Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The life-affirming qualities of art Embarking on a journey of discovery

I want to thank Duane Snider for sharing his very private and very powerful experiences with his readers and allowing me to share it with you.

It is so nice to hear how art affects the viewers on so many positive levels. I know that I would continue to paint even if every painting went straight into the closet instead of the galleries and your walls, I know the kind of power and release painting has had in my life. So, I loved hearing how it may in fact have saved Mr. Snider's life...on multiple occasions.

This year I will let this essay about "the life-affirming qualities of art" stand in for my Giving of Thanks.

Embarking on a journey of discovery

The life-affirming qualities of art

by Guest Writer Duane Snider

"Collecting became my process for opening myself to the world in order to discover who I was and who I wanted to be."

"I want to demonstrate the potential value art has for the individual and I can't think of a stronger example than to show the impact it has had on my life.

In art I find joy, inspiration, comfort, therapy, meaning and, most of all, myself. I often hear people harping about how expensive art is and how they just can't afford it.

I dread to think what my life would be like had I felt like that."

I viewed my first art purchase as an isolated event involving a unique and beautiful object.
At the time I thought it would be a one-time purchase and never dreamed I'd become a collector. That was for people with more knowledge and money than I would ever have, or so I thought. I didn't realize I was embarking on a journey of discovery.

Years later I came to understand this journey was not just a quest for knowledge of art but, more importantly, for knowledge of my own identity. Buying that first piece of art was the continuation of a lifelong search for my own personal set of icons.

After I married my wife, Linda, I started having fantasies about turning our new house into our own private art gallery. We started buying pieces when we had enough extra cash and made monthly payments to galleries for work we put on layaway.

Unfortunately, I also struggled with depression and dependence on pot and gourmet wines. Anger and mood swings were part of my addiction and, after we'd been together six years, Linda reached her limit. I could have her or the addiction, not both. I attended 12-step meetings and gave up drugs and alcohol over the course of 18 months.

Living clean was more difficult than expected. I no longer had drugs to dull the affects of my depression and needed a place to put my compulsive tendencies. I started attending First Thursday openings at the galleries in Portland's Pearl District with an almost religious regularity. We bought more art and Linda quickly realized my growing obsession for art was taking my mind off of self-destructive tendencies.

We refinanced our mortgage and took out cash to remodel our house. Now that I was spending so much of my spare time in art galleries I talked Linda into the idea of redoing the interior in the style of a gallery.

The tacky walnut-colored paneling was ripped off to show the original lath and plaster walls. Pulling up the scuzzy green shag carpet revealed original 3/8-inch oak floors. The walls were painted linen white. The floors were sanded and given a Swedish finish.

The interior was now our own little gallery. Everything we hung looked great. Our house became a spiritual sanctuary where we retreated each evening after work and on weekends. We had good jobs that paid the bills but our occupations could not fulfill our creative and emotional needs.

It was great just walking in the door to be greeted by rooms full of unique, beautiful and meaningful works of art.

It was our house of icons.

Linda started taking painting and drawing classes and I continued my quest for great affordable art. But although I stayed sober I suffered bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts. Yet it was always art that seemed to give comfort, inspiration and zest for life.

Collecting became instrumental in defining my identity and broadening my understanding of the value of culture and aesthetics. A gallery director introduced me to the idea of connoisseurship and the thought of cultivating an appreciation for the highest expressions of art became an obsession. I focused on learning how to acquire the best examples of the art I liked at prices I could afford.

I learned quickly that smaller pieces by artists who were just beginning to show their work were not only affordable but also great values for the quality of the work. I started with pieces that were mostly representational, but made the effort to look at all the different kinds of work showing in local galleries. Persistent effort expanded my tastes and the art we purchased took on a more eclectic tone.

We made a continuous string of purchases over a 20-year period and prevented going broke with a few simple ground rules: We allowed ourselves only one piece of art on layaway at a time and put a $1,000 limit on any one piece. And, since we both had to live with it, we both had to love the work.

Some great opportunities were missed, but we managed to acquire far more than I ever imagined possible. We've never regretted a single purchase.

Each work we brought home became a watermark in our lives. Each installation was a reason to celebrate an event that gave us good feelings for the commitment we had made to our esthetic pursuits. This process helped me find a level of identity and self-respect that I'd never known. Collecting became my process for opening myself to the world in order to discover who I was and who I wanted to be. Art gave me a healthy diversion from my darker emotional periods.
Our collection grew and we kept moving along with the expected ups and downs. Then, after 10 years of sober living, I was consumed by an unfortunate set of events.

