Foster’s art scene has a pulse. It has for a while. Look no further than the two art galleries that have opened in the last year (with a third to open in the near future), the murals that abound on Foster, and the weekly craft night at Bar Carlo (that is now eight years strong). The evidence is there. And we want to share. Over the coming months we plan to bring Foster’s sometimes hidden, and sometimes obvious-but-overlooked art scene to the forefront. Today, FosterPowellPDX contributor, Lindsay Beeson, introduces us to neighborhood artist, Remedios Rapoport.
If you travel Foster Road, you see fileteado—a style of painting that incorporates elaborate, symmetrical curving lines and floral motifs. It covers the walls of Tango Berretin, and there are hints of it outside I’ve Been Framed.
The style originated more than 100 years ago in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where painters created ornate designs to decorate carts going to market. It eventually proliferated as an art in and of itself, adorning a broad range of objects and signs and buildings.
Foster-Powell’s own Remedios Rapoport is the artist who brought it to our corner of Portland. “It’s so cool how that whole community on the other side of the world is connected to our little Southeast Portland,” she says.
Remedios traveled to Buenos Aires in the late 1980s to study with the masters. Not long after her return to the states, she made her home in Foster-Powell.
At the time, Remedios says Hawthorne was the place to be, but it wasn’t quite what she was looking for. She sought out Foster-Powell, where she could get a larger lot with a forest feel. When she moved in, there was a stretch limo and school bus in the backyard. “Very Foster-Powell.”
What’s true now as it was then: there’s space within the community that allows folks to do what they do. “It’s OK to work at home and make some noise.”
In the past twenty-plus years, Remedios’ studio has produced her own work—she’s been a part of Portland’s strong community of sign painters (in addition to I’ve Been Framed, you can see her hand in the murals for Mac’s Radiator, Lents Body Shop, and Carpet Outlet); and she’s produced her own fine art movement, The Gentle Revolution—but she also helped nurture the work of fellow sign-painter Justin Riede, whose art can be seen all along Mississippi Avenue.
He and his wife moved to the city in 1996, and as he himself wrote about being introduced to Remedios’ art: “The first day we were in Portland I saw a bus bench that had been hand-painted with this beautiful scroll work and hand lettering. I remember thinking ‘whoever painted this was someone I would love to work with.’”
Justin, who’s now based in Foster-Powell as well, worked with Remedios while he was perfecting his letterforms, and credits her for being a stickler for detail. She also educated him on filete, and you might notice the influence in the finer aspects of his work.
While Remedios was in her studio, Foster-Powell was slowly evolving. “It’s so nice to see the neighborhood growing up and embracing the things I love.”
She cites Saint Frank’s Music (where her sweetheart now sells his colorful custom guitars) and the adjoining Hallowed Halls recording studios (where they hope to do a music project). There’s the general sense that there’s “more color, more art, more people” along Foster. And of course, Tango Berretin—with her mural outside, while inside her fine art accompanies the music and students learning tango.
The mural project tied her Buenos Aires life to her life in Portland. It also drew her out of her studio and into her Foster-Powell community. With so much of an artist’s life spent working alone, “it was really fun working in public, meeting people walking down the street. I have a new love and fondness for the neighborhood.”
Plenty of folks asked her what she was doing, she got to talk to them about her Gentle Revolution, and a handful of neighborhood volunteers even helped create the marble detail along the bottom of the mural.
And with it, Remedios has helped add more color, more art, more people.