Oregon Art Education Association Honors Alumni

Congratulations are in order for two distinguished alumni. Margaret Synan-Russell ‘89 and Arvie Smith ‘85 will receive professional awards from the Oregon Art Education Association. Synan-Russell has been selected as the 2015 Oregon Primary Art Educator of the the Year and Smith is receiving a Distinguished Service award.

Synan-Russell is Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts at Oregon Episcopal School and Smith is Professor Emeritus at PNCA.

The awardees were nominated by their colleagues, and their nomination materials were rated through a process of blind adjudication according to specific rubrics from the National Art Education Association. The Oregon Art Education Association will honor Synan-Russell, Smith, and five other art educators at an awards breakfast on Saturday, October 10 at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, as part of its annual two-day professional conference.

Posted on 09/22 at 09:50 AM

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Lou Watson ‘15 Betty Bowen Finalist

Lou Watson, who received her BFA in 2015 in Media Arts with a concentration in Intermedia is one of five finalists for the Betty Bowen Award. Administered by the Seattle Art Museum, the annual Betty Bowen Award honors a Northwest artist for their original, exceptional, and compelling work. The winner is awarded an unrestricted cash prize of $15,000, and a selection of his or her works is shown at the Seattle Art Museum in the fall of 2015. Watson recently took her thesis project, an experimental concert the subject of which was NE Sandy Boulevard to the Hollywood Theatre on Sandy, and Esme Hogeveen MA ‘15 wrote about it for UNTITLED.

Posted on 09/03 at 03:52 PM

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Alum Molly Mendoza Tapped for $5000 Rockstar Games Award

PNCA alumna Molly Mendoza‘s image “My Line Our Vibe!” has been awarded the $5000 Rockstar Games Award. Mendoza was one of three PNCA students whose work was selected for the 2015 Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition in New York. The others were Alyssa Van Hulle and Cate Andrews. Mendoza also had work selected for the 2014 Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition.

Mendoza completed her studies in the fall of 2014. She was a Lemelson Scholar, recipient of a prestigious scholarship. She has already created work for Adobe, Nautilus, and the NYTimes, and has had her work highlighted by the influential blog The Fox is Black.

This is the second time in three years a PNCA Illustration student has received one of the select awards; Samantha Mash received it in 2012-13.

Read this longer story from 2014 about Mendoza on UNTITLED.


Posted on 05/05 at 10:29 AM

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PNCA Students in Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition

Molly Mendoza,

Works by three PNCA students were selected for the 2015 Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition in New York.

Molly Mendoza’s works “Saturn” and “My Line Our Vibe”  (ink and digital color), Alyssa Van Hulle’s “Sami School” (ink and digital color) and Cate Andrews’ “Cover Redesign for ‘Gathering Blue’” (ink and digital manipulation).

Every year since 1981 the Society has held the Student Scholarship Competition. Approximately three hundred works are chosen from more than 9,000 entries submitted by illustration professors nationwide. A jury of professional peers, including illustrators and art directors, selects the most outstanding works created throughout the year. Pieces are accepted based on the quality of technique, concept, and skill of medium used. From the Society’s endowment, and through generous contributions from private and corporate donors, scholarship awards are granted to about 25 students. In the last 30 years, the Society has awarded over $1,500,000 to deserving students in this unique competition.

Scholarship awards will be announced in the coming weeks, with the opening reception taking place at the Gallery of American Illustration in NYC in May. The show will be on display through the beginning of June.

Posted on 03/11 at 03:14 PM

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Alum Criss Moss new Director of U of O White Box Gallery

PNCA alumnus Cris Moss ‘99 has been appointed Director of White Box gallery programs at the Portland location of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at University of Oregon. Associate Dean and Director of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, Kate Wagle, says, “We look forward to seeing his experience, leadership and vision build on the established reputation of White Box as a laboratory for speculation and experiment in art, architecture and design. With his direction,White Box will continue to evolve and grow as a premier Northwest art venue, and as an important research and outreach location for the University of Oregon and the School of Architecture and Allied Arts.”

Cris Moss received an MFA from New York University in 2003 and has been curating “with an entrepreneurial spirit” since 2000, including creation of the Donut Shop, a rotating gallery space that defined the leading edge of a Portland DIY gallery movement, and curating the multi-venue Portland 2010 Biennial (for which White Box was one site).

