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Inner Southeast artists again open their studios to visitors

by: MERRY MACKINNON - Woodstock artist Christine Zachary is one of nearly 100 artists participating in Portland Open Studios this month. One of her oil paintings will also be on exhibit, along with works of other local artists, at New Seasons on Division Street.On the second and third weekend in October, nearly 100 Portland artists will welcome visitors to their studios and show how they work, using such media as glass, jewelry, fiber and fabric, photography, metal, sculpture, pastel, oil and acrylic, and various combinations of these.

Inner Southeast Portland artists are well represented in this year’s citywide “Portland Open Studios”, with 13 participating artists located in neighborhoods south of Powell Boulevard and west of Southeast 62nd Avenue.

“All of us who are opening our studios to the public are supposed to be demonstrating some aspect of our art,” explained Christine Zachary, an artist in the Woodstock neighborhood who works mostly in oil on canvas.

Oil can take days to dry, and Zachary tends to pile on the paint – which, she said, gives the painting “a lot of life”.

“I keep coming back and looking at it,” she reflected. That helps her capture the feeling she’s trying to evoke, but it also means a painting can take her over a year to complete.

“I work really slowly,” she said, pointing to a finished painting of her grandmother wearing pearls and a mink coat, circa the 1950s. “I’ve changed the background on that ten times over two years.”

Zachary’s probing into the personalities of women in her mother’s and grandmother’s generations often results in paintings of people in what she describes as odd scenes. Of a painting depicting a woman seated in a Victorian chair with a dog lying at her feet, Zachary explained, “,She has this look of resignation and in my grandmother’s era that’s what women were like.”

During the Open Studios weekends, Zachary plans to educate visitors about the different techniques with which she experiments, by using photos she took representing stages of a painting in progress.

“Everything I do in some way is autobiographical,” she remarked. “I guess you could say I’m haunted by the past!”

Even when she deviates from her most frequent subject matter, and instead creates landscapes, Zachary imbues them with emotional depth. Her landscape painting of a street in Eastmoreland, titled “Intruders” won first prize in the Oregon coast’s Coos Art Museum “Expressions West 2012” juried exhibition. “All the people in Portland Open Studios are really serious artists and I feel honored to be among them,” she said.

To access Portland Open Studios artists’ addresses, visitors must have a map, which also serves as admission for two adults, with children free, on the weekends of October 12 and 13 and October 19 and 20, from 10 am to 5 pm. Map-Only tickets are sold for $7.50 from participating artists, online at www.portlandopenstudios.com – and at all New Seasons Markets, as well as at Muse Art & Design, Collage in Sellwood, I’ve Been Framed, and Columbia Art Supplies. An art calendar is also available for $20, which includes the map-ticket.

Works by Zachary and some other Open Studio artists are also currently on display at the Division Street New Seasons Market.