Saturday, January 10, 2015

A year 2014

A year has past, and a new one is beginning.  
2014 was full of changes, challenges, had work, and a lot of fun.  
The beginning of 2014 I continued my research looking at graduate schools globally, nationally, and in the Pacific Northwest. I was accepted into the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland Oergon in Visual Studies. I was happy to say yes. 
Construction continued on the street reconfiguration and removal of buildings around Contempo Designs on West Main St in West Kelso. The construction project was a challenge for our clients and our selves. The revitalization project has not had a positive outcome after its completion for any of the businesses of West Kelso. 
In May, I was one of the judges for the Rose Festival Star Light Parade. Then Phena and I flew to Berkeley for four days and got a suite at the Shattuck Plaza. We had a great time going to the Berkeley Art Museum, local restaurants, movies, and visiting his niece. We took BART into San Francisco and went to the famed Imperial Palace for Dim Sum. I picked up a copy of "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg at the renowned City Lights bookstore. Phena and I toured on foot North Beach and Little Italy. We made a pit stop to look at the murals by graffiti artist Banksy and ended our walk with a beverage at Westfield Center.
In June my hair salon Contempo moved to Vandercook Avenue in Longview and in August Phena and I got an apartment in Portland close to the Sunset Station MAX light rail stop. In the middle of August I met my peers in the Visual Studies Graduate Program at PNCA and we all moved into our art studios. Classes started at the end of August.
Taking 18 credits and working on the weekends has kept me busy with very little time for anything else. Phena has been very encouraging and supportive of my nights of typing and reading. Mom reads my papers for spelling errors. This has paid off with straight A's this semester. Can't beat that! This past year I presented my art at Gallery 6 PDX, "Small Sculpture", Guardino Gallery Day of the Dead Show, "Perfect, Not so perfect" a pop up show at Hotel Monaco, and at Lodge Gallery, "Altered Ground", at Allied Works Portland. 
I retired from hair styling December 31, 2014 after 17 years. You can read the letter here.
It has been a amazing year making new friends, and enjoying old ones. I savored great meals, going to movies, art, performances, lectures, reading, and writing. I could not have done it without the support of my family and friends. You make the going easer. Thank you. Here's to all the best in 2015. 
Jason Berlin :O) 

Your hair stylist

The past seventeen and half years of working as your hair stylist / barber have flown by. Your patronage and friendship has been invaluable to me in so many different ways. Your support and flexibility with my schedule has aloud me to travel and continue my education. Your words of wisdom, encouragement, and personal stories have helped shape me and inspired me. For some of you, the first time I did your hair was on your mothers lap. I have done hair at your weddings. We have been through celebrations, marriage, graduations, sometimes divorce, cancer, recovery, job promotions, getting fired, new homes, new babies, and lots, and I mean lots, of laughter! 

It is now time for me to continue to travel down the path of academia professionally.
I will be retiring from hair styling / barbering December 31, 2014. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to be your hair stylist and part of your life. 
I have enjoyed working with you over the past seventeen years. I am looking forward to new adventures, but will sorely miss you. If I can be of any assistance during the next month please don't hesitate to contact me.
With warmness in my heart, 
Jason Berlin Thomas.

Chemical ___________________Stylist reference_________________________

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Corn Dog

"It's easier to go get one," he said! 
"Well ya', it's easier, but how does it taste?"
That's what I said to my friend when I asked him if we should make them from scratch! 
I had this weekend imaged in my head, a weekend devoted to the corn dog.
A day spend on a farm learning about corn, how it grows, the uses of corn and the different types of corn that grow in the US. I thought about all the different corn batter recipes and meeting with a top Portland chef to Learn the secret of  corn dog batter. Then there is the meat. What is it? Do I just go get a hot dog? Or is it a special hot dog? Should it be Kosher? The list ran from my little tiny spot on earth to the dark side of the Moon and back in less than one second. 
Yes, how would it taste? It would taste different, not better, not worse, just different. 
It would taste of white kitchens with granite and stainless steel appliances. Hours spent planning  the perfect day and cultural outing. Organic meats would be ground up by a young thin man covered in tattoos, his lip sporting a 70's porno mustache or by a woman with a PHD in psychology who is a self taught butcher. This would take place on some farm where all the animals have names and a birthdate. A restaurant would open to serve this very special corn dog. They would serve chili in a ice cream cone, tater tots, high end Mac and Cheese, expensive top shelf whisky and this designer corn dog.
I had already started the research in my brain when a flash of white light crossed inside my forehead. A coffee headache? A small stroke? Or divine inspiration? 
"Hey", I said, nudging his left shoulder, "The 711 is this way, right?" 
He smiled and nudged me back. "Do you think they have french's mustard packs?", I ask.
"No," he said, "They have a French's mustard pump, ketchup, and mayo. We got two corn dogs, Pepsi, and I worked that mustard pump. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Merry Christmas

Greetings one and all.
I am lucky enough to have two art gigs this month.
#1 is the Little Things show at one of Portland Oregon's iconic gallery's. 
Guardino Gallery.
2939 NE Alberta Street Portland, OR 9721. Open Tues 11 to 5 PM, Wed-Sat 11 to 6 PM, Sun 11 to 4 PM. 503.281.9048 Guardino is located in the beautiful Alberta Arts District in Portland OR.

