Art Hop’s Big-Eyed Beauties

The annual Alberta Street Art Hop happened on one of the hottest days of the year. For this Portlander, it is was too hot to really enjoy. I stopped by to visit pop artist, Scott Rohlfs, and was completely blown away by his array of “Big-Eyed Beauties” he had for sale. This amazing artist has just turned pro, meaning he is only doing art, and is producing one eye-catching creation after another.

I am proud that he has agreed to let me place his art in businesses around town.



Four Floors of Art



Did the Milepost 5 thing last night.



Amazing! Thirty rooms that are for sale in this condo artist’s live/work space, that were used as individual art galleries for thirty artists. One would walk from room to room on four floors enjoying how each creative filled their individual space.

Kudos to Chris Haberman (pictured here) and Ben Pink who curated this mammoth event.



Art is a Business Magnet


by Elizabeth Currid

I read Chris Coleman’s OpEd piece in today’s Oregonian, and felt as if he was speaking for me. I too believe that Portland’s creative culture is what drives our economy. Awhile back, Tom Miller, Sam Adam’s Chief of Staff recommended I read a book that has actually altered my direction in art advocacy. The book is The Warhol Economy: How Fashion, Art & Music Drive New York City by Elizabeth Currid.

The title says it all, and while Portland is not New York City, it is full of the creative culture that brings people to Portland to visit or stay. All of what we value is based upon an upward spiraling economy that is founded on the creative class. These artists, both visual and performing, are the magnet that pulls us all into the city.

Thank about it: why would someone that is highly educated with disposable income want to even pass through Portland? It’s the creative culture. Highly educated people need an avenue to expand their minds, and the arts has it for many. Those same  highly educated individuals fall in love with our unique style. In turn, they tell their friends, who could be attorneys, magazine publishers, models, CEOs, and so forth.

I remember those good words from the New York Times about how great our restaurants are. Who can afford to eat out except those people who have the money to walk our streets and go to clubs, dine, catch a show, and, oh, yes, do business.

One of the most important factors of Currid’s book is that business in New York City is NOT conducted in offices. Business is conducted at clubs, or at the theatre, the art galleries, or other creative venues. The same is true here in Portland. We bump into people we know who have the same interests in the arts at one of our many events, and usually discuss a bit of business, too.

So Mayor Potter, what you are doing by not including the arts in your budget is bad for business. A fat art budget for the city will attract business that are looking to relocate their offices to a place that is diverse enough to retain its valuable employees. Those new businesses will help support the arts. 

Chris Coleman is absolutely correct. Mayor Potter can site certain other factors that may see to be more important to him, but Potter really needs to get the vision that art is the giant magnet that attracts the press, the jobs, the new businesses, and most importantly, the money. 



Chuck Close, Up Close and Personal

The “reigning portraitist of the Information Age,” Chuck Close, is coming to Tacoma, Washington. He will be in conversation with poet Bob Holman, Sunday, May 11, 2:00 p.m. at Tacoma’s Pantages Theater. Tickets will probably sell out fast. For information, contact the Tacoma Art Museum.

Close’s work is highly sought after by collectors and museums, and is somewhat of a recluse, due to a near fatal blood clot in 1988 that left him a quadriplegic. His massive portraits of family and friends are eight to nine feet tall, and are literally larger than life.

Much has been written about Close. He has dealt with tragedy most of his life, and has turned almost insurmountable life-changing events into challenging success through hard work and an absolute passion for art. Now, as a quadriplegic, Close straps paint brushes to his hands and head, and manages to reinvent himself over and over. Born in Monroe, Washington, Chuck Close has a BA in art from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a MFA from Yale. Considered at the height of his career when he had the blood clot, Chuck Close has chosen to use his passion to be a role model for those who are down and out, and a most sought after artist.

The Portland Art Museum recently had an exhibit of his prints and his printing plates, but was unable to get the man in person. Kudos to Tacoma!

The Art of Giving

Artists are constantly asked to donate their work for a worthy cause. In turn, the art would be auctioned off, or sold for a certain amount of money. All the proceeds would go to the worthy cause. Supposedly, the artist would receive recognition, and the organization would receive the money. The effort, creative spirit, and passion–these ingredients that go into the creative soul and make an artist and artist–are not compensated. In other words, the artist receives no money at all. On the contrary, the artist is actually out the cost of the materials, which can be considerable in some instances.