I came down with pneumonia and fell into a deep depression. I was prescribed Paxil and for a short time thought I was OK. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I came to realize that this drug not only neutralized my self-destructive emotions, but also drained almost every speck of passion out of my being. I stopped taking Paxil after a year and started having suicidal thoughts again. I did a round of counseling and tried to find ways to deal with what I knew were completely irrational impulses.

For three more years I struggled.

Art was where I found comfort and emotional relief, and during this period I needed all the comfort and relief I could get. At times I felt like the dark waves of emotion would engulf me and wash away my life. Some days I could barely force myself out of bed, but would focus on one or two pieces in our collection just after waking and that gave me enough spark to start my day. In the evenings I would return feeling emotionally drained and mentally depleted. But I walked in the door to be greeted by dozens of familiar and comforting images and felt my spirit instantly lifted and relieved of the day's burdens.

Then a friend suggested I look at the reports on studies of treating depression with Omega-3 oils. I started a daily regime and within weeks felt like a different person. I believe it was a miracle.

I had my passion, a positive outlook and a level of focus like I could never remember.
Looking back, I have to wonder how long I could have made it without a loving partner and the life-affirming qualities of art. My story is difficult for Linda and me, but one worth telling.
I want to demonstrate the potential value art has for the individual and I can't think of a stronger example than to show the impact it has had on my life.

In art I find joy, inspiration, comfort, therapy, meaning and, most of all, myself. I often hear people harping about how expensive art is and how they just can't afford it.
I dread to think what my life would be like had I felt like that.

Thanks again to Duane Snider The Art Counselor

Have a Great Thanks Giving,

all the best,

Michael Orwick

Monday, November 19, 2007

Artist Spotlite, A special thanks to www.ArtsSpot.com,

A special Thanks to Graham over at

Hello Michael!I have great news for you!You have been selected for our first Artist Spotlite at ArtsSpot!I have enjoyed looking at your great artwork! Keep up the awesome art!My fiance has dyslexia also, so I can certainly relate. She is gifted also.The post is up blogroll.http://www.ArtsSpot.com

This is our first Artist Spotlite. In this section, we will be showcasing different artists and let the artists speak for themselves about the artwork.

Please take the time to visit the artist’s website.


If you want your own art featured here, check out our post on Artist Spotlites for details.
Our first featured artist: Michael Orwick

Sierra Trails
30x40"oil painting on cavas
by Michaelorwick
available at Dragonfire gallery
503 436 1533

My art hints at a story and then invites you to finish the narrative. My style has been called Inspired Expressionism, which combines impressionistic brush strokes and a touch of realism to create the atmosphere and lighting woven into my work.
The easiest way to see my work is at http://www.michaelorwick.com/ and from there a list of galleries showing my art is available.

I was born in 1975 on a sunny day in Astoria Oregon. Despite my near death experience at birth, my Mom thought I was perfect. My Dad, a physician, knew better.
These assessments continue today.Within days of my recovery, my adventures began. Our small family moved to the Olympic Peninsula to live on the Quinault Indian Reservation as Dad served in the Indian Health Service. Most of my memories from those very early years involve an ancient Indian woman known as Gram Black, eating live clams on cold foggy beaches, and our performing circus poodle.
From two to four, our family moved to Boise. My parents got me a Golden Retriever who taught me the joy of peeing outside, and they adopted my Colombian sister who taught me patience and the importance of proper grooming.
At the age of four I became the seventh generation on my mother’s side to live in “the town that friendliness built,” Lebanon Oregon, home of the world’s largest strawberry shortcake. Over the years, my family created a sort of odd animal sanctuary and hobby farm with a revolving cast of colorful creatures to ride, observe and endlessly scoop up after. My bedroom was in the tack room, which I shared with my youngest sister’s goat. To this day, there is no love lost between me and the nasty rooster who cock-a-doodled any old time.
Very early it was discovered that I had dyslexia, and that I saw things differently from most. School was difficult, but in hindsight this was one of many blessing that have led and helped shape my artful existence. I was also lucky to grow up surrounded by beautiful creeks and evergreen wilderness, and within a family that loved to travel, encouraged curiosity and following one’s heart. And my heart has always told me to create.
I started college at the University of Oregon, and for reasons I cannot recollect, I majored in business. Two years in and losing motivation, I jumped at the chance to move to Australia for half a year where I filled up sketch pads with drawings and small paintings. The thought of returning to business classes never crossed my mind.
I spent the next year a transient, sleeping on friend’s couches and beanbags putting together a portfolio, and starting to date my future wife, a beautiful Bulgarian named Gabriela.
Gaby and I started our life together in Portland, Oregon where I majored in Illustration at Pacific Northwest College of Art. I discovered that oil painting and the method of working from dark to light really worked with my “backwards brain.”
When I’m not illustrating books, I still find my whimsical images and my landscapes to be very illustrative. I love creating art that invites you on a journey, in which you’re invited to form a story and explore your world within.
Gaby’s and my daughter, a creative, inquisitive two year old, has kept me in touch with my perpetual child within. Throughout my life, I have been lucky to know beauty and comfort, laughter and joy. These are a few of the things I hope to impart through my brushes.
I look forward to continuing my adventures, inviting inspiration and beauty into my life, and sharing it with you through my paintings.
Sign up for his daily paintings, art related musings and tips and techniques.http://michaelorwick.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 16, 2007

