Artist Pam Greene is known for her paintings of the Oregon Coast, her bold graphic style instantly recognizable as purely her own. But she’s also known, at least by today’s standards, as an artist who keeps a low profile. No website. No social media. And she finished with open studios some time ago, after greeting 450 visitors in her Portland studio in just two weekends. But a studio tour as a fundraiser for Manzanita’s Hoffman Center for the Arts? Well, that’s a different matter.
“The Hoffman Center and the Neahkahnie neighborhood remind me of what Carmel [Calif.], might have been in the 1920s,” Greene said. “It’s kind of like a little treasure. That’s why supporting the Hoffman Center is so important. It’s that spectacular.”
Set for July 15, the center’s self-guided tour (the center’s first ever) will feature 12 stops in Manzanita, Nehalem, and Wheeler. The idea for the tour was inspired by Manzanita’s popular annual home tour, but with artists’ studios instead of homes.
“We have so many incredible artists in the area who work in their home but are not open to the public,” said India Downes-Le Guin, Hoffman Center director. “I think it is truly unique. Many of these people have never had open studios before. There are people I work with and know, and I’ve never been in their studio. I think to see their process and for many of them, how their work is informed by living on the coast, will be really exciting for people.”
Greene’s been painting on the coast since 2000, but it wasn’t her first love. After moving to Oregon from San Francisco in 1988 to take a job as a designer with Nike, she was drawn inland by the shapes of the grassy foothills of Central Oregon.
“I was a sneaker designer, so you had this limited canvas of a shoe,” Greene said. “The size was only so big, and so you had to balance all the proportions of the shapes of the pieces. It was a balancing act between making the shoe pieces functional while also making an aesthetically pleasing composition. You’re moving millimeters back and forth, but it’s very shape-oriented. And so, my work, especially in Central Oregon, became more individual-shape oriented, so that I would get the juniper, the view, the rolling hill in a certain way. Everything was a discrete element.”
Then, a friend introduced her to Neskowin, which eventually led to Manzanita and, said Greene, “I was all in.” She found a piece of land, hired an architect, and spent every free moment she had there, even planning her vacation around low tides. Now retired, she’s lived on the Coast full-time for 3½ years, working both outdoors and from her dream studio set in the middle of her Japanese-Craftsman house, where views take in the coastline and on a clear day, the top of Neahkahnie Mountain.
When she discovered the coast, her art changed; and then changed again. In Manzanita, she found herself influenced by artist brothers Arthur and Albert Runquist, who lived for a time in the cottage owned by artist Harry Wentz located near Greene’s home. Where her work had previously been vivid color, she now leaned toward more somber tones.
“Those guys lived here year-round, and they were somewhat impoverished,” Greene said. “They would paint on newspaper or window shades or whatever they could get their hands on to capture all these gorgeous muddy gray tones that you get all winter long. I was really influenced by that when I got here. I remember a patron saying, ‘Wow, there’s not any color in her work anymore.’”
She has since come full circle. “I am going to paint the sunnier days,” Greene said. “We all need that. I am so appreciative of this coast and living here. The plants, the way the tide goes in and out.… I get withdrawal symptoms if I’m away for a night. I love it that much. It’s a way of being totally immersed in a place I love being immersed in, then capturing those moments so overwhelmingly wonderful on canvas.”
Also on the tour are:
- Ben Rosenberg teaches printmaking and works “primarily in drawing, painting, ceramics, and assemblages.”
- Cathi Howell expresses her creativity through teaching, drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, textile, fabric and apparel design, art quilting, costume design, and collage.
- Allan Olson is the founder/owner of Nehalem Bay Pottery. “Much of my work reflects my interest in Asian philosophy, art, and crafts. My products are all intended to be attractive and, more importantly, useful.”
- Chuck Winkelman creates custom stained-glass windows, as well as Recycled Fish, “which I make using old tennis racquets and smash ball paddles. The eyeball lights up and the fish are filled with all manner of old, used, and recycled “stuff.”
- Deborah DeWit practices in pastel oil, photography, and the written word, depicting “many different subjects from figures to interiors, landscapes to still life,” focusing on metaphoric and symbolic ideas.
- Laura Ross-Paul has painted professionally for more than four decades and has received the Bonnie Bronson Visual Arts Fellowship, an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship, the Susan Cooley Gilliom Artist and Teaching Residency in Roseville, Calif., and the Kipaipai Artist Development Fellowship. Her show exploring her experience with breast cancer opens Wednesday at the Nine Gallery in Portland.
- Levering Thomas serves in a leadership role with the Hoffman Center. Her paintings have been shown on the Oregon Coast at the Hoffman Gallery and 4th Street Gallery in Manzanita, Trillium in Wheeler, and White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach. Her shipwreck series, Peter Iredale, is on display at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria through September.
- Liza Jones is a printmaker of 50 years. “My prints veer from figures to landscapes to still lifes: I like to make formal geometrical images most of all.”
- Paul Miller does etching, which he describes as “simply scratching something onto a flat sheet of copper, smearing ink all over it … then wiping it clean … then running it under a press onto paper.”
- Lloyd Lindley’s storylines, rendered in designs, paintings, or photographs, “grow from a passion for the natural environment.”
- Judy Lindley’s quilts are inspired by the “exuberance of nature. She enjoys exploring the interplay of color, shape, and texture…”
- HiiH Lights artists Lâm Quảng and Kestrel Gates “work collaboratively in the creation of their handmade paper-light sculptures. Their work draws from an Asian aesthetic and is inspired from the natural world.”
- M.J. Anderson is sculptor of marble, offering a strong female voice, “addressing the identity of female from our own perspective.”
- Rae Mahaffey and Mark Mahaffey operated a collaborative print workshop in Portland for nearly 30 years. “Through their collaborative efforts, they can blend their individual styles and techniques, resulting in unique and stunning pieces.” Rae is the curator for the Hoffman Center.