I would like to examine this concept a bit further. In the USA, if a painter donates a work to an organization, on his/her income taxes, that painter can deduct the cost of the materials–the canvas, paints, frame, and so forth. On the other hand, if an art patron (one who collects art) donates a piece of art to a charity, and that charity auctions this piece off, the patron can deduct the actual value of the painting on his/her income taxes. For example, if Pablo Picasso, the famous Spanish artist, donates a painting that has a value of $2 million US, he could just deduct the cost of his materials on his income tax, and not receive any money for the transaction. On the other hand, the American developer Donald Trump, who owns a painting by Pablo Picasso that is valued at $2 million US, could donate that painting for a worthy cause, and deduct the $2 million US on his income tax. This is not fair. The artist receives only a tiny fraction of deduction on his taxes for the time, creative talent, and energy that goes into making a product. The donor of a piece of art receives full credit on his/her income taxes, which can amount to a very healthy return. The charity receives the money anyway. I have another idea.

Suppose there was an art auction for a worthy cause, such as raising funds to pay for a water purification plant in a small African village. Artists were asked to donate one piece of art that would be auctioned off to raise funds for this project. The artist would receive recognition in the form of a link to the artist’s art gallery where one could see other works and potentially purchase more art. In addition. In addition, the artist would stipulate that 75% of the final auction price be donated to the project. The other amount, 25%, would be given back to the artist. This would help defray material costs, and allow the artist to receive an income from the sale.

If the artists were to receive a percentage of the sale, there would be more cooperation between a charity and the artist. It would be a win-win situation. 

No Brainer for Arts Support

The value of art in our lives is measured by how our community embraces arts. Sounds like a chicken or the egg thing, but consider this: I live in Vancouver, Washington, a community that is very close to Portland, Oregon. This community does not want to be like Portland at all. No, it wants to develop its own personality without the aid of Portland, thank you very much.

Problem is the city management has turned its back on one of the aspects that is very important to Portland. An aspect that means dollars in the coffers of a city that embraces it. That aspect is support of the arts.


That is why I drove to Olympia, Washington, the state capitol, to lobby for art support. Today was Arts Day 2008 in Washington, and a small group of us from Vancouver, the lower bowels of the state of Washington, joined forces, and met our representatives to share with them how important support of the arts is.

It was an enjoyable day, because we congratulated the legislature for passing by a vote of 95 to zero an extension of time that nonprofit arts usage can offer to for profit organizations. We thank all of our representatives for this.

However, getting back to the local Vancouver political people, things are a bit less supportive. Vancouver does not have to be a Portland copy cat, but it can look at what works in Portland and put that spin on Vancouver. What works in Portland is the creative spirit, and the creative spirit’s support by Portland’s city government.

In doing research, I have found that arts and culture are the glue that holds a vibrant community together. Arts and culture is what draws tourists to a location; what draws highly educated people with a lot of disposable income to a location; what entices highly skilled businesses to open offices in a location; and what brings property values up. 


Support of the arts by local government is a no brainer. So, my friends in Vancouver USA, do the right thing and open your eyes to the wealth that awaits this city. Through your support, we will develop our own fabulous, enriching community that will draw tourist dollars and new, highly paid employment. That sounds like a no brainer to me.

Touchy-Feely Jewelry

Flannel Fun

Does touching jewelry transform the viewer and creates a better understanding of the “concepts inherent in pieces of art jewelry?” This is the question asked at Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft in an exhibit they call, “Touching Warms the Heart.”

We discovered how fun and fascinating this interactive collection of hand made object were when we visited recently. Odd combinations of a hair curler neckless, plastic grapes, and balloons filled with sand were just a few of the dozens of fun, artistic, and useful objects we tried on.

Just like in dress up, we could stand in front of a camera (this one being an iMac) and photograph ourselves for posterity.

If you haven’t been, it is a great experience for friends, young and old. We saw an aunt with her preteen niece hamming it up. So do stop by. Exhibit ends March 23, 2008.