Artists seldom collaborate on a single piece of work. But when Lake Oswego mixed-media artist Shannon Passon got an opportunity to team up with David Marquoit, she jumped at the chance.
Marquoit isn’t a well-known artist, but he is one of the most prolific at Art from the Heart, a combination art school, studio and gallery for adults with developmental disabilities in Northeast Portland. The abstract artwork completed by Passon and Marquoit is one of 13 pieces that will be auctioned off at the gallery during its “Creative Imagination Collaboration” event on September 19.
“Everybody can be an artist, and the art they’re making at Art from the Heart is really valuable,” says Passon, who had previously purchased a piece from the gallery as a gift. “I thought it would be an exciting challenge just to collaborate with anyone, but I especially want to support what they’re trying to do.”
Art from the Heart is an 18-year-old program of Albertina Kerr, which provides services to children and adults with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges. The auction is the brainchild of Bridget Larrabee, an art consultant who connects Portland-area artists with local buyers, and who has helped sell and showcase art from Art from the Heart participants.
Program Manager Emily Conradson says Larrabee’s idea intrigued her because it offered a novel opportunity for her artists to bring “more relevance” to the broader art community. “Any time we can connect with other artists, it really validates what we do and inspires the artists who we’re supporting,” says Conradson.
This past spring, a dozen professional artists chose an already-completed painting by one of five Art from the Heart contributors, including Marquoit.
Conradson says Marquoit spends most days at the Art from the Heart studio, drawing and painting works she describes as “pretty abstract.” She helped him cut up several of his works into 2-inch squares and reassemble them into a patchwork that caught Passon’s eye. “It was a really exciting color palette and it was really geometric, which is something I respond to in my own work,” says Passon.
Passon, whose primary work is encaustics, or hot wax painting, says she found inheriting a piece of art to work on “a little bit sacrilegious.”
“You want to preserve and value what this artist has created, but at the same time put your own vision into it,” she says. After much consideration, she says she decided to add amorphous land masses and flowing water, “blending the idea of geometric with more fluid shapes.”
Marquoit finds it difficult to express himself in words, Conradson says, but was interested in meeting with Passon and examining the finished product. Passon says his enthusiasm shone through in their interactions. “His pure joy for art reminded me of why I’m an artist to begin with.”
Bids at the September 19 auction will start at $200. Half of the proceeds will be split between the Art from the Heart artist and the program; the other half will be split between the professional artist and Larrabee. Other prints will be available for purchase, and Larrabee hopes to set up a painting station where attendees can put their own mark on a work by an Art from the Heart artist.