What is Plein Air Painting? Define: PLEIN AIR, en plein air, plein air painting, alfresco

Wahkeena Falls
Plein air painting
12x24"oils on cavas
by Michael Orwick

What is Plein Air Painting?

Related phrases: en plein air plein air painting The equivalent term in Italian would be alfresco.

(En) plein air painting - French for "open air" in painting terms refers to the practice of painting out of doors, directly from the subject, rather than in a studio.
Often done quickly or on the spot.

The Plein Air Painter,
Cannon Beach
By Michael Orwick
16x20 Oils on Canvas SOLD
These paintings are usually less detailed and more impressionistic. A relatively recent practice, painting outdoors became an important dimension of the landscape work of the Impressionists and painters of the Barbizon school (I will talk more about the history of both of these styles in the upcoming days). Although plein air painting should not be considered as synonymous with Impressionism or quick sketching, it became central to Impressionism.

See the Plein Air Forum.http://www.wetcanvas./
Or http://www.p-a-p-a.com/

Open-air artists attempt to capture an immediate impression of what the eye sees, rather than what the viewer knows or feels about the work. They study how light appears on subjects in different weather and at different times of the day, an interest that can be traced back to Realism.

Mt Hood Plein air 8x10" oils on canvas by Michael Orwick 2007 SOLD

They prefer to work outdoors in natural light, rather than in their studio with sketches, and often their art tends to have brilliant colors that almost shimmer in their intensity.
Painting from life is a pursuit unlike any other painting technique.

It challenges artists to concentrate completely on the information in front of them. Their senses absorb it all, from sight to sound, from temperature to atmosphere, and then channel these feelings into their vision in paint on paper or canvas.
Today, painting from life is a pursuit that continues to challenge the finest artists in the world.

Painted during an amazingly educational Kenn Backhaus workshop http://www.kennbackhaus.com/

There are numerous associations of plein air painters, noteworthy among them being PAPA (Plein Air Painters of America)
Credit for much of the above information is given to the website of the Plein Air Painters of America (PAPA) and to that of the National Academy of Professional Plein Air Painters.

One of the groups I paint and show with
Sites used for this blog entry
Judge Robert Gamblin
& Colors Award Winner
Michael Orwick
Painting Downtown Hillsboro
Hillsboro Plein air Competion 2007

the Gamblin website is amazing.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Meeting the artist, I love paintings

"The art game includes connection, friendship, joy, love, sentiment, experience, taste, honor, acquisitiveness, the collecting instinct, social acceptability and investment. That's why the experience is so rich, varied and, yes, mysterious. When leaving my openings and heading for the local bar, I often think of George Bernard Shaw's remark: "When you know the artist you think less of the art."

*Copyright 2007 - Robert Genn.

Painting is a strange business. (J. M. W. Turner)

Ephemeral Illumination
16x20 oils painting on canvas
by Michael Orwick
Available at DragonFire Gallery,
Cannon Beach Oregon

"it looks like a place I'd like to visit".
(Unknown buyer)

I personally have to disagree with Shaw's remark that knowing an artist leads to thinking less of the art. I am an out going person and I lock my self away for days at a time with just Shamy My faithful Golden Retriever to keep me company. So when I’m doing an open studio or a show opening I love to hear what people really think, it amazes me what different things people interpret in my paintings and how things as straightforward as a landscape have the ability to affect us all so profoundly different.
I love to have all sorts of conversations with people who stop to look at my art--sometimes they are completely unrelated but spur from something that an observer notices or decides to comment on.
I have found that many people buy after the second of third time they meet me and have the chance to share their feelings about my art and art in the more general since.
I not only love painting, but I love paintings I love contemplating and debating them, it gives me a thrill akin to the actual creation of them, and this thrill is what I hope buyers take home with them and share with their family and friends.
I would like to thank all of you who are taking the time to read and share these blogs.

