Ash Street Project

Ash Street Project, the vision of artists Thomas Orr and Joanna Bloom, encompasses art studios, visiting artists, gallery space, community programs and a clay-based emerging artist mentorship program.  Our site also hosts an on-line gallery shop.

A New Group of Mentees

Ash Street Project is thrilled to welcome four new mentees ( L>R: Ivan Carmona, Ben Skiba, Aleka Tomlinson, Jordan Peiper) to our 2015/2016 year.  This dynamic group of artists arrived in early September, and set right to work creating their work spaces and getting to know the ropes.  They come to us from diverse backgrounds, all with a solid understanding of ceramics, and all working in the industry in various facets.  More information can be found on these artists in the participants section of this website, as well as our link section.  You can also click on each artist's name, as highlighted in bold, for a link to their website. 


Ivan Carmona: Ivan comes to us as a recent graduate of the Oregon College of Art and Craft.  With a focus in figurative sculpture, Ivan is wanting to use his time at Ash Street Project to apply the knowledge he's gained in undergrad to work through new ideas and further position himself as a gallery artist.  When he is not in the studio, he assists Dirk Staschke, Anne Crumpacker and other established local artists. 

Ben SkibaBen recently completed his undergraduate at University Wisconsin, Madison.  His current  sculpture and assemblages emphasize the processes and materials within studio practice.  While  he continues to explore this work at Ash Street Project, Ben will be employed by Mudshark with slip-casting work and will assist studio artist Brian Jones.

Aleka Tomlinson: Aleka found us through our connection to one of her mentors, Lilith Rocket, where she was employed in production work. Lilith's model sparked a passion in Aleka to consider creating her own production line.  She has come to us in hopes of honing that goal.  Aleka is both the Operations Manager and a production artist at Pigeon Toe Ceramics.

Jordan Pieper: Jordan completed his BFA at the Oregon College of Art and Craft in May. His vessel-based work is influenced by 18th century European porcelain. This week, Jordan will embark on a three week research trip to western Europe where he will continue to study 18th century porcelain production.  This trip will help inform his work at Ash Street Project. Jordan currently assists ceramic artists Brian Jones in Portland and Jeffry Mitchell in Seattle.  

Summer Session 2015: Looking Back

As with all carefree, summery things, Summer Session 2015 had to come to an end.  It seemed to fly by, and yet the two weeks were very full, providing enough time for quite a bit to be accomplished.  Our invited six artists fearlessly joined our core studio for two tremendous weeks of making. With no specific outcome required, each visiting artist brought their own approach to the mix.  Time was used to sketch out ideas, create molds, test clay bodies and glazes, collaborate, and expand upon pre-existing bodies of work.

A huge thank you to our six visitors Victoria Christen, Judy Teufel, Dennis Meiners, Brian R Jones, Dylan Beck and Lisa Orr for being open to coming and making together in our studio, and for creating a fantastic debut Summer Session.  And thank you Ash Street Project hosts Ted Vogel, Chris Lyon, Matt Causey, and Brett Binford for creating the welcoming and at times even hilarious backdrop.  And thank YOU, community, for supporting the cup sale and dropping in for daily brown bag lunches!  Year one was a huge success and we look forward to doing it next year. 

In our recap discussion with the artists, it was decided that there would be a follow-up show.  Since it is too soon to process the ways in which this time influenced the artists' work, we tentatively have the exhibit scheduled for February of 2016.  In the mean time, please visit the links section of our website for more on each of these artists.  

Matthew Causey Sets Out For New Territory

The time has come.   Ash Street Project's outrageously animated resident artist, Matt Causey, is preparing to exit and take on the world. It simply will not be the same without him. As many know, Matt came to us as one of our first visiting artists.  Yet, as it often goes,  things shifted for Matt during his time in Portland.  The decision for him to stay on as a long-term Resident was logical.  

When Matt initially came to Portland, he was known for his cleverly illustrated black and white pots and wall boxes.  These gems exude Matt's hilarious and outspoken personality and his copious illustrational talents.  His "Famous Potter Series", as profiled by Garth Clark (click here), are fantastic caricatures of Pete Voulkos, Beatrice Wood, George Ohr and the like.

