December 20, 2010

Oregon Vintage: Christmas Card I: Tektronix

The ephemera of Christmas can bring back memories and nostalgia of childhood. The traditional ornaments, stockings and dishware used on this very American holiday remind us of our personal and familial stories. Recently stumbling across a slew of vintage Christmas cards, sent from across the nation to a particular woman in Portland, Oregon, I realized that these once personal ephemera now function as a collection of cultural memories. Below, I take a look at a specific holiday card and trace the history that makes these cards particularly significant and interesting. Enjoy! (See also: Cannon Beach, Space Age Santa and the U.S.S. Mt. Baker).

The names of Howard Vollum and Jack Murdock, founders of Oregon’s homegrown Tektronix Corporation, are typed as signatures under the holiday greeting in the card pictured above. With its modern rendition of the Virgin Mary and Child, with a subtle matte finish on fine white paper, this card dates to the 1950s or 60s, the heyday of Tektronix.

Today, the names Vollum and Murdock maintain significance in Portland because of the two men's philanthropic commitments to education and science. In addition to endowing an institute for advanced biomedical research at OHSU, Howard and Jean Vollum also funded a variety of buildings and projects in Oregon, including: the Mount Angel Abbey Library, Oregon College of Art and Craft campus buildings, the Native American Center at Portland State University, the Ecotrust building (the Jead Vollum Natural Capital Center), Vollum Lecture Hall at Reed College, and Opal Creek Wilderness. In 1975, several years after the death of Jack Murdock, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was founded to support charitable organizations, the sciences and higher education. The Trust has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars through thousands of grants and continues to provide grant opportunities.

Mt. Angel Abbey Library designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

The story of Tektronix is an important story in the history of Portland and Oregon (check out OPB’s Oregon Experience: The Spirit of Trek to learn more). Tektronix began just after WWII when Murdock, with a passion of electronics and radio, and Vollum, who graduated as a physics major from Reed College in 1936 and had worked building radios and transistors for the State and U.S. Forest Service, opened up their first shop at 7th and SE Hawthorne in 1947. The small factory specialized in oscilloscopes, electronic testing equipment that visually portrays electrical phenomena on a screen. Oscilloscopes would become essential in a variety of fields, including the television industry and the U.S. space program, and contributed to the development of high-level electronics.

Image from Tektronix, Inc., from OPB's Oregon Experience: The Spirit of Tek.

As Tektronix grew exponentially in production and size in the 1950s (it was the biggest single-company employer in Oregon), the company become know for its innovative managerial practices. Chief engineer Vollum and General Manager Murdock established an employee driven model where creativity, new ideas and camaraderie were encouraged. In addition to the family-like vibe of the company, employees also benefited when Tektronix benefited. The management established an early profit-share program that contributed to the team spirit.

In 1971, Murdock died in a place crash, and in 1972 Vollum retired as president of the company (he passed away in 1986). The 1980s witnessed a “brain drain” of the company as seasoned employees left to open their own companies. By this time, Intel was well established in Oregon. Tektronix remains as a company today, but its legacy is even larger, as it was the fore-runner of the “silicon forest,” and played an important role in radio, television, and the space industry-important pieces of American history.

The card will be donated to the Tektronix Museum, which aims "to commemorate the Founding, Hyper Growth, and Market Share Dominance 'eras' of Tektronix, Inc."

November 30, 2010

Shihoko Fukumoto at the Portland Japanese Garden

A visit to the Portland Japanese Garden is always a breath of fresh air, but last month an exhibit by Shihoko Fukumoto in the Garden’s Pavilion took this visitor’s breath away. A resident of Kyoto, Fukumoto is a textile artist specializing in the Japanese tradition of shibori, or bind-resist dyeing, with indigo. The Pavilion, with its natural light, fine bamboo and wood craftsmanship, and views across the evergreens to Portland city center, provides the perfect backdrop for “Indigo is the Color of My Dreams.”