All the best,
Michael Orwick

Many Moods Of MT.Hood 2
8x10 Oil Painting on canvas
by Michael Orwick

My wife and I are collectors of contemporary art - that is work by living, working artists. The first thing we look for in an artist is technical mastery of their chosen medium. This eliminates about 90 percent of all artists out there, since mastery in art today is not considered too important (though it seems that may be slowly changing). The second thing is that the artist must have a strong personal artistic vision and esthetic; when you see his or her work it must be unmistakably his or hers. Thirdly, the art must speak to us on a gut level. This is purely subjective and cannot be explained. Fourth, we only look at artists who are not yet well known in the art community - they do not have a reputation. This way we are only paying for the art itself and not the reputation. We are not made of money, but are not afraid to spend significant sums on quality work. My wife and I have to agree on any purchase, and we both have veto power over any proposed buy - no questions asked. We both have to live with it, so we both have to love it.
- **Phil Taylor

"Buying is a profound pleasure." (Simone de Beauvoir)

(Andy Warhol) noted, "Success is what sells art."

*To get more of Robert Genn's insight and inspiration for your artistic career, sign up for his twice-weekly newsletter at:The Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letter:http://www.painterskeys.com/

**Phil Taylor


Monday, November 12, 2007

Do you collect? Stripping away the barriers. Collecting art in Portland

Guest Writer

Part Two: Stripping away the barriers

Part one can be found at

Collecting art in Portland
by Duane Snider

A weak link in the public relations of art is the absence of any meaningful discussions about the basics of buying and collecting.

Lake Oswego Island By Michael Orwick
16x20 Oil painting on Canvas
Available from DragonFire gallery
Cannon Beach Oregon 503.436.1533
With many people I meet in Portland galleries and museums, the first thing I ask is, "Do you collect?"
All too often my second question is, "Why not?"
The most common answers I get on the second question are:
1) I could never afford to buy art;
2) I wouldn't know how to go about it; and
3) I don't know what I should buy.
Whenever I've pressed for clarification on these issues I inevitably find some level of discomfort with the image galleries project. For a person previously unexposed to a traditional art gallery, the experience can be a bit unsettling.
Bright lights, high ceilings and linen-white walls may remind some people of a chapel, others of a grand meeting hall. When they look at the price tags of artwork they've never experienced, they may be reminded of the time they walked into a Neiman Marcus thinking it was a Sears. New and challenging experiences often give people an unsettled, nervous feeling.

The art of introducing art to the inexperienced buyer requires an effort to smooth the bumps in those early encounters. My friend who sold me my first painting told me not to feel intimidated by those big galleries downtown. She gave me the permission and confidence I needed to walk into other galleries to look, learn and enjoy – regardless of whether I intended to buy or not. That was the trigger I needed; others may require even more help.

This elitist stigma is not an entirely conscious intent of galleries or arts organizations. It's tied up in a tradition that's thousands of years old. The history of art and civilization is the history of how art has been the exclusive domain of the wealthy and powerful.

There is a long tradition of merchants and professionals from many cultures who avidly collected fine art and crafts, but we seldom find histories about collectors from the bourgeois classes. We are taught that dynasties like the Medici House in Italy, the Strogonoff family in Russia, or the Rockefellers and Gettys of America are the storied patrons of the arts.
The best and most widely known example of passionate and intelligent collecting by the working class has to be the Herbert and Dorothy Vogel collection. He was a U.S. Postal clerk and she was a librarian. They married in 1962 and lived in a small New York apartment for 35 years. They used his income to pay the bills and hers to buy works of conceptual and minimalist art.
By the time they retired they had amassed over 2,000 pieces – currently worth millions. They donated most of the collection to the National Gallery, for which they accepted an annuity worth a fraction of what the collection could bring at auction.

