Everyone likes to get cards for Valentine’s Day or their birthday, and I am no different. I am luckier than many folks, however, because I have so many artists in my life.
My friend Ruthie Inman makes cards every month for her patreon supporters, and she made me a special card for my birthday this year. It is just like her: lovely, unexpected, and sparkly.
Auntie Bridgett made me a Valentine card, showing her beloved bees and hearts. For my birthday, she bought one of Dawn Panttaja ’s cards. Dawn does wonderful collages for her line called Lost Dolls. This one looks like something from historic Portland.
I have been getting wonderful artsy cards from Auntie Bridgett for so many years, I have a whole file full of them!
There is a new store here in Portland, and Auntie Bridgett took me to see it!
Clody Cates and her business partner Larry host this visually delightful shop at 3719 North Mississippi Avenue in North Portland. GiftyKitty is a labor of love that was conceptualized and designed by Clody, and their tagline, “Changing the world one cat at a time” cracks me up.
I was impressed, first, by the largest features of the decor. The giant Alice in Wonderland-style house along the back wall gives the whole place a fabulous air of silliness.
The wonderful manzanita shelving, built by Oakland based designer Cameron Kephart, is wonky and perfect. Cameron also worked closely with Clody on the design and creation of the whole space, as well as the up-cycled glass and wood displays that hold more treasures.
Then, I got to focus on the delights of the treasures themselves and was stunned by the variety and quality of them. There were large glass mosaics, aprons, paintings, carvings, and books, mostly made by local artists.
We saw old friends from the SideStreet Arts Gallery. Painted plaques by Amelia Opie…..
…cute stuffed critters by Alicia Justus….
….. and book art by Melody Bush.
New (to me) artists included Nicola Turville and
Jenny Rideout, who upcycles fabric and makes everything more interesting!
Needless to say, we will be going back to GiftyKitty, especially now that they are carrying Auntie Bridgett’s buttons, cards and art!
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.
We haven’t been to downtown Portland for a long time. The pandemic shut down, followed by the riots and the damage they caused, made it feel just too bleak, like a scene out of a “Last Man on Earth” movie.
But on Saturday, we all got on the number 15 bus and went. With so many people vaccinated and stores being repaired, it is bustling! There are still some boarded up or empty storefronts. It is not 100%, but it is so much better than I expected.
We walked from downtown a few blocks north to the Pearl District, finding interesting things along the way. The Doc Martins shoe store has closed, though their building is easily spotted by the giant shoe print. Their window is now being used as an ad for Sizzle Pie, a local pizza franchise. We walked through the pop-up Moon Market, finding delicious cookies at Butterbakes. Yum!
And then we found what we had come for. CULT! This is a quirky, artsy shop, selling toys, collectibles, art, and books. Our friend Jack Kent, who does a series of cartoons and books called “Sketchy People”, was there, signing and selling his latest work. It was good to see him and pick up a new book.
CULT has more weird and wonderful things than I can show you here, but let this incredibly realistic hand flower holder give you an idea. There were also models of old school “Visible Man” biology models, but with ‘aliens’, and kitchenware with a dark sense of humor.
It was a silly, odd and thought provoking feast for the eyes.
And there was drawing paper! Of course Auntie Bridgett stepped up and put a little Auntie Beeswax up for the world to enjoy.
As the afternoon progressed, the shop got really crowded (hooray for sales!) and we needed to step out. But we weren’t done yet. I’ll tell you what happened next, tomorrow!
Auntie Bridgett’s new comic, AuntieBeeswax, has just had its first publication in our local newspaper, Willamette Week! We are so excited, we ran out and got a dozen copies. It is just so wonderful to see her art in the paper.
This morning, Grandpa Nelson even showed us how people who don’t live in Portland can see the comic. This is how you do it.
Google “Willamette Week”. Once you get to the WW page, go to the bottom of the page, where it says “Print editions”. Click on THIS one.
Once you are at that issue, scoot the arrow to page 29, or just flip through the paper (using the arrows) until you get to the comics, which are at the back.
And in case you have trouble, here it is!!
There is a new edition every Wednesday, so just follow the same steps and click on the issue of that date and go to the back to find Bridgett Spicer’s AuntieBeeswax!
Beginnings are delicate, exciting times, and I have a feeling this is the beginning of something big for Auntie Bridgett.
Wednesday was the first day of human-level temperatures since our historic heat wave began. We woke up to cloud cover, cool air and even a bit of dampness. It felt wonderful.
