alliance teamed up with Sunnyside Neighborhood Association and made this wonderful thing happen.

Will and Ashe, the organizers, sent emails out and called for volunteers to come paint a giant, seven-colored sunflower that filled at the intersection of SE Yamhill and 33rd Avenue.

Will, one of our leaders

The primer was laid down Friday afternoon and the yellows and oranges went down Saturday.

Chalk lines and numbered spaces guided us in an oversized paint by number game. Folks from age 7 to at least 65 (me) came to help. There were more than a dozen folks on the flower at any time, and it moved along quickly.

The Plan

When our knees were shot and our backs were tired, we headed home, knowing we had been part of making our neighborhood better. It felt good!

Love,

Grandma Judy

SideStreet Arts is Open! Part 2

Dear Liza,

There were a lot of artists showing at SideStreet Arts last Friday.

Alicia Justice’s nostalgic constructions take hours to create, and are so pretty! They feel like a set design from ”Life with Father”. Here is a detail of just one room.


Auntie Bridgett has some work for sale, too. Her painting called ”New Home Coming”, showing Mt. Hood all pink at sunset, is displayed with some lovely pink glass by Phyllis Flury.

The last artist I will mention is Melody Bush. She does what are called Book Excavations, which highlight the art of old, forgotten books by carving into them, showing different parts of the book all at once. We own two of her works already! Here is a pretty one on display.

I am happy that with higher vaccination rates and so masking, we can enjoy getting out and about again.

Love,

Grandma Judy

SideStreet Arts is Open! Part 1

Dear Liza,

Last Friday night we went to SideStreet Arts Gallery for our first in-person First Friday in a year and half. It was so good to be with artists and their art again, even with everyone wearing masks.

The artist in the Small Works Spotlight is Sharon Jonquil, who does oil painting and encaustics. We met Sharon a few years ago at her Open Studio event, and got to see her process. We even bought two of her small encaustics.

At this show, Sharon is showing oil paintings. They are abstract landscapes of Canyonlands and the Deschutes River, and they are wonderfully evocative. You almost feel the sun on your back and smell the sagebrush that grows along the banks of the river.

We also met Rabun Thompson, a ceramicist who was the Featured Artist of the month. Rabun works in high-fired stoneware, and many of his pieces can be hung on the wall as art and also used as serving plates. Auntie Bridgett and I fell in love with this one during the on-line Preview, and bought it before some else did!

It is about 18 inches across and fully glazed, so I can use it for food! Won’t it be pretty piled high with cookies or just-out-of-the-oven bread?

There was a lot more to see on the walls, but I will tell you about them tomorrow.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Art For Kids Hub

Dear Liza,

This blog isn’t really written for you, because you are the one who taught me about Art For Kids Hub, but there are other people who read this who might be interested.

I’m going to tell about the videos Liza and I use to help us draw at our ZOOM get together every Sunday.

This youtube channel, called Artforkidshub, has 5.02 million subscribers! It is run by Rob Jensen, his wife Teryn, and their four kids, Jack, Hadley, Austin, and Olivia. Rob and one other member of the family appear in each video, so we get to see both a practiced and “first time” version of the drawing. It is nice to see a drawing that is Not perfect!

Rob and Teryn go by the nicknames Mr. Hub and Mrs. Hub, and they release one video every weekday. The videos are very light hearted, fun, and easy to follow along.

Liza and I watch the videos and have used them to draw all sorts of things.

One of the first animals was a giraffe. I always draw with pencil first so I can make the shape right before I watercolor, then ink it. The directions are just for the animal, so you can add whatever background you like.

The note at the bottom was the song Liza was listening to ….

A few weeks ago, Liza wanted to draw ”magical looking things” so we found this dragon. The lesson was for a silhouette, but I wanted to put in details.

I really would encourage everyone (even grownups) who thinks they can’t draw to go visit Art for Kids Hub.

Have fun!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Just a (Wet) Walk in the Park

Dear Liza,

This week we saw some real rain, which was a relief after our too- hot summer. I wanted to properly appreciate it, so out I went!

I didn’t have far to go to find beauty. Auntie Bridgett’s angel and spider plants were much improved by the weather. The gnomes were lurking about, as usual.

Raindrops hitting the puddles remind me why I love concentric circles.

I stopped by our plot at the Blair Community Garden. Only three new tomatoes were ripe, but Morgan and Abby’s corn was shiny and tall.


My late blooming pumpkin, Leo, seems to be coloring up a bit.

I continued on to Laurelhurst Park, which was mostly deserted. A few diehard dogs and their owners were at the off leash area, and the puddles grew all along the base of the hills. This young lady found a good spot to enjoy a conversation with a loved one.

I am a firm believer that rain makes everything prettier, and this rain drop-enhanced rose proved me right.

By the time I got home I was pretty soaked, but so much richer for all the beauty. Now to get dry and have a snack!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Typewriter Art

Dear Liza,

While Auntie Bridgett, Grandpa Nelson and I were visitng Tony Valoppi at Type Space, I enjoyed the colorful typewriter-themed art that was on the walls. Some were even comics related.

To make their heros more relatable, the 1940s comics artists showed the superheroes using typewriters. This got us talking about comics, and, of course, Books with Pictures. Tony says his son is a great fan of Auntie Katie’s bookstore.


This magazine cover from the August 1930 issue of Fortune Magazine has a very modern look.