The Vogel Collection includes pieces by many of the great artists, such as Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Sol LeWitt, Robert Smithson, Agnes Martin, Donald Judd and even Christo.
They accomplished all this even though they refused to work with dealers and consultants. They instead relied on their own taste, research and judgment. They focused on smaller pieces, which could be purchased on installments or for just a few hundred dollars. They were not motivated by the pursuit of wealth or prestige. Their inspiration was simply a passionate and committed love for art.
But they don't fit the stereotype of great collectors. The fact that they are a simple, middle-class couple from New York City often receives greater focus than the collection that bears their name.
Another issue that confounds people who have little or no experience with galleries is the mixed message surrounding the economics of the business.
On a typical Portland First Thursday, many first-timers will stroll from gallery to gallery – and find themselves baffled by some of the art. This often leaves the novice puzzled about how art gets priced. They may find a piece in one gallery for $500 and another that has a similar style in a different gallery for $5,000.
Regardless of the reasons, this can make that novice feel a bit uneasy – even suspicious – if they don't have the opportunity to ask the right questions and get the right answers.

The popular media focuses on art appreciation in terms of the monetary value of art rather than its esthetic value. The huge prices paid at auction for a select few pieces get plenty of attention in the press. However, we seldom hear how much one of those pieces originally sold for decades or centuries earlier.
A recent discussion on CNBC centered on the new Art Index Funds being created by asset managers. We also see stories about prominent businesspeople who donate a portion of their large collections to museums. What we never read about are many less prominent, middle-income people who offer important collections to museums.
The Vogels are the rare exception to this rule.

In Portland, unlike in larger cities, one doesn't need lots of money to afford a very nice personal collection. Local galleries do a good job making art accessible to anyone who has even modest amounts of disposable income. Many local galleries have liberal layaway policies that help new customers start collecting.

In recent years galleries have been opening outside the traditional art districts with a focus on quality work by emerging artists generally priced under $1,000 – with many works from $100 to $500. This profusion of affordable art is the element that makes the Portland market irresistible to the experienced collector and surprisingly accommodating to the novice.
Many Moods Of Mt. Hood by Michael Orwick SOLD

Labeling any original art as a bargain, however, is looked on by some as cheapening the image of the work. So this selling point seldom gets mentioned. In terms of a public dialogue, mixing the topics of money and esthetics in a public forum is considered vulgar and inappropriate by curators, major collectors and gallery people. The huge reservoir of middle-income people rarely hears how affordable art in this town can be.
A weak link in the public relations of art is the absence of any meaningful discussions about the basics of buying and collecting. Recycled coverage of basic topics on subjects like food, gardening, interior design, exercise, real estate, movies and consumer electronics are mainstays for newspapers and TV magazine shows.
But how often do we see articles on the basics of collecting art?
What we get are esoteric critiques of an artist's work, the cultural and historic significance of the new blockbuster exhibit at the museum, or the announcement of an upcoming art fair. These topics are important, but they're aimed way over the heads of those who aren't familiar with the business and esthetics of art.
There's a need for more discussions about the reasons for collecting and the reward for cultivating this passion.
The basics don't get much attention. The point to keep in mind is that the toughest piece of art to sell is that first piece to someone who has never bought an original work of art. It takes a lot to make that first sale. But if the gallery people do their job and help the buyer find a special connection with that first piece, it will almost never be the last piece they buy.
With coordinated gallery show openings, preview nights and cooperative gallery promotion tactics, the Portland scene goes a long way toward opening up the market to that elusive new buyer.
But cultural tradition can't be created overnight. Even though Portland's First Thursday openings have continued for almost two decades, there is a need for some new points of focus.
Maybe by giving attention to what experienced art buffs take for granted, the old barriers can be stripped away and the ground can be tilled for larger crops of new local collectors.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The paradox of getting started Collecting art Part One by Duane Snider

Guest Writer

Part One:

