Pat Rose

Pat Rose is a Portland-based photographer whose work includes landscape, street, portrait and botanical photography. She is a retired English as a Second Language teacher who has taught in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, in Austin, Texas, and most recently at Portland State University. She has shown her work in various juried group exhibitions in several galleries around the country, and her landscape photos have been published in two outdoor guidebooks. Much of her work can be found on her website at www.patrosephotography.com.

 

Women of Art ~ A Visual Life, 3

A profile of three of Portland’s most creative photographers. Part 3: The iPhone art of Susan Bein.

This is the final part of a three-part series profiling the visual lives of three exceptionally creative photographers based in Portland. Part One introduces the series and covers Grace Weston. Part Two is devoted to Laura Kurtenbach. The following profile of Susan Bein comprises Part Three of the series.


SUSAN BEIN


Dance

Susan Bein grew up in Los Angeles, and although her parents were not artistic themselves, they always encouraged creativity in their three children. As a child Susan already had a vivid imagination, and she used drawing and painting to interpret her world and give form to what she pictured in her mind. She was considered an “art kid” at a very early age. However, by the time she became a young teen she had grown discouraged by her inability to accurately depict her imaginings with a pencil or a paintbrush, so she tried her hand at photography as a way to capture her vision of the world.

It was a perfect fit. With her camera she now had a creative partner that allowed her to visually describe what she imagined in a way that more perfectly expressed her inner world. While still in high school, Susan took classes from Edmund Teske, the eccentric American photographer famous for his experimental photographic techniques. Throughout her teens she also took classes from some of the great photographers of their day, including Ansel Adams, Minor White, Aaron Siskind, and Paul Caponigro.

After high school she enrolled in Goddard College in Vermont, a progressive “hippie” school with no required curricula, allowing her to take all the photography courses she wanted. At Goddard Susan fell under the tutelage of Jeff Weiss, an excellent, but demanding, instructor who required his students to wear their cameras at all times, make fifty new prints every week, and subject their work to rigorous critique sessions. She was pushed hard, but she learned important critical thinking skills and developed a work ethic that she practices to this day.

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Women of Art ~ A Visual Life, 2

A profile of three of Portland’s most creative photographers. Part 2: Laura Kurtenbach.

This is Part Two of a three-part series profiling the visual lives of three exceptionally creative photographers based in Portland. Part One introduces the series and features Grace Weston. Part Three is devoted to Susan Bein. The following profile of Laura Kurtenbach comprises Part Two of the series.


LAURA KURTENBACH


Lured (from the series Femme Noir)

Laura Kurtenbach began her journey with fine art photography as a young girl growing up in Central Illinois, where she enjoyed an early exposure to the visual arts, gaining an understanding of both the creative and technical aspects of image-making. In school she grew to love the arts through drawing, painting, sculpture and photography, and by her senior year in high school she was well-acquainted with the dark room, spending countless hours processing photographic film and acquiring strong technical skills along the way.  After high school she attended Columbia College in Chicago, earning a BA in photography and fine art. She went on to do graduate work at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where she received her MFA in photography.

In her professional career, Laura worked for almost fifteen years for a major international publication as a photo technician and printer, finely honing her photography and post-processing skills on the job and in her free time. Her job allowed for much travel time, during which Laura photographed mostly documentary subjects. Later she began a new career in academia, teaching photography in a variety of educational institutions, including Northwestern Illinois University at Evanston, the Wright City College of Chicago, Columbia College in Chicago, and the Newspace Center for Photography in Portland. She is currently an adjunct professor of photography at the Academy of Art University and Portland State University. Laura now has over two decades of professional experience as a practitioner in the photography industry and an educator in fine art and documentary photography.

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Women of Art ~ A Visual Life, 1

A profile of three of Portland’s most creative photographers, Part 1: Grace Weston

“The visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable,” the renowned American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange once said. “I have only touched it, just touched it.” As she chronicled some of the most consequential events of the twentieth century, Lange amassed an enormous body of work that places her squarely in the pantheon of the most influential photographers in history. In the final year of her life, she devoted her time to curating a retrospective exhibition of her work to be held at the Museum of Modern Art. Sadly, she died before the exhibition opened. Though it was the museum’s first retrospective solo exhibition of work by a female photographer, it is uncertain whether Lange considered it her crowning achievement. We can only hope that she appreciated her legacy and felt satisfied that she had lived a visual life to her fullest potential.

Like Dorothea Lange, many visual artists feel the enormity of the covenant they have undertaken to create their work. The burden they bear is to fill an essential need for creativity that presses them onward to the next project. For some artists the burden is a torment, but for the many lucky ones it brings pleasure and fulfillment. These happy warriors fight the good fight and make their art with a passion that nourishes their creative souls. To them the visual life is a blessing.

