One of my birthday presents from Mrs.5000 this year was a pass to Portland Open Studios, a yearly event where artists around Portland open their studios (hence the name) so you can come, watch them work, ask questions, and ideally hand them suitcases full of money in exchange for their art. It's a hoot.
We must have gone to more than twenty studios all told. Among the most fabulous of the art on offer was that by the Honorable Vice Dork Emeritus Fingerstothebone and by regular L&TM5K reader Margaret, but they are both pretty shy and I wouldn't want to embarass them by gushing about their work.
So instead, I'll just mention two of our other favorites on the tour.
Highly textured, layered pieces with bits of ambiguous text sometimes visible in fragments, Erin Leichty's work was arresting, evocative, and lovely.
The process of creating these involves lots of layering, applying media and then scraping a lot of media off. As we were watching a demo, she scrubbed vigorously at the piece she was working on, saying that after you apply a certain substance you have to "burnish it off." I misheard, and asked what she was referring to when she said you had to "burn the shit off." The little group watching busted up laughing, but I'm pretty sure that they were laughing at me, not with me.
It's kind of hard to show you just how cool these are in little blog pictures, because you lose a lot of the detail and a lot of the texture. But I guess that's true of all art photography.
I took these images off of the "Erin Leichty Modern Art" website, http://www.elmodernart.com/, with my usual bad manners about asking or anything.
Maggie Casey makes really cool things, mostly out of string. Her studio was filled with fascinating, delicate, wistful little constructions and mobiles, some so subtle as to be almost invisible until inspected closely.
Among these smaller works were a few large, solid-seeming, and fascinating examples of what she calls "boxes."
"Hanging Angle" is just cool. Just cool, cool, cool. It takes the kind of geometries I associate will Sol LeWitt, but realizes them with a precise craftsmanship using folklike materials. You could stare at this sucker for hours, I'll tell you what.
Maggie Casey's website, http://www.maggiecasey.com/, is pretty damn fine as well. I got these images from it, except I actually asked permission this time!
Here's what Fingers' latest piece, Martha, looks like. It's the first of what will hopefully be a long series based on her work with seniors with dementia.
...and here's a random sample of the output from Ma Nao Books, Margaret's bookarts studio.
Aren't they awesome?