Glenda Goldwater, bonne vivante of Portland art scene, dies
Glenda Goldwater, a fixture of the Portland visual art world, died Thursday, Sept 3, at age 85.
With her thin frame topped by large-framed glasses and even bigger white hair, Glenda Louise Goldwater, who was born October 17, 1934, was a hyper-regular at Portland arts events, from PICA to the Northwest Film Center and from Disjecta to the Portland Art Museum. She collected local art and went to Hillsboro Hops baseball games. Although the six footer had the bearing and manner of a high net worth patron of the of the arts, Goldwater in fact lived humbly and often took the bus around town from her home on Southeast 12th Avenue in Portland. The retired public librarian moved to Portland in 2001 where she embraced the city's cultural life, living more like a young hipster than a senior citizen.
Former chief curator of the Portland Art Museum Bruce Guenther wrote,
"Our dear friend and Portland Art's bonne vivante has died. The arts filled her passionate life — visual arts, music, theater, and dance — and liberal Democratic politics which gave form to her commitment to an open society. A tireless volunteer across the city from the art museum to political campaigns and her church, Glenda inspired people across generations to engage and care — to live the life they dreamed of to its fullest."
At age 78, Goldwater got her first tattoo, inspired by the museum's Tattoo in Art exhibition. It was of the car she had in France — a Citroën deux chevaux. A three minute film called "Glenda's Last Tattoo" showed her getting another that said "I did not vote for him" (meaning Donald Trump, whom she did not like) in French. It was opposite one on the other arm that read 'Down with the one percent,' also in French.
"The tattoos and sharing them gave her such delight, and was a reminder to all who knew her to embrace this life we make and never say 'never,'" wrote Guenther.
Born in Olympia, Goldwater got her Master of Library Sciences in her 20s at the University of Washington. She worked on U.S. Army bases in Germany, fell in love with France, then relocated to San Francisco for four decades with her psychiatrist husband.
"She was salty," said reporter Daniel Forbes, a longtime friend. "She threw great dinner parties." He said Goldwater died of natural causes.
Forbes and his painter wife Julie Forbes were regulars at the First Unitarian Church downtown. Long-time friend Sam Muller and members of the church are organizing a Zoom funeral at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept 27.
She is survived by her bother Gary Todd and sister-in-law Patty near Seattle.
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