For the last ten years Cris has served as director and curator of the Linfield College Gallery, where he presented exhibitions of work by Daniel Heyman, Waffa Bilal, Suzanne Opton, and Peter Campus among others. At Linfield Moss taught courses ranging from studio foundations, to digital video and photography, gallery management and curatorial practice. Other teaching and review experience includes Clark College, Maine College of Art, and Pacific Northwest College of Art. He has consulted and worked with the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, Oregon Arts Commission, The Ford Family Foundation and Regional Arts and Culture Council among many others.

Posted on 01/27 at 02:46 PM

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Classes Start Feb 2 at New Campus

Classes start Monday, February 2, 2015 in the newly renovated Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design. The culmination of eight years of behind the scenes work and a $15 million capital campaign, construction on the renovation of the historic Federal Building with a contemporary design by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture took just a little over a year.

While students have been on Winter break, construction has continued at a brisk pace. These photos of the building from December 30 show how the new design brings so much light into the building—by opening the tops of the ground floor arched windows, uncovering expansive skylights, and installing a ceiling of glass in the new atrium with its new cable-hung mezzanine. 

Students will walk hundred-year-old marble-lined halls on the way to classes in double-height painting and drawing studios, wired classrooms with internet speeds ten times faster than the current campus, new recording booths, animation labs, and green screen studios. They’ll attend visiting artist lectures in the Mediatheque black box theater, gather in the new Albert Solheim Library, the second-floor New Commons under original sawtooth skylights, and in the 2.5 story Atrium with its Grand Cru cafe. Students will be able to show work in a number of project spaces, galleries, and critique spaces throughout the building.

PNCA’s new North Park Blocks Campus includes the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design, at 511 NW Broadway, Museum of Contemporary Craft at 724 NW Davis Street, and ArtHouse student housing at 33 NW Park.

And PNCA will welcome the greater Portland community to our new home on March 5, 2015 for our first First Thursday celebration in the new building, opening a new exhibition, Justseeds, in our new 511 Gallery.

Posted on 01/12 at 03:49 PM

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Illuminating Zena Zezza’s past

Laura Heit, faculty member, was commissioned to create work illuminating Zena Zezza’s history in The Hallock and McMillan building residing in Old Town. Heit’s main focal point was the Great Flood that hit Portland. Entitled, 1857 Project , in partnernship with the Oregon Historical Society, is currently showing at Zena Zezza and is composed of an animation of cool toned rains being projected onto a photograph of the flood, which shows Portlanders gliding through the streets in boats. Another work by Heit is made of fir floorboards from the building, which creates a ramp that participants can walk up and experience more imagery of past Portlanders enduring the circumstances caused by the flood in almost the same type of ramp structures.

View more photos of this exhibition taken by Mario Gallucci (MFA VS ’14) here.

Posted on 12/22 at 02:38 PM

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Lesperance receives Art Matters Foundation grant

Ellen Lesperance, faculty member, has received a grant from the Art Matters Foundation. This grant will be funding Lesperance’s research at the Greenham Commons Women’s Peace Camp archives in London. Lesperance explains her work and what she will be doing with the grant funding on the Art Matters Foundation website: “I create paintings and textiles based off of archival images of female activists. This grant will support research and new work about the anti-nuke protest site, Greenham Commons, whose partial archive exists at the Women’s Library at the British Library of Political and Economic Science in London.” Lesperance has exhibited in venues across the nation including The Seattle Art Museum and The Brooklyn Museum along with her work appearing in multiple publications such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Art Monthly.

Posted on 12/19 at 02:41 PM

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Illustrator translates Science

Anna Lensch is a sophomore Illustration major making her second debut on the cover of a stem cell journal called, Stem Cell Reports, published by Cell Press. This journal is viewed by over 4000 members of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. The collaboration of art and science began while Anna Lensch was doing an internship her senior year of high school at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

Posted on 12/04 at 04:37 PM

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Launch of Behind the Curtain

Going live tomorrow, Behind the Curtain is a new Hack Oregon website that will feature a searchable library of visualizations for the entire database of Oregon Elections. This project, designed to make campaign finance date more accessible to the public, was initiated in a class in PNCA’s MFA in Collaborative Design program. As the Willamette Week reports, Behind the Curtain uses Oregon Elections Division data, ” to create easy-to-understand visuals of candidates’ funding sources.” Hack Oregon hosts a public launch party Thursday, October 30, from 6:30 to 9 pm at Crowd Compass, 2505 SE 11th Ave., Suite 300.


Posted on 10/29 at 01:40 PM

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Tom Manley on Speaking Freely

President Tom Manley recently spoke with Sheila Hamilton, host of the public affairs program on KINK.FM, Speaking Freely about PNCA’s new campus home on the North Park Blocks of Portland, Portland as a creative center, and the importance of creativity to the future of humanity and the planet.

