Four local artists featured in this year's 'Open Studios'
For years, each late October, the two-weekend "Portland Open Studios" has offered a personal and unique way for people to observe art "in the making", and to learn about media, materials, and the business of creative people in their natural environment – their own studios.
This year, on October 20, THE BEE visited four Inner Southeast studios. Each artist we met specializes in a different medium. . .
Scott Stewart Designs
Inner Southeast Industrial Area
Furniture designer and crafter Scott Stewart was clearly delighted to show visitors his custom artisan furniture, with its curvy, organic style, and to escort them around his small showroom and large workshop.
His art is now his full-time job; he's been doing this professionally for about 18 years. Stewart said he started as an electrical and computer design engineer, by trade and training. "I didn't work in the [furniture-making] field much; and started working with big industrial equipment before I started designing things.
"I thought that if I did not try designing and building things in my life, I would be disappointed in myself – so I gave it a go," Stewart said.
"I use woods from all over the world; but, more and more, I try to get and use local, sustainable wood – much of it windfall," Stewart explained. "I know the people who are operating portable sawmills, and drying and curing the wood that I've been using."
The limited inventory he has on hand is to there illustrate his work; most of the furniture, seating, and cabinetry, is custom-built to his clients' specifications and desires, as Stewart creates what he calls "Twenty-Third Century Antiques".
Jenni Lee Art
"I first realized I was an artist in school, when I was taking classes for graphic design in order to get a job to support myself – but my professor said that I was 'too messy', and said I might want to consider another kind of art," remarked painter Jenni Lee.
Pausing to greet guests while working in her studio, Lee told THE BEE that since she's gone fulltime into creating art, she's moved her office/studio into the living room of her home in the Reed neighborhood.
"I started off as an oil painter, but I found that I wanted to work a little more quickly," Lee recalled. "With oils, and doing many layers, you have to have a slower process, and wait for each layer to dry.
"I found that painting with fluid acrylics, I'm able to put on layers and glaze, and get the richest of colors I could get with oils," she explained. After painting with acrylics for 20 years, Lee reflected with a grin, "I feel like I've mastered it a bit."
She does commissioned art, but Lee's work can also be found in galleries at the coast, and locally, at Tilde on S.E. 13th Avenue in Sellwood.
Alan Rose Studio
Medium: Pen & ink; acrylics
Although he learned painting in art school, Alan Rose said he found he couldn't earn a living creating fine arts.
"I went back to school again to learn the basics of graphic design; and with that, I landed a job with a company that needed, in-house, an all-purpose graphic artist who could lay out and design ads, catalogs, and manuals," explained Rose. "I'm now retired from having a day job; so working – as much as I want – as an illustrator, cartoonist, and illustrator, and I still paint in acrylics.
"And now, I create what I want to create," Rose smiled. "My drawings are spontaneous – free association – in which I sit down and start doodling, and it ends up being artwork; and I also enjoy doing realistic cartooning, including more formal cartoons with balloon captions.
"The paintings are the opposite of the doodles, in that they can take more time, thought, and consideration."
With other visitors already coming into his studio, there was still just enough time to take a photo of Rose working, while wearing a shirt emblazoned with one of his creations.
The Corner Gallery
Medium: ceramic pottery
Off S.E. Harney Street in the basement of her Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood home, Carrie Carlson was welcoming visitors to her ceramics studio. Seated at her pottery wheel, Carlson told them about her work, and demonstrated the making of pottery.
"I do have a 'day job'; I work as the 'Link2Feed Program' lead at the Oregon Food Bank. 'Link to Feed' is intake software we are rolling out in our food pantry program," Carlson said. "The pottery is a 'side hustle' with my husband; this is something that we do together."
Her "pottery habit" started in junior high school, continued in high school, and on into junior college. "But, I got away from it, because it takes a lot of tools and equipment – and especially it takes the necessary space to do it.
"When I met my husband, who's also an artistic individual, he found a potter's wheel online in somebody's storage locker," Carlson recalled. "It turns out it's one of the wheels from Lake Oswego High, my high school, where I learned where to 'throw'!"
She, and husband Matt converted their detached garage into "The Corner Studio" and a showroom and office, as their "side hustle" grows.
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