Similarly, Matt had been making face jugs that riffed on the influences of both his southern upbringing and his love of folk art.  His version of the face jug, had an animated sensibility so uniquely his own.  

But over time, Matt became interested in how he could adopt methods to reproduce work without painstakingly hand-painting each piece.  He felt he had lived that experience, had the base knowledge, and now wanted to work towards production that he might, at some point, simply oversee.  

Over the course of his time at Ash Street, Matt experimented with everything from slip casting and decals to clay bodies and firing temperatures.  Factoring heavily into the experimentation and discussions were honing the options for selling work, from brick and mortar venues to craft shows to on-line sales.  At a small business workshop he attended at ADX, he connected with CrowdSupply, a local crowd sourcing business, and together they visioned his new product line.  His clever new "emojugs" are having their debut "sneak leak" this week at several fun local locations (see Facebook post).  This will also be a chance to wish Matt well, as he heads off next week to North Carolina and France in search of more permanent digs.  You can follow Matt's adventures by following him on Facebook or Instagram, where Emojugs have their own page!  


Collaborative Residency: Dan Anderson and Jason Sturgill

About a year ago, at the Half Pint Cafe across from the studio, we were introduced to  illustrator Jason Sturgill.  He had seen Matt Causey's work in the shop and was asking Marko (the owner) about it.  As it turned out, he happened to be the son-in-law of ceramic artist Dan Anderson.  In short time, plans were hatched for Jason and Dan to come to Ash Street Project and participate in  a collaborative residency..  

This week was the culmination of this project.  Jason, who has worked for Nike, Laika, Wieden & Kennedy, Dark Horse Comics, and teaches at PSU, brought his illustration/design knowledge to the mix, so as to literally add a new layer to Dan's signature industrial vessels.  This was new terrain for both of them, with Dan typically wood firing his work to create its rich surface history.  At Ash Street, he was undaunted by the limitations of the electric kilns and worked with low-fire, conventional underglazes and glazes.  He will return to sandblast the surfaces, in an effort to try and recreate that history.  Jason both hand painted images and designed decals, with help from local source Ellbergen, as the final layer on top of Dan's work.  

As is typically the case in these short term residencies, time flew!  Dan returned to Illinois today, and Jason is soon headed to London for a comic and illustration festival.  It was so wonderful to witness the collaboration of two different art forms coming together like this.  There is so much to be learned from watching the problem solving process that is unique to collaboration.  We are grateful that Dan is a part-time Portlander, and hope that he (and Jason) will be in and out of Ash Street when time allows.  

Note: Please scroll over names, etc. for links to sites.

Combat Paper at Ash Street

Last week Drew Cameron came to town to bring his Combat Paper project to PNCA and Oregon College of Art and Craft.  Combat Paper workshop participants, with the help of Drew and an ancient Holland beater, pulped into paper a variety of materials (often uniforms) that connote the spirit of a loved one.  We were fortunate to have several days with Drew and the crew at Ash Street Project.  Our stop was a low-key respite at the end of this series of public events.  Drew was interested in using our time together to experiment with sculpting pulp into clay forms.  We were game and the results were promising. 

To culminate the paper making events, an exhibit was held at the Ash Street Project gallery space.  Drew, Jessie Albrecht, Mark Pinto (Coming Home Project), Aaron Hughes (Warrior Writers), Giuseppe Pelicano and a host of other veteran activists, held the space for the evening as they shared readings and discussion with the community.  Thank you Giuseppe, for many of the images.


Ash Street Profile: John Shea Headed to University Wisconsin Madison Grad School

John Shea was a special student at Ash Street Project this year.  He had studied with Thomas at OCAC, and went on to work for Bullseye Glass and Mudshark Studios.  During this time, he had his sights set on going back for an MFA, and came to us for time and space to create a new body of work and put together a portfolio to apply to graduate programs.  John was accepted to his first choice school, University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he will study with Paul Sacaridiz and Gerit Grimm.  We took a moment to talk with John about his time at Ash Street.  Here's some insights he shared into his process and why he chose to work with us:

"I came to Ash Street because I needed to improve my portfolio.  I needed a space outside my own studio that had a lot of conversation happening, that would let me interact with other artists, ensuring high quality work.  I wanted to take advantage of the exhibition space, which provided a goal with a concrete end date, allowing me to show what I was working on at that time...and get feedback on it.  The experience was all good.  The lunch talks, the evening conversations on Thursdays were really nice. "

What's next for John?