“Throughout human history,” Manley says, “there is nothing more powerful in terms of human resources than creativity. … It’s our most powerful, most sustainable, and renewable resource.”

LISTEN: PNCA President Tom Manley interviewed by Sheila Hamilton on Speaking Freely, the public affairs program of 101.9 KINK.FM. October 5, 2014


Posted on 10/21 at 10:16 AM

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Design Week Portland and PNCA

We’re in the thick of Design Week Portland and PNCA programs, alumni, and students, are participating, doing talks, exhibitions, performances and volunteering for this annual event. This evening, Tuesday, the MFA in Applied Craft and Design program hosts a lecture by Susan S. Szenasy, publisher and editor-in-chief of Metropolis magazine. On Thursday, the MFA in Collaborative Design hosts a lecture by Allan Chochinov, Chair and co-founder of the SVA MFA in Products of Design Program on The Order of Things: Unpacking the Perils and Promises of Design and the Media. PNCA’s BridgeLab co-presents Creative Clubhouse #DWPDX, an event to bring together creative professionals and the resources they need to succeed, this Saturday at Holocene at from 2-7pm. On Thursday from 4-7pm PNCA’s Design Arts program hosts an exhibition/open house at R/West, 1430 SE 3rd Avenue. And on Thursday at 7pm, alum Calvin Ross Carl ‘08 is on a panel entitled Two Kinds of Makers: An Intersection, a One Grand Gallery. Meanwhile, PNCA Animated Arts students produced a 4-channel video installation for Revolution in the Landscape: Re-experience Halprin’s Fountains with the Society for Experiential Graphic Design. MFA in Visual Studies candidate, Micah Schmelzer, presented video work with Pure Surface at the Event dome at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Posted on 10/07 at 12:20 PM

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Summerson Wins LG Art of Pixel Grand Prize

Last night John Summerson (‘15) was awarded the Grand Prize in LG’s Art of the Pixel competition for his work, “Painting from Life.” Chosen from 300 entries from nine of the nation’s top art schools, Summerson’s work garnered him a $5000 award while PNCA also received a $50,000 grant from LG to support arts education. Summerson attended the gala award ceremony in New York with his faculty mentor, Rose Bond. The event was also attended by event ambassador Neal Patrick Harris, Kevin Spacey, and Sarah Jessica Parker.

“It’s been a privilege and a thrill to be a part of the Art of the Pixel program and to support young artists and arts education,” said Harris. “I thought John’s piece was particularly clever. His choice of music as well as his decision to turn vibrant watercolors into stop-motion really came alive on LG’s new Ultra HD and OLED display technologies. It just goes to show that every artist, like each work of art, is unique.” 

John’s entry into the competition, “Painting from Life”:

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Posted on 09/17 at 11:11 AM

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Wall and Lesperance Finalists for CNAA’s

PNCA celebrates the inclusion of alumna and instructor Samantha Wall MFA ‘11 and faculty member, Ellen Lesperance in the list of 24 finalists for the 2015 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards. At the Portland Art Museum, the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards is an awards exhibition for contemporary art created in the greater northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana). The exhibition will open at the Museum in the fall of 2015.

The award recipients are honored with an exhibition in the Museum’s special exhibition galleries, a full-color catalogue, exhibition-related programming, and cash awards. One recipient is further recognized with the Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the amount of $10,000. The finalists are all recognized in the catalogue.

Posted on 09/05 at 10:22 AM

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M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Awards PNCA Campaign Top-Off Grant

The Oregonian reports that M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has awarded PNCA a $700,000 “top-off grant” to be delivered when the college raises the final $1.4 million for its capital campaign to make its new home in the former post office and federal office building at 511 N.W. Broadway. The award is intended to spur the remaining donations needed to meet the campaign’s goal of $15 million.

Posted on 09/04 at 11:03 AM

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Revealing Details of PNCA’s New Home

PNCA’s renovation of its new home, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design, is taking giant steps towards completion. The Portland Business Journal recently did a photo tour and captured some of the beautiful details. And if the power washing away of decades of grime hasn’t revealed which building will be PNCA’s new home, look for the 30 foot banner on Northeast side of the 511 Building.

