August Featured Artist: June Martin

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Walking into June Martin’s home studio, it was evident that her lifestyle and her artwork went hand-in-hand. The walls, painted in her signature chartreuse and coral red, were large-scale reflections of the jewelry that lined the wall and it appeared that each tidy workstation had been placed as precisely as the tiles in her micro-mosaic pieces. June has been an artist at Perks of Art since the shop opened so it was a treat to dig deeper into her inspirations and processes for creating her unique artwork.

June’s love affair with mosaics began over 20 years ago, during an impromptu trip to Barcelona, Spain. She was intrigued by the combination of the strong graphic shapes, the bold hues and how something so large and engaging could be created from such small, individual tiles. Returning home to the Bay Area, she felt a call to this medium and discovered mosaic artist, Laurel True, founder of the Institute of Mosaic Art. June dove headfirst into a variety of classes but along the way, found her own voice; veering away from classic floral designs, she has remained loyal to more modern, abstract designs.

While this was a wonderful introduction to the medium, about 5 years ago June decided to stray from her norm of creating large mosaic pieces and begrudgingly took a micro-mosaic class; thinking it would be tedious, she was surprised by the peace she felt while working. This was the moment when June discovered her true passion within the arts.

In the years since, June’s priority has been in locating vendors with materials that match her vision and style. This came with much trial and error but currently, she is quite pleased with the relationships she’s built and the products she receives; tiles delivered from Morocco, glass supplied locally as well as from Italy and bezels from Port Townsend, Mexico and Turkey.

 Having these international vendors coincides beautifully with June’s passion for travel and all the inspiration she gathers abroad. In Costa Rica, she observes the local wildlife and uses these experiences for new designs; shapes of the butterflies, color palette of the hummingbirds and movement of the monkeys. But above all, June takes notice of the light. She notes that light appears differently in all parts of the world; causing certain colors to glow or textures to pop and she tries to find ways to bring that aspect to life in her art.

Observing as she opened drawer after drawer, filled with tubes of thin, cylindrical glass and chunks of earthy, rich tiles, I was amazed that she could complete pieces what with having such endless design opportunities. When asked about this, she laughed, saying she rarely has a vision before beginning to create; she places tiles when they feel right and removes them when they don’t. On this particular day, her home was being pressure washed and she joked that her pieces may be largely adorned with blues.

June’s process, from her inspiration, to vendors, to actual creation is such a strong representation of her experiences and surroundings. She says her work is meticulously crafted but the intention of imperfections; and with that perspective in mind, it’s easy to feel as though each piece is a bit of the world, curated in a specific palette or shape that is reminiscent of something bigger, broader. While June’s jewelry is undeniably beautiful, there is also a depth to it that I had not understood prior to our discussing and I am pleased to view them with a new appreciation.

Learn more about June at:
Instagram: mothandtwig
Website: www.mothandtwig.com

July Featured Artist: Emily Miller

Emily Miller and I met at Brown Hall on the Pacific University campus to discuss her artwork, processes and inspiration. Although she works with several mediums, you may have seen her beautiful ceramic pieces at Perks of Art, where she’s been an artist since October of last year. Emily is heavily involved with the local arts and culture scene and it was wonderful spending the morning learning all about her endeavors!

Spending most of her life in Hawaii, appreciating nature has always been a prevalent part of her life and as she grew older, it evolved into a passion more along the lines of environmental activism. Emily moved to Oregon in 2014 to complete her bachelor’s degree at Pacific University and has been a full-time artist since graduating in 2016. It was at this time that she connected her two loves: creating art and being in collaboration with her environment.

Emily divides her time between 4 unique mediums: realistic and landscape watercolor painting, abstract encaustics, ceramics and machine-stitched ghost net baskets. While this is clearly enough to keep any individual very busy, she says she is more of a part-time artist and part-time small business owner; working to find balance between creating and clerical, she has developed a deep appreciation for both.

