Friday, May 24, 2013

Portland’s 31st Annual Rose Festival Art Show is A Yummy Must See

By Angela Wrahtz, OSA Member

Forrest Gump famously said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you will get.” The same can be said of art shows, but if you are talking about Portland’s annual “Rose Festival Art Show,” the official art show of the Rose Festival, you are sure to see works which surprise and delight. The 31st Annual Rose Festival Art Show runs June 2nd through June 28th, 2013, at the Oregon Society of Artists gallery at 2185 SW Park Place in Portland.

A favorite painting of mine from a previous Rose Festival Art Show, is “Portland Spirit” by Jennie Chen, and the piece still tickles my brain. This artwork fell into the category of “Portland Scenes” (one of three qualifying categories for the show), and Jennie’s twist on weather and traffic along with her technical understanding of light and value won her a First Place ribbon. Inspired by a typical morning drive between home and her daughter’s school in which she found herself mired in a sea of unmoving cars and trucks under a falling cloud, Jennie imagined the view from her car as in a daydream.

“I suddenly discovered the world is upside down or backwards when viewed from inside a raindrop,” Jennie said, as she pondered how to turn the moment into art. “Forming the idea was only the start; expressing the thought on paper took time and planning.”

Jennie Chen, "Portland Spirit"

The result is stunning. Her prize winner puts you in the driver’s seat of a hypothetical car with Portland on the other side of the windshield as rain pours down. Through raindrop-splattered glass, you see the delicate undersides of the droplets flattened on the window in the foreground, a glimpse ahead of the road in the middle ground, and, through more rain, glowing red brake lights on the back of a pickup truck in the background. Intriguing details weave throughout like a travelling raindrop. A unique point of view for a painting presenting an authentically Portland experience—with a technical mastery in the medium that is breathtaking and tongue in cheek. The only way the painting could have been more “Portland” would have been for it to actually be wet. 

Other goodies in the chocolate box of art that is the Portland Rose Festival Art Show?

Artist Anji Grainger recently won two consecutive People’s Choice Awards for her magnificent large watercolor paintings of roses. The first is entitled, “Portland’s Spirit is Waterproof,” and shows a large yellow rose dappled with droplets of rain. If you listened to the rhythm with your eyes, you’d hear the iambic pentameter of a Shakespearean sonnet. The second winner is “Nature’s Reflection on a Carnival Rose,” wherein a rose is reflected inside of a raindrop, an imaginative, clever twist on roses and rain. (Jennie and Anji’s paintings, along with other previous winners, can be viewed at the Oregon Society of Artists website at )

Anji Grainger, "Portland's Spirit Is Waterproof" 

To be clear, not every painting in these shows has rain drops and roses; others have, perhaps, cool cityscapes reflected in, say, bike helmets or famous windows, or they may have more personal subjects set against recognizable Rose City landmarks. Sometimes the fun is figuring out the essentially Portland moment in the art, as if the artist is asking, “How good are you at finding the rose, the Portland connection, or the show theme?” because every artwork has to meet one of those criteria to be in the show. Artwork in the Rose Festival Art Show is original and current for the artists; this is also the one show every year in which Oregon Society of Artists (OSA) allows non-members to participate. In any given year, it is hard to say what you will get, like that proverbial box of chocolates, but show goers will be sure to have a visual treat and probably something to talk about as they leave the gallery. The third category changes every year to reflect the theme of the current Rose Festival celebration, and this year the theme is “Portland’s Party.”

Just how does artwork get selected for the show?

The “Rose Show” (as it is commonly called) is a juried art show, sometimes by a artist of national experience and notoriety, or sometimes a regional artist of acclaim, so the quality of the art in the show meets a standard of excellence while also appealing to the juror’s sensibilities. This year’s juror is Greg Lewis, of Concordia University, Portland, and a fine artist whose goal is “to challenge the viewer and touch the human spirit.” While typically several hundred pieces of art from around the state of Oregon and beyond will be entered, only 60 to 80 artworks will be accepted for display. The Rose Festival Art Show 2013 includes two and three dimensional media, and awards are given for First, Second, and Third Place along with a few Honorable Mentions, and two coveted awards, one for Best of Show and the other is the People’s Choice award. Numerous local art supply stores and paint manufacturers sponsor gifts to the award winners.

Portland’s annual Rose Show is hosted by the Oregon Society of Artists. A couple blocks south of SW Burnside Road, and a couple blocks west of Portland State University, nestled in the side of a hill surrounded by homes of architectural interest and importance lies the building OSA calls home. The property includes classrooms and a few studios, its offices, and a good sized gallery, as well as a meditation garden and a good sized parking lot for visitors. “OSA is the epicenter for Portland art enthusiasts,” says Jennie Chen. “It is in one-stop a place for artists to be invigorated at all levels including emotionally. You get technique workshops, information exchange, and an inspiration center all in one with great camaraderie among members.” Street parking in the area is what you’d expect in a mixed residential and business area of the city but not impossible and definitely worth the extra few minutes to find a spot.

Who is Oregon Society of Artists?

Founded in 1927 after it broke off from the Portland Art Museum, OSA organized itself to promote the artistic and professional interests of its members as well as to provide visual arts programs to the public. Today OSA is a non profit group with a teaching mission run by volunteers and currently has 625 members. Under the direction of President William Woods and its Board, OSA has expanded its relationships and outreach into the community to include cooperative events at the Oregon Maritime Museum, the Home & Garden Show; Art in the Pearl, First Thursdays in the Pearl, and the Geezer Gallery. “I’m especially proud of the excellent classes and workshops offered by a great faculty at OSA as well as the free monthly demonstrations, all of which enjoy a loyal following of students,” comments Mr. Woods. Members are given the opportunity of 12 gallery shows at OSA each year which is a tremendous benefit of association considering few arts organizations have the facility or volunteers to pull off such a big schedule of shows. The OSA website presents a full list of classes and workshops along with information on how to receive their newsletter which is another outstanding artist resource offered to members and the community alike.

The Rose Show is a high point in the arts community, and the Oregon Society of Artists invites everyone interested in art, especially art with a Portland theme, to attend the show which runs for the month of June. The OSA gallery is open daily from 1pm to 4pm. An Opening Reception is planned for June 2, 2013, from 1pm to 4pm at the OSA gallery, an event which is usually standing room only. All are welcome.

Plan to attend the Rose Show because you can consume the whole box of chocolates, and there’ll be no regrets.

Angela Wrahtz is an award winning artist and member of OSA. She is also a professional writer who helps to promote artists, art organizations and art events. See her art work at and learn more about her publicity services at