This week's blog post is written by Susan Hunter of Bodie Design Studio.
Making jewelry came to me through love. I met a special person later in my life that re-sparked a creative and curious heart that had been dormant for years.
Stephen Manteca was driven by art all his life. Stephen was at one time a painter and gallery owner and collector in his varied career with side jobs that took him away from his first love of art. After we met we went to galleries and museums and openings. On one special occasion there was a reception for his friend Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet and painter, who was signing a new book at the latter’s studio. Stephen was a bon vivant on a budget with a wicked and original sense of humor living in a rent-controlled apartment in North Beach. It was a wonderful time. We enrolled in community college art classes - he in pottery and me in drawing and design. And then jewelry. I was very curious about it and wanted to learn how the fabrication process worked so I signed up for a class. He was so supportive and insightful in my endeavor.
He patchworked jobs together as best he could but was having more difficulty doing so and his speech started to slur. His gait was changing as well. It was apparent that he needed to go to a doctor about this, that something was not right. It was about that time that we were married. A month after we were married he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He was given two to five years to live. No cure.
We collapsed into tears. But Stephen said we had to be strong so we were. We kept each other upright and brought him as much life as we could in the little time that remained. I can’t explain how we got through that but somehow we did. Friends and family rallied together to support both of us. There were angels who touched our lives and kept us going.
And then he died. This was a time in my life I don’t revisit often because it was so painful and I still cry. But in keeping with Stephen’s artful life and his wish to be remembered I wanted to create something that would honor him. Our dear friend and jewelry designer Marty Bobroskie showed me how to fashion a piece of jewelry from wax (via the lost wax casting process). From that experience I made a rather clunky yet sincere piece dedicated to Stephen called Kick ALS. In 2005 the price of silver was around $11 per troy ounce so I had a mold prepared and was able to have multiples made to use as fund-raisers at the ALS Walks in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was no Ice Bucket Challenge, but I managed to raise a few dollars.
I found the process of creating something from the heart to be healing so I continued to make other pieces in wax. There was a series I called the Trees of Golden Gate Park which were inspired by leaves from various trees that were imported into the sands of what became Golden Gate Park. Other designs have followed since then, and I enjoy the fabrication process even though it can be a frustrating one. I’m still practicing, enjoy it all, feel grateful for the opportunity to be able to do it and place those pieces at Artistic Portland.
Several years after Stephen died I was very lucky to meet a kind and perceptive man who was also encouraging and supportive of my artful endeavors. He is the happy endnote to my story and I just want to share that I married him.
Although the majority of patrons who visit the Artistic Portland Co-op tend to be women, there is a strong contingent of men who either accompany someone or who come in alone to look at the many art and craft works we display. With this in mind I thought I would discuss the items in our store that might appeal to male customers who may be looking for himself or, as is often the case, looking for a gift for others.
There is a vast array of goods to satisfy this desire. We have almost 50 artisans and craftspersons, all from the Portland area. All items must be handmade and juried to be considered for the store. Much of it is made from recycled or restored materials.
Among the first items I have seen men consider when they come in are photos, paintings, or prints. Often they are curious about what the inspiration was or who created the image. Many customers are drawn to an image that remind them of some experience or memory that takes them out of the present and momentarily into a past world. We have a full range of works from abstract and still life paintings, Northwest landscape paintings, photos of Portland landmarks, some as unique multi-dimensional photos, and even photo reproductions on metal. Some of our artists work with pen and ink or other drawing materials such as crayons to produce very intricate and interesting images. One artist creates mosaics from paper.
Another area of artistic works is done in metal and wood. The metal sculptures are a big draw and often men will be especially interested in these creations. One metal sculptor produces very interesting and often whimsical pieces that are featured throughout the store. The Giant Blue Heron that sits overlooking the store is one of my favorites. We have a new metal sculptor starting March 1 who has a very different point of view. There are several excellent woodworking artists who produce an array of articles such as finely crafted tables and clean wooden boxes. Another artist creates beautifully crafted decorative pieces made from hard-to-find imported wood. Many wooden items are quite functional like cutting boards and rolling pins.
An item that I find interesting (and bicyclists have a special interest in) are the clocks made from recycled bike parts. These come in all sizes and shapes. They all have a special look and could sit on a dresser or hang on the wall. Guys usually enjoy looking at these clever cast-off parts that are made to perform a new function.
As mentioned above, men often come in looking for a gift or a card for someone else. We stock many items that satisfy this need. During seasonal changes or holidays we have many gift items that provide the perfect choice for a birthday, anniversary or holiday gift. There is a wide assortment of cards, jewelry, soaps and lotions, accessories such as shawls and handbags and items for the kitchen. Many small items make a perfect gift for a child: stuffed animals, puzzles and games, coloring books, and imaginative fairy houses. Buttons and pins along with some clothing items complete the list. All these creations are made by local artists and reflect an imaginative sense of what appeals to local tastes at a variety of price points from $1.00 on up. Some of our co-op members are also willing to make a custom order upon request.
Whether for yourself or for someone you care about there is plenty for men to choose from to purchase or just browse to get ideas for a gift. Check it out!
This week's post is written by Marianne Wilson Stein of Gifts from the Earth.
One of my favorite things to do is to be on the receiving end of a facial. This past week I was fortunate enough to get an amazing facial with our official Gifts From the Earth esthetician, Jewelz, using my product line. While lying on her table blissing out, Jewelz asked me from where I draw inspiration for the products. I told her my inspiration comes from nature, especially the Pacific Northwest, the rich verdant valleys, the lush forests and endless waterways. I also look to the mountains, the wind as it speaks and the ocean.
Products are inspired by first thinking of the ingredients I want to use, where each item comes from and how each will work together to create a synergistic blend. I then have to let the ideas percolate in the creative vat for days, weeks or months. I know when the time is to pull it all together and create!
Early on in my business I was inspired to create a logo that represents the bond between our beautiful earth and women who hold her close. This is their story:
A sensual curve in her lips, like that of the mountains soaring up from the earth.
Fire - a spark igniting her incredible passion.
Reflecting pools to soothe the world.
The wind whistling through her hair beckoning to follow her dream.
Follow your dreams. Believe in your dreams…
Remembering what inspires me, I then wondered what inspires some of the other Artists at Artistic Portland.
Rand Russell of Grinn Graphics is inspired by the magic which surrounds us if we look for it every day.
It is “the challenge” for Ben Gilbert of Crayons and Cardboard.
Sherry Bingaman of Nueva Vida finds her inspiration in color, and texture, the love of research and the textiles of other cultures, especially Mexico and South America.
Doug Owen of Doug Owen Photography and Karin Kaufman of Nadelwerk are both inspired by nature, and Karin finds additional inspiration in family and friends.
I also wanted to know what items at Artistic Portland inspire them. For Karin it is Denise Krueger’s ceramic pods. Cathi Newlin of C Newlin Cermics is inspired by Helene Hughart’s knitted cards. Sherry has fallen in love with Lucy’s fairy houses with all their details. I adore Laurel Swetman’s polymer clay work, especially the boxes.
When posing this question to Doug, He said, “Honestly, my favorite thing about the store are the artists.”
I welcome you to come in and meet our artists. We are a diverse group and have a passion for creating! Come in and get to know our inspirations. By the way, what inspires you?