by: VERN UYETAKE Cris Pera has owned and operated The Artisan frame shop in downtown Lake Oswego for 24 years. The shop will close its doors for good Dec. 23.

The past quarter century has seen great change come to Lake Oswego, and Cris Pera has seen it all happen.

But now Pera is making a change herself. She is retiring as the owner of The Artisan after 24 years right in the heart of the downtown area, taking her talents as a custom frame maker with her. She's also taking a piece of Lake Oswego tradition.

Her friends and customers, of course, are asking why she is leaving, and Pera has some good reasons.

'It's a combination of factors,' Pera said. 'One is age. Another is that people's needs are changing. My industry is fraught with print shops closing, and younger people don't do the bread and butter stuff anymore, like graduation photos.

'So many things are done digitally and online. It's a changing world.'

Pera is taking great memories into the sunset of her retirement.

'It has been a great ride,' she said. 'Lake Oswego is a wonderful place. It's a great town to have a business. My clientele has been wonderfully supportive, and I appreciate them all.'

However, it took awhile for The Artisan to become a Lake Oswego tradition.

Pera said, 'After 17 years here, people were still asking me, 'You're new here aren't you?' '

As for the city itself, Pera said it has vastly improved over the years.

'It was very different when I started,' she said. 'The downtown area, I would call it very rundown. There are so many buildings we take for granted now that were not here back then.

'This town was fairly shabby. Now there is tremendous improvement in look and feel - the buildings, the plants, the statues. The Gallery Without Walls was a boon. I take a lot of pride in the community I see now.'

Pera made a solid contribution to that improvement with her own fine craftsmanship and efforts to bolster downtown business. She has been a member of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce since she started, and she was one of the founders of the Lake Oswego Downtown Business Association.

The loss of The Artisan won't be easy to replace.

'I always tried to find special creative solutions and creative ideas,' Pera said. 'My workers were never ordinary. We strived for the extraordinary.

'The response I seek from our customers is, 'Wow, that's better than I thought it would be!''

As for retirement, Pera said she would explore her options as she goes along. The first thing she will do is say goodbye.

Dec. 23 will be the shop's final day, and Pera is inviting friends to come by for wine and refreshments. The Artisan is located at 267 Southwest A Ave. in Lake Oswego.

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