Artists’ visions support Johnson Creek watershed health

Find why this Lents-based artist – along with many others – participated in 2012’s Johnson Creek Watershed Council Art Show …

Outside the Vollum Lounge at Reed College, the White Rhino Marimba Band welcomes guests to the Johnson Creek Watershed Council Art Show.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Again this year, throughout the summer, local artists have been encouraged to draw, paint, and photograph scenes along Johnson Creek – leading up to an art show and sale.

“This is our third annual Johnson Creek Watershed Council Art Show,” commented the organization’s event coordinator Marty Urman, that opened in September and continues into October on the Reed College Campus.

Show organizer Marty Urman and Johnson Creek Watershed Council Board Member Perry Rikli greet guests at the annual art show’s grand opening.

“This concept was started to raise awareness of the watershed and get people more interested in Johnson Creek, the activities that go on in the watershed, and how they affect the creek,” Urman said.

This year, 20 artists put 45 pieces of artwork on display. “We don’t give the artists a theme; we just ask them to depict something that interests them, anywhere along the watershed.”

Here is a sampling of the art, and artists who participated this year.

Lents-based artist Patrick Norton shows his illustration of life that goes unnoticed, under the silt of Johnson Creek’s stream bed.

Patrick Norton

  • Website: CLICK HERE
  • Lents Neighborhood
  • Medium: Watercolor

Outer East Portland’s Patrick Norton said he’s “pretty much a full-time artist of these days. Just recently, I went to school to study science, and take as many science classes as I could, and got a degree in science – so I can master science illustration.”

His artwork, entitled “Freshwater Mussels of Johnson Creek Watershed”, appears to be as much an instructional illustration as a piece of fine art.

“Many people don’t know it, but there are freshwater mussels,” Norton said.

“My picture is set in Johnson Creek Park. But it also illustrates the lifecycles of mussels, from mating through maturation of two species that live in the sediment,” explained Norton.

The artist said he decided to participate because of his volunteer work with the Crystal Springs Partnership. “We recently just bought a house in the watershed. I really like the sense of connection that this project gave me.”

Brentwood-Darlington artist Sarah Ferguson shows her three entries in the Johnson Creek Watershed Council Art Show.

Sarah Ferguson

  • Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood
  • Medium: Watercolor on paper

Professional artist Sarah Ferguson feels a deep connection with Johnson Creek that flows near her home. “I love walking through the park and noticing how it looks, at different times of the year; what’s happening as the seasons change.”

Ferguson is a hands-on volunteer who participates in the watershed council’s clean-up and restoration efforts.

This year, she submitted three paintings for the exhibition. “I love painting outdoors. This event inspires me to go out and explore, and paint at different places along the Johnson Creek Watershed.”

Artist Gary L. Michael shows to his wife, Oregon Rep. Carolyn Tomei, his entries in the art show.

Gary L. Michael

While perhaps not as well known has his wife, Oregon Rep. Carolyn Tomei, Gary Michael is a Portland native who grew up near Powell Butte. “I’ve done 20 paintings of the Powell Butte area; the meadows are among my favorite subjects.”

Michael said he discovered his artistic talents at an early age. “I’ve always been able to draw. But, I decided to earn my living professionally as an architect. I’ve done all the architectural renderings for my firm, Michael and Kuhns Architects, PC – perhaps hundreds of depictions of our projects.”

He decided to participate in the annual Johnson Creek “Paint Out” when it started three years ago, because “I’ve always had some attachment the creek, so when I heard about the Watershed Council and what they’re doing, I decided to get involved. I’m happy to support them however I can.”

A portion of the sale of each artwork goes to support the JCWC programs.

Find out more about the Johnson Creek Watershed Council at their website: CLICK HERE to view it.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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