Jewish Artists Open Studios
Annual tour not a Jewish thing, though many Jewish artists put out welcome mat
By Deborah Moon
article created on:
Portland Open Studios publicity maven Bonnie Meltzer uses computers and individual attention to ensure all 98 artists in this month’s two-weekend studio tours reap the benefits of community, collaboration and commissions that come with participation.
Founded in 1999, Portland Open Studios is an annual self-directed tour of 98 artists’ studios. Artists open their studios to the public on one of two weekends in October to enable the public to see the whole picture of making art. Studios will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 13-14 (studios east of the Willamette) and Oct. 20-21 (studios west of the Willamette).
“I’m the person who stands up at meetings and says, ‘I know this isn’t polite, but who here is Jewish, Asian, black, gay?’” said Meltzer, who has handled publicity for Portland Open Studios for about four years. “We have great special interest newspapers in this community. I think it’s great to get different stories in every one.”
To her query about group affiliation, eight (including herself) noted they were Jewish. Jewish artists in this year’s tours include Meltzer, Hillary Barsky, Gloria Kelman, Allen Schmertzler, Debra Meadow, Susan Kuznitsky, Jane Levy Campbel and Kindra Crick. Three are participating in Portland Open Studios for the first time—Meadow, Kelman and Crick.
“Each year a different jury of arts professionals selects the participants, which gives us a different group of artists to present every year,” said Meltzer. “The artists are a cross section of art in Portland including emerging artists and artists with impressive exhibition records. Every style and media is represented.”
Noting the lack of arts programs in the schools now, Meltzer wonders where the next generation of artists and art lovers will come from. “Open Studios brings in people who love art and people who don’t know they will be art lovers,” she said.
Though the event lasts only two weekends, Meltzer said artists reap the benefits of participation all year long.
“Some galleries get their whole year’s schedule from our tour guide,” she said. “Where else can you get names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mails of 98 artists?”
The $15 Tour Guide, in the form of a usable 16-month calendar, has tickets for two adults for all days (kids free). The guide includes a map, full-color pictures of each artist’s work and complete contact information. The guides are available at Art Media stores, New Seasons Market, Powell’s Books, Weir’s Cyclery and other outlets listed on www.portlandopenstudios.com.
Inclusion in the 3,500 calendars itself is a wonderful benefit of participation, according to Meltzer, who said the $160 it costs artists to participate would print only about 500 postcards.
Commissions are another benefit for artists. Meltzer said not only do those touring the studios commission artists whose work they like to create pieces especially for them, but organizations and art lovers will call her asking for recommendations on where to commission certain types of art.
For instance, earlier this year, Meltzer said Cracked Pots and Northwest Business for Culture and the Arts sponsored a project called “Corporate Waste into Art.” The group asked Meltzer for recommendations of artists who work with recycled materials. Of the 11 artists who received commissions from companies who wanted to turn some of their obsolete inventory or trash into a piece of art, five of the artists (including Meltzer), were from Open Studios.
Additionally, participating artists help each other with advice and referrals, said Meltzer, adding she became involved in Open Studios in 2000 to become part of an arts community.
For example, Meltzer, who works extensively with recycled materials, crocheted wire and digital photography, recently received a commission to create an outdoor patio piece. Unfamiliar with creating outdoor artwork, Meltzer said she asked one of the open studios artists experienced in that field what materials and techniques worked well outdoors.
“That’s really important,” said Meltzer. “Some of those things—advice exchange, gallery shows, networking, commissions—are more important than sales during Open Studios. All are more than one weekend a year.”
Following are the Jewish artists and a brief description of their work and the medium in which they work as described in the Open Studios Tour Guide:
Hillary Barsky’s gouache paintings have a floating, liquid quality. The opaque and translucent passages of harmonious colors feel as if they move, expanding and contracting like ripples and beads of water.
Jane Levy Campbell paints airy, delicate watercolors with spare Asian compositions and elements of Chinese brush.
Kindra Crick layers in text, oil and silicon carbide to create images with complex surface history. Words and images appear and disappear, adding hints of meaning to the folded forms.
Gloria Kelman’s whimsically elegant jewelry with organic and circular motifs is formed of sterling silver wire and a new medium, precious metal clay.
Susan Kuznitsky’s pastel paintings indulge a love of rich color and texture, inspired by her travels.
Debra Meadow combines her love of textiles and painting with paintings on fabric that are stitched, cut apart, and recombined, creating a visual feast.
Bonnie Meltzer uses recycled computer parts, crocheted wire, digital photography, painted wood ... anything she can find. Her collaged, multimedia pieces comment humorously on current times.
Allen Schmertzler produces intricate paintings that are critiques of our human nature (especially politicians) and the times in which we live. He combines expressionist qualities with the essential observation of a cartoonist, creating a multitude of characters.
He also will exhibit paintings that he did during an art tour of Cuba, which are more lighthearted than his political paintings.