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Creative Hillsboro next step in arts district


Artist Nicole Maki and her software architect husband have moved to different parts of the country 11 times since immigrating to the United States from Canada 18 years ago.

“We moved deliberately and with regularity when we immigrated. We wanted to try different parts of the country. We’ve lived in Los Angeles, Seattle and Virginia,” she said. Photo Credit: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTOS: DEBBY DE CARLO - Nicole Maki has lived in Canada and all over the U.S., but is bringing her artistic talents to Hillsboro.

This is the second time the couple has called Hillsboro home, but this time they’ve bought a house in Orenco.

“It’s a line in the sand,” said Maki. “I used to use cardboard from moving boxes as my canvas because we moved so often.”

Maki likes to connect with other artists, and a good way to do that is with Meetup, a social media site with groups defined by interest and location. That’s how she got set up with “Creative Hillsboro,” a recently formed group designed to gather artists together and promote creativity. Through Meetup, Maki learned of the Creative Hillsboro group that gathers Wednesday afternoons at Primrose & Tumbleweeds, a wine shop and restaurant on Main Street in Hillsboro.

“The description of the Meetup by [Hillsboro artist] Barbara Martin was warm and welcoming,” said Maki, who came with a sketch book she uses to try out ideas before placing a commissioned design on a piece of medium density fiberboard she buys at Home Depot.

Maki said she’ll be back for more Creative Hillsboro events.

Others around the table at a recent Creative Hillsboro gathering included Suzanne Ebert, James F. Smith, Jeanne Levy, Chris Mayer and Barbara Martin. For Martin, who with Christine Martell and Debby Garman started Creative Hillsboro, such events are a logical step in a city that’s reached a critical mass for the arts.

Hillsboro has more than doubled its population in less than 25 years, now surpassing Beaverton in the number of people who call it home. That is no surprise to members of the arts community.

Strong growth

“Our audience has grown five to 10 percent every year,” said Scott Palmer, Bag&Baggage’s creative director and founder of the innovative theater company. “About 65 percent of our audience comes from Hillsboro, and the rest from Portland, McMinnville, Yamhill. We’re seeing the numbers grow for each geographic area.”

Along with HART, another local theater company, the city’s Walters Cultural Arts Center, Sequoia Gallery + Studios, Jacobsen’s Books and accompanying dining options, Hillsboro’s arts community is becoming a cohesive arts district. Creative Hillsboro was designed to support that development.

“It’s an umbrella,” explained Martell, “where we spin off different activities.”

While some of the people organizing Creative Hillsboro are deeply involved in the Walters Cultural Arts Center, “we wanted something very informal that could bring together a diverse group of people from artists to business people to share skills and inspire,” said Martell, who owns a consulting company called Visuals Speak.

Martin and Garman also each have backgrounds in art and business.

The growing arts community motivated Dawn and Doug Sellers to open Primrose & Tumbleweeds at 248 E. Main St. in April 2011, offering one of the largest selection of Oregon wines anywhere. Customers come from all over the world to buy fine wines, and seven months after opening the retail part of their business, the pair opened a wine bar and restaurant.

“We wanted to make the night life more vibrant,” said Dawn Sellers.

The couple recently doubled their space.

“Doug served on the Hillsboro Arts and Culture Council for years. He’s been very involved with HART. Now it’s my turn to be on the council, though I’m more of an arts patron,” she explained.

Drawing sessions

Photo Credit: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTOS: DEBBY DE CARLO - Suzanne Ebert dabbled in her notebook at a Creative Hillsboro meeting, where other artists gathered to share their passions.

The two offered space at Primrose & Tumbleweeds for some of the Creative Hillsboro events, including the Wednesday drawing session that convenes at 2 p.m.; Creative Play on the first Monday of the month from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; and Creative Conversations on second Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m.

“We want to have conversations where people bring ideas on how to make Hillsboro a more nurturing and stimulating place for creative people in a variety of disciplines. What do people want?” said Sellers.

Though not technically part of Creative Hillsboro, Bards & Brews — a monthly event coordinated by Primrose & Tumbleweeds and Jacobsen’s Books & More — provides the Northwest Independent Writers Association a place for writers and readers to meet.

Artists and their projects differ widely at Creative Hillsboro meetings.

Recently, for example, Levy was doing an exercise from “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” and Jim Smith worked a drawing for one of his miniature paintings. Smith pointed out that the sessions offer a chance to create without critique or pressure.

“Most of us are here to help each other,” said Smith, who teaches at Portland Community College and Cornell Estates.