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Open Studios celebrates 10th anniversary

Twenty-nine artists, 13 open studios and two anniversaries — those are the relevant numbers for the upcoming Open Studios of Beavercreek on June 21, 22 and 23.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Bunny Lewis uses the slab method to create her 'village people' sculptures; this one is currently for sale at the gallery at Grapevine Graphics & Picture Framing.This marks the 10-year anniversary of the open studios event, and the second anniversary of the Grapevine Graphics & Picture Framing art gallery space, hosting an exhibit of the work of nearly all of those 29 local artists.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Karen Grondin, owner of the gallery at Singer Hill Cafe is drawn to this painting by Jodi Dann, who incorporates maps of Oregon wine country into her work.“This is the first show I have done as a collaborative sale, and I did it specifically to help the open studios,” said Karen Grondin, owner of the picture-framing business and art gallery, in Singer Hill Cafe in Oregon City.

People who come into the cafe will see posters advertising the upcoming event and can pick up a map showing the locations of all the studios.

“All the pieces are for sale, and I have jewelry, ceramics, fused glass, mixed media, acrylics, watercolors and photos,” Grondin said.

“This is a great collaboration. It is a good fit for all the artists, who love this gallery, and another way to pull people out to the event, since a lot of people still don’t know we’re here,” said Bunny Lewis, one of the seven founding member artists of the Open Studios of Beavercreek.

A hit from the beginning

The event was started in October 2003, and was so popular that the founders decided they needed to add a second show earlier in the year. Now 10 years later, there are nearly 30 artists who show their wares in working studios in the Beavercreek area twice a year, in June and October.

“The Open Studios of Beavercreek is a wonderful hidden gem in a country venue. These are studios, and visitors will see a variety of artists at work. There are also some nice little stops to grab a bite to eat — this is a real family activity,” Lewis said.

“This has become an event for a day, with a scenic drive to each place,” Grondin added.

This year, six new artists have been added to the mix, along with “some of our old-timers and regulars,” Lewis said.

She will be sharing space with five other artists at Diane Wright’s studio on Moore Road, and will be adding recycled jewelry or other accessories to some of her sculptures, which mostly depict women.

“I call them village people, because they look like they come from a village. I make them a little rough around the edges, and sometimes leave some imperfections,” Lewis said, adding that she uses the slab method to create the figures.

Also available for sale will be her masks, hanging planters and a variety of torsos and busts.

Lewis recommends visiting the Open Studios of Beavercreek website to see a complete list of artists and a map to all the studios. The event also has some specials and drawings for prizes.

Accidental gallery owner

Grondin did not exactly set out to become a gallery owner. She originally was looking for a place to put her framing desk. She has lived in Oregon City’s historic neighborhood for 30 years and has spent 30 years in the art world, mostly as a graphic designer.

She learned the framing business to enable her to have a part-time job when she went back to school in 1998 to complete her art degree and learn graphic design. Grondin graduated in 2002 from Marylhurst University with a bachelor of arts degree in art and communication and certification in public relations.

About four years ago, Grondin and her husband walked by Singer Hill Cafe and noticed a for-lease sign in the window. She remarked that it would make a perfect art gallery, but at the time she was only inquiring about warehouse space with the idea of opening her own framing business.

Two years ago, she again saw the space at the back of the cafe, and found out that Betsy Yates, daughter of cafe owners Phil and Vickie Yates, was trying to persuade her parents to set up an art gallery there.

“I have the background, and we decided to work together to have this become a gallery. It is a good collaboration between Singer Hill and myself. It was now or never for me. This was something I wanted to do, and it was an alignment of goals and ambitions, meeting the right people at the right time,” Grondin said.

“I love the warmness of the environment. It is a comfortable place to have an art gallery. Food and art make good companions, and looking at the gallery gives people something to do besides eat,” she said.

Grondin said she carries the work of about 50 artists on an ongoing basis, and has six helpers who give her a break from the gallery so she can go to her own studio and do framing.

She offers full-service custom framing, including replacing glass, cutting mats and more.

“You name it in framing, and I can do it,” Grondin said, adding that she works with people on their budgets for each piece. She also stocks ready-made mats and frames.

Artists frequently use her framing services since she is aware of what they need, Grondin said. She also offers gallery space at a reasonable price so artists “can immerse themselves in a show.”

She receives as many as 15 requests a month from artists who want her to carry their work. However, Grondin cannot meet that need, but is willing to look at artists’ work and offer suggestions on how they can promote themselves.

She chose the name for her business as a play on the phrase “heard it through the grapevine,” she said.

Grondin added that the gallery is a culmination of “all my different jobs coming together. I love promoting artists, and it feels good.”

Grapevine Graphics & Picture Framing is in the Singer Hill Cafe, 623 Seventh St., in Oregon City. Call 971-207-2354 for more information. The current exhibit showcases artists from the Open Studios of Beavercreek. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Fridays during the summer only. Visit the Wordpress website for the gallery at grapevinegallery.wordpress.com.




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