Crazy Busy First Friday

Dear Liza,

The First Friday of every month is usually busy for artists. Galleries are open, artists meet folks, talk art, and maybe even sell some. Since Auntie Bridgett Spicer’s show at Sidestreet Arts is this month, THIS First Friday is even busier than usual!

Window display at Sidestreet Arts

She has been making art for her show “A Sketchbook(ed) Life” for months, organizing it for sale on her website, and getting ready to talk about it on the ZOOM First Friday Open House.

And then, the day got crazier. Friday morning, fellow Sidestreet Artist Dawn Panttaja called to let us know that the gallery had been tagged with graffiti. Again. What a mess.

The mess…..

Since paint comes off more easily when it is fresh, and since the wall that got tagged is only in shade until noon, we hustled over with buckets, rags, and grim determination. Dawn met us, and the three of us scrubbed for hours, until our arms were noodles and our masks were dripping. We made a good dent in it, I think.

…. After a few hours of scrubbing

We chatted while we worked, which always makes the time go by more easily. Passersby offered their sympathies for the tagging and thanked us for keeping the neighborhood nice.

A Paris

When it was almost time to go, Dawn suggested that Auntie Bridgett put another painting up for the show, “A Paris”. (There is an accent over the a, so it is pronounced ‘ah Par-ee’. It means ‘in Paris’.) There was space in the alcove and folks had been asking about it, she said… might be nice to have it out. Since the painting was just sitting in the back room, it was easy enough to hang. Hooray!


Denice Krueger, another Sidestreet artist, came just as we were leaving, to help clean. Many hands make light work, and all will be well. Thanks, Denice!

Once we got home, Auntie Bridgett rested and got ready for the ZOOM party. At 7:00, Michelle Sabatier greeted a group that grew to about thirty people, all seeing and enjoying Bridgett’s art and conversation. It was wonderful to see George and MiMi Niesen and others join the group. It is nice to know that even with crazy times, friends show up to make us smile.

Love,

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 SideStreetArts.com. The information for her First Friday ZOOM and her Sunday Art Talk will also be there. Come and join the fun!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Re-Opening SideStreet Arts

Dear Liza,

Since mid-March, the corona virus shut down has had all the non-essential stores closed. We could buy food, gas, and medicine, and even some take out food. But art galleries and shops have had to go on- line for business.

Auntie Bridgett, making it all pretty

And, for many, it has worked out well. Even with the doors closed, Auntie Bridgett’s gallery, SideStreet Arts, has had sales almost equal to last year’s. The members have kept their art on display through Instagram, Facebook, and an on-line newsletter. Last month’s ZOOM First Friday was well attended and had lots of sales. First Fridays will continue to be ZOOM for a while, as we get used to a “new normal”.

Last month’s ZOOM fIrst Friday

Governor Brown has announced it is time to (carefully) open Portland for business. The city is considering closing some streets to traffic so restaurants and bars can spread out, allowing more space between customers. And SideStreet Arts is getting ready, too. June 4th will be their first day open, from Noon until 5 PM! Woo-hoo!!!

Moving things around

Auntie Bridgett and the other artists have been cleaning, re-painting, and rearranging all the art. They are putting some health procedures into place, like bottles of hand sanitizer in every part of the gallery and a plexiglass shield at the register. They have moved pedestals around to allow more space between shoppers and will be allowing people to use their own bags. They have changed their small kitchen to a hand-washing station.

And they will be offering masks to customers who want to come in and browse but didn’t bring one. That’s where I come in.

Masks for shoppers

I am making a bunch more masks, single-layer for comfortable shopping, which the customers can keep and even wash and re-use, if they like.

Many businesses are working out these same snags. The point is to limit the spread of germs while being as comfortable as possible. It is a narrow line to walk and not everyone agrees on everything. But if we understand that everyone is doing their best and, when in doubt, smile and say “Thank you”, I think we will be fine in the end.


Love,

Grandma Judy

Bridgett Spicer’s Art

Dear Liza,

You know Auntie Bridgett is an artist, right? Well, this week she sold three of her lovely paintings!!

Abstract Paris II by Bridgett Spicer

Bridgett shows her paintings, collages, buttons, magnets and zines at SideStreet Arts gallery at SE 28th and Ash Street here in Portland. She is one of nine members of the gallery and also handles the graphic design for their show postcards, their news releases, and advertisements. It is a big job!

