First Friday in November

Dear Liza,

Auntie Bridgett Spicer staffing the desk

The First Friday of every month, SideStreet Arts, the gallery Auntie Bridgett belongs to, puts on a reception for the new art that is hung every month. It is always fun to go and see what’s “up”.

This month’s artists are monotype printer Katherine McDowell and ceramic sculptor Kendall Jones.

Katherine’s work is colorful, with lots of deep blues and splashes of orange, but also still and restful, because of the horizontal lines. Many of the pieces have an almost ‘sunset’ feel, and I like them very much.

Lake Monotype 393 be Katherine McDowell

Kendall’s ceramic sculptures are of a darker nature. Her portraits of children seem to me to have a hidden meaning, as though these kids are more than they seem. It is a bit unnerving.

Hermanas by Kendall Jones

She also goes in a different direction with some of her pieces, exploring the process of growing up, growing old, and dying. As macabre as they are, I like them better. They reveal, rather than hide. “Yes, we grow old, yes, we die,” they say.

Inhale, Exhale, Repeat by Kendall Jones

Being at the gallery is also fun because I get to visit with the other artists. Dawn Panttaja, who plays in the Karaoke From Hell music group we saw on Halloween, makes delightful sculptures of blue-green mythical characters.

Flying Mermaid by Dawn Panttaja

Gail Owen is a printmaker with great color sense and a contagious, resounding laugh.

Hollyhocks by Gail Owen

Alicia Justice always looks like she just stepped out of one of her own mixed media pieces, classically beautiful and just a bit otherworldly.

Alicia Justice, left, and Gail Owen
Grandmother by Alicia Justice
And a new favorite piece by Bridgett Spicer!!

After Grandpa Nelson and I had chatted, looked and nibbled some treats, we walked home through the neighborhood, enjoying the Halloween decorations one last time before they are replaced by Christmas garland and waving Santas.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Karaoke From Hell

Dear Liza,

A really, really tall ghoul…

We have been so busy traveling, I haven’t had a chance to tell you much about our Halloween season here in Portland.

Grandpa Nelson as a Hogwarts’ alumni

It has gotten really cold and dry, with temperatures in the 30s and clear, icy blue skies. The leaves are more than spectacular and make it worth our while to bundle up and go for walks.

Cuddly spider

The neighborhood is well decorated, as usual. Decorations range from downright creepy to cute and cuddly, and it is always fun to see what folks put out.

Creepy former mannequin

Halloween night, we all got dressed up and walked over to The Eagles Lodge, stopping at Apizza Scholls for dinner first. Very tasty.

An Edwardian gentleman is a Ghoul’s best friend!

The Eagles Lodge is an old school Fraternal organization, like Elks and Odd Fellows, and it is run by folks between the ages of 70 and really, really old.

We were there to see a show called Karaoke From Hell. This is a live band that will play for you while you sing any of the hundreds of songs on their playlist. Most karaoke places have a video/ electronic music set-up, but these folks are the real deal. Real musicians, real music. It was wonderful.

Karaoke From Hell

Auntie Bridgett’s gallery colleague, Dawn Panttaja, plays guitar for the band, and it was fun to see her and Alicia Justice, another gallery member, in a different context.

The music options ranged from Ozzy Osborne to Glen Campbell and AC/DC to The Supremes, so we had sweet and gnarly interspersed through the evening. The quality of the band was excellent and the singing was better than I expected. Most of these folks are regulars and practice their songs. It shows, and made for a most enjoyable evening.

Jack o Pumpkins lighted our way home!

We had wine and cider and nibbled the inevitable Halloween candy that was passed out, until we were too pooped to pop anymore. We walked back home in the very dry cold, happy to wake up a bit before collapsing completely into our beds. What a Halloween!

Love,

Grandma Judy

First Friday at Sidestreet Gallery

Dear Liza,

First things first, I can’t believe that it is August already and  wisterias are still blooming here in Portland!

