Woodstock artist loves heavy metal

by: Elizabeth Ussher Groff, Some of Jill Torberson’s welded metal hearts are on display at First Cup Coffeehouse in Woodstock, in time for Valentine’s Day.

If you are looking for a unique 'green' Valentine's Day gift, or maybe even a red one, you have only to step inside First Cup Coffeehouse at 4103 S.E Woodstock Boulevard and feast your eyes on the heart art.

On the east wall, and above the seating area, you will find hearts and a variety of other art/gift choices suspended by wires or hung in frames.

These hearts - about the same size as a human heart! - are sculpted from recycled steel, and are both attractive and impressive in their artistic innovation.

The artist, Jill Torberson, a Woodstock resident who has crafted mixed media art from recycled and surplus materials for over twenty years, says she has recently become fascinated with the human heart.

'From the moment we are born until the moment we die, our hearts are beating, surging. It is the constant of our lives.'

Describing her decorative steel hearts, she says, 'Some are whimsical, some are edgy. They're created not only with the idea of the valentine as a symbol of love, but as a backdrop for many emotions of the heart.'

Torberson's imaginative and creative use of 'found' materials and objects are a delight to the eye and mind. As she puts it, 'Besides something to look at, they are something to think about.'

Like the large steel garden sculptures that grace the yards of residents throughout the city, these smaller works are drawing attention, and adding to Torberson's regional recognition.

On February 7th Torberson's work will open in an exhibit at the Mark Woolley Gallery in Southwest Portland. A 'First Thursday' reception will be held there, 6-9 pm.

Torberson is also the featured artist for February in the Gallery of the Museum of Contemporary Craft. She will wield her torch on their premises, and teach her art to others, in a workshop entitled 'Heavy Metal: Won't you be Mine?' on Friday, February 1st, 9:30 am-3:30 pm.

As for the hearts and other whimsical and edgy works at First Cup, Torberson says, 'A nice thing about them is that they are affordable.'

Besides being priced 'for the common person' and being 'green', the displayed gift art has added social value. Torberson is donating 20% of the proceeds from sales to help residents of 41st Avenue pay for speed bumps between Holgate and Woodstock Boulevards.

So have a heart! Choose a Valentine's Day heart, or other piece of art that will warm your heart, as well the heart of that special person in your life.