Abstract Paris 1, by Bridgett Spicer

This last Sunday was a good day for art selling. The lady who had bought Bridgett’s wonderful collage of Max Jacob last year came by, and they got to chat. It is always nice to know where your art has gone.

Then a couple came in and, attracted by “(I wish I were) A Paris”, they went to the corner where Bridgett’s paintings were. They fell in love with, and bought, three of her wonderful blue “Paris Rooftops”!

Paris Rooftops, by Bridgett Spicer

I love these paintings, which were inspired by our vacations to Paris, and I am so pleased that people love and appreciate Auntie Bridgett’s art. It makes her happy to create it, and then it goes out and spreads happiness in the world.

That’s a win-win, as they say.

Love,

Grandma Judy

More Print Celebration!

Dear Liza,

I was happy to see so many people visiting SideStreet Arts Gallery for the print celebration!

Art loving crowds!

There were so many great print artists at SideStreet Arts, I didn’t to visit with them all. But I have taken some photos and done some research, and can tell you about them.

From Mt. Tabor by Jessica Hartman
Jessica Hartman and her mixed media strappo prints

Jessica Hartman , who displayed these intriguing multi-layered prints, been an artist for many years. She did print making for years, then took a break, and found that when she returned to it her work was much different. This makes sense to me. Art comes from who you are at a given moment, and we change, minute to minute. So of course your work would change.

Kristen Etmond

Kristen Etmond is a print artist from Olympia, Washington, whose delicate, colorful work is just as sweet as she is. I got to visit with her, and her soft spoken ways are perfectly reflected in her work. Mostly borrowed from nature, her images whisper rather than holler.


Kristen Etmond’s whispering prints

Kristy Lombard is a ceramicist who is also a print artist. She creates the textures on her “wall pillows” by pressing slabs of clay into linoleum sheets she has carved with intricate patterns. Then she adds the delightful details, like ship’s portholes, and shapes the clay into “pillows”. I love the practicality of a three dimensional artwork you can hang on the wall!

Kristy Lombard’s wall pillow

While I was walking around the gallery, I got to see this fellow buy the last of Elizabeth Wocasek‘s standing crows. He said he even had a place picked out for it, beside his fireplace. I am sure they will be very happy together.

Happy new crow owner

Such a wonderful, exhausting, artful day!


Love,

Grandma Judy

Celebrating Print Month with Poppy Dully

Dear Liza,

Saturday was drizzly and cold but there was lots of warmth in the SideStreet Arts gallery…folks chatting and smiling, having delicious snacks and drinks, and looking at the wonderful art.

This weekend the gallery celebrated January as Print Month, with a show featuring work from fifteen different artists. This is the gallery where Auntie Bridgett shows her work, and I love visiting it. I got to talk with some of the artists!

Poppy Dully and her work

Poppy Dully creates her prints on actual old books. She noticed me walking around her display and we had a nice chat. I asked her about her work. She said she has made forty of these wonderful pieces in ten years, and her process for each is the same:

She starts with a book that interests her, sometimes recommended by a friend and sometimes the book just leaps out from the shelf. She looks for good vintage books and checks to see if there has been a film adaptation. She reads the book and researches the film. She watches the film to find the images she wants to illustrate each turning point of the story, photographing and sketching as she goes.

She then takes the book apart, applies her oil based monotype prints to the pages, and puts the books back together in an accordion fashion, using the original book cover. These can be displayed open on a bookcase, or read by flipping the pages.

Loving old books, movies, and prints as much as I do, I was fascinated. I kept walking around the display, reading Beauty and the Beast and Beckett and loving what she did with them.



Besides art, we talked about being women of a certain age, of needing to reinvent yourself after retirement, and of finding new wrinkles in literature. It was a great conversation and I feel like I have made a new friend.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Very Merry Cash and Carry

Dear Liza,

Pretty wintry display

Auntie Bridgett’s art gallery, SideStreet Arts, opened its pre-Christmas sale and show this weekend, and it is delightful!

Artsy Christmas ornaments

Grandpa Nelson and I walked over to the gallery on the way to the movies (we saw “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”) and then stayed longer afterward to walk Auntie Bridgett home in the rain.