As we talked, she worked on an encaustic series titled “Waves” for a gallery showing next month. I had never observed this medium before and was in awe of the fluidity and freedom that came to life. Emily held a flat iron in one hand and a cube of sky-blue beeswax in the other; pressing them together, the wax melted and was transferred to a square sheet of poster board, mounted on a wooden frame. Performing this action over and over, with an array of blues, whites and browns melting into one another, the paper became a true reflection of its title, “Waves”.

Emily explained how with most of her mediums, she allows the art to speak for itself and while she always begins with a vision, ultimately a finished piece will have a clear voice of its own. She prefers creating series as opposed to individual pieces but says that across all mediums, there is an underlying purpose: to create a connection between nature and people. She says there is this euphoric moment when swimming in the ocean where you realize that you are, in fact, a part of the ocean; there is no division. Emily creates to evoke this feeling; to show others, rather than tell, the necessity of appreciating our natural world.

She has taken this perspective even further, by curating an interactive art installation in a Portland gallery where the community was presented with salvaged materials and asked, what will you do with it? How will you turn this ocean debris into something beautiful and purposeful? If this calls to you, the exhibit will be moving to Cawein Gallery at Pacific University, from October 7 – 31. As for Emily, she chooses to create machine-stitched baskets, but explains that the possibilities are endless.  

Emily is truly an example of a passionate individual, making an impact by spreading joy and awareness through her artwork. It was inspiring to listen to her journey and her goals and I’m grateful she has chosen Perks of Art as a piece of her generous puzzle!

Learn more about Emily at:
Instagram: ejmillerfineart
Website: www.ejmillerfineart.com

May Featured Artist: Alise Sewell

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This month we are excited to celebrate Hillsboro’s very own artisan, Alise Sewell of Branch Collective! Exactly one year ago, Alise joined our team at Perks of Art and we have loved displaying her product and getting to know the incredible woman behind it all. With an eye for simplicity and a talent across many mediums, it was an honor to spend the day at her studio talking and creating.

The official brand, Branch Collective, began in October 2016 but growing up in a highly artistic family, Alise has always had a passion for hands-on crafting. What started as a hobby, as gifts for herself, friends and family has transformed into a successful business as well as a reflection of her lifestyle.

The name ‘Branch Collective’ is quite significant to her creative journey thus far and serves as a representation of her values and aspirations for the art community. Alise believes the arts should be inclusive; where individuals come together to share their work, their stories and to learn from one another. She takes pride in having acquired her trade knowledge from her family - that her artwork stems from a collective learning environment and she pays homage to that through her business.

Not only is the collective a tribute to people in her life but also with the materials she uses; minimizing waste and promoting sustainability, she uses the same piece of leather to create larger clutches and will work it down until the last bits have been transformed into jewelry. Alise is inspired by natural and organic materials and while her brand was originally clay, cloth, wood and wire, it has since evolved primarily to leather, wood and metal. Each medium serves a unique purpose and are created in different environments and with a different creative outlook - but most importantly, they all blend with her aesthetic: clean, simple, minimal.  

Alise creates with the hope that her customers will find a sense of peace in her minimalist designs; beauty in simplicity. I watched as she measured and cut an elegant, leather dog leash; adorned with a solid brass hook and screws. The process was smooth and clean – her artistic mannerisms coincided beautifully with her brand. She is truly a reflection of what she promotes.

Outside of running her own business, Alise books and promotes local artists at various Insomnia Coffee Co. locations. She finds joy in being able to provide an outlet, support and connections for other artists which we at Perks are grateful for as we have discovered many artists through her! She is a wonderful asset to the growth of Hillsboro’s art community.

Branch Collective is a one-woman show and Alise loves every part of the process: creating, branding, marketing and social media. While she never anticipated her business becoming something so influential, she is proud of where she’s at and is entertaining the idea of even more growth. Currently, she displays her products in numerous galleries and shops around the Portland-metro area and has a busy summer ahead, filled with markets and festivals – all of which can be found on her website. It has been a pleasure to spend the last year working with Alise; to find peace and a sense of calm not only in her product, but in her company. We look forward to seeing what’s to come and are honored to play a part in her journey!

