Five Clackamas County artists will be among the 106 artists opening their studios to the public

This is the 19th year that Portland Open Studios has organized one of the area's largest-scale juried art events. Selected artists will open their studios to the public on the designated weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to showcase not only their work, but also demonstrate their working process, said Sara Swink of Portland Open Studios.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Oregon City artist Dennis Anderson sits in his studio, surrounded by his paintings of urban neighborhoods. He is part of the Open Studios of Portland this weekend and next weekend.This year's event takes place on Oct 14 and 15 and again on Oct. 21 and 22.

The tour is free to the public, with a free phone app that visitors can download in the weeks before the event showing addresses and maps of all the participating artists. There also is a $15 printed tour guide, which includes complete information with photos of all tour artists, a teaching artist directory, and other resources for artists and art lovers.

SUBMITTED PHOTOS - 'Alpine' is a watercolor piece painted by Gladstone resident and teaching artist Melissa Gannon.  This year, five Clackamas County artists will be among the 106 artists opening their studios to the public. They are Oregon City residents Dennis Anderson, Ruth Armitage, Paula Blackwell and Ben Dye, and Gladstone resident Melissa Gannon.

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Dennis Anderson, photography/painting

Venturing into Portland's neighborhoods with his camera, Anderson takes random photos of the area and then paints urban street scenes.

Anderson's scenes elevate the activities of daily life, placing significance on routine moments — often from familiar locations across the area. 

"I consider my painting successful when the viewer can pause, and maybe reflect on the narrative of their own experience," he said.

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Ruth Armitage, oil and watercolor painting

Armitage will demonstrate her abstract painting process in oi and watercolors during the open studios event.

Everything from notecards to original work, both framed and unframed, will be for sale.

"The nice thing about an open studio is that you see work in process and finished work side-by-side," she said.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Oregon City resident Dennis Anderson's painting depicts the Penny Market, a familiar sight on the corner of Southeast 20th and Stark Street in Portland.Armitage has participated in the event before and said she likes sharing her process with the public and letting visitors see her workspace.

"It is a great chance for prospective students to meet me, and for collectors to view a full range of work.

"It's a great opportunity to meet the artists, see what inspires them and how they work. Most artists have a large variety of work available for purchase. Supporting local arts is as important as supporting any other local business."

Armitage currently is exhibiting at the San Diego SUBMITTED PHOTO - Oregon City artist Ruth Armitage specializes in abstract pieces in oil and watercolor; this piece is 'Effigy.'Watercolor Society in its International Watermedia show and in San Pedro, California, as part of the National Watercolor Society's International Exhibition.

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Paula Blackwell, encaustic

Blackwell said she is an encaustic artist devoted to exploring the landscape, sometimes in a more abstract way.

"I strive to create a calm and serene atmosphere through color and light. Working with molten beeswax and oil paint, I craft soft works that beg to be examined," she said.

During both weekends of the open studios event, Blackwell will demonstrate the ancient art form known as encaustic, by using beeswax and a torch.

Some of her encaustic landscapes will be for sale, along with some abstract pieces.

The best part of the event for Blackwell is meeting new people and seeing friends.

"I find it uplifting and educational whenever I visit an open studio. And it's always fun to meet the artist and watch his or her creative process in action," she said. "Also, it's a great opportunity to treat yourself to one-of-a-kind original art or workshops."

Blackwell's art has appeared in the spring issue of Luxe Interiors + Design 2014. Her work also was in the TV shows "Satisfaction" and "House of Cards" and in the movie "TED 2."

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Ben Dye, metal sculpture

Dye, a sculptor, is best known for his public art pieces, which he describes as "a community's self-expression."

He added, "Just as we adorn our personal living spaces as a means of self-expression, so, too, can public art be used to express the uniqueness and shared values of our communities."

Among the challenges he seeks is "the choice of recycled metals as a base material, preferably preserving the original color and character of the finish. To me, the act of joining metal is more than a means to an end. It's a celebration of the ingenuity and artisanal skill that has driven the progress of civilization."

Dye will be working on a bike rack for the Tillamook French cheese company and several smaller projects during the open studios event.

Items for sale will include a drum made from old propane tanks, large outdoor pieces and small pencil drawings.

During the event, Dye said he spends "a lot of time explaining the steps it takes to make sculpture and all the specialty tools, CNC cutting table, 3-D printers and various types of welders."

He added, "I hope my work will encourage discussion about the way we chose to live and its implications."

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Melissa Gannon, acrylic painting

This is Gannon's second year participating in Portland Open Studios, and she enjoys the teamwork that goes into the event.

"I feel that with the books and internet networking that the word really gets out. I also like the Portland Open Studios books, especially the ones this year that have a section for artists who teach," she said.

"The books are a visual record of all of the participating artists and their work. They are so beautifully done and can be used all year as a reference for artwork in the Portland area."

Gannon has been working on painting birds and trees in fall colors using acrylic paints. She will have small and large canvases in progress during the event.

"There's something about this time of year when everything starts changing (weather, temperature, colors, textures, smells, light) that is so very appealing," she said. "I will have new original artwork in small to large sizes, cards, prints and class demos for sale. I have printed some of my new images for cards and have a great card selection right now.

"I saw a lot of new folks last year, and I'm looking forward to seeing new folks this year, as well as people who know my work and love to come to my studio sale with Portland Open Studios," Gannon said.

"This is a wonderful event to attend and do the tour. It is always great to see how people do what they do. There is a wide variety of artists in Portland Open Studios who generously open their studios and answer questions and talk about what they do and why they do it. Everyone is very approachable, and interacting with the artist gives more meaning to the work of that artist."

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Talk to the artists!

What: Portland Open Studios

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 14, 15, 21 and 22

Where: Visit for more information about the artists and how to purchase a map to their studios

Local connection: Five Clackamas County artists will be among the 106 artists opening their studios to the public. They are Oregon City residents Dennis Anderson, Ruth Armitage, Paula Blackwell and Ben Dye, and Gladstone resident Melissa Gannon.

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