Where EAST meets the
From The Asian Reporter, V19, #39 (October 6, 2009), page 11.
ARTISTS AT WORK. Area artists will open their studios this month
Portland Open Studios 2009, a behind-the-scenes glimpse of artists in
workspaces. The tour, held during two weekends, features the work of
Moving in new directions
By Josephine Bridges
Some of the Asian and Asian-influenced artists participating in
Open Studios — a self-directed tour of 100 artists’ workplaces in
metropolitan Portland — this month may be familiar, but their work
be. Part of being an artist is moving in new directions, especially
it’s a bit of a risk because your previous work was very popular. Don’t
this year’s risk takers.
Kurumi Conley, new to Portland Open Studios this year, grew up in
Japan and studied at Joshibi University of Art and Design in Tokyo. A
to Portland 15 years ago was a fortuitous new direction for the
artist, bringing her close to the source of the sheet glass she uses in
"People in Japan use materials from Portland," she points out.
makes all sorts of things out of glass, but it’s her glass chairs that
to define the artist, at least just now. "I like glass, its color and
translucency," she says, "and I also like chairs, the feeling that a
is for somebody to sit on." Even in an empty chair made of glass, "you
the presence of somebody, because a chair represents a place for a
"The thing that entrances me about a glass chair, though it’s a
would never want to sit on, is that it makes you think about what a
and what glass is, and the pairing emphasizes the attributes of both,"
publicity coordinator and participating artist Bonnie Meltzer.
Wondering what happens to all the pieces of glass that don’t make it
chairs or bugs or jewelry? Kurumi Conley recycles every bit: All scrap
used as is, pounded into coarse glass, or sifted into powdered glass.
focused on not wasting material. It’s like trying to make fried rice
whatever vegetable you have in the fridge," she says.
There are two memories, a tapdancing saxophone player, and a
coincidence at work here. Memory #1 involves the blue glass candy jar my
Grandpa always kept filled with colorful, beribboned hard candies…the
kind you don’t see much of any more. Memory #2 involves being taken by a
friend on my first trip, years back, to NE Alberta, spotting a little
glass dish that knocked my socks off, and months later receiving said
dish as a gift from said dear friend.
The dish was unfortunately broken and I’d forgotten about it until…I
saw the CD cover of Michael “Shoehorn” Conley’s latest release. Turns
out the glass artist who made the dish that reminded me of the candies
in Grandpa’s jar (This Is the House That Jack Built), is
Conley’s beautiful Japanese wife, Kurumi Conley, whose work is available
at Guardino Gallery (NE Alberta & 30th). Her modern work with its
super- fresh palette is at its best in these striped and tiled pieces.
It’s a wonder these little treasures aren’t in the window of every home
shop in town.