There’s something seductive about working from home, whether it’s in a studio or behind a computer. You can be as unwashed and floppy as you like and wear things the Goodwill wouldn’t accept if you paid ’em (even in Portland).

What you can’t do, however, is drop everything and get to your next meeting on time. Too often I look up from whatever it is I’m doing and realize I have 15 bloody minutes to shower, blow-dry, make-up, dress, print out whatever it is I need and drive across town.

This speaks of poor planning on my part, but when I’m head-down in a project I doubt I’d notice a nuclear explosion. Or, as a former boss once said, “I love your ability to focus…but only if I have a sledgehammer handy.” I’m thinking about rigging a timer to simply shut off the electricity when it’s time to stop working.

Anyway, last night I eventually made it downtown, fully dressed. I avoided the usual Pearl District car shuffle by combining minor grocery shopping and parking. If you park in the always-available Whole Foods parking garage and buy something on the way home, your parking is free.

I exited the store through the bakery door, and met an old black man sitting on a tree. The tree was still vertical, so he was doing more bracing and sliding down the trunk than actual sitting, but I had to give him credit for trying.

He saw me watch, and grinned. “They need to put some benches on the sidewalk, because this is HARD,” he said, “You don’t happen to have any spare change?”

I dug around in my purse and came up with a lonely dollar, which he accepted gracefully, his fingers lingering on mine for a moment. “I’m Cynthia,” I said.

“Darryl,” he replied, and gave a little bow, which was a mistake. His butt slipped sideways and he went flying. I helped him up; he resumed his place and grimaced. “Maybe we should start a petition. Whole Foods, give us benches! You look all dressed up.”

“I’m going to an artshow down the street,” I replied, and he nodded.

“I used to do that art stuff, you know, some of it don’t take much actual talent but they can make a million bucks. Just take some paper, throw on some shi…I mean paint,” he amended politely. “If people like you don’t buy that sh-stuff, real artists can maybe make some money.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said, and headed on down to the Bullseye Gallery, where April Surgent, one of my favorite artists-who-work-in-glass,* was opening her show. She has MUCH actual talent and, as usual, the work was glorious and really amazingly priced. Considering.

I love Ms. Surgent’s work because it’s eminently discoverable–no matter how often I look, I find something new. Now she’s added a new layer: Window reflections.

Her subjects watch their own reflections AND look past to the contents inside the windows, giving me all sorts of context for my own internal storytelling. And I get a kick out of the idea of using textured, matte-opaque glass to depict the reflective/transmissive qualities of shiny-clear window glass.

As usual, the works that caused a catch in my breathing, the kind where I doubletake, stare hard, smile slowly as I prowl and view…those works were already sold. I can’t decide if that means I have good taste or if I’m merely a sheep in a populist herd. Since I’m more into selling art than buying these days, I don’t suppose it matters.

A word about the Pearl: When I first moved here I was told the Pearl District was actually Portland’s former redlight district, replete with sailors and hookers and white slavery. I mentioned to the Bullseye folks that I was meeting up with friends at Henry’s Tavern for post-Bullseye dinner, never been there before. They told me that the entire area is known as the “Brewery Blocks” because of the concentration of breweries, not brothels. My destination restaurant was actually Henry Weinhard’s original brewery.

Wow. I’m learning that Portland’s devotion to weird is second only to its obsession with beer. And I need to find out what happened to the hookers.

Henry’s is an awfully upscale brewpub, with more than 100 beers on tap–did you know there are DESSERT beers? What are these people thinking?–and some very nice food. A jazz band, talented but a bit too loud for the conversation sometimes, played on the upstairs balcony, and great gallumping amber glass cylinders lit our food.

I had a small cup of beer cheese soup for starters. It was rich and tangy, but if I’m gonna die from cholesterol poisoning, I’d still rather do it with Old Wives Tales’ Hungarian Mushroom soup.

My salad–Pear/Gorgonzola with salmon–was exquisite, however. Bloody near licked the plate clean. I was kind of disappointed in the ancillaries–they served plain old cellophaned saltines with the soup, and bland whitebread (although well-made) with the meal. The food and setting demanded more.

Still–and at the risk of jinxing the rest of the week–it was a nice finish to a good day.  Cheers.


*As I’ve said, I HATE the term “glass artist.” Although it’s terribly handy, it’s semantically disastrous–artists aren’t made of glass, they’re MAKING glass–and slaps on some really dumb constraints. Artist-who-works-in-glass is too long, though. What about using an acronym? AWWIG?