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Sellwood art gallery closes

Photo Credit: RITA A. LEONARD - Love Art Gallery was located in the historic Mordhorst House (est. 1908) at S.E. 13th and Spokane Street in Sellwood. The property is now marked For Sale.Sellwood's “Love Art” consignment gallery at 8036 S.E. 13th Avenue, on the corner of Spokane Street, closed on Sunday, August 3rd, after five years in business. Owners Ted and Ruby Madrona report that they have supported at least 300 different artists during those years in their unique indoor/outdoor display area.

While the pair plan to retire from the gallery business, Ruby will continue to exercise her creative talents producing “Love Handles” dog carriers, and “Smouses” – small houses on wheels, decorated with the work of other artists. Ted will continue his home renovation work as “The Home Healer”.

Prior to operating Love Art, Ruby, a trained psychologist, had worked to open battered women’s shelters around the world. Art gave her respite from this intense career, allowing her creative access to beauty. “We have had four rescue dogs as pets here,” she points out. "A few months ago, it came to me in a dream how to bring your pets with you wherever you go.

“That idea led to my development of ‘Love Handles’, an animal support system with handles that allows you to carry your pet just like a purse. These were featured on ‘Oregon Live’, and the next day I had a hundred calls about them! They come in four sizes, with storage pockets to carry dog treats or poo bags. Currently, these are being made by local fiber artist Judy Moonbeam, and there are already 50 orders started.”

Ruby remarks that she has “Done art forever; usually some kind of glasswork. While we’ve been here, I made mosaic glass art, and Ted made garden art pieces.” The eclectic array of garden sculptures out in front of the gallery has ranged from delicate copper whirlygigs to the giant welded metal figures of a seahorse and giraffe.

“The larger pieces were moved out by crane,” says Ruby. “Each artist has been responsible for removing their own pieces.”

In late spring, $4,000 worth of mosaic concrete benches and stepping-stones were stolen from the gallery’s outdoor display, as revealed in a Letter to the Editor at the time in THE BEE, but they were recovered shortly afterwards in Gresham – when thieves tried to sell them from a roadside stand!

“We’ve done extremely well here in the gallery, because the neighborhood is so supportive of our artists,” says Ruby. “We’ve always run our business in the black.”

The Madronas had originally planned on retiring in 2013, but they waited one more year to give the artists more time to relocate their work to other consignment venues. “Our landlord, Gary Scrutton, passed away suddenly in March,” reveals Ruby. “He owned this building [the historic old Sellwood Mordhorst House, est. 1908] and the one next door that used to be Farmhouse Antiques [the historic Dent Thomas Cleaners, est. 1932].”

There are For Sale signs posted on the property – and, says Ruby, “Developers have been checking out the site; but the family has everything currently in probate.”