A Favorite Podcast

I listen to podcasts while I do mindless studio prep activities and while I walk the dog,  garden and clean. One of my very favorites is The “Anthropocene Reviewed”, written and presented by John Green. He “reviews facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale”.  A recent episode was about Agnes Martin’s series of paintings, “With My Back to the World” and Hiroyuki Doi’s drawings. I give it 5 stars.


Image result for with my back to the world by agnes martin

Image result for hiroyuki doi

Local Color

I recently did a quick, completely unscientific, bit of internet research to find how many artists live and work in the Portland area. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive source for that information but, I did find a few interesting factoids:

  • A “Citylab” article written in 2017 says Portland/Vancouver had the 3rd highest “Location quotient” (that’s the artist to regular human ratio) in the country.  Los Angeles and New York City topped the list.
  • The Portland Open Studios Tour  has a substantial number of artists (as many as 100) who open up their workspaces to the public on 2 weekends each fall. https://portlandopenstudios.com
  • And according to the artists’ resource website, “Artists Network”, Portland is among the top 10 “leading art cities conducive to an artful life”

I’m not certain what “artful life” means, but presumably there is some quality drawing creative people to the area. And given the relatively large numbers, I wasn’t surprised to find a show of 2 local artists worth mentioning, when I visited  Elizabeth Leach Gallery  this week.

“Erosion”, by Christine Bourdette includes sculptures and drawings. Ryan Pierce’s “Hot Hex” has his latest large scale paintings. Both artists address issues of environmental degradation. https://www.elizabethleach.com/exhibitions

Christine Bourdette

Christine Bourdette – “Tectonic Shimmy”, 2019 – Vellum, pigment-based ink, wood and gesso

Christine Bourdette 1

Christine Bourdette – “Rift”, 2019 – Paper, pigment-based ink, sand, sawdust and gesso


“Erosion” also includes Bourdette’s graphite and colored pencil renderings of geologic formations.

Ryan Pierce

Ryan Pierce’s “Prospect (for David Buckel)”, done in 2018, is one of a number of paintings in his exhibit, “Hot Hex”.

More information about Bourdette and Pierce can be found at their websites:





What can I say. I do love textures and patterns, and I like to photograph them. Vacation photos are a smorgasbord of landscapes, plants, and textures, and in rare cases, people. I rarely use the photos for inspiration in my artwork, but I collect them. Organic, inorganic, natural, man-made, colorful, monochrome. It’s all about the texture.

texture 1
metal drums
texture 2
texture 3
grate through rainy windshield
texture 4
latte foam
texture 5
texture 6
pallets and pilings

6th State

We have reached the midway point in our Edition Variable’s “Group-of-Six” collaboration.  These pieces will cycle through our group one more time, as each artist has another chance to add to the “narrative” of each work.

Here are some highlights from the “6th State” of our collaboration:




5th State

Our artists have added more layers to each of our six canvases – here are the results:

“A Lullaby”   Sleep, my daughter, sleep, and when you wake to everything that’s quick and breathes in every part of you, dream, my daughter, dream.  – Gary Gildner Limberlost Press  1995


“Ask Me”   You and I can turn and look at the silent river and wait. We know the current is there, hidden, and there are comings and goings from miles away that hold the stillness exactly before us. What the river says, that is what I say.      William Stafford (excerpt) You Must Revise Your Life 1989


“Refuge”  I see the lamp, the face, the eye, an altar where the soul bows, a gladness and refuge. My loving says, “Here. I can leave my personality here.” My reason agrees!  “How can I object when a rose makes the bent backs stand up like cypresses?”  The Soul of Rumi (excerpt) trans. C. Barks 2001

insight and inspiration: Kenojuak Ashevak

Born and raised in western Canada, I have been interested in the prints and sculptures created by the Inuit artists of Canada for many years. This documentary about one most revered Inuit artists, Kenojuak Ashevak, was originally only available on the National Film Board of Canada’s website. I was happy to recently discover the 1964 video on YouTube. Hopefully, that means it will be available for many years so others can appreciate the rigors of travel across the snow-covered landscape by dog sled and spending the night in an igloo.

The documentary also shows how Kenojuak’s drawings are carved into stone and printed. Kenojuak Ashevak became the first woman involved with the printmaking co-operative in Cape Dorset. The West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in Cape Dorset still exists and thrives. In 1978, Dorset Fine Arts was established in Toronto as the wholesale marketing division of the co-operative.

Preening Owl by Kenojuak Ashevak 1995

While I had studied Inuit art and I had seen a lot of work in galleries and museums, I had never met an Inuit artist. Several years ago, the Froelick Gallery hosted one of Cape Dorset’s artists, Saimaiyu Akesuk. I welcomed the rare opportunity to hear a contemporary Inuit artist share the origin and challenges of her artistic process and the details of a very different culture. While Akesuk no longer has to dog sled to the studio, it appears that that she and Kenojuak share a similar visual dialog steeped in their culture.

Counting Birds by Samaiyu Akesuk 2015

****** For those of you interested in following contemporary Inuit artists, Dorset Fine Arts, the wholesale marketing division of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, has an Instagram presence: @dorsetfinearts

West Coast Jazz – Louisville, Kentucky November 2018

“Deborah Spanton is currently exploring experimentation, variation, and improvisation, as well as reflecting upon the strange and unsettling mood in which those of us who call the United States home find ourselves living.  West Coast Jazz is her first exhibition east of the Rocky Mountains.  A painter and a printmaker, Spanton is a west coast artist through and through, her influences include the  pop-art themes and candied hues of Wayne Thiebaud, the wild southern California  landscapes of David Hockney, as well as the decidedly not-west-coast body-related work of Kiki Smith and Louise Bourgeois.”

— John Brooks,  QUAPPI Projects Gallery,  Louisville, KY

As part of her gallery show, Deborah invited the artists of Editionvariable to participate by riffing on one of her prints, an interior view.  Here are the results.



4th State, Collaboration Project

“The trick is to do what you love and to be content alone in the studio.  And if you that, you have everything you need.”     Thomas Nozkowski, Painter

The images are getting richer and more intense.  Some are even leaning into story-telling.  Responding to an active canvas is certainly different than facing a blank one!  Although we each work alone in a studio, our collaborators’ spirits join us on the page as we apply color and line with brush, pencil, pen.  Here are our artists’ responses: