Think Oregon

Lisa Congdon is a Master at Creating Colorful Art

Lisa Congdon creates colorful, inclusive art written by Sheila G. Miller Good things come to those who wait. We had to wait until Portland fine artist Lisa Congdon was in her early 30s to even pick up a paintbrush. But today, her work is all over the place. If it’s melancholy you seek, keep moving— Congdon’s colorful work is full of hand-lettered statements like “You be you. I’ll be me” and “Eyes forward. Heart open.” There’s a bit of whimsy, a slightly youthful vibe and a ton of color. Her clients are diverse, from Martha Stewart Living to Harvard University, and her Etsy shop is thriving Congdon, 50, started out painting as a hobby. After working in education for twenty years and as a project manager for a nonprofit, she decided at age 40 to try to be a full-time, working artist. She’d never attended art school and was completely…

Mind and Body: Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Xuan Cheng

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Xuan Cheng keeps raising the bar with hard work and training written by Mackenzie Wilson Since she was a little girl living in China, Xuan Cheng, 33, has been familiar with call times. At 10 years old, she left home to attend the School of Guangzhou Ballet of China, where she and other aspiring ballerinas started their days with a rigorous hour-and-a-half workout at 5:30 a.m. “We were like a little army,” Cheng said. She doesn’t sugar coat the school’s strictness—snacks weren’t allowed and neither were family visits. Cheng’s family lived five-and-a-half hours away by train and she saw them once or twice a year. The only relief from the isolation was a five-minute phone call once a week to loved ones. Now a principal dancer for the Oregon Ballet Theatre, Cheng can appreciate the level of discipline it took to push her and the other students…

Eats of Eden by Tabitha Blankenbiller

For the Love of Food: Tabitha Blankenbiller’s new book is a “foodoir” interview by Cara Strickland Originally from the Mount Rainier foothills, Tabitha Blankenbiller moved to Oregon for college, and now it’s home. Her recent book, Eats of Eden, celebrates the way food intersects with the rest of her creativity and life, and celebrates the bounty of our region.   Tell me about your book. Eats of Eden is a book about food and writing and how those two passions feed and distract from one another. I found that working on an art form takes so much concentration and energy— sometimes it’s going really well and sometimes it’s not. It’s really helpful to have some other form of expression as an outlet for when you’re feeling frustrated, tired or uninspired. For me, that art form was cooking, and has always been. Creating and loving food has always been a huge…

Oregon athletic facilities, big and small, are planned around the state

New Oregon athletic facilities, big and small, around the state written by Sheila G. Miller Many track and field buffs are in mourning at the changes underway at historic Hayward Field. The facility, which was built in 1919 to house football and grew into the legendary location of Olympic Trials and USA Track and Field championships, has been torn down and will be rebuilt entirely using funds from the Phil and Penny Knight Foundation and other donors. The new facility is the result of Eugene hosting the 2021 World Outdoor Championships. It will have an expanded capacity—from 8,500 to 12,900 with room for temporary seating up to 30,000—and a nine-story tower with an observation deck, as well as a locker room and an indoor practice facility. Missing from the facility will be the wooden stands where fans have cheered on racers for nearly a century. The project was designed by…

Baseballism Is Creating Baseball For All

Oregon may not have a baseball team (yet), but it has a successful baseball company written by Beau Eastes | photography by Brian Holstein Baseballism has retail shops in baseball hot spots around the country—Cooperstown, New York; Scottsdale, Arizona; Boston; and San Francisco to highlight a few—but its flagship store is in a beautifully renovated warehouse on Northwest 22nd and Quimby in Portland, just seven blocks from the Portland Beavers’ original stadium, Vaughn Street Park. What started out as a youth baseball camp put on by four former University of Oregon club baseball players is now a $10 million a year lifestyle brand built around America’s pastime. That means you can purchase everything from T-shirts adorned with baseball terms like “Southpaw” and “Live Life Like a 3-1 Count” to $85 leather toiletry bags. The company doesn’t have a licensing agreement with Major League Baseball, instead creating products from sayings and slogans…

Reusing Oregon Hazelnut Shells

Reusing Oregon Hazelnut Shells: Reducing waste, and saving the environment, with hazelnut shells interview and photography by Vanessa Salvia Turns out, Oregon’s hazelnuts are good for more than making pies, cookies and eating out of hand. Tualatin resident David Bantz, owner of He Sells These Shells, sells cracked, bagged hazelnut shells to garden centers and at farmers markets, and has participated in research looking into how effective hazelnut shells are at removing toxins from water. At home, Bantz has set aside a large area near his driveway where he unloads truckloads of hazelnut shells—80,000 pounds at a time. He bags them by hand and delivers them himself. Around his home, the hazelnut shells ll pots and line pathways, where this quintessential Oregon resource really shines. About 67,000 acres in Oregon are dedicated to growing the nut. How did you get into selling hazelnut shells? In 2008, I lost my job…

Estacada’s Artists Paint the Town

Art Climbs the Walls Estacada’s artists paint the town red…and yellow and purple and… written and photographed by Catie Joyce-Bulay You may not notice Estacada’s artists at first glance, in this a sleepy little pass-through town to get to recreation destinations in bordering Mount Hood National Forest. If you stop to stock up in the grocery store, you can’t help but notice a Native American tribe fishing Celilo Falls under the “Fresh Produce” sign. Then look across the street and huge mushrooms rise from the forest floor among apartment doors and a giant forager. On the wall next door, Chinese-Americans harvest ginseng, an important pre-World War I crop for the region. These are the murals of the Artback Artists Cooperative. Twenty-one in all, they are ubiquitous downtown and in surrounding parks, calling visitors to take notice of the rural town of 3,000’s surprisingly vibrant arts scene. I recently spent a…

Inside the Lives of Portland’s bridge tenders

All along the watchtowers: Inside the lives of Portland’s bridge tenders written by Scott Latta / photography by Shauna Intelisano Even by the dreary standards of Portland winters, 2017 was especially bleak. At one point, five storms slammed Portland in five weeks. The Weather Channel, stating what everyone in the city was thinking, dubbed it “America’s most winter-fatigued city.”When a foot of snow fell in one twenty-four-hour period in January, the nation gawked as hapless Portlanders abandoned their cars along impossibly glassy hills. But the real trouble started two months later, when the sun came out. Federal guidelines maintain that when the Willamette River rises above 12 feet, all Portland bridges must be staffed twenty-four hours a day. Under normal circumstances, it’s not a problem for the county’s eight full-time bridge operators. But as the snow melted in the Cascades—141 percent of its normal depth—it collected in reservoirs within the…

Mckenzie River Chainsaw and Arts Festival

The world’s top chainsaw carvers will be at the Chainsaw and Arts Festival photography by Bradley Lanphear Each year, some of the world’s top chainsaw carvers (yep, that’s a real thing) gather in Blue River to crown the best of the best. The carvers use their chainsaws to transform logs and stumps into finely carved sculptures— eagles, bears, even Sasquatch. The event, organized and held at the McKenzie Community Track & Field, is an annual festival—mark your calendar for July 19-21, 2019, to see the action in person. The Portland Spoon Company  

Every Other Weekend by Zulema Renee Summerfield

Every Other Weekend: Telling Stories Every Other Weekend takes us back in time interview by Sheila G. Miller photo by Tucker Sharon Portland author Zulema Renee Summerfield is getting high praise for her first novel, Every Other Weekend. But a few years ago, she wasn’t sure she was cut out to write one in the traditional sense. So she didn’t. “I was really struggling with how I was going to write a novel,” she said. “At the time I didn’t tell stories in big, overarching plots. I was writing a lot of flash fiction.” After reading Love and Shame and Love, a novel composed of vignettes written by her mentor and colleague Peter Orner, she knew she could write her book the way she wanted. “Novels come in all kinds of shapes,” Summerfield said. “It really freed me to write a book in vignettes, and that’s how the structure was…