The paradox of getting started Collecting art

in Portland

by Duane Snider

the Loral and Hardy Trees
by Michael Orwick
12x24 oils on canvas

Collectors, gallery owners and artists will tell you that Portland is one of the best places in North America to buy and collect art.
The Portland art scene abounds with original art in the broadest range of styles, genres and prices. Legions of talented and committed artists choose to live in the area for its natural beauty and the diversity of a thriving culture.
Michael Kenna, the internationally renowned California photographer, just moved here from San Francisco because it's allowed him to dramatically cut his housing and studio costs. He's far from alone. And it's an abundance of such talent that provides Portland with a market of fine art to please every imaginable taste with prices that can easily fit into most budgets.
As a collector, I believe art should be an easy sell to the locals in this highly accessible, culturally rich scene. But it's not.
Local gallery owners tell me close to 60 percent of the art they sell goes to people who don't live here. They come from places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Miami – even Seattle and Tacoma.
Why? Because we have the quality and diversity of most big cities along with some of the best prices in the country.
My collecting history started in 1982 when a friend opened an art gallery in an old remodeled house. She invited me to stop by and look around. She said it wasn't like most of those pretentious downtown galleries. "It's in a house that's easy to just hang out in," she said.
At the time I was barely above the poverty line and had never thought about spending more than $30 for a poster to tack on the wall. So when I finally visited my friend's gallery, I wasn't expecting anything special to happen.
I ambled through this unusual combination of art gallery, craft gallery and jewelry shop. The character of the old house was the core concept for the gallery's design and the place offered a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.
Drifting past a kaleidoscopic array of paintings, sculptures, jewelry, clay pots and plates, my senses tingled. I don't think I had ever been in an art gallery before. A painting hanging above the front window of the gallery grabbed my attention.
Time stopped.
Rendered in the atmospheric translucence of watercolor was the most beautiful flower I could ever remember seeing. The central image was a white iris with purple highlights and nearly photographic clarity flanked by softly focused foliage. Everything I thought I knew about art changed in a moment. I understood the virtue of a unique, handmade object.
This painting was more than just an image, more than simply an object of beauty. It was also a symbol of something much greater. I stood motionless.
"You know," a voice from behind suddenly said, "we have a very easy layaway plan."
I was hooked.
That moment turned into one of those life-altering experiences forever etched in my mind. The feeling was like my first sunset at the beach, my first taste of ice cream, my first kiss from a beautiful girl and my first symphony concert. Once bitten, forever smitten.
"Foolish Pleasure," by Kirk Lybecker (watercolor with airbrush). [Photo by Todd Leninger with artist's consent]
The painting, by Kirk Lybecker, was priced at $450 – a huge sum to me at that time, but my desire for the piece overwhelmed me.
I feared my wife, Linda, would think I was crazy if I suggested buying something as useless as a painting. But her passion for drawing and painting went all the way back to her childhood.
To my surprise, she loved the idea. We scraped together $100 to put down and paid $60 to $100 a month until it was paid off. Then we bought another painting by the same artist.
Well, 22 years later, we have more than 80 works by at least 50 different artists adorning our modest southeast Portland home.
The help I received buying that first piece was truly fortunate and necessary. I needed guidance through the barriers that block many people from making their first art purchase. Looking back, I understand that the first piece was the most difficult to buy.
I thought I couldn't afford fine art. I needed justification for spending that much money on an object of such subjective value. I feared I didn't have the knowledge or experience to make good judgments about what I wanted. I felt intimidated by the abstract nature of what constituted quality art.
People with art savvy know that the work shown in Portland galleries and artists' studios holds up well to art sold anywhere else in the nation. I learned this as I continued to buy more art and built relationships with gallery owners, artists and other collectors.
I became a regular at many gallery openings and previews. I started meeting visitors from all around the country who came here to take in the galleries with the intention of buying. Talking with many of these visiting art lovers gave me a window into the art markets of other cities. The more I learned, the more I came to appreciate the opportunities Portland offered for collecting great art on a modest budget.
Portland has art for almost anyone willing to take the time to look.
Some galleries cater to people with a taste for decorative and representational work. Others are geared toward contemporary themes like abstract, conceptual, minimal and other statement-oriented work. Regionally prominent and nationally known artists show here as well as emerging talent from all over the country.
High quality, broad diversity and abundant supply result in a market much larger than one might expect from a town this size. All collectors love great values; Portland has them in spades. Locally, the value issue doesn't receive much attention. It's just taken for granted by those familiar with the scene.
Many established Portland galleries spend time and money building clientele in markets outside our region. The top-tier galleries buy advertising in high-profile art publications to promote their best known and most talented artists. Ads from Portland galleries appear regularly in ArtNews, Art In America and Art & Antiques.
The Portland art scene has a national reputation as a destination art market and brings in substantial amounts of money from people coming here to buy. Unfortunately, relatively few local residents take advantage of this opportunity.
For years the local gallery community has debated the reasons for this situation.
Some say Portland (and, to some extent, the rest of Oregon) is anti-business. For example, Nike is the only Fortune 500 company in the state, so there are few highly compensated corporate executives here to solicit. Some say the money here is old money and these materially blessed community members do spend on art, but there's only so much from this group to go around. Still others just throw up their hands and say, the locals just don't get it.
A recent article in the Oregonian by D.K. Row mentioned that many local galleries have grown tired of expending energy on First Thursday. Frustration grows as, month after month, thousands of people attend these events but very little gets sold at openings. These events have succeeded in raising the awareness of the local community to the presence of an art scene, but that's just one of many steps needed to cultivate new collectors.
From my years of collecting and nurturing my knowledge of art in the Portland market, I see a need for some new strategies. The barriers I had to overcome when I bought my first piece also hold back many others from making their first art purchase.
This might be a good time for taking a fearless inventory on just what these barriers might be.
Special thanks again go out to Duane Snider the art counselor
To see some of the artwork and the article in its original context please visit

