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Heather Steeves

Heather Steeves tries to do things that are fun -- and only things that are fun. So far that's included stilt walking, roller derby and cross-country road trips in her Saturn.

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Posted: April 3, 2014

3 fun things to see at Portland’s First Friday Art Walk – animals, cakes and animals with cakes

Written by: Heather Steeves

Oil painting by Elise Smorczewski, of Portland

When the weather gets nice, Congress Street can turn into a zombie apocalypse scene on art walk nights — hordes filling the street slowly pushing this way and that. With all the people and a plethora of places to see paintings, performances and precious pieces – where the heck do you start?

Well, during this month’s art walk, 5-8 p.m. Friday, April 4, you have lots to choose from. Pretty much the whole city (at least 55 galleries and restaurants and stores downtown) is your oyster. Your colorful, painted oyster. Here are our top picks:

Hamsters and Popcorn

Pair the cute and the savory: The Green Hand (661 Congress St.) is showing Elise Smorczewski’s 19 adorable animal-food paintings. A prickly-looking hedgehog models with three colorful macaroons. A chinchilla works his (or her?) way through a mountain of chocolate chip cookie dough. And yes, a hamster will hug a piece of popcorn.

“I came up with the name first and went from there because it’s cute and light and humorous,” Smorczewski said. “There is a taranchula-misu. That one is my favorite. It’s a taranchula on tiramisu.”

Most of the animals are Smorczewski’s friends’ pets. She had the animals pose for her while she took hundreds of photos. Then she finds a food and photographs that too.

“I take a photo of a lizard, then I take a photo of gumdrops, then I collage then in Photoshop and I use that as a sort of sketch. I look at it while I paint it. That’s the process,” she said. “I took 500 photos of my friend’s feret for that one perfect pose. Now the feret is on a cake. I found photos I liked and elaborated on them.”

Instant Photography

Pinecone and Chickadee (6 Free St.) is showing off some polaroids and other instant photos (you know, the kind where you take a photo and it starts printing it out and then you have to wave it around until it looks like what you shot?).

Julia Wood is one of the artists. She works fulltime at a farm, which is the subject of a bunch of the photos.

“It’s fun to play around with — no editing. It’s a raw capturing of a moment. You can get amazing images. It’s just kind of a playful way to shoot,” Wood said.

Of course, we live in a world of Instagram. So … why bother with expensive film?

“On your phone you take it instantly, you can edit it and do things to it. But theres something about taking a Polaroid picture. You don’t have as much film, so you’re taking more of a risk taking a photo. You think, ‘maybe this isn’t the right moment. It has to be the right moment.’ It has to be right. That makes it precious. With a phone the images lose the precious quality — you can just take another one,” Wood said.

Photo by Portland Public Library, from the 2013 Edible Book Festival.

Edible Book Festival

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long hotdogs and a baked good
I turned and looked another way
And saw three cupcakes on a tray.

The Portland Public Library (5 Monument Square) will display all the edible cakes/projects/terrariums(?) people submitted for the Edible Book Festival. So you might see a fondant monsters from “Where the Wild Things Are” on top of a cake. Or maybe the Crepes of Wrath. Maybe Katniss Everdeen will be sculpted from a carrot. Who knows what people will submit. The show doesn’t go up until tomorrow — you can make something an enter it before then, if you’d like.

For a full schedule of all the Art Walk shows and exhibits, visit

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