Hitting the Street in the Mississippi

Dear Liza,

On Saturday, Auntie Bridgett got to have a table at the Mississippi Street Fair. This is the largest neighborhood street fair in the city, being half a mile long and stuffed edge to edge with booths, tables, and food trucks.

Rather than worry about traffic and parking, we took the bus. The Magic 15 got us downtown, then we transferred to the 4 to get us north. It took about 40 minutes, but we would have spent that much time driving around looking for parking. And we got to sit back and relax!

We got to the fair just before noon, and it was crowded! Looking down the length of it was like looking down a river of humanity.

Along the banks of this river were booths selling all sorts of things. Besides Auntie Bridgett doing commissioned cat cartoons, there were other artists selling puzzles, ceramics, and paintings.

In overwhelmingly White Portland, Mississippi is a neighborhood with a higher-than-usual African American population, and this was happily reflected in the fair.

This lady was selling her sparkly puzzles, and Author Joyce McNair was selling her book The Amazing Sweetie Pie, which I bought. It is a creative, inclusive story that shows the commonality of children.

Down the road, our dear friend Jack Kent was selling his newest book, Sketchy People 6.

And there was plenty of food for when all those people got hungry. The most popular was the barbecue, with at least five booths and trucks pumping out delicious smells and luring long lines of folks.

But there was also caramel corn, burritos, and delightful ableskivvers (with lingonberry jam and lemon curd) from Broder Nord. Yum!

As the day warmed up, staying cool became a priority for everyone.

By 4:00, we were done in. Tired feet and too much sun got the best of us and we caught the bus home. Lots of water and a long nap got us in shape for that evenings’ Shakespeare in the Park.

But that’s another story.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Takin’ it Downtown Part 1

Dear Liza,

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!

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

Motivasi Coffe and Art!

Dear Liza,

Yesterday Grandpa Nelson and I helped Auntie Bridgett and our friend Jack Kent set up an art show at Motivasi Coffee, up on NE 42nd and Prescott.They have good coffee and very tasty muffins. Amanda, the lady who was working there, was friendly and helpful.

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The Shop

Jack draws a funny comic strip called “Gulls”, about a nutty group of seagulls, but he also does sketches of people he sees on the street, called “Sketchy People”. His Sketchy People and Auntie Bridgett’s Coffee Fairy collages are the main part of this show.

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Wrapped up Art

It took a while to figure out whose work was going where, and whether Jack’s and Bridgett’s work should be mixed together or hung separately, but once they figured that out, the work went pretty quickly. I held hammers and helped Auntie Bridgett, and Grandpa Nelson helped Jack. It was fun being the Minions and seeing the show come together.

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Jack Kent

 

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Bridgett Spicer

Finally,  it all looked like they wanted it to, and we packed up the bubble wrap and empty boxes. The show is up now and will stay up until late February. Jack and Bridgett will have a reception to meet people there on January 13, but I will be down with you by then.

We got home and had a walk around the neighborhood. Passing by the flamingo house, we saw Katherine, the lady who owns the flamingos, out tending her yard.

Today, the flamingos are set up to be ready for the Women’s March on January 21st. The are wearing colorful capes and tiny pink hats. They are, as usual, adorable.

 

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Women’s March Flamingos

See you soon.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Walking and Helping

Dear Liza,

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By lunch time on the 21st, it was almost up to 35 degrees…so Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk.

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Auntie Bridgett and poster

She wanted to put some posters up for an art show she is putting on at Motivasi Coffee Shop in Northeast Portland, with her friend Jack Kent, and I was happy to help.

We also looked at things in the neighborhood, like  a statue we have started calling The Soft Serve Fairy, because the big sea shell she is holding up looks like an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen.

 

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Soft Serve Fairy

 

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Flamingo Nativity

And on our way back from Laurelhurst Park, we saw the new, improved flamingo Nativity! It is cuter, bigger, and just in time for the solstice.

Also, this evening we are all going downtown to see A Twisted Dickens, a Christmas show at the Armory, and going out for dinner at Henry Weinhard’s Restaurant.  This is to celebrate Grandpa Nelson and I getting married 43 years ago today!!!

More winter fun!

Love, Grandma Judy