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

You Probably Know More About Art Than You Realize

by Duane Snider

Open up an issue of ArtNews or Art In America and you find endless jargon, obscure references, and highly subjective criticism. For anyone outside the elite group of market makers, the initial response to this kind of material is "What the hell is this?". Many critics in local newspapers are just as bad, regardless of the purity of their intent.

Sun Fall by michael Orwick

oils on canvas 11x14 SOLD

It always starts the same, like a reoccurring dream. A casual conversation with a very casual acquaintance or a complete stranger turns to the subject of owning original art. I mention my decades of collecting and ask if they own any art. All too often the answer is "No, that's not thing. I really don't know anything about art and I wouldn't know what to buy".
In a recent repeat of the scenario I tried a different follow up than my stock comeback of "Oh, you should think about buying some because it will change the way you look at art and the world." Instead, I made a pitch I've recently been thinking about. I said "you probably know more about art than you realize."
"Ok," she said, "I'm listening, what do you mean?" The hook was set, now I had to give her a clear and convincing argument to back up my brash statement. I began to deliver a brief outline on why she knew more about art than she gave herself credit for.
For starters we live in a society and culture that is awash with an endless stream of art in all possible mediums and styles. It is almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning, turn on the TV, the internet, or open a newspaper and not see some form of artistic expression.
This exposure shapes our perceptions of art which in turn shapes and molds our understanding of artistic imagery. In very classic terms this is what the philosophers, historians, and art critics might refer to as plastic experience.
In the academic world, the visual arts of painting, sculpture, and fine prints are called the plastic arts. In this context, plastic refers to the capacity for shaping and molding a medium. Traditionally, classic use of the phrase refers to sculptural mediums like clay, marble and glass. By the mid-twentieth century the meaning had expanded to include painting and fine prints. An examination of the plastic nature inherent if various mediums offers an excellent starting point for viewing and responding to art.
The Artist shapes and manipulates a medium to capture an idea, a message, or an insight for the purpose of finding a connection between the inner self and the environment. After completion of a piece the artist may offer the work for viewing by others.
With the display of a work of art comes the inevitable audience response and interpretation. Simply looking at works of art produces a reaction and response from the viewer.
The active viewer tries to find an inner connection with a piece of art during the viewing in a manner that correlates with the connection the artist strives for during the act of creation. The passive viewer will also react to art, but with a lower level of interest and commitment.
Regardless of the individual level of interest, the observer responds and in the process adds layer upon layer of context for interpreting art on a personal level. We all do it whether we choose to focus our attention or not.
When I frame art appreciation in this way, people who tell me they don't know or understand art get curious and engaged in the idea of viewing and responding to art. They think that maybe their view of art might have as much validity as anyone else's view, and of course, it does.
I remember noticing art at a very young age. A thick catalogue of Currier & Ives reproductions, the life-like painting of Glenn Miller on the cover of an album of glass 78 speed records, and the paint-by-numbers still life and landscape pictures my mother had hanging on the walls all had an impact on how I viewed artist imagery.
As a child I read countless issues of various comic books. They became an early addiction. Over the years I've seen my fascination with comics validated as they evolved into the present day graphic novel. Graphic stories defiantly shaped my appreciation of the entertainment potential art offers.
Consider the common thread most of us have with these kinds of experiences. We shape and mold our interpretation of art by integrating these visual experiences into our personal spheres of awareness. The process of growing an appreciation of art is as plastic as the act of creating art.
So, the question is, why do so many people believe they know so little about art? There are no easy answers. However, religious, cultural and corporate special interest groups have designs on controlling what people believe they know about art.
In the USA, corporate marketing groups manipulate the public's perception of art. The people who sell the high end original art only target the top eight to ten percent of the population for marketing their merchandize.
The big money interests in American art want to keep firm control of the market. The easiest control method is to confuse the issues and obscure any process that might help the public understand why art is relevant and important to our lives.
Most of what is written about art today is meant only for people in the cultural trades, that is, those in cultural institutions or in the business of selling art. Of course the high end collectors are part of that group, they drive the market. In the securities business the operative term is "Market Makers".
Open up an issue of ArtNews or Art In America and you find endless jargon, obscure references, and highly subjective criticism. For anyone outside the elite group of market makers, the initial response to this kind of material is "What the hell is this?". Many critics in local newspapers are just as bad, regardless of the purity of their intent.
It's no wonder people don't believe they can understand, or have an interest in original fine art. The kind of dialogue that nurtures or validates the esthetic context most of us acquire from everyday experience is conspicuous only by its absence, and is missing from the general public discourse on art.
Instead the public gets this incessant subtext of "Don't trust your instinct you developed with experience, let us tell you what you should consider relevant. We'll tell you what to buy". That's the message for the art market's target audience. For the rest of the public get a message like "If you don't get it, get lost".
Even culturally savvy people get conned by sharp salespeople. Gullibility is not a measure of how much or how little people understand about the various artistic manifestations that hold meaning for them.
That understanding is about the connections made between a lifetime of visual imagery and personal identity. It requires the effort necessary for developing a sense or personal curiosity and a desire to follow that path wherever it leads.
As for the art business, even some people in the trade don't completely understand the significance of the role they play in guiding people on that path.
If we gave the general public just a little more basic information about what constitutes original art and then left them alone to discover personal meaning and relevance, I believe more people would recognize the cheap imitations and demand the genuine article.
The "plastic arts" is an archaic term that offers some insights into contemporary dilemma of understanding art in the context of the culture we live in. The artist shapes and molds a chosen medium to communicate ideas. The perception, response, and understanding of the viewer is shaped and molded by life's visual smorgasbord and by external forces intended to influence the process. Free will and internal awareness guide us to the meaning and relevance that art offers to all who take the time to look and reflect.
It's all very plastic.