In Portland we are blessed with an embarrassment of riches. Our town is a veritable Mecca for visual artists who have moved from other locations to join a thriving community of fellow creatives and share in a life of art. Oregon ArtsWatch recently caught up with three visual artists from other regions who have relocated to Portland to create their work. Besides having made Portland their adoptive home, these three artists have other commonalities, including an early exposure to the arts as children, a lifetime spent creating art in many forms, and a personal commitment to achieving their highest creative potential. Still, each of these remarkable women has developed a distinctive style of artistic expression all her own.

Grace Weston, originally from New Jersey, is internationally recognized for a unique style of narrative photography for which she builds meticulously crafted miniature scenes that address a variety of human psychological themes.

Laura Kurtenbach, born and raised in Central Illinois, is an artist, photographer and educator whose work tackles important social issues, such as the depiction of women in the media and the human relationship with the natural environment.

Susan Bein, a California native, creates ethereal, often whimsical, photo-based art captured almost exclusively with her iPhone and transformed into wonderfully evocative images that stir the imagination of the viewer.

The following is the first in a three-part series profiling the visual lives of these exceptionally creative photographers. In this three-part series, we’ll concentrate on one of these artists each day, beginning with Weston.


GRACE WESTON


House of Atlas (from the series Short Stories/Tall Tales)

Grace Weston cannot recall a time when art was not an integral part of her life. Growing up in New Jersey, she was the bright child of working-class parents who made a point of teaching their daughter an appreciation for the arts. As a youngster she often accompanied her father on visits to the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, learning early on the importance of art in enriching our lives. In addition to the visual arts, Grace was exposed to music at a young age and learned to play violin and guitar, even trying her hand at the bagpipe chanter for a while after she attended the Scottish Games in New Jersey with her parents.

She started making her own photographs as a kid when she received a Polaroid Swinger, and later in high school she owned a Kodak Instamatic camera, which she used to document the escapades of her circle of artist friends. With a desire to pursue art after graduating high school, she enrolled in Mercer County College in New Jersey, which had a brand new campus with a sizable art department. In addition to the standard art classes, she took courses in black and white photography and film processing, and she later became a darkroom assistant in the excellent facilities provided on campus. In college she became serious about photography as a form of art, and she purchased her first consequential film camera, a Nikkormat 35mm single-lens reflex.

After college, she pursued other forms of art, including dance, singing and acting, but she eventually returned to photography. She studied studio lighting at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, and later became assistant to the studio photographer Mark Hooper when she moved to Portland in the late 1980s. It was then that Grace finally settled on studio photography as the mainstay of her work as an artist.

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Chasing the Light

Astoria's LightBox Photographic Gallery is a Bright Beacon in Dark Times

The great German portrait photographer August Sander wrote, “In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.” Best known for his documentary-style portraits of working class Germans in the early twentieth century, Sander practiced his craft during a dark and transformative period in world history, and he suffered great personal and professional adversity in his lifetime. He lost his son and his home to war, and tens of thousands of his photographic negatives were later destroyed by fire. Still, he persevered, and much of his art survives.

Perhaps the story of Sander can teach us something about resilience in our own dark time. The coronavirus pandemic has brought both personal and professional loss to many over the last several months, and across the world people have had to adapt quickly to the crisis in order to survive. Many businesses and organizations have also been affected, and art galleries have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. At a time when we may look to the arts to help us through difficult times, many galleries have been forced to shut their doors to the public. And with their closure we also lose a vital connection with our communities.

LightBox Photographic Gallery in Astoria has not escaped the hardships that art galleries have faced during the pandemic. A beloved institution among photographic artists and patrons of the arts, LightBox has grown into a premier gallery for photo-based art since its opening just over a decade ago. The gallery’s stellar reputation is a testament to the vision, commitment and professionalism of its owners, Michael and Chelsea Granger, as they have continued to build their photography center. Both acknowledge that they could not have fulfilled their dream without the support and devotion of the gallery’s members, many of whom have stood by them since the beginning. This is the story of how LightBox has grown, how it has withstood the pandemic, and what it has meant to many of its members over the years.

Logo, LightBox Photographic Gallery

THE GALLERY


LightBox Photographic Gallery opened in June 2009 with the first in a long succession of monthly exhibitions celebrating the work of photographic artists. Since its grand opening LightBox has become a Mecca for fine art photographers, particularly those who embrace the use of film, traditional photographic methods, and historical alternative printing techniques, but also for those who practice their craft using the finest in contemporary digital processes. With a guiding mission dedicated to the promotion of creative photography, the gallery has long been a venue for photographic artists to exhibit their work, share their vision, and inspire fellow photographers wishing to further develop their creative and technical skills. LightBox has served as a cherished community gathering place for photographers and patrons of the photographic arts, as well as a center for educating the public in current practices in fine art photography.

