Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Couple to show art at school fair

By Ashley Swanson, Columbian Features News Coordinator



"Peachy!" mixed media painting by Jill Mayberg

Vancouver couple Bruce Allison and Jill Mayberg are two different kinds of artists.

Mayberg is a fine artist, using traditional media to create her paintings, while Allison calls himself a product artist, turning his images into clocks, night lights and more. They will join 70 other regional artists at da Vinci Middle School’s eighth annual Art Fair, which brings together the community and students in support of the Portland school’s art mission through the sale of holiday gifts.

“I make my living doing fine art fairs in this region and all over the country,” Mayberg said.

Mayberg was awarded a 2011 Washington State Artist’s Trust Fellowship, which included a $7,500 award. Her paintings have a distinctive, folk art style as she incorporates paper cutouts into the oil pastels. She is also on the board for Art in the Pearl, the annual fine art show held every September in Portland’s Pearl District.

“The originals have an aged and interesting look, that people want to touch it … it’s something unique,” Mayberg said. She also sells smaller original pieces, prints and greeting cards of her art, and she finds both men and women relate to her work.

“It’s an approachable kind of art,” Mayberg said, describing a barrier of fear to owning an original painting. But handmade gifts have become more trendy, she said. “I think people are trying to assert their personality, there’s a lot of people who want to have their own style and support people in their own community.”

Mayberg is looking forward to the arts fair to help support the school’s program. “It’s a fun show because the kids are there, and I usually buy my holiday gifts from the students.”

Bruce Allison began as a figurative artist before finding inspiration in nature.

“I tried to understand how (creatures) are constructed,” he said. But that evolved into creating whimsical images of animals that he would set against a background of color and texture, using digital tools.

“Over 15 years ago, we were trying to figure out how to combine our art with digital graphics and explore that venue. Digital art was just beginning, now they don’t even draw on paper anymore. I think its just another medium,” he said. “It makes my business possible.”

His images are then applied to a variety of products by Allison.

“Its hard to mix the creative and business side, you have to think about the market when you’re creating and imagine, will this sell? You’re kind of torn between creating images that inspire you, and what will sell.”

Allison’s products end up in galleries, gift fairs, trade shows and even the Oregon’s Audubon Society store.

“My items are well-suited for gift items, and they do quite well at the shows. I like doing local shows like (da Vinci.) You’re helping give back to the community through your art,” he said.

Art by Mayberg and Allison will be at the Arts Fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 2 at da Vinci Arts Middle School, 2508 N.E. Everett St., Portland. Admission is free.

Bits ‘n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email

Don't Do Stupid Stuff Mugs