Special thanks to Duane Snider
The Art Counselor
All the best,
Michael Orwick

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tips for beginning art collectors as well as for experienced art collectors

Napa Panoramic,
by Michael orwick 15x30 oils on canvas

Ten things to remember when starting to collect art!

Tips for beginning art collectors as well as for experienced art collectors.

Good reminders for anyone interested in art or already collecting art.

1. Buy art because you like it and because it moves you, and because it willenhance your life.
2. Visit as many art galleries as you can, gallery staff can be helpful guides in your art education.
3. Get on gallery mailing lists so you'll be invited to openings and special events.
4. Visit and join your local art museums and non profit art centers.Curators sometimes give lectures on collecting art.
5. Attend National and International Art Fairs and Art Expos whenever possible.
6. If you know art collectors, talk to them and find out what they know and whatthey've learned about collecting.
7. Read books on art history and books about collecting art.
8. Subscribe to a few art magazines.
9. Read reviews by local and national art critics, keeping in mind that reviewsusually just reflect one persons opinion.
10. Once you've educated yourself and have fallen in love with a work of art,buy it, take it home and enjoy it.

Thanks to



My art hints at a story and then invites you to finish the narrative. My style has been called Inspired Expressionism, which combines impressionistic brush strokes and a touch of realism to create the atmosphere and lighting woven into my work.

The easiest way to see my work is at http://www.michaelorwick.com/ and from there a list of galleries showing my art is available.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Collecting art for love and profit

Art makes a wonderful Holiday gift that enhances people's lives and lasts a lifetime. Much like a valuable antique, art can be passed down through the generations gaining value as time endures. An original painting or a print hanging in your home or office can effectively bring a momentary escape from everyday stress; it can stir an emotion within; and it can bring back wonderful memories of time and place. Whatever the reason, art successfully fulfills the same satisfying feeling time and time again. Another reason for owning artwork is for an investment. Financial data shows that art performs well as an asset over time, but for people who invest in art, the real satisfaction is being able to hang it on your wall and show it off. When people first enter a home, artwork is usually one of the first things noticed. Collecting art for love and profit is one of life's great pleasures. The most important reason to own art, however, is simply because you love it.

my new store, items added all the time. http://stores.ebay.com/Michael-Orwick-Arts