Living the Creative Life: Julie Green/Clay Lohmann

I’ve been a fan of two Oregon artists for a few years, and have written about them both on this blog here, here, and here…only recently discovering they are married.  In the wake of the recent blog post on Julie Green’s show at Upfor Gallery, R and I were invited for a studio visit.  We arrived in time for a beautiful lunch (which out of politeness I did not photograph…sorry readers, it was GOOD) and to save the newly refinished wood floors R was issued these very elfish (and hence seasonal) booties…

elf booties

After lunch and pleasant pleasantries we first saw the studio where Julie paints…

Julie Green's studio

and heard of her current project examining the presumptuously racist notion that all “flesh tones” are…well…pink.

portraits in porocess

She’s portrait painting, as well as collecting evidence of our cultural blinkers in paint naming…

…though Gamblin has taken a step in the right direction…


but of course she’s doing some meditative drawing (a corner of her morning view)…

another meditation

and we saw part of the view and the usual studio niceness…Clay made the tree-sparing fence…

Clay's fence, Julie's view (1)

Julie Green's brushes

before heading to the basement…domain of the last supper plates.  Julie Green is an organized thinker and art-maker, clearly reflected in her basement studio.

basement 1

basement 2

She works on the last supper plates, plates that document the last suppers of prisoners put to death in this country each year.  When you see a gallery show of these plates (now numbering over 600) the weight of the deaths, the crimes, and the ordinariness of eating and food choices, even at the moment of one’s last meal…well it is a heavy feeling.  And making them is a heavy activity, which is why Green only devotes 6 months annually to the project.   The blank plates are bought in thrift stores, most supplied by a friend and neighbor who shops for her…

plates ready to go

Green researches the actual choices prisoners make and hand-paints the meal choices on the plates…

blue paiint kit

lasy supper plate

back of plate

returning plate

and the show has traveled…R noted Green and the plates had been at his alma mater Northwestern University at the Leigh Block Museum last year as reported in the alumni magazine…


but the basement has a few not-so-grim items such as drying persimmons…


Julie Green teaches painting at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and had to turn to grading the day we visited, so handed us off to her husband Clay Lohmann for a view of his current projects.  There are some of his things on view in the house…the painted and stitched “Black Lung” from 2011..

Black Lung, 2011

under which is this eerie painting…

Clay's gigantic horse

and this cast bronze vase with hundreds of little squirming bodies…

C;ay's cast vase

in the basement studio he’s doing some mold-making…


relief making relief hand

Then out we went to another small house on their property which Lohmann has claimed as his own…inside is a world of fabric and imaginative image making, as well as the examination of materials.  Lohmann turned from print-making to quilt forms in 2008, coming out of a family tradition of quilt making.  He has carefully worked on not making ANYTHING like something his grandmother would recognize as a quilt…here part of his monumental “tumbling blocks” quilt which will be 21′ high when complete…sewn in 7 foot sections…

tumbling blocks

the curtain

here’s the video…

Plus he’s doing appliqued soldiers, and sewing Tyvek…

blocks and soldiers


soldier detail

tyvek 2

He’s rigged up a modern sewing machine to an old treadle and it works smoothly (and I think must build quad muscles too…)

the treadle 1

and though it’s art making it has the familiar sewing room floor…


Clay Lohmann’s work is on view at PATAPDX Gallery in Portland until January 23, 2016

Clay sent us off with a souvenir…

Clay signs

and we headed home, where I found an old tube of paint I can send along in return for a great afternoon…







  1. Thanks for the charming article on this artist couple Bonnie. I have heard of the last meal plate paintings but did not realize it was on going.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing with us these places most of us won’t get to go (and to the artists who let you share!). So many thoughts…”flesh” paint… The last meal plates, I remember seeing those and they stayed with me… The textile work… Bonnie, we must talk! 🙂

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