About 25 years ago I took part in a women’s art show put on by a group, LOCAL14, not realizing how this one show was going to impact the rest of my life. I nearly didn’t do it since I had three young children and the application process alone seemed quite overwhelming, but somehow I managed to pull it together. Now I don’t think of myself as someone who is easily intimidated, but this was a daunting bunch and while I was more than happy to participate on the periphery I was invited to join…and I did. I stayed with the group for about 15 years, assuming a variety of administrative tasks, and never ceased to marvel at how 40+ women could not only put this annual event together but also at the creative energy behind the artwork represented. This was a divergent group of women from nearly every socio-economic strata working in the widest variety of media imaginable. In them I found some of the most inspiring and enduring friendships I would ever know. I would like to introduce you to just a few of those.
Sandy Visse was not one of the first people I met within the group and I didn’t really get to know her until we shared director duties within the organization. While I have always loved her ceramic sculpture work (and am now the proud owner of many of her pieces) I have come to admire her even more. Our term as directors may have initially led us to a “Titanic” like moment of bonding, but we have since become the yin to each other’s yang. We don’t try to understand it but our friendship seems to be held together by a mutual appreciation of all things darkly humorous. We have collaborated on various projects, most notably our “bugs” (ceramic bodies and paper wings) and most recently I have cast molds of some of her ceramic sheep to make beeswax candles. We have also had some memorable adventures, including a planned trip to Egypt that thanks to the Arab Spring became a trip to Rome where we, along with my daughter, did 20 museums in 10 days. Art, eat and laugh seems to be our modus operandi. Haystack Gallery is one of the many places you can find Sandy’s work.
I met Ann Munson early in my tenure with LOCAL14 and was bowled over by her energy and enthusiasm. In fact, she had a company called Enthuse Design at that time which offered among other things beautifully designed garden goods. While I always think of Ann as a wonderful painter I don’t know of a medium she has not explored. The sign of a truly creative mind. Ann was my mentor when I started Reminiscence Papers, my wholesale paper company, and we traveled together to trade shows for many years. Our travels took us to Chicago, Atlanta, New York, etc. and we always took an extra day or two to hit the local museums, making sure to treat ourselves to a really good meal after long days of selling our wares. Since we both had young children during those years we commiserated, vented, laughed and bonded on those demanding trips, and even visited the occasional emergency room (actually just once – thank you Ann).
Katy Lareau and I came on board with the group at the same time, but were at completely different stages in our lives. I had just had my last child and she was pregnant with her first. Art and the creative spirit has a way of bringing people together. In spite of our different mediums and locations (she lived on the Oregon Coast) we struck up a friendship that endures. Katy works primarily in fused glass and has recently been producing beautifully fanciful pieces in metal/enamel. In fact my pieces of her enameled jewelry “accidentally” went back to DC with my daughter. I will try and re-claim them over Thanksgiving….wish me luck. I am also the very proud owner of a complete fused glass set of dinnerware by the very talented Ms. Larue. The kids are all grown now and Katy has moved to Portland so I’m anxious to see what develops from that move, both personally and professionally.
This is just a sampling of the friends and relationships that developed from that one show way back when. While I am not great at keeping in touch with everyone, there is one time of year when many of us come together. Ann Munson has a commercial greenhouse that she generously opens up for us to hold The Artists Greenhouse Sale every December. This is an event like no other and has developed such a following that there is a line at the door long before we open up…outside…in DECEMBER! Artists at this sale offer their older work, experimental work or seconds at reduced prices. Customers have come to know that there are some real deals to be had. Personally I don’t sell seconds, but I do have a lot of older pieces and I occasionally do some quirky little mixed media work just for this show. This year I’ve made a mountain of origami boxes from recycled coffee table books and some fun and flashy slider boxes. I also manage to do a fair bit of shopping. If you’re in the greater Portland OR area you might want to check this out. I’ll be there the whole time, madly trying to catch up with my talented circle of friends.
Just one week later, December 12th & 13th a more intimate event will take place - the Merry Procrastinators Party. This annual event is part studio sale (featuring our current studio works) and part Holiday party. If you happen to be in the greater Portland area try and join us.