06 March 2017

[liff] Muse Art and Design: Goodbye, Farewell, So Long.

It's hard, on the heels of that sorting out of what the knowledge of the demise of the Corvallis Gazette-Times's wonderful former headquarters building has done to my personal psyche, but now I have to face the knowledge that one of our favorite bright spots in this world, the mighty Muse Art and Design, at 4220 SE Hawthorne Blvd, is gone now, too.

Well, is going. In the process of closing. My heart is broken.

I got the email, as many on the email list did, at the end of last week. Sudden, it seemed; stunned, I was.

Muse opened back in 2004 in the space immediately adjacent to this, at 4224 SE Hawthorne. It's a new-jack old-fashioned barber shop now. The space that they were now in, 4220, was a vintage shop called Shadowhouse. Muse came in and opened up the light and what was a bright spot to us before became even a brighter spot now, well lit, with well-priced supplies we would go back to again and and again, and the same sweet, friendly people.

I made several mentions here in the past of our love of Muse and the people who ran it and the artists who would come by occasionally for a demo or a talk. They will remain cherished memories. But there will be no further. An old beloved favorite is leaving us.

Where there were once art supplies to buy, there is space.

Peter Rossing, whom
we shall extremely miss
I understand the demand for the clearance merchandise was huge. Peter Rossing, the proprietor and hero of our tale, was quite surprised at the number of people who came in on Thursday, which may have been the first real day of the sale. By the time me and The Wife™ arrived, it was only Sunday, but the place had been gone through pretty well. I was hoping to score a black book or two, but those were gone with the wind. There was still quite a few paints - oil, acrylic, and watercolor - also a lot of pastels, but most of the drawing paper was gone, the sketchbooks, graphite and ink drawing supplies, all conspicuous by their absences.

I had to stifle more than one sob, which is corny, but I'm not going to lie about that.

There were some woodless pencils left. I scored several HBs and 2Bs. I don't need much else. Wife got some acrylic colors and some of the POS displays, including a mechanical pencil merchandiser on a pivot.

This really causes me some interior displacement. Art supply shops are some of the happiest, brightest places I can think of. One of the peak experiences of my weeks are visiting art supply stores with my wife; the feeling of well-being art supplies give me is hard to put into words. The two which occupied complementary places in my heart are, of course, the eternal I've Been Framed, and Muse. I loved both of them because of their complementary souls. IBF is like the raggle-taggle gypsy, the tie-dyed Grateful Dead fan, always surprising, just wanting to get you what it was you wanted and the funky style wasn't so much curated as it was evolved. It's the most casual, kind experience you can have. Muse, on the other hand, had a restrained, refined style and poise. Both served the Portland artist community with the same sort of "get busy with your art" passion that has made that community such a vibrant thing.

With Muse, it was a slogan: To equip, inform and inspire.

What will be my most treasured memory about Muse? Knowing I could always depend on getting Preppy fountain pens there? The transformative seminar in February 2015, about the difference between art inspiration and motivation which has finally (after two years, my brain moves slow) enabled me to grasp that it wasn't inspiration I needed, but I was starved on motivation? That time when Bwana Spoons did his demo? Getting to know Vaughn Barker and his little women? That time the fellow who was looking to get a treasured volume of DosPassos repaired and told me the story of Rosa Luxembourg's visit to Portland and the way DosPassos and Hemingway ended their friendship over the way Hemingway regarded the victims of the Spanish Civil War? Or will it be the endless chats me and my wife had with Peter and his staff about art materials, the art store business, small talk about the day, and how goddamned nice they all were?

It'll all be treasured. Because we won't have it again, at least not at Muse.

Muse moved into 4220 about six years ago. One of the improvements to the landscaping was six curved stepping stones arranged into a circle; colored yellow, green, purple, blue, red, orange. A color wheel. And in the middle, a big circle of white gravel. Walking past it always ignited a frisson of happiness in me; I knew that, whether or not I walked out of Muse with a purchase, I was about to pay a visit to friends, and it would be a happy thing.

This is the color wheel today. Sic transit gloria Muse. 

They were friends as well as vendors, and, for a little bit anyway, the old maxim don't be sad because it's over, be glad because it happened and you were there rings a bit hollow. At least we still have I've Been Framed. They aren't going to be leaving us any time soon, or at least it doesn't seem that way.

We visited them in the beginning, and we were there at the end: RIP Muse Art and Design, as Portland as it gets: 2004-2017.

I hope I cross Peter's path again. He sure is a swell fellow.

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