Mt. Tabor Art Walk Adventure

Dear Liza,

The summer activities continue! Sunday was the Mt. Tabor Art walk. We covered a lot of ground, met some lovely people, and saw a lot of art!

We decided to take the bus to get around, and mapped it out ahead of time with Trimet’s online maps. Auntie Bridgett also marked up a paper map so we knew where we were going.

We took snacks and water to avoid hungry-grumpiness and caught the number 14 to get to our first artsy neighborhood.

First on our tour was Georgina Ottavarino, who does collage and hand-made books. Her work is so precise and colorful, and she was so good at explaining things, I got inspired to do some more of both!

Georgina’s little studio is set in her backyard garden. Everything about her yard was peaceful and inspirational. I never wanted to leave.

Our next stop was a house where three artists were sharing space, and I visited with Tami Katz, who does beautiful fused glass. We talked about doing art with friends over Zoom and Skype during the pandemic shutdown, like I do with Ruthie Inman. I guess we all found ways to stay happy.

Bridgett and I ate our peanut butter and jam sandwiches sitting on a curb in the sun, enjoying the tree-lined neighborhood and the conversation of folks going by.

Our next group of artist studios were about a mile north, so we walked a block and caught the number 71 and then the 15 up the hill, to save our leg muscles. We found jeweler and artist Jo Brody’s art displayed in the front porch, and her husband Mark’s mosaics around back.

Jo does wonderful work, but I was there for the mosaics!

Mark’s work was inspirational. Large and small, quirky or not, comic or poignant, he does it all.

Mark told me about his work in progress, a giant cement toy jack, currently in his basement. When it is finished, it will be moved (not an easy task) to Lake Oswego for their Gallery Without Walls this summer.

We walked up the street and found Pat Stevens, who makes prints. I love her work, and how she uses bits she doesn’t like as quilty pieces! We talked about getting together with grand daughters who live far away. Her Elena is in Montana, much closer than you are in Denmark!

When our eyes were full, it was nearly 3:00 and time for the second part of our day. I’ll tell you about that tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Art Picnic at Colonel Summers Park

Dear Liza,

This past Saturday, we took a picnic and walked to our first Art Picnic. Auntie Bridgett had heard about this event too late to join, but we wanted to see how art and picnics would work together.

We walked through the neighborhood, enjoying all the roses that just started blooming in our newly-summery weather. This one is called “Scentimental.”

The park had quite a few people milling around and artist’s tents set up, but we found a nice piece of lawn in the shade of a fine old tree, got comfy, and checked out the scenery. I love the old brick building at Colonel Summers Park, but I’ve never seen it open.

The first artist we talked to was this talented and quirky fellow who makes heads of all sizes from ceramics. The teeth are made from acrylic fingernails! Adorable in their own way, but a bit creepy for everyday.

We found our friend Jack Kent, who does a series of cartoons called “Sketchy People.” He released his seventh collection book this past weekend.
Auntie Bridgett looked around and chatted with folks for quite a while, but Grandpa Nelson and I decided to relax in the blanket in the shade.

As you can tell from our naked legs, it was shorts weather! What a lovely day.

Grandma Judy

Discovering New Art Downtown

Dear Liza,

We made a trip to downtown Portland the other day, getting computers repaired and buying new boots. We were early for our appointment at The Genius Bar and sitting around inside the Apple Store gives me the heebie-jeebies, so I went out for a walk.

As I was waking along, I looked down …. And saw a quote engraved into a stone in the the sidewalk!

“I could have been a contender. “Marlon Brando’s lament of lost legitimacy in “On the Waterfront.”

As I kept walking and looking, I saw more! Some were serious and lyrical, like bits of poetry by e. e. cummings and prose from Ursula K. LeGuin.

“Nothing can surpass the mystery of stillness”, by e. e. cummings, was part of a term paper I wrote in high school. Seeing it here, in my adopted city at this point in my life, was an amazing bit of circular memory. I got a little teary-eyed.

But of course, the next minute, I saw this brick that said “gobbledygook”, and got the giggles. I proceeded to see “granfalloon”, and then saw Groucho Marx’s

“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception.” Nostalgic tears were defeated by more giggles.