I went to the garden early. My friend Tonya gave me one of her parsley plants, and I planted it between my radishes and lettuce. My garden is doing well, even though it isn’t as tall as the other ones. They have five foot tall trellises and arbors hanging with peas and beans. I have a magnificent beast of a zucchini.
I walked around Laurelhurst Park for the first time in a week, enjoying the cool green, the ducks, and all the people out doing their people thing. Tai c’hi classes, guitar practice, dog parties….. it was life as normal, out on the grass.
After a morning of sewing, French lessons, crossword puzzles and cartooning, the three of us headed off to Grandpa Nelson’s favorite lunch spot, Zach’s Shack. Auntie Bridgett got to go because she isn’t working at the SideStreet Arts gallery anymore. Her new comic strip, AuntieBeeswax, allows her more flexibility with her time.
We ate hot dogs and fries, and, since the sun had come out, appreciated the icy cold sodas.
Then came ping pong! Zach’s back patio has a table and enough hard surfaces that even if the ball misses the table, you can keep it in play. We get a little nuts sometimes, and it is fun!
We played until we were played out, then walked home by way of the Taylor Street chickens. The day had warmed up to 88 degrees and we were happy for the air conditioning.
This heat wave was bad. It send a lot of folks to the hospital. We need to figure out how to help our planet heal so we can all be well.
Did you know that your Auntie Bridgett Spicer was a cartoonist? From 2009 to 2012, her comic strip called SquidRow 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.
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!
Her new comic strip is called AuntieBeeswax, 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.
The comic will be about her adventures, and will include a young niece who learns about life ‘outside the box’ from her Auntie Bee.
I am so happy to see Bridgett smiling and sketching, getting her stories all ready. I look forward to reading about Auntie Beeswax!
Auntie Bridgett and I had a busy day on Friday, heading back to the PortlandNursery for more spring things. In just three short weeks, the place has gone from winter to spring! Bedding plants are out, with signs that say “Protect from frost”, because we can have frost as late as April. All sorts of plants are on display, enjoying the sunshine.
And it wasn’t just for my garden plot! Bridgett has become obsessed with houseplants. Her latest Art-O-Rama zine is all about them, and she is letting her own green thumb blossom. To see this zine and all her others, you can go to firstname.lastname@example.org. She got a potted coffee plant and twenty pounds of potting soil. We spent quite a bit of time looking at pots and indoor plants.
We also got the last seeds and plants we will need for the allotment. Nasturtiums and marigolds will make the garden pretty and keep the bad bugs away and the bees happy. A “Thumbelina” English lavender will smell nice and stay small. Tomatoes and basil will be yummy, come July.
And, with my birthday coming up, I got presents! This process was emotional, choosing three trees to plant in my Hundred Acre Wood bonsai forest. The fires last summer put so much smoke in the air that the Wood lost its leaves and went into dormancy, only to ‘wake up’ mid-December, putting on new leaves that didn’t survive the winter. I have had this tiny forest since my first summer in Portland, and am sad that it has died away. But spring is all about renewal.
So Bridgett and I picked out a small bunchy cypress, and a wonky, leaning cotoneaster and an upright latch to re-forest my forest. This was my project for Saturday, gardening that is a little easier on the back.
Spring was always my Momma’s favorite time of year. New beginnings, helping the earth wake up and come to life after the cold winter is healing for all of us. I think I will get out Francis Hodgeson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden” for my reading this week.
Advent means when something important finally arrives, and Christmas Advent is the expectant time before Christmas. It is usually celebrated from the first of December to Christmas Day.
We start doing Christmas-y things like baking and holiday movies on December First, but our Advent Calendar only has 20 days ( it’s a long story) and it runs until Christmas Eve, so we start on the fourth. That’s today!
Auntie Bridgett made this pretty Advent Calendar a few years ago, from brown sacks and wonderful vintage Parisian Christmas pictures. In Salinas, it was suspended on a string by the fireplace. Here in Portland, it has found a home in a basket by the tree.
Inside each bag in a bit of fun Christmas trivia, a game to play, or a puzzle. There is also a candy treat and maybe a small gift. Each is held shut by a clothes pin with a curly number to keep things in order.
And since today is December 5th, we will open the first bag this evening! Hooray for Christmas!
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!
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.
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.
To see her show online, you can go to SideStreetArts.com. The information for her First Friday ZOOM and her Sunday Art Talk will also be there. Come and join the fun!