Chayo Wilson’s textured ceramics

The Very Merry Cash and Carry show is fun because it has different rules. Usually, when you buy a piece of art from an art gallery, you need to wait until then end of the show (maybe a week, maybe a month) to take the art home. This is because the art has been arranged carefully and if one leaves, the others look lopsided or incomplete.

Melody Bush’s Excavated Books are amazing

But for Very Merry, people are buying for Christmas presents and want to take the art home right away, so the walls are hung FULL of art. When some leave, the walls are still pretty. Also, artists bring extra work that is kept in the back room to fill in the spaces.

Alicia Justice shows her Krampus

On Friday there was a good turnout and lots of sales! We also got to visit with Alicia Justice as she made some of her felt dolls, which are beautifully detailed. She showed us photos of her Krampus dolls, which always sell like hot cakes. Krampus is an evil monster that deals with bad children… sort of the anti-Santa.

Kat Mistry has new work being displayed in a new glass jewelry case to keep it safe. She also has a new raspberry beret, which is very adorable.

Kat Mistry’s new beret

Love,

Grandma Judy

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

Lousy, Mean Taggers!

Dear Liza,

Sometimes, people make me so mad! You remember a few months ago, I told you about the wonderful new mural that Gary Hirsch painted on the outside of SideStreet Arts Gallery?

Mural, before tagging

Well yesterday, in broad daylight, some mean people came by with cans of spray paint and wrote graffiti (this is called “tagging”) right on the mural!

After tagging…

Auntie Bridgett called the police to report it, and then called Gary Hirsch. He said he has a special solvent to clean the black paint off with.

And another bit…

He also said that it would help if we could go give it a scrub with dry towels first, to let it look less awful and let the cleaner work faster.

Auntie Bridgett really, really hates graffiti!

We gathered some rags, headed over, and started scrubbing. Nice folks walking past told us we were doing a good job, and stopped to ask who did the mural and how it got tagged, and what a shame it was that people ruined things for no reason.

Denise, scrubbing!
Me, scrubbing…

Denise, who is a member of the gallery (like Auntie Bridgett) came to do her turn running it, and stepped out to scrub for a while. Michael Pratt, who owns the building, came out and helped, too. With eight arms, we made good progress! The parts that we couldn’t clean needed the protective varnish. I hope Gary’s solvent can help.

Auntie Bridgett and Michael

We imagined ourselves as an anti-graffiti octopus, making the world better eight arms at a time! Good company makes even the hardest jobs easier.

The mural after cleaning!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Gail Owen, Print Artist

Dear Liza,

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Gail Owen and her Flying Hearts

One of the artists that is showing at SideStreet Arts along with Auntie Bridgett is Gail Owen. Gail had her home studio open Saturday as part of Portland Open Studio Tour, and we went by to visit. I always love to see how artists make their magic, and print making, with its steps which must happen in reverse, has always fascinated me.

Gail came to print making after a career in aerospace, working for the Boeing Corporation. We talked about the different aircraft plants in California. My dad worked for Douglas Aircraft for many years and she had almost worked at ‘his’ Long Beach plant. Finding commonality with new people is always a treat. Her experience with parts and engineering gave her a leg-up on printmaking, she said. It made sense to her.

A self-taught printer, Gail began with small format prints with just a few colors, and worked her way up to much larger pieces, some of which are two by three feet. These larger pieces are made up of sections, each one designed and printed on its own and then sewn together, matted, and framed. The accuracy needed at every stage is amazing and intimidating.

img_1121-e1539544975944.jpg
Onion by Gail Owen

Gail walked us through her process, which starts with taking black and white photos of flowers in her neighborhood. Then she chooses her color palette, working with up to eight colors on one print. She cuts into linoleum sheets to make her pattern, cutting away each section as she gets it the way she likes it. Once she is finished, that piece of linoleum is a mess, with sections gouged away, and can never be used again.

img_1123.jpg
Hollyhocks by Gail Owen

When Gail only wants to use a few colors, or make many more prints, she uses a process where she has different stamps for each color. Each stamp has only the part of the picture that will be in that color. This process makes more sense to me, but is still incredibly precise.

 

Gail also uses her printing to decorate wooden toys worked with strings, such as her Flying Hearts and Climbing Bears. There is a simplicity and whimsy in all her work which is very endearing.

I am grateful that Gail took the time to show us her art and her process, and happy that I get to see her work at SideStreet Arts!

Love,

Grandma Judy