There are also tee shirts for sale with the great graphic logo of the shop,

and books on the history and culture of typewriters.

What an adventure!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Onward to Type Space

Dear Liza,

The final destination of our epic walk was a shop called Type Space, at 2409 SE 49th, just off Division Street. This amazing place, run by Tony Valoppi, has been open for two months.

Tony is a great lover of old typewriters, from the 1905 Fox to the ultra-spiffy IBM Selectrics that terrified me in High School typing class. Anytime you have the chance to learn about something from someone who LOVES it, you should. So we did!

Tony told us all about the first typing machines and their manufacturers, the business intrigue and cut-throat buy outs that affected what typewriters got made and sold.

He took different machines off their shelves to show us the intricate mechanisms, explaining the incremental changes that created what we all think of as a typewriter. My brain was so full!

The space of the shop is very comfortable, with dozens of vintage, working typewriters, a large table, chairs and benches available for typing, chatting, or even working on laptops. Tony wants this space to be used, and makes his more modern machines available to students at nearby Franklin High School for their writing and experimentation.

Typewriter restoration is a hobby that has become a business, which is always the most fun way to make a living. Tony Valoppi is a fascinating, happy, knowledgable person. I am so glad we got to know him. And we will be back.

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Bird Walk… of Sorts

Dear Liza,

We three took a really long walk Saturday! And there were an unusual number of birds.

First, we visited a flock of plastic flamingos that started out on a front lawn last year and seems to be migrating. One has even adapted to living in a tree!

Then we stopped by to visit the Taylor Street chickens. We had remembered to bring quarters so we could buy some feed for them. Bridgett chatted to them and she was their new best friend.

It was so warm that we stopped for a minute in one of the little sidewalk arbors. This one even has tiny red lights strung up in the branches. We will have to come by some evening to see it all lit up.


We stopped at Zach’s for hot dogs, french fries, and some cold sodas to get re-energized.


After lunch we headed south for our next destination, but before we got there, we found more chickens!


This happy brood of three hens were out in their portable coop in their front yard on 47th Street. Their owners had posted signs with information about them , and it was just like Farm Day. They even listed foods we could bring to feed the ladies, which include soft fruits and veggies.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Reading Matters

Dear Liza,

I have more time on my hands not that I am retired, and sometimes I wonder what to do with it.

I have always loved reading, and never had enough time for it. Not just ’get the news’ reading or history books, but a solid commitment to major chunks of literature. I have time for that now, and have been diving in.

My first book in this campaign was Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Written in England in 1868, it was considered revolutionary because of its portrayal of the personal and moral growth of a lower-class woman. Though full of injustices, the story has a positive-tending heroine and I enjoyed it very much.

My next foray into Big Lit was Isabel Allende’s The House of Spirits. This was written in Chile in 1982 and was the author’s first novel. It was heralded as a great work and made Ms Allende famous. It tells of three generations of a family and of Chile’s political revolution.

It has some lovely descriptions and characters, but halfway through, I had to stop reading it. The main character of Esteban Trueba is so hateful that spending hours a day with him (through reading) was depressing me. Just as I avoid such folks in my real life, I needed to distance myself from his greed and bad temper.

So I broke up with Isabel Allende. What next?

I needed a complete change, but it was late at night and my options were limited. Scanning my bookshelves, I found an old, old friend, a 1955 copy of Kenneth Graham’s The Wind In the Willows that had been rescued from the University Park Elementary School library. Hooray!

Elaine Marbach, bless her, always kept these treasures aside for me when they had to go out of circulation. It is a hard cover and has stamps showing that it belonged to the school where I spent 28 years of the happiest years of my life. It even has the original check-out cards, with initials and names of dearly departed colleagues and former fifth graders who are still in my life.

As I began the story of Mole and Ratty’s friendship, the sadness of House of Spirits fell away and I drifted into a happy place.

Reading is powerful magic. Choose it wisely.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Back to PAM

Dear Liza,

It has been too long since we’ve visited the Portland Art Museum. Covid restrictions made it difficult to get reservations and it was almost frightening to be in the enclosed space with folks for a while. But yesterday Auntie Bridgett and I masked up, took the Magic Number 15, and went!

The museum is currently setting up two new shows, one about Queen Nefritari of Ancient Egypt and another on the Nabis, a group of French artists. This means that a lot of the museum was closed, but there was still a lot to see. The visit was a combination of visiting old friends and meeting new ‘faces.’

This tall, narrow painting, called ”Le Petit Patissier”, was painted by Chaim Soutine in 1921 and is one of my favorites in the whole museum. The title means ”The Little Baker.” Isn’t he cute?


Another favorite is an Alexander Calder mobile called “The Gong is a Moon”, which hangs above a collection of neon words that encourage action and engagement. Auntie Bridgett couldn’t stop looking at them. Me, either!

A new piece (to me) is ”Trois Enfants en Blue” by van Rysselberghe, painted in 1901. It is a pointillist piece, in that demanding style of tiny brush strokes of different colors that was made popular by Serrault. It is a portrait of three bored little girls and seems to shimmer.

The last piece I’m going to tell you about is another new one. These ”Penny Loafers” (yes, loafers made out of pennies!!) were made by Sonya Clark in 2010.

It’s not very often you get to see puns in an art museum.

And that’s all for now!

Love,

Grandma Judy