Learn more about Alise at:
www.BranchCollective.store
BranchCollective (Instagram)

April Featured Artist: Dave Garbot

Dave Garbot has been an artist at Perks of Art since December, but we were introduced to his pieces a few months prior while he was showing at Insomnia Coffee Co. in downtown Hillsboro. While there is not a time in his life where Dave wasn’t drawing, displaying his artwork is a much more recent event and we are excited to promote him and his craft this month!

Growing up in a suburb of Chicago, Dave was an introverted child.  Preferring to keep to himself, he discovered his love for drawing at an early age and quickly found peace with being labeled “an artist”. His artwork provided a means of communication; a voice when he did not feel comfortable speaking and he was always encouraged to pursue his talents by his family and friends.

When it came time for college, Dave enrolled in the College of Arts and Design at University of Illinois to pursue a degree in Architecture. After meeting with an advisor, he discovered he had applied for the incorrect college and would not be able to study architecture until his second year; as it would turn out, this was the beginning of Dave’s professional artistic journey. He studied a variety of mediums and worked to develop his own style which eventually lead to a career in advertising and graphic design post-college.

Although Dave enjoyed some aspects of working in the corporate sphere, he longed for the flexibility and freedom that came with freelance work as well as more focus on illustration. True to his theory of always pursuing your passions, Dave left his structured job, packed up his home and family and ventured to Portland where the rest is history!

Dave is inspired by his experiences, both past and present. Dividing his time between the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest and the quiet comforts of local coffee shops, the world is his muse. His creative process is very fluid; there is no beginning or end and he often returns to his stacks of filled sketchbooks and Starbucks napkins when pursuing a new design. Although the subject matter differs, Dave believes in always creating pieces that stem from joyful experiences with hopes that the positivity transfers from artwork to audience.

He attempts to keep his work fresh and interesting by introducing foreign patterns in familiar landscapes. For example, while admiring a framed piece in his kitchen, he explained that he awoke one morning and was intrigued by the shape and texture of a blanket that laid beside him which became the design for that set of rolling hills.

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He explains how each finished piece tells a story; a representation of a real-world memory but presented from Dave’s whimsical perspective. His personality shines through in the details – a quirky character, a hidden joke and it’s this element that makes what he does so admirable; the passion and pride is so evident.

More than his personal illustrations, Dave also produces similarly-styled commercial artwork in the form of children’s game books, step-by-step drawing kits and food menus. While he is fond of this process, he says it requires a different mentality and more structure in order to create for a specific audience. Although his goal moving forward is to sharpen the balance between these two creative mindsets, he is still able to find joy within both processes.

Additionally, Dave hopes to continue expanding his presence in the local art community by participating in more events, markets and other galleries. When asked about an ending to his artistic journey, he said retirement does not exist in his world as there will always be a scene to draw and a story to tell. It’s been an honor to be a part of Dave’s evolution as an artist and we look forward to seeing just how far he will journey!

Learn more about Dave at:
DaveGarbot.com
DaveGarbot (Instagram)
DaveGarbotArtist (Facebook)

March Featured Artist: Brie Thompson

This month we’re recognizing local printmaker Brie Thompson as she celebrates her 10 year anniversary of creating in the Pacific Northwest! Her nature-inspired pieces are a beautiful addition to Perks of Art and I had a lovely time at her studio learning about her background, medium and goals for this upcoming year.

Growing up in northwest Indiana, just south of Lake Michigan, Brie discovered her passion for the outdoors. She graduated from Ball State University where she studied a variety of printmaking styles; experimenting with lithography and screen printing before committing to relief block printing. She ventured out to Oregon for the abundance of outdoor activities and constantly finds inspiration in her surroundings – from the mountains to the ocean, the trees to the sun.

Although she feels at home in the PNW, when it came time to choose a business name Brie wanted to pay homage to her roots and decided upon Lake Effect Press: a wintry condition where cold air passes over warm water and results in massive amounts of snow, unique to the Great Lakes region.

