26 Questions with Michelle Gallagher

Jack, Michelle Gallagher


Michelle Gal­lagher is a long time ceramic artist and OPA mem­ber.  She pri­mar­ily does sculp­ture, and is known to incor­po­rate found objects into her pieces. Last year Michelle’s Monk piece won the Poster Award at the 2013 Ceramic Show­case, you can see it on this year’s Ceramic Show­case poster.

I  love the tac­tile qual­ity of clay, and pre­fer work­ing with a groggy sculp­tural clay to fine porce­lain. Dur­ing the years fol­low­ing high school I took classes at com­mu­nity col­leges off and on, in pur­suit of an art degree, but never fin­ished. I was look­ing for a way to express myself cre­atively and tried many things from sewing to pressed flow­ers, always return­ing even­tu­ally to clay.  When I decided to pur­sue a career adven­ture delv­ing into tech­ni­cal the­atre, I often used clay as a tool by sculpt­ing forms that were then fin­ished over in papier mache before becom­ing set pieces, pup­pets or hand­props.  I worked back­stage for over 15 years before set­ting up my clay studio.”

It’s been said that clay is a mal­leable and for­giv­ing mate­r­ial but with a mem­ory, and I have found this to be true.

Her pieces range from quiet and con­tem­pla­tive, to charm­ing and whim­si­cal. “I also love to gar­den, and Oregon’s cli­mate allows for a vari­ety of gar­den­ing options.   I enjoy build­ing sculp­ture for gar­dens, and I look for ways to incor­po­rate art in the gar­den.   I some­times say; “I have my hands in mud, in one way or another”, but I try not to take myself too seriously.”

Her influ­ences come from all over the world.  “I am espe­cially attracted to Asia, and the Pacific Islands and have vis­ited Hawai’i, India, Nepal, Thai­land, Korea & Japan. I had an aunt who was in the Navy and sent gifts from her world trav­els includ­ing Japan. My dad was also in the Navy dur­ing WWII, and his expe­ri­ence in the Philip­pines was talked about often.

My her­itage, how­ever is from Eng­land and Ire­land, and I have occa­sion­ally incor­po­rated celtic knot work designs on fig­ures, stand­ing stones and tiles. I am also inter­ested in inter­na­tional tra­di­tions that incor­po­rate the spir­i­tual con­nec­tion to myth.”

26 Ques­tions with Michelle:

2008 Hanuman

1. How long have you lived in the area?
I moved to Port­land, Ore­gon in 1988, so appar­ently 26 years, time flies.

2. What is your favorite sea­son in Ore­gon?
I grew up in sunny So. Cal­i­for­nia, so I do love the sum­mer, but I appre­ci­ate that we have all the sea­sons here in Ore­gon. The win­ter snow doesn’t last long as in other parts of the coun­try, fall can be quite beau­ti­ful, and oh..the spring…that’s plant­ing time!  So to answer your ques­tion, all of them I guess.

3. What’s your favorite movie?
The Wiz­ard of Oz….hands down!!

4. Favorite cur­rent TV show?
I don’t watch much tv, but I do enjoy Antiques Road­show, and have recently got­ten hooked watch­ing Lost on Netflix. 

5. A book you plan on read­ing?
I lis­ten to audio books reg­u­larly while work­ing in the stu­dio, next up?  Oh, revis­it­ing some John Stein­beck per­haps, The Way­ward Bus was a favorite.

6. A book you read in school that pos­i­tively shaped you?
Jonathan Liv­ingston Seag­ull, by Richard Bach.

7. A ceramic artist that has influ­enced you?
I stud­ied with Katy McFad­den, so def­i­nitely her influ­ence is strong, how­ever, I par­tic­u­larly love Michelle Gregor’s fig­u­ra­tive work and my first influ­ence from high school was Betty Dav­en­port Ford, she sculpted our school mas­cot, a tiger, done in terra cotta.

2008 Mercy

8. Favorite non-ceramic artist?
Hard to pick just one…but as a Sculp­tor– Rodin; Painters-Maxfield Parish & Nor­man Rock­well, and Monet.

9. What’s your favorite source for inspi­ra­tion?

10. Beer or wine?
If there is a choice, then red wine, if it’s beer I pre­fer dark micro brews, but a lemon drop also sounds quite nice on occa­sion.  Cheers!

11. Favorite restau­rant?
PokPok. I love Thai food.

12. Ideal break­fast?
Some kind of egg scram­ble with cheese & spinach. Is this an invitation?

13. Favorite dessert.
Chocolate…anything with chocolate!

14. Weird­est thing you’ve ever eaten?
Boiled okra…hated it.

15. Favorite band?
I enjoy all kinds of music, from clas­si­cal to rock, and most of my music col­lec­tion is from 20–30 years ago, so that is also a dif­fi­cult ques­tion.  I lis­ten to instru­men­tal music a lot while I work, but don’t care much for coun­try or rap, with a few minor excep­tions, that leads into your next question…

16. Favorite lyric?
Believe it or not, “I love you, a bushel & a peck, a bushel & a peck & a hug around the neck”, A Doris Day song from the 1950’s, I think.  My mother sang it to me, I sang it to my kids, and now I sing it to my grand­daugh­ter. Which leads of course into, “All you need is love!”, I still lis­ten to the Beatles.

17. Dogs or cats?
I’m more of a cat per­son, and have 2, but I also have a dog.  So there you have it.

18. Bird watch­ing or whale watch­ing?
Birds…much eas­ier to find in my back yard.  😉

19. Per­son you want to have cof­fee with?
Who’s buy­ing?  

2007 The Advisor
The Advi­sor

20. What’s your favorite board game?
Parcheesi, well, it’s the last one I played recently anyway.

21. What’s the last coun­try you vis­ited?
Japan, in 2009 with OPA to be part of an exhi­bi­tion in Sapporo.

22. What’s a coun­try you’d like to visit?
I’d love to see all of Great Britain, and even­tu­ally return to Asia, at some point.

23. What’s your favorite con­stel­la­tion?
The Big Dip­per, it’s the only one I can point out.  

24. Best way to decom­press?
Medi­ate, pet­ting my cats (the dog won’t hold still) gar­den­ing, or shop­ping for plants.

25. When you’re not in the stu­dio you’re…?
Work­ing in the gar­den, play­ing with my ani­mals, or, I hate to admit it…on the com­puter.  I don’t get out much, but I love tak­ing walks in nat­ural spaces, espe­cially at the coast when I can get there.

26. What’s your booth num­ber at Ceramic Show­case?
C19, near the music stage.

Inter­ested in find­ing out where to buy her work? Michelle also par­tic­i­pates in the Local 14 Women’s Art Show and Sale, Love Art Gallery and oth­ers.  View her web­site www.thefunnything.com for more info, and look for an upcom­ing arti­cle about her in the Oregonian.

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