Image by Jonathon Ley for the Oregonian

The installation includes a variety of natural fiber textiles (ramie, linen, cotton, pineapple fibers and washi paper) tie-dyed and dip-dyed with precision to create rich and deep blues in contrast to soft whites. Fukumoto emphasizes another tradition of Japanese culture, the Japanese teahouse, by utilizing her gentle textiles as walls, ceiling and curtains of a tea room. The partial transparency of the walls recall shoji, rice paper screens, and yet the walls, swaying and breathing in a slight wind, point to the absence of kimono­-clad tea ceremony practitioners. Now there are only ghosts.

A series of large rectangular resist-dye textiles hang elegantly from the ceiling, and as the viewer moves along the edge of the parallel fabrics, the different degrees of transparency and slightly shifting perspective creates a subtle optical illusion. The clarity of line and deepness of the indigo evoke a controlled boldness, such as the force and grace of an ocean wave or the brightness of the full moon. One wonders if Fukumoto is evoking these natural bodies on purpose, or if her abstract shapes speak a poetry open to interpretation.

The essence of Fukumoto’s exhibit is calm and soft, and the artist’s technical perfection reveals her mastery of this traditional Japanese art form, while the poetics of the installation establish her within the framework of contemporary art. Diane Durston, Curator of Art, Culture & Education, has again brought excellent and thought-provoking work to the Japanese Garden.

August 04, 2010

Linoleum Block Stamping

Linoleum Block Stamping!!

Curious Bird

First I drew a picture, this is my sketch book that I put all my ideas in.
I also put imagery I find that inspires me here!!

Next I scanned the image into the computer and
created a black and white "simplified" version.
My version although simplified from original,
still needed more simplification during the carving process
for the a great end result. Thin lines are hard to carve so
keeping your image simplistic will be the best way to go.

Next I transferred the image to the linoleum block and carved the stamp.
Remember when you transfer the image to make it the reverse!
Or else your images or words could be backwards.
With some drawings will work either way.
It's words you want to make sure you carve the reverse.

Don't forget to test stamp it to make sure
you have carved deep enough in the stamp.

Next we'll start stamping on clothes.
I use Versatex Screen Printing Inks for Fabric or Paper and a Versatex Fixer.
The Fixer is so I don't have to heat set the articles of clothing
after stamping, but I all ways do!!
Now, this is my first time with stamping clothing
so there might be better inks out there and if you know of one
drop me and e-mail or comment below. Thanks

First you take your ink and roll it out into a line even layer with your brayer,
next roll the brayer over the stamp, reapply more ink to brayer and apply again to stamp.
Continue till stamp is nice and even.

Place stamp down on fabric.

Don't forget to apply ample pressure to secure a uniform look.
Or if you like the faded ink handmade quality
just don't use as much pressure and
press harder in some places than others.

Voila!! I love this stamp!!
Curious bird, that is what I am going to call it.
This is my practice stamp shirt so now I have to reproduce it!!

Other D.I.Y. Projects

written by: Kim Maruska

July 28, 2010

We'Moon 2012: Crysalis Call for Submissions

WeMoon Icon to place  on other website links pages

We'Moon is a lunar calendar and handbook for women. Published by Mother Tongue Ink, We'Moon is a collection of art and writings from women all over the world. These pieces of art are integrated into an appointment book. The appointment book includes a useful guide with the lunar and astrological cycles as well as traditional pagan holidays and general earth-based spirituality.

We'Moon 2012:
Crysalis Call for Submissions

Every year We'Moon calls for submissions for their appointment book, as stated above this call is for art based on the theme Crysalis, a space for transformation in which new life can emerge.

They have very specific guidelines for there submissions so please follow the link above to read more. They are accepting submissions of art, photography and writing.

Deadline September 1, 2010

For more information follow this link here!

Other Artist Opportunities

April 29, 2010

Aperture International Photography Competition

Aperture has announced their 2010 Photographic Competition. The competition is open to photographers with series of works created in the last five years. A series of work must contain at least 15 images that share common content, such as a subject, topic, or theme that is carried throughout the portfolio in a consistent manner.

