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Brooklyn collective supports eleven artists

by: RITA A. LEONARD - Three of the four partners at ManifeStation PDX art collective, from left: Richard Cawley, Gustav Sculptor, and J. B. Noll. A rust-colored warehouse, bordered by scores of potted plants, sits at the corner of S.E. 21st and Bush Street, adjacent to the Union Pacific tracks. The only hint of the creativity inside is a small sign that reads “art”, barely visible between the bamboo stalks.

But this is the site of an art collective, “ManifeStation PDX” – a studio for eleven artists. While there are several metal fabricators here, there are also creators of kilts, yoga clothing, jewelry, collage, blown glass, costumes, cargo bikes, tattoos, and creative sculpture.

The four main partners in the venture are Gustav Sculptor, Richard Cawley, his father Jeff Cawley, and J. B. Noll. Gustav manages the building. Jeff is a blacksmith, and J. B.'s focus is glass blowing, making lamps and alternative fuel.

Jeff and Richard, both trained at art school, do most of the metal work. “We make a lot of handrails and bike racks, but art fabrication is our main focus,” says Gustav. “Whatever you can dream up, we can build,” adds Richard. “We’re into making dreams come true.”

Richard and Gustav attended the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta in July, delivering the metal head of a 100-foot-long dragon they had made. “The dragon's head was about 20' x 30' tall, and it was the main gate for the event,” says Gustav. “We build a lot of theater props and costumes,” explains Richard. “We also brought some other art pieces to the Fair, and some costumes for ‘Jaws, the Musical’.”

Gustav formerly owned a shop in Northwest Portland called Dancing Devil’s Design, but he needed more creative workspace. A year ago he joined Richard and several other artists to form “ManifeStation PDX”. There's enough studio space in the 8,000-square-foot Brooklyn warehouse for them all. “Everybody works off each other’s energy here,” says Richard. “When you have people working on so many different things, it keeps your own ideas fresh and new. We also network with many other artists.”

The collective also includes glass blower Elizabeth Johnston, jewelry maker Katie Garrett, Johnny McClean of Stumptown Kilts, and Dana de Lashmutt – who makes clothing for yoga. “Our Renaissance man, ‘Bonzai’, is both a tattoo artist and a landscaper,” reports Richard. “He also sells exotic rugs and crystals.” Kevin Takalo and James Mitchell create foot-powered vehicles under the name Nomad Cargo Bikes.

ManifeStation PDX also constructs puppets and performance art pieces for parties and festivals. Gustav modeled an articulated winged costume made by Richard. A large elephant costume from a display at the Crystal Ballroom sits atop a storage cabinet, next to a row of giant pink crystals. Richard made many of the winged sculptures that hang from ceiling and walls. A totem pole costume and other forms of artwork decorate a mezzanine wall, and fantastic metal sculptures and cargo bikes abound.

“The previous business here before we came in was a machine shop,” remarks Gustav. “So there’s a lot of room and a lot of electrical power available, as well as open space for circulation and display. We’re raising money for a new roof, and insulation, so it won't be so cold in winter. We build a lot of theater costumes and props, and deliver art sculpture to our clients. We’re booked out on projects for months, but you can contact any of us here through: HYPERLINK "mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

“We try to re-purpose a lot of things before they’re melted down or thrown away,” says Richard. “A lot of our materials are recycled. We buy some, and people often bring us unusual items to work into our metal sculptures.” Humor and creative energy shine in every corner. It’s like a museum of fantasy and possibilities.