Wisterias in August

This past Friday there was a new show at Sidestreet Gallery, the gallery in our neighborhood where Auntie Bridgett is showing her art. We started with dinner at Ankeny Tap and Table, which is always tasty. Bridgett had street tacos, and I had macaroni and cheese, which was so good and such a huge serving that I brought a bunch home for leftovers.

My people being silly!

But between dinner and home was the gallery. We got there while they were still setting up, so we got to look around and chat with the artists.

The Relic, by Cathi Newlin

Cathi Newlin was the featured artist of the month. She does delightfully quirky ceramic dogs and other critters, including this wonderful political piece that shows a giant dodo bird perched on an elephant, which is standing on an old fashioned child’s pull toy. It is intelligent and funny and cracks me up.

The other featured artist was Don Hall, a painter who seems to do a lot of self portraits, in various poses.

Don Hall’s Falling

The other resident artists were also showing, like Dawn Pantteja, Alicia Justus, Michael Allan Pratt, and Denise Krueger. The ceramics and paintings were delightful, as was the wine, snacks, and conversation.

And of course, Auntie Bridgett’s cups and collages were on display. I always love seeing her art out in the world, playing nicely with the other art.

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Auntie Bridgett’s cups and collages

The Coast with Grownups

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Re-employed Country Bear running a shooting gallery

Dear Liza,

It has been so hot here in Portland, people are either staying inside air conditioned buildings or getting out of town to stay cool. On Sunday, Auntie Bridgett, Grandpa Nelson and I headed for the coast. It was 100 degrees in Portland, and 70 in Seaside…so, good call.

We drove to Seaside, which is a pretty little touristy town on the beach. There are dozens of shops selling salt water taffy, tee shirts, and souvenirs, as well as bumper cars and a tilt-a-whirl. There is bad traffic and limited parking.

But there is also a beach, with long lovely dunes and beach grass, which is what you get to keep when you don’t plant your dunes with ice plant. The weather was sunny on the dunes, but just over the waves and coming onto the sand was this weird blowing fog…it made everything delightfully spooky. The tide was way out, so there was LOTS of beach. Not many sand castles, though.

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Creeping beach fog

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Lovely dune grass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fog and sand were wonderful, but we here getting hungry, and headed into town for some lunch at Sam’s Seaside Cafe, a pleasant enough diner (though later I began to question their refrigeration). There is a little river that flows through town and rental boat that go along it. Rowboats and swan boats were for rent….both looked like too much work!

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Swan Boat Fail and Rescue

We drove on up to Astoria, and it was a very different visit than I had with Katie and the cousins. We didn’t visit the wreck of the Peter Iredale, the Tower, or the Battery.

Wandering in the old downtown area, we looked at the cool 1924 architecture and contemporary art. The Riversea Gallery had really beautiful work, including some by Portland artists and friends Dawn Panttaja and Jesse Reno.

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The John Jacob Astor Building

Walking along, we saw some young men and women wearing colorful clothes with bells on their legs… Morris Dancers! The Morris dance is a traditional Irish way of celebrating spring, with dancers, drinking and fun. In old Ireland, troops would travel around the country. July seemed late for celebrating spring, but this fellow said in America, they go a bit longer.

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Morris Dancer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seemed time to head back towards home, since we had an almost two hour drive. Auntie Bridgett’s stomach was feeling queasy (was it the Cole Slaw? We may never know) and Grandpa Nelson’s feet were tired. We drove along the Columbia, our California eyes amazed at all that water just running free.

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The Columbia, just rollin’ on….

At Kalama Bay, where there used to be a ferry to take railroad cars across the river, the McMenamin Brothers have build a NEW resort…not a re-purposed old building, as they usually do. We enjoyed the bright fourth floor bar, but from the inside looking out…coming inland this far, the temperature was back up into the 90s.

Auntie Bridgett had a fizzy tonic to try and settle her stomach. Snacks and drinks and we were on our way home, to watch baseball and fall asleep early.

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Always fun art at McMenamin’s

I hope the weather breaks soon! I am longing for my nice cool Portland.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

Friends, Pizza, and Art

Dear Liza,

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View of the Lan Su Chinese Garden from across the street

My projects continue to keep me busy. I am finishing Cousin Kestrel’s princess kitten birthday present and had to change my story a bit. Did you know that in America in early 1900s, classes in the U.S. didn’t go on field trips? At that time,  they were not considered valuable. So I needed to remove a field trip from my 1903 story. Sigh.