#2 I am featured artist at the Broadway Gallery in Longview Washington.
1418 Commerce Ave. Longview, WA. Open Mon - Sat: 10 to 5:30 pm
First Thursday openings, 5:30 - 7 pm.
Hope you can come to these galleries to enjoy my work and the work of my fellow artists. 
I hope to see you soon, 
Wishing you all the best, Merry Christmas!



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bragging rights

Bragging rights! 

I have always wanted to get my education. 

As a person who is severely dyslexic, being able to prove your intelligence and ability takes on more importance.

During the years of grade, middle, and high school. I was tested, analyzed, categorized, demoralized, and pushed through the educational system.

I started working legally at age 14. I earned high school credit through my diversified occupations class and the ability to be in school half the day so I could go to work. I believe this was easer and cheaper for the Kelso Washington school system than to put the time and effort into teaching me. In high school I was told the most I could hope for was to get a manual labor job, and if lucky, to work in a local mill. 

I have been working steadily since with only two summers off. Both times I left the country to get those breaks, and I am grateful and enriched for my adventures in foreign lands.

 I did not give  up my dream of getting my education and  kept chipping away credit by credit, and class by class, to earn a college education. I received an Associates of Applied Sciences in photography, from Seattle Central Community College in 1994 and my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Craft, from Oregon College of Art and Craft this May 2013. I have won various awards including the OakKnoll winery wine label competition  and the Brannon-Boekleheide award for the most outstanding graduating thesis student Oregon College of Art and Craft. 

I was told by one of the members in my thesis committee that my thesis paper was the best paper they had read in the last 17 years, touching for me to hear, since I was told I could never write. I plan to get my Masters of Fine Art degree in the very near future and who knows, maybe my Doctorate. And to those who said I couldn't, and wouldn't and didn't believe I was worth it: I could do it, I did do it, I am worth it. And to those that did believe in me, and helped me do it, thank you. And you know what? 
It's nice to have something to brag about.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What is Art?

Art is diverse, and has many different meanings, and is used in numerous different contexts. Art is hard
to pigeon hole. As human beings we like to organize and categorize objects, things, ideas, and events.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes art as the following: skill acquired by experience, study, or
observation and also the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.
According to the aesthetician George Dickie, “The work of art is an artifact (or event) upon which some person or persons acting on behalf of a certain social institution ( the art-world) has conferred the status of candidate for appreciation”.
The art-world is art historians, teachers, and professors of art, educational institutions of art, art dealers, critics, collectors, gallery owners, museums, and artists.
Terence McKenna an American philosopher, ethno botanist, researcher, psychonaunt, teacher, lecturer, and writer had this to say about art, “Art’s task is to save the soul of mankind”
I believe George Dickie’s definition of art is the most correct at this current time. I also believe McKenna’s quote on art holds true as well. It is for this very reason that art and artist are so very important to society.
Without artists you would have no beauty, political, social or aesthetic background as a scaffolding to build a society on. Artists throughout history have been the shamans, performers, writers, philosophers, inventors and political activists of their time. Artists are the culturalpreneurs of the times they live in and in some cases continue to effect society hundreds of years after their deaths. Pablo Picasso said it best, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
It is through the arts that the daily grind if life and its existence is celebrated with all its imperfections, pain, suffering, love joy, beauty and death. With art we celebrate our humanity and touch the celestial.

Friday, July 6, 2012

James Lee Hansen

My friend Larry Cwik, was given the opportunity to meet James Lee Hansen in person. Larry asked if I wanted to tag along. I jumped at the opportunity to meet and visit the home and 13 acre compound of Pacific Northwest sculptor and poet James Lee Hanson and his wife Jane.
Jane gave me a tour of their beautiful home they had just remodeled. James gave Larry and me a private tour of his bronze foundry and studio he built himself, and a tour of his gallery showcasing work he has created. The grounds are wonderfully manicured with regional plants and wide open grassy fields. They showcase Hansen’s sculptures that appear around every bend of the property. At the end of our tour James gave us a signed book of his work and poetry as a parting gift. I was overwhelmed. After a welcoming and inspiring visit at the Hansens I drove home to my humble studio, motivated, and stimulated to do some art work.

Brief information on James lee Hansen.
 James Lee Hansen was born in 1925 and served in the Navy during WWII. He graduated from the Portland Art Museum School in 1950. In 1951 James built his first foundry and studio. The following year 1952, receives a purchase prize from the San Francisco Art Association National Exhibition for his sculpture “Huntress” and the Seattle Art Museum Northwest Annual award for his piece “Call”
Hansen has exhibited extensively. The Whitney Museum, The Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, The Portland Art Museum, and Denver Art Museum and many others. Hansen is represented in major art museum collections and in private collections around the globe. Professor Hansen has taught at The University of California Berkeley, Oregon State College, Portland State University, and The University of Oregon.