LightBox Photographic Gallery, Astoria

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Weathering the Storm

Portland’s innovative photographic arts center Blue Sky Gallery rides out the pandemic

In his book The Gathering Storm Winston Churchill wrote, “The veils of the future are lifted one by one, and mortals must act from day to day.” He wrote these words about a time of immense danger and extraordinary uncertainty throughout the world, when fear, anxiety and hopelessness gripped nations and paralyzed faith and optimism for the future. It was a time of seemingly insurmountable crisis, much like what the world is experiencing today, when many of us feel powerless as events outside of our control threaten our security. In our own time of peril most of us are somehow finding the courage to soldier on and take some kind of action to move our lives forward as the coronavirus pandemic continues. But there is no roadmap for moving forward. We must all find our own paths through the crisis.

Many of us seek solace in the exploration of beauty, art and creative expression to help ease our feelings of stress, loneliness and sadness. Art galleries have often been treasured destinations for those who trust in the healing power of the visual arts. However, since the pandemic has compelled many galleries to close their doors, in some cases permanently, art has become largely inaccessible to the visiting public. The crisis has required galleries to re-examine the relationship between art and the ways in which viewers experience it. Since the quarantine started in late March, many galleries in Oregon and elsewhere have likewise had to rethink strategies for sharing art with their patrons.

Portland’s Blue Sky, the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts has been in the vanguard of local galleries that have adapted successfully to the demands of the pandemic. As its patrons began sheltering in place, Blue Sky got to work figuring out creative ways to bring art directly to its audience. This is the story of how the gallery has weathered the coronavirus pandemic.


OREGON ARTS: COPING WITH COVID


Blue Sky Gallery, in the DeSoto Building, on Portland’s North Park Blocks. All photos courtesy Blue Sky Gallery.

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Focusing in Isolation: Part 2

Portland photographers reflect on their work during the pandemic

Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” These words were spoken by the celebrated human rights activist in a very different place and time, but they seem very apt in the present moment.  I can think of no more fitting words to cling to at this point in time. Still, it feels like a tall order. With the ongoing unrest surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent uptick in coronavirus infections worldwide, it’s hard to see any light in these very dark times.


OREGON IN SHUTDOWN: VOICES FROM THE FRONT


Although everyone has no doubt been affected by all that’s happening now, each of us will react in our own way. Some of us will experience a kind of paralysis and fall victim to anxiety and depression. Others may experience a newfound freedom to explore new possibilities in their lives. No matter the reaction, it is an important time for self-reflection for many. As I consider my own reactions to the current crises, I’ve been wondering how these events have affected some of my fellow photographers in the community. So I caught up with a few of these artists and asked them how the pandemic and other events have influenced their own creative work. The following is the second in a two-part series based on my interviews with ten of Portland’s finest photographers.  Today’s report features the work and voices of Zeb Andrews, Susan de Witt, Julie Moore, Motoya Nakamura and Deb Stoner.


ZEB ANDREWS


Zeb Andrews, “Multnomah Falls”

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Focusing in Isolation

Portland photographers reflect on their work during the pandemic: Part One

When I think about how the world has changed so fundamentally over the past few months, I find it hard to accept that I won’t suddenly recover from some crazy Alice in Wonderland Syndrome and come out from behind the looking glass. Time and space seem so distorted right now that navigating my way through each day is like moving through a perceptual minefield. And as more recent events seem to have supplanted the pandemic scare, my feelings of fear, sadness and loneliness have lately given way to feelings of anger, outrage and disbelief. 


OREGON IN SHUTDOWN: VOICES FROM THE FRONT


But unlike so many others, I am fortunate. As I remain vigilant about practicing self-isolation, all that is happening now has affected me more emotionally than practically. As a photographer I can still create work, even though the nature of that work has changed since the start of the pandemic. As I continue my photography safely at home, I’ve been wondering how the lockdown has affected other photographers in the community. So I caught up with a few fellow photographers and asked them how the current crisis has influenced their own creative work. The following is the first in a two-part series based on my interviews with ten of Portland’s finest photographers. Today’s report features the work and voices of Ray Bidegain, Jamila Clarke, Jim Fitzgerald, Heidi Kirkpatrick and Angel O’Brien.


RAY BIDEGAIN


Ray Bidegain, “Becoming Invisible”

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