Eager to pursue printmaking in Oregon, Brie began creating from her home but quickly realized it was a task better completed in an outside studio. About 10 months after her move, she joined Flight 64 Studio and eventually became a member of the board, as Treasurer. She loves the sense of community this co-op offers; as Portland’s only member run, non-profit studio, all members boast diverse backgrounds and styles and there is no shortage of inspiration or encouragement. Brie believes printmaking should be an inclusive medium, as it is so specific, where artists can collaborate and support one another through their journeys.

The relief block printing process is quite methodical and for Brie, it is the process she loves just as much as the finished product. She begins by drawing her carefully composed design on a thin layer of linoleum that has been mounted on a wood block. She then carves out the linoleum layer until the elevated design is all that remains; using a roller and ink, she paints the raised surface and uses a press to evenly transfer the design onto paper, creating a finished print. Brie says all parts of the process appeal to her – from the aroma of the oil-based ink to the “kissy” sounds of the ink being rolled out.

Brie says there is magic in using the same block to create a handful of prints but somehow, all still emerge unique. And with a typically regimented personality, it’s these subtle variances from structure that allow her to see beauty where she may not have envisioned it before. There is a sense of mystery that constantly intrigues her.

While Brie has been a printmaker for the last decade, she is relatively new to exhibiting and promoting her artwork but her mantra for 2019 is yes – a mantra I think many of us could adopt. Yes, to putting herself out there more; yes, to local markets, showcases and other galleries so be sure to keep an eye out for her stunning work and support this incredible artist whenever you can. We are excited to see where this next year takes her and are thrilled she invoked her “yes” mindset a bit early last year by joining our team at Perks!

Learn more about Brie at:
LakeEffectPNW.com
LakeEffectPress (Instagram)
Flight64.org

February Featured Artist: Gwyneth Manley

Gwyn has been an artist at Perks of Art since October and we have loved displaying her unique ceramic pieces and more recently, her chainmail jewelry. I had the pleasure of spending the morning at Gwyn’s home studio to talk about her artistic journey and observe her creative process as our first Featured Artist!

After growing up on the central California coast and graduating from Cal State Fullerton last year, Gwyneth is excited to be living in the Northwest with an apartment surrounded by pine trees. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in General Studio Arts which allowed her the creative freedom to explore a variety of mediums where she eventually found a fondness for ceramics. All of Gwyn’s pieces are crafted fully by hand (much to my surprise, as I was under the impression ceramics were always created on a wheel) and I was thrilled to observe as she fashioned a tiny shot glass, adorned with a button and all, from a flat slab.

Gwyneth has a very organic process; her toolbox is filled with pinecones, bits of coral and an array of doilies – all of which she uses to add interesting texture to her pieces. She says, besides the backside of a specific paintbrush, her favorite tool is her hands.

While ceramics is a relatively new craft, Gwyn has been creating chainmail jewelry since she was a teenager. Her mother, Karly, was a beader and encouraged her to explore the arts by purchasing her a chainmail jewelry kit prior to a trip they took together. When her mother passed away 6 years ago, Gwyn was once again drawn to the craft as an outlet for grieving and a way to remain connected. She says her mother plays a huge role in her journey as an artist. 

Gwyneth continues to grow as an artist through her relationships with other artists and through social media. She has met many other ceramicists at the St. John’s Clay Collective where she uses their facilities to complete her pieces and enjoys observing other processes as well as presenting her own.

She also uses social media for inspiration and says when something sparks her interest, she first duplicates the piece to understand how it’s created and then, using the metaphor of a recipe, she makes alterations (more chocolate chips, less cinnamon) to mold it to her style.

She is also exploring the business aspect of the art world and finds guidance through other artists and their online presence. Currently she promotes through Instagram, sells on her website, and displays at Perks of Art. Her unique pieces are such an incredible addition to our shop, and we are so thankful Gwyneth has allowed us to take part in her artistic journey. We encourage each of you to browse her beautiful pieces and support a lovely local artist!

Reach Gwyneth at:

Gwynethmanley.com
Gwynethmanley.art@gmail.com
Gwynethmanley_art (Instagram)