When OPB caught up with Renée Zangara in her studio near the Willamette River’s edge in St. Johns, she was working on a large painting filled with animals.
“I’m bringing the animals together in sort of a Noah’s Ark type of situation because of the barges and the ships out there on the river that I see all the time, so I just wanted to bring them into one vessel," she said.
A painter and mixed media artist, Zangara’s work nurtures an appreciation for abundance while examining the intersection between industry and nature. She finds plenty of opportunity to draw inspiration in the sights and sounds of the wetlands at the riverbank. With elegant whimsy and kinetic brushstrokes, Zangara depicts the lively natural world right outside her studio overlooking the St. Johns Bridge, industrial shipyards and railways.
“The brushstroke and the energy, that’s this abundance of energy I sense when I’m outside,” she said.
Zangara’s work is exhibited nationally and found in public and private collections. She’s also known for her installation work, including one of all 50 official state flowers installed at Portland International Airport in 2019.
“We have millions of travelers a year,” said Wendy Given, PDX art program curator, “and the work has been so widely well received because it’s so interactive and something that all people from all places can relate to.”
"There’s a bouquet of all of us there, and I want to feel like we’re welcoming to all these people that are traveling,” Zangara said.
You can see more of Zangara’s work on her website.