By that time it was our turn at the Genius Bar, and then we headed off to lunch at McMenamin’s. Once we got home, I tried to find the name of the art installation, but have not been able to find anything about it. I’m glad I live in a city where Art just sneaks up in me!


Grandma Judy

Winter Light Festival

Dear Liza,

February is a dark, cold month, and that’s why this is the time for the Portland Winter Light Festival. About six years ago, Chris Herring, an artist and engineer from Portland, visited Lyon, France, and saw their festival. He decided that was just was needed here in Portland.

He got in touch with all sorts of other folks here in town, and they have created our Light Festival for these dark evenings.

Friday evening, we walked out to the two small installations that are closest to our house. It was really cold, so we didn’t go far. They are in the shop windows of an auto parts store and a vintage clothes shop.

A glowing origami style bunny was in one window and a weird, day-glow scene with bouffant hairdos and tiny aliens was in another.

There are bigger installations across town, but they are a long, cold walk away. maybe we will drive there tomorrow evening. But for now, here are some of them, taken from their website.

Pretty neat, huh?


Grandma Judy

Auntie Beeswax

Dear Liza,

Did you know that your Auntie Bridgett Spicer was a cartoonist? From 2009 to 2012, her comic strip called Squid Row ran in the Monterey Herald newspaper. It was about an artist living in a touristy seaside town. Since Auntie Bridgett was an artist living in Seaside, California, it made perfect sense. The strip was really popular, too.

A sketch of Auntie Beeswax

After we moved to Portland, she took a few years off from cartooning to do painting. She joined the Sidestreet Arts Gallery and helped make it a better place for people to see and buy art. And now she has starting cartooning again!

The city of Roseport and some characters

Her new comic strip is called Auntie Beeswax, and will be in the Willamette Week newspaper here in Portland. Auntie Beeswax is an eccentric lady who lives in “Roseport”, a thinly disguised version of Portland. She keeps bees, cats and chickens, rides her bicycle everywhere, and is an organic gardener. In other words, she is a delightfully ordinary Portlander. But she always does things just a little differently.

Rough draft of a comic strip

The comic will be about her adventures, and will include a young niece who learns about life ‘outside the box’ from her Auntie Bee.

Bridgett Spicer herself

I am so happy to see Bridgett smiling and sketching, getting her stories all ready. I look forward to reading about Auntie Beeswax!


Grandma Judy

Bridgett’s Art Show!!!

Dear Liza,

Your Auntie Bridgett Spicer has her show at Sidestreet Art Gallery this month. It is a very big deal, taking months of work to prepare. I think it is wonderful.

The show is called “A Sketchbook(Ed) Life” and includes her sketchbooks and art created from them. Since she is on her 155th sketchbook, she has a lot to ‘draw’ from!

Bridgett Spicer, artist

I love watching Bridgett draw. She has so much skill and so many funny ideas that cartoons just jump out of her pencil. Her sketchbooks have told the story of quiet times at home, history and language lessons, and all our travels together.

This little monster….
Became THIS finished piece!

The main themes in her sketchbooks are coffee and the people who drink it, cats, and ghosts and monsters. The art for the show reflects this. But there are also sketches and art from her comic strip “Squid Row” and from her zines.

Sketches of Harold the stufftie And Randy Springlemeyer from Squid Row

To see her show online, you can go to The information for her First Friday ZOOM and her Sunday Art Talk will also be there. Come and join the fun!


Grandma Judy

Yes, Portland

Dear Liza,

Three years ago, we moved to Portland. We came for its urban culture and forested parks, the wide Willamette crossed by soaring bridges, and for Auntie Katie and the cousins.

Soaring bridges…

We found all those things, and more. And even in the pandemic shut down, there is a lot of city to enjoy.

Silly family….
Adorable art….

PAM, the art museum, is a feast for the eyes and spirit, just a walk away. Attendance is limited to keep folks safe, but the art there can carry you away for a while.

Art isn’t just in the museums, either. It is everywhere, bright and outspoken.

Art where you least expect it….

The parks are still wonderful places filled with hundred year old trees, ditzy squirrels, and flowers.

Incredible views and forested parks…

Our city has gotten a bad rap, lately. Mr. Trump says we have been “in flames for decades.” He is lying. Our nightly demonstrations in a few blocks of downtown make him nervous, is all. They show we will stand up to police brutality and racial injustice.

