Friday, June 18, 2010
From floral arrangements to gift items to wine, chocolate and coffee, Amato’s on First Street in Beaverton offers a wide variety of products. Still, when 2010 began, owner Karen Amato was looking to diversify her business and decided to put a posting on Craigslist, seeking local artists interested in displaying their work. Beaverton’s Brenda Boylan was browsing Craigslist on New Year’s Day when she came across the listing.
“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, who is doing this?’ We know a lot of artists who have really been wanting to have a gallery in Beaverton for some time. There’s nothing out here that you would call a fine art gallery in the Beaverton area,” recalls Boylan.
Boylan began gathering artists whose work would complement one another, including Michael Orwick, who lives blocks away from Boylan, and Cedar Mills resident Gretha Lindwood. The facility operates as an artist-run gallery; each of the hand-picked artists displays work, helps pay the cost of rent and works together as a team – especially when preparing for the shows they host every few months.
“This area has a lot of creative people,” says Lindwood.
Apparently, this area also has a lot of people who appreciate creativity. At its first gala in February, the gallery was so packed, visitors had to leave and come back to wait for the area to clear out.
“We counted around 120 people,” said Boylan. “Throughout the course of the evening, from the time it opened until it closed, there were people here, which was fabulous. We loved that we had that kind of response.”
Most of the artists at Amato’s are veterans of the art scene and display their work at various shows throughout the region – and sometimes throughout the country. Many of the painters have been meeting for years for plein air (painting outside in the tradition of French impressionists). They take monthly field trips throughout the area to paint outdoors and spend time together, combining art, friendship, sunshine and nature.
The background of the artists who display at Amato’s is as varied as the artwork itself. Orwick began as a children’s book illustrator and was able to get his illustrations into galleries.
“It was more whimsical work,” Orwick says. “I began to daydream about what I’d do when I retired and was able to make the transition over to do landscapes. So, now I know what I’ll do when I retire.”
Boylan has a degree in Applied Art & Design. She says graphic design did not come naturally; she was always drawn to illustration and painting classes in school.
“But that was where the money was, and my parents encouraged it so I’d have a career,” Boylan says. “I slogged through that until I finally decided I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to stay home, paint and raise kids. People kept asking me, ‘Why aren’t you selling in a gallery?’ I started looking into that and, step by step, got into shows regionally and now nationally.”
When Lindood graduated from art school in Seattle, her first job was as a retail illustrator doing fashion illustrations.
“That was really fun. I really liked that,” Lindwood says, “But that sort of went away when photography took over. I was doing graphic design also – layout, they called it in those days – and it was a good creative outlet for me. That was mostly in black and white. When I started working in color, it was like Dorothy in Kansas when she steps out of the black and white world and lands in Oz.”
Until last year, Lindwood was working as a graphic designer for Joe’s. Since that company shut down, she has been focusing more and more of her creative energy on painting.
Though Lindwood, Boylan and Orwick are all painters, the Westside artists who display at Amato’s work in a variety of mediums. Painters, sculptors and jewelry makers all come together to bring the best of their work to the Beaverton community.
A fine art gallery in Beaverton is refreshing, but perhaps most refreshing is the camaraderie, lack of competition and passion these artists have for their work.
“I love the social aspect of being an artist,” says Boylan.
“It’s very rewarding when somebody loves a piece enough to part with their money because that represents their time and their energy,” says Lindwood. “What did it take for them to make that money? It’s very validating and humbling.”
“How many jobs get celebrated?” asks Orwick. “When we come out, there’s music and food and wine and people. It’s a party.”
This is the reward of being an artist, a reward that only comes after many, many hours of hard work. To see the fruit of their labors and celebrate their artwork, too, visit Amato’s Floral, Fine Art, Artisan Jewelry & Gifts at 13230 S.W. First Street in Beaverton or call 503-601-3300. Also visitwww.amatosflowershop.com andwww.amatosgallery.blogspot.com.