A couple of weeks ago I posted about my planned day out in Portland, ME to attend a couple of big arts festivals. Today, while I am wrapping up my vacation, I take a break to present a few of the great artists (and art) I found in Portland.

FF: The engraved and embossed art of Island Designs

ID2First up, are quite literally the very first artists I came across at the 48th Annual Portland Sidewalk Art Festival, the husband and wife team of Chong and Judi Lim of Island Designs.

This talented pair use traditional techniques of pressing paper and metal into beautiful works of art.

About Island Designs: “Our primary focus is embossed and handmade paper. We create the original design, carve metal plates and emboss each piece in our studio. We also do all our own framing and make many of the homemade papers that we use. Our images are highly representational, sometimes bordering on surreal, with a style somewhere between Eastern and Western. The emphasis is on clean, fine, and delicate detail. We believe that we are preserving centuries-old traditions of metal-plate engraving and paper embossing.”

Island Designs’ work goes from relatively simple embossed works like this Scallop Shell (above right) to more ornate pieces like these Hummingbirds (below): “embossed paper, with air brushed and hand painted birds”:


Check out Island Designs here.

FF: The original oil paintings of Linda Tenukas

LT1I love all art, but I am a sucker for oil paintings and cityscapes in particular. Which is why I fell in love with the work of Linda Tenukas, whose paintings of people and street scenes are right up my alley, like her work “Don’t Walk” (right).

About the artist Linda Tenukas in her own words: “I can’t ever remember not drawing. From the time I picked up a pencil, I drew everywhere, the margins of books, scraps of paper, probably a wall or two. I was particularly fascinated with the angels in my childhood prayer books, with their long flowing robes and condor-like wings. Drawing was as natural to me as writing was to most other children.” Read more.

I love Ms. Tenukas’ work “Connection”: “A crowd of people proceed down a street near Times Square. The couple trying to hold hands while negotiating this sea of people caught my eye.”


See the original oil paintings of Linda Tenukas here.

FF: The whimsical silkscreen art of James Polisky

jp1On another end of the art spectrum is the silkscreen work of artist James Polisky, which I fell in love with at the festival in Portland.

Mr. Polisky is not only a talent graphic artist, he has a great sense of humor and his works are absolutely fantastic. For example, check out this work at right titled “One Bulb Short Of Genius” – just great.

Were I to discuss all of the works of Mr. Polisky that I fell in love with, my blog would be taken over by his art – that’s how much I love it.

Instead, I will direct you to his website and highlight this work titled “On Tuesday William Dreamed Of Elephants” – which I think is a masterpiece:


See all the silkscreen art of James Polisky here.

FF: Potter, sculptor and bookbinder Nathan William Murrell

NWM1While walking around large art shows like the one I attended in Portland, something I call “art fatigue” starts taking over and everything starts to blur together. This syndrome was starting to kick in for me when I spotted the work of Nathan William Murrell and I was instantly inspired all over again.

About Nathan William Murrell: “Nathan William Murrell is a potter, sculptor and bookbinder working near Providence, Rhode Island. In 2006 Nathan graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth with a Masters degree in Ceramics. Since that time he has been actively making and showing his pottery and mixed media artworks in addition to working as a bookbinder at Rag and Bone Bindery in Pawtucket, RI. His current body of work is inspired by his travels to such places as Mexico, Italy and Thailand. Employing simple imagery and rich surface decoration he creates layers of vibrant color and texture then painstakingly peels back through them exposing each layer. It is not his intent to reconstruct a certain time or place, but to craft enigmatic pieces which appear to have been crafted in equal parts by man and time.”

As a fan of mixed media utilizing found objects, I am a big fan of Mr. Murrell’s PO Box Door Reliquaries (above right): “These boxes are made from brass PO box doors that were originally cast from 1902 to the 1930’s (pre WWII). Each closes, locks and has a combination that still works to re-open the piece. A small shelf runs across the inside of the box for small mementos or pictures. My original inspiration was the book, An Indian in the Cupboard, which was about a magical cabinet. I really like the idea of it being a magical, mysterious space that instantly sets the imagination working.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Murrell’s Mixed Media and Found Object Originals are right in my wheelhouse and are broadly in the world of my own art. However, works like Mr. Murrell’s River System 2 (below) tell me I am just an amateur:


See more about “potter, sculptor and bookbinder” Nathan William Murrell here.

I am just scratching the surface of the great art I found on display in Portland – more to come.