Yesterday I also had a nice surprise. A former student and his wonderful family came to visit! First they visited famous Powell’s City of Books, and then came to see me at Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures. They had fun and bought tons of books! Then they invited me to have lunch with them at Old Town Pizza, a “haunted” pizza parlor downtown.

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Lovely friends!

Of course, I said YES! Pizza, friends, ghosts? I’m there!

The pizza was good and the air conditioning most welcome, as it has been hot here. (Hot for US, like 80 degrees. I understand many places are really suffering.) I didn’t notice any ghosts. After Kyle, his sister Gillian, Mom Heidi and Dad Paul headed off to the Creo chocolate tour, I caught the Orange train back to Auntie Katie’s shop and rode my bike home.

Since it was First Friday, we walked up to Ankeny Tap and Table for street tacos, grilled Brussels sprouts, beer, cider, and french fries. Yum! We walked over to the Sidestreet Gallery to see Auntie Bridget’s new art, as well as all the other new things. I got to meet Dawn Panttaja, Erin’s aunt, creator of lovely, odd sculptures. This one is called “Miss Fortune”, with a skirt made of old prophesies. Creepy and beautiful.img_78521.jpg

Auntie Bridgett was going to stay and talk to folks, but Grandpa Nelson and I walked to the Laurelhurst Theater to watch “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”img_7854.jpg, which was a fun roller coaster ride with an ending that surprised me.

Walking home, we swung by the flamingo house, where the birds are apparently enjoying the World Cup Soccer games.

Happy July!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

Books and Art

Dear Liza,

After the Rose Parade yesterday, we were all pretty tired. We had walked about four miles all over town. We came home and rested before our NEXT outing!

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Jack Kent

Our friend Jack Kent had a book release and signing party at Auntie Katie’s book shop, Books with Pictures, down on Division Street. Jack does two different comics; a strip called Gulls, and single panel comics called Sketchy People. His wife Verity were there too, so we had a nice visit.

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Auntie Katie and Tom

 

 

At the shop we ran into Tom Goevelinger, an Oregon native who I know from my years teaching in Salinas. It was fun to catch up with him, his family and mutual friends. Cousins Jasper and Kestrel weren’t there, but there was a baby we all got to share. His name is Mirren and he’s a very good sport.

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Grandpa Nelson and Mirren

This morning Auntie Bridgett and I walked over to The Sidestreet Gallery, where she is showing some of her collages and her painted cups. There were snacks and lots of fun conversations, and some incredible art.

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The Sidestreet Gallery

Artist Alicia Justus does so many beautiful things it is hard to tell about them all. On the walls were gouache paintings that look like illustrations from the old Russian storybooks I read with you.

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An Image without Words, by Alicia Justus

She also does wonderfully detailed dolls! They are made of felt and other materials, embroidered and dressed, and delightfully full of personality. No sooner do you look at one than you start making up a story about it in your head.

It was fun to talk to Alicia about her inspiration (“way too many vintage children’s books”, she says) and see how this is reflected in her dress as well as her art.

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Alicia’s dolls

A ceramicist and painter paired up in a show called “Wild Art”.

Denise Krueger was showing her whimsical ceramics, which all look like weird, dreamy sea creatures. and these were set alongside Shari Carlson’s paintings of animals. Most of her work showed sea creatures as well, but my favorite was a goofy looking emu.

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Shari Carlson’s Emu

While enjoying all the art, I noticed some beautiful ceramic “Flying Mermaids”, and noticed the name of the artist, Dawn Panttaja. Auntie Katie has friends named Jofish Kaye and Erin Panttaja. Could there be a connection? I texted Jofish right away, and he confirmed it! Dawn Panttaja, Portland artist, is the aunt of Erin Panttaja, playwright, mommy, and really nice person! The world just keeps getting more interesting.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Dawn Panttaja’s Flying Mermaid