Posted on 09/03 at 11:25 AM

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Stellar Month for PNCA Student

PNCA student John Summerson has had quite a month. First he was one of the prestigious Princess Grace award winners in the film category, PNCA’s third winner, receiving a significant monetary grant for his upcoming senior thesis project. Then late last week LG Electronics announced Summerson as a finalist in its Art of the Pixel new-media competition. His winning piece Painting From Life earned him $5000 as a finalist and a trip to New York City for the announcement of the grand prize by celebrity spokesperson Neil Patrick Harris.  In this by invitation-only contest, PNCA was one of only a handful of art schools selected for student submissions.

Posted on 09/03 at 11:15 AM

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President Manley on Better Bricks Panel

PNCA President Tom Manley was on a panel Friday morning for the Better Bricks Awards for commercial real estate. The Portland Business Journal quotes Manley on the challenges of public/private partnerships in real estate finance. “These kinds of deals take time,” he said. “They evolve, and in the words of Nelson Mandela, they look impossible until they are done.”

PNCA was awarded the Innovation in Project Finance of the Year award for its transformation of the former Federal Building at 511 NW Broadway into the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design, scheduled to open February 2015 as the anchor of PNCA’s new North Park Blocks Campus. The project was facilitated by a PDC loan package of $20.3 million, approved in 2013. Construction on the project began in February of this year.

Posted on 08/25 at 03:14 PM

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The Passing of Ken Shores

The PNCA Community is saddened by the loss of Ken Shores, who passed away yesterday.

An accomplished artist and inveterate collector, Ken was the director of Museum of Contemporary Craft between 1964-68 and a beloved friend and mentor to students, colleagues and many others in the arts community. He established the ceramics program at Lewis and Clark College, helping to build a collection there and continued to make and encourage gifts to many other collections around Oregon, including important pieces to the Museum.

In 2008, Museum of Contemporary Craft presented the well received Generations: Ken Shores, a retrospective of his life and work, followed in 2010 by the MoCC/PNCA publication by Namita Wiggers, Clay Has the Last Word, which chronicled Shore’s contributions to ceramics and craft in general and also revealed his life-long passion for the alchemic process of making. In it he was quoted saying, 

“Clay, I think, is such a magical material…it’s a material that is so responsive, and has so much life in it. I don’t know of any other material that has that quality.” 

One might easily have said the same thing about Ken Shores. He will be missed.

Posted on 08/01 at 10:30 AM

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Tom Manley Op-Ed in The Oregonian

“The job market will continue to favor creative thinkers: Guest opinion,” The Oregonian, 2 July 2014

In June, the White House held its first Maker Faire and asked individuals and organizations from across the nation to join the Obama administration in showcasing the cultural and economic importance of innovators who make things by applying their brains, their hands and their tools.

As the class of 2014 enters the workforce, we believe we have prepared our graduates with the skills that are critical to solving big problems and ensuring healthy economies. But if as a nation we’re not prioritizing creative making, and the tinkering, failing and reworking inherent in it, we’re failing to capitalize on all of our strengths. Nearly a decade ago in “A Whole New Mind,” Daniel Pink argued that the future belongs to creative, right-brain thinkers who bring to the table things that can’t be outsourced overseas or done faster by a computer.

A recent Americans for the Arts report, “Ready to Innovate,” indicated that U.S. employers rated creativity and innovation among the top five skills that will only increase in importance, and that stimulating them and enabling entrepreneurship are among the top 10 challenges for U.S. CEOs.

Students trained in the studio learn observation, experimentation, collaboration, problem solving, iteration, prototyping, critique and reframing. Each skill is directly applicable to arenas beyond the arts and belongs on any resume. To be able to create, fail and start over again and again is, as any entrepreneur will tell you, essential in the skillset for success.

Look at companies that thrive and you’ll see those that prize creativity throughout. Apple is known for a culture that incorporates design and user experience into every aspect of the way its products are engineered and built. Our homegrown Nike is propelled by innovative design, with its CEO Mark Parker keeping a sketchbook in which he records business ideas on the lefthand pages and sketches of imagined shoes on the right.

Portland provides a great example of creative people and enterprises feeding a vibrant economy. From makers of craft coffee and beer to award-winning chefs to designers of sportswear, to the creators of any number of artisanal products and inventions, this is a city that loves its makers. We proudly purchase their wares and show them off to our friends, all the while supporting a creative economy that draws more and more young entrepreneurs to this dynamic place that’s both inspirational and affordable.

Creativity lives in every person and is an element of every professional field, but as an educational outcome it is cultivated most purposefully in art and design studio programs. This ongoing process of producing creative thinkers enhances the world not only by supplying objects and works of interest and beauty and but by turning out problem solvers who will find answers to the most difficult and persistent problems we encounter.

Posted on 07/03 at 05:32 PM

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