And they are as much a part of what I love about Portland as the museums and the forests. I am glad to be a part of it.


Grandma Judy

…And Back Again

Dear Liza,

Once I got to the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, I had intended to head right back home, but my Dad’s voice whispered “Go home a different way, so you see something different.”

Art made with cables and sky

So I continued across the bridge to the Westside. The pedestrian walkway has recently been finished and makes for a very pleasant, if warm, walk between the bridges. There were more adventurers out and about.

Kayakers out and about

I found Poet’s Beach, a side path lined with stones that are carved with poetry written by students, years ago.

Thanks, Phoebe!

It is loud, because it is right under the double decker Marquam Bridge, but worth a read and a visit.

The extremely loud Marquam Bridge

By this time, my feet and my phone batteries were telling me it was time to head home. I decided to cross back over the Hawthorne Bridge. I love the views of bridges from other bridges!

The Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges… from the Hawthorne.

Of course, political statements are everywhere. I liked this re-purposed public service message.

You can see a lot of Portland from bridges, too. Joggers, cyclists, the Burnside Bridge and the Convention Center are all in these shots.

Once I was back on the Eastside, I realized I was hungry, and came upon Asylum, a food Court on the site of Dr. Hawthorne’s Oregon State Hospital for the Insane. This much-respected institution stood from 1862 to 1883. It closed when the good Doctor died and burned to the ground a few years later.

The space has a steampunk cartoony vibe, with trash containers that made me laugh, and really tasty food.

I had pot stickers from the Thai place and enjoyed some people and art watching.

The Asylum gates ….

Once I was fed, I still had a mile walk, all uphill, to get home. I paced myself, admiring gardens, appreciating shade, and visiting with nice folks. I had done what I had intended to do, walked a total of 6.2 miles, and it felt good.

By the way, as you can tell, Portland is not “in flames”. We are fine. The protests are being exploited by the President and his allies who want to use Portland as an excuse to use strong arm tactics against his political enemies. He is lying.

Took the words out of my mouth!

Stay alert, stay well, and remember I love you.

Grandma Judy

More Sketchbook Islands

Dear Liza,

Besides being shutdown because of the Corona Virus, Portland is now dealing with Federal troops in our downtown streets every evening. It is also about 100 degrees by noon these hot July days. So I am staying inside.

My first, ‘accidental‘ map

I have taken Hitoshi Shigeta’s sketchbook islands, sent to us by Jennifer Coile, and run with it! I made a few islands in the original drip-and-spread method, but wanted the features to stand out more. I gave the accidentally created features more contrast with my paintbrush.

As I worked, I began to see where the snow would accumulate, how the melt would flow, and what the topography of the island would be. It became a very real, very happy place for me. I named it Welcome Home.

Making it real….

I realized that my calligraphy skills were not up to labeling the features on my map, so Auntie Bridgett suggested using cut-out letters and words in a sort of collage technique, and I am really enjoying it. Years of Portland Monthly, Better Homes and Gardens, and Sunset Magazines, and all our old maps are getting harvested.

Having gotten my island to this point, I am not sure what to do with it next. But my Dad always said that if you can’t decide what to do, maybe it isn’t time to make that decision yet. So I will put my maps in a safe place and figure it out later.

And what will I do next? Who knows?


Grandma Judy

Buying Arty Stuff From Artists

Dear Liza,

One of the nicest things about having artists in my life, besides knowing the lovely artists themselves, is getting pretty stuff!

My friend Ruth Inman is an artist who lives in Illinois. She does delightful, pretty, quirky art, with lots of purples, golds, dragonflies, and doodles.

Me and my nifty new scarf

She has gone into business with a company called Redbubble that puts her art onto scarves, purses, face masks, and even shower curtains. You can order these online, which is very nice for these days of not-going-out.

The scarf itself

I have been having art classes with Ruth online, and in one of these classes, she made a beautiful piece of art. I liked it so much, I bought it on a scarf from Redbubble. And yesterday, it arrived!

She can be found at Ruth

Care directions: Do not eat hats!

It is so soft and pretty, and huge. The colors are blue and a golden brown, which will make it useful for summer and fall, and it feels like a cloud. I am so pleased!

Even a nifty zip-seal bag

If you have arty stuff needs go visit Redbubble, just for fun.


Grandma Judy