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Most everybody has their own shopping circuit in the Pearl District, one of Portland’s most-vibrant arts districts. Bounded by the Willamette River on the north, N.W. Burnside on the south, N.W. Broadway on the east and I-405 on the west, the live-work-play neighborhood covers more than a mile, so it’s easy to not stray from what you know. To get beyond our usual haunts, we turned the minimalist in us loose in search of all things clean-lined.
You see it every day: Passers-by hold up a cellphone and snap a digital shot of something they want to remember—a dress in a storefront window, a just-delivered plate at a spendy restaurant or a too-cute pug puppy. Then there’s mixed-media artist Tom Prochaska. Relying only on his memory, he perfectly renders 20-inch-tall by 7-inch-wide papier-mâché figures that bring to life people he last cast his eyes on fortysomething years ago.
If the harvest moon wanted its luminosity perfectly captured, it would seek out glass artist Laurene Howell to cast its portrait.
Born in Idaho and raised in Portland, Howell, 64, was a dental hygienist for six years before she decided to go to medical school at age 29 and become an ear, nose and throat surgeon. “I’ve been interested in art since grade school, but I didn’t start taking art classes until 15 years ago,” she says. “I took a watercolor class that took me to the Greek island of Mykonos, where I discovered watercolor wasn’t my medium. Then I lasted a day and a half in a three-day painting class. I’d play with collage and embellishments from time to time. I’ve always been fascinated with glass art, but when I was practicing medicine, I couldn’t do anything with glass because I couldn’t risk cutting my hands.”
Native peoples living on the islands in the South Pacific would recognize a kindred artist if they saw the bas-relief works of Ballston, Ore., woodcarver Totem Shriver.
He takes hand tools to thick planks of Oregon big leaf maple, ash, spruce, cedar, black walnut and Oregon white oak to create neo-primitive woodcarvings.