"Three years of just working, which will allow me to explore some ideas Thomas and I talked about and not have to work (at a job).....working with an expanded field of Professors again.... I would love to teach.  I am pushing myself towards a place where I can apply for teaching positions."

Congratulations John!  We look forward to seeing what the future holds for you!


Ash Street Project's First Mentee, Aldin Huff, Prepares to Exit

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since Aldin bravely jumped on board as our first mentee at the Ash Street Project.  It has been a fantastic experience for all of us, watching Aldin's work grow while we simultaneously grew as a program.  He will always be a part of us and it will be hard to see him go. 

Aldin came to us shortly after our doors had opened.  He was confident that the mentorship program was the right fit for him and that this alternative model was the way he needed to learn.  In hindsight, we think he was spot on.  His interests in the program were diverse, driven by a desire to pursue connections with professional artists.  He explored an interest in curation in the exhibit "Purple", which he took from concept to execution.  He assisted artist Ryan Labar in the installation and break down of two large ceramic shows in the Pearl District.  He did some teaching at Ash Street and traveled to Joseph, OR to help a group of international artists, visiting the LH Project, with a week-long woodfire.

  We asked Aldin if he would reflect back a bit on his experience, and share just a few thoughts.

"I always wanted to work with my hands.  At a young age, I loved making swords, etc.  This was my motivator through school.  But art school (felt like it wouldn't be) the way I was going to succeed.  I (decided to seek out) other teachers I trusted that were participating in the art world and directly pursue (work) that way".

Aldin's situation was somewhat unique in that he came to us having done some glass work, and as it turned out, decided to use his time at Ash Street to continue with this medium.  His work grew from tiny glass rings to intricate 3d guns and life-size motorcycles.

"I wanted to figure out that technique (torching stringer).  I saw drawbacks with clay.  Stringer was more practical than glass, less equipment and expense.  Ultimately, Ash Street Project gave me the freedom to come into myself, (to discover) what kind of artist I was, and what kind of artist I wanted to be". 

We are in awe of the growth we have witnessed in Aldin's work.  Aldin's desire, at this time, is to do some traveling, expand his horizons, and set up a studio in Bellingham, Washington. 

Get on the Bus! Forbidden Fruit Tour

This past October, we had the good fortune to have the first annual Ash Street Project show open amongst a wealth of fantastic ceramic events in the greater Portland area.  At the center of it all was the Portland Art Museum's opening of "Forbidden Fruit", an exhibit of Chris Antemann's work from the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory in Germany.  Running concurrently with this event, Chris and her partner Jakob Haslacher, of the LH Project, hosted two dynamic exhibits in the Pearl:  "Nutured by Nature" and "Art out of War",  works by two different groups of their resident artists.  At the same time, Brett Binford of Eutectic Gallery, mounted an exhibit of the works of LH board members, entitled  "2x4".  Following this, Chris and Jakob generously hosted a tour for artists and collectors, to visit studios, collections and galleries in Portland, Tacoma and Seattle.  The Ash Street Project was grateful to be a part of these events!

Night Class

Over the years, we have periodically offered community classes at Ash Street Project, mostly by request.  They are social affairs as much as they are about making, and valued as such.  Our recent night class, " Handbuilt Tableware ", was proposed by a group of friends who wanted a weekly creative escape.  They are now finishing up " Handbuilding 2, the Sequel ", and have given as much to us as we have to them!  This experience has prompted us to rethink how community classes could potentially add a rich layer to the Ash Street Project, providing additional opportunities for our mentees to build experience and connection.

ASP: The First Year

In October Ash Street Project mounted an exhibit of our inaugural year.  It involved the work all who participated in our program in 2014.  It was a lively event, overlapping with several fantastic ceramic shows in town.  More on that in another post.  

Our first year show included the work of mentee Aldin Huff, visiting artists Jennifer Anable, Miles Spadone, Cathy Bloom and Amanda Salov, resident artist Matthew Causey, and participants Brett Binford, Chris Lyon and John Shea.