August, 2014

Artist Susan Sage provides insight into her inspiration, process, and work

I met with Susan Sage last month to talk about her work and get a feel for her experience as an artist in Portland. We arranged to meet at her home in Northeast Portland, a cozy place where animal drawings hang from the wall and coffee always seems to be brewing. In Issue No. 8 of PDX Magazine, a write-up of local band Minden was accompanied by a lively painting of the group’s lead singer and songwriter, Casey Burge, painted by Sage. My conversation with Sage started with my curiosity about these animal pieces. “I did them all in a two-week period, while I was visiting my family on the Cayman Islands. That year I brought a big pad of paper and ended up completing eight or nine animals, using lots of ink, a little watercolor and oil pastels. I was trying to think of animals that weren’t too cute, so I looked through tons of images and pieced together body parts that I liked. Each image is kind of a collage.” “Kangaroos were the coolest…they look very sexual. They rest a lot in the heat and seem kind of human. I found all these images of them laying on the…

‘Lessons Learned’: Puppets, Portland, and a Q&A with Art Director Scott Foster

“From small beginnings come great things!” It’s this phrase, breathlessly recited by a character known only as “the boy,” that gets right to the heart of Toby Froud’s live action puppet film, Lessons Learned. In fact, the same could be said of Froud himself, who was only an infant when he appeared alongside David Bowie in Jim Henson’s 1986 film, Labyrinth. Froud’s parents, Wendy and Brian, created costumes and puppets for Labyrinth, as well as for The Dark Crystal, and their artistic influence can be seen in the creatures of Lessons Learned. The fifteen-minute short begins on the boy’s birthday as he arrives at his grandfather’s door, where he is promptly greeted with the flick of a feather duster by the ever-harried housekeeper, Digby. After receiving a special birthday gift from his grandfather, the boy embarks on a journey that leads him through a hallway jammed floor to ceiling with boxes of “collected wisdom,” to an immense, cloudy dreamworld where he encounters beings such as the towering “granny”—a Moirai-inspired spider who furiously knits away at an impossibly long, undulating red scarf. The film features a magical, lush soundtrack by Lillian Todd Jones and Gordon Mills (Jones’ father, William Todd Jones,…

‘Sex Ed’ to world premiere at Portland Film Festival

The second annual Portland Film Festival kicks off Tuesday, August 26, at the Crystal Ballroom with the world premiere of its main film Sex Ed, a coming-of-age comedy directed by Isaac Feder and starring Haley Joel Osment. “I can’t wait to see this movie with a big audience,” says Feder about the premiere. “It’s going to be an unforgettable night. I’m psyched about Portland and the cast and crew are excited to come to Portland for this. Portland feels like the right place to play it—the right place to get the movie started.” Sex Ed is Feder’s first feature film, and he, Osment, and other actors in the film will be present for the premiere and the after party held at the same venue. Sex Ed is the story of a recent college graduate and aspiring educator Eddie (Osment), who settles for a position teaching an after-school detention class of middle-schoolers. Once Eddie discovers that the students are tragically misinformed about sex, he decides to instruct the class in sex education. And, of course, chaos ensues. But not exactly in the traditional story arc of your typical Hollywood movie. Sex Ed has all the ingredients of a Hollywood comedy; it’s…

First Girl Fest Northwest rocks Portland

The first annual Girl Fest Northwest (GFNW) music festival, of which PDX Magazine is a proud sponsor, was an intimate event that featured an eclectic array of music. The showcase, ranging from hip-hop to folk-infused techno to raw unadulterated punk, drew a crowd just as diverse as its musical lineup. Young and old, hipsters and slickers, gathered on Aug. 2 at Lola’s Room of the Crystal Ballroom to celebrate, promote, and embrace women in music. For the event’s organizer Madison Sturdevant, the idea has been percolating as long as she’s been writing about the Northwest music scene. “While writing about music, I was consistently frustrated by the attitude toward female musicians in the scene,” explains Sturdevant, who currently writes for the Portland-based premiere Hip-Hop lifestyle magazine, We Out Here Magazine. “I saw hardly any female artists receiving the opportunities or recognition received by men they worked alongside. Also, there are many expectations put on female artists that aren’t put on men. You have to act a certain way, behave a certain way—definitely look a certain way. GFNW started off simply as a showcase for female artists, where they could perform and the focus would be 100 percent on their music”…

Artist Bre Gipson blends mediums to capture natural elements and cosmic landscapes

“Overall, I am a maker and whatever the medium, I want my work to be open-ended enough for viewers to insert their own story while still exuding a sense of the otherworldly,” says artist Bre Gipson, whose mediums include watercolor, collage, sculpture, and digital art, among others. The Oakland-based artist is spending this summer—and the next two—in Portland to participate in Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies program. Back home, she’s a member of an all-female artist collective whose work, Till Death Do Us Part, is currently on exhibit at Solespace Gallery and Somar Art Bar in Oakland. In Portland, her art continues to progress and advance. “My work is constantly evolving and I continuously experiment with new materials and mediums,” notes Gipson. “Currently, I am working on animating my collages and creating larger site-specific paintings and installations.” While the artist does not work in just one primary medium, or give a preference to one over another, Gipson does note that her approach to her art and how she produces it is a collage in its most basic sense. “Whether it’s layered paper imagery, or my line work over paint, or more tactile in my sculptures…

Fine art goes mobile: Portland’s first art cart fair hits Hawthorne Sept. 13

Sculptor Stan Peterson and silversmith Stephanie Wiarda are taking their Little Art in the Trailer show on the road. The two artists have organized Art Carts, a one-day pop-up art exhibit held at the far east end of Hawthorne Boulevard in the East Portland Eagle Lodge’s parking lot (4904 SE Hawthorne Blvd.). On September 13, Peterson and Wiarda’s art-filled 1973 Airstream Argosy will be joined by roughly a dozen trailers, trucks, vans, and vehicles curated by both emerging and local artists. In addition, the PDX Magazine-sponsored art fair will feature food, three live bands, a wine and beer garden, and best-decorated art trailer contest with prizes. The all-day event—drop by from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.—presents a fun and relaxed way for Portlanders to experience the West Coast’s fine art scene. And for Peterson, the idea is a dream realized. “We’ve been showing different artists in our trailer for about six months,” says Peterson, “but our dream has been to get a bunch of art carts together.” View carts curated by: Chris Haberman, a prolific painter and muralist and co-founder of People’s Art of Portland Gallery Jason Brown and Ali Schlicting, co-owner of People’s Art of Portland Gallery, both painters Jonathan Parker,…

Richard Melloy’s Latest Work Is Equally Grotesque and Sublime

Richard Melloy is standing, fidgeting really, outside of N.W.I.P.A. in Southeast Portland at the opening of his latest show, The Way I See It. Despite the blistering midday heat, and the fact that he has a cache of cold beer behind the bar—good beer!—that he offers up freely to others, he himself isn’t drinking. Doesn’t drink, actually. But he does smoke. Which is what he’s doing while examining a small metal race car that’s palmed in his hand. Someone has spray-painted the entire car white, and painstakingly detailed it with her contact information, which she has handwritten with a ballpoint pen in tiny, shaky letters. “A business car!” the 57-year-old Melloy beams, driving it up and down the length of my bare arm. “Now this…this is genius!” The car is passed amongst a group of Melloy-enthusiasts, which includes a curious assortment of women who orbit him in pairs and trios, and a cadre of local artists fresh from their own gallery events. When the tiny ride makes its way over to the picnic table where Melloy and I now sit, he takes a photo of it with his phone. He turns to give me the business car and, seizing the…