First Prize consists of $5,000
and being featured on Aperture's website for approximately one year. Winners will also be announced in the Aperture e-newsletter.

The deadline for the 2010 Aperture Portfolio Prize is
Wednesday, July 14, 2010, at 12:00 noon EST.
Check out other
Artist Opportunities

Written by: Kim Maruska
image from

April 28, 2010

Portland: D.I.Y. Craft Culture

Portland craft culture has boomed over the last five years, with Portland D.I.Y. crafters and organizations sparking national attention. Earlier this year, local Etsy crafters witnessed a milestone event as Brooklyn-based Etsy and the Pacific Northwest College of Art teamed up to host a new Portland craft project, I Heart Art. (PNCA already has a partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Craft and a joint MFA program with Oregon College of Art and Craft).

While I Heart Art sorts out its agenda and governing, another Portland craft organization, Crafty Wonderland, is receiving due attention for its Colossal Spring Sale, which will showcase over 200 crafters this weekend at the Oregon Convention Center. Crafty Wonderland was started by PDX Super Crafty members Torie Nguyen and Cathy Pitters four years ago as a monthly craft fair, which was held in the basement of the Doug Fir (on E. Burnside) monthly up until last November.

Another local craft organization born in 2006 is Destination D.I.Y. Destination D.I.Y. produces radio shows and podcasts based on themes related to crafting and craft politics. Founder and host Julie Sabatier has received much press and her show has moved from its origins at KBOO to being hosted by Oregon Public Broadcasting. Supporters of Destination D.I.Y. include local non-profits integral to the local grassroots art and craft scene, SCRAP, the School and Community Reuse Action Project, and the Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC).

Meanwhile, DIY Alert! provides a monthly e-newsletter that let's the craft community know about the latest class offerings and events in the Portland area.

Not that craft is new to the Northwest! Craft guilds, such as the Portland Handweaver's Guild, founded in 1945, have been keeping craft traditions alive since before most of us were born. (PDX Super Crafty have a great article about the history of craft in Portland). The Oregon Convention Center hosts a craft extravaganza this weekend (yes in the same center and on the same weekend as Crafty Wonderland's sale!) with guilds representing wood, metal, glass, and ceramics.

This year's Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Sale is sure to showcase some of Portland's finest D.I.Y. crafters and makers, with the more traditional guilds just a hallway away. The Convention Center events will provide a lively backdrop for the blossoming Portland craft culture.

Written by: Eleanor Williams

April 24, 2010

Plastic and Haute Couture in Seattle

The RE Store, a non-profit center that collects and re-disburses used building materials in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington, hosted its 9th annual Trash Fashion show last weekend in Seattle.

Pre-show Coordinator Robin Worley of Haute Trash addressed the sold out floor at the New York Fashion Academy in Seattle with an educational and inspirational speech about the huge floating island of plastic in the Atlantic ocean (elsewhere described as "plastic soup" and a "trash vortex"). For Worley, fashion provides the way to teach about environmental responsibility. Inspired by the ethic that fashion made from trash can "entertain, educate, and empower," 20 West Coast designers displayed their creations at the show.

((Photographs by Michael Cline. Click on the photos for a link to all of Michael Cline's photos from the show on Flickr))

Highlights included "Albertsons," by Bo Young Choi, a 1930s-inspired plastic grocery bag costume, complete with hat (pictured above), "Move, Shift"(also pictured above), a cocktail dress made of fruitcake, shortbread, and tea tins, designed by Jane Grafton of Tinker's Damn, and Nicola Griffon's (of Alotta Rubbish) "Gone with the Wind and Rain," a Victorian mourning costume put together with fabric and metal fixings from broken black umbrellas.

Stay tuned for news on Portland's own Junk to Funk trashion organization.

April 21, 2010

Allen Mattson

Allen Mattson
Photographer and Artist

Simon Stromberg

Simon Stromberg

Cara Jo O'Connell

Painter and Illustrator

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