Bits and Pieces: Changes lead artist to job as gallery director

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian neighborhood news coordinator

Published:

 
photoMaureen Andrade is North Bank Artists Gallery executive director.

Maureen Andrade vividly recalls the first time she truly felt like an artist.

Now a painter for 17 years, the director of Vancouver's North Bank Artists Gallery remembers what it was like to stare at her own work and finally feel like a true artist. It was her first show piece, a 3-foot-tall acrylic on canvas painting of a woman in a white gown. As she focused on the final product, she became transfixed in a way she hadn't before.

With a series of brush strokes, what had been a hobby suddenly transformed into something more. The painting wasn't quite Van Gogh, but the feeling she'd arrived reverberated through her.

"Time sort of stopped," she said.

Now Andrade has transformed again, stepping last month into the business side of her pursuit as North Bank Artists Gallery's first director. She'll oversee the nonprofit North Bank Artists Community Project's gallery and studio at 1005 Main St. When the artists' co-op was founded in 2003, she was one of the original members.

Her journey from painter to full-time gallery director wasn't always an easy one. After her divorce a year ago, Andrade was forced to transition into a working single mom, a change she documented on her blog at http://open.salon.com. She filled her time as a volunteer for the Obama campaign, teaching the occasional art class and sharing stories online.

It was one of her blog posts about being a single mother looking for work that caught the eye of North Bank Artists Community Project co-founder Rebecca Seymour. They knew each other from Andrade's early membership in the group and after meeting for coffee, Andrade was picked to steer the ship.

Her lifelong love of art and the promotional skills gained from political campaigning made it a perfect fit.

"It's something I absolutely love," she said.

North Bank Artists Gallery's "Reflections" portrait exhibit is up until Feb. 24. Admission is free. Learn more at www.northbankartistsgallery.com.

Dynamic guitar duo

If you're a lover of fingerstyle guitar, you're probably familiar with local hero John Standefer, the Vancouver guitar wizard who performs all over the area -- most frequently at the Washburn Performing Arts Center in Washougal. Standefer also teaches, records and writes for various guitar magazines.

You're probably less familiar with Standefer's new buddy Brooks Robertson, who Standefer calls "the rising star of the fingerstyle guitar world." Standefer, 62, met Robertson, 23, at the annual Chet Atkins Conference in Nashville and the two clicked immediately -- and then Standefer learned Robertson was living in Portland. The two have been getting together weekly since last summer to build their new duo act, "Brooks and John." They're working out arrangements of everything from Louis Armstrong to Cyndi Lauper.

"It's a rare thing to find two solo musicians who are on the same general wavelength and yet who are able to bring different and colorful ideas to the table to form a good duo. Add to that the fact that there is nearly a 40 year difference in our ages," Standefer said. "We're kind of shocked at how cool everything is working out."

So cool in fact, that Standefer hopes to take the duo national, with big bookings in big venues. But there's no place better for a friendly debut than good old Washougal. "Brooks and John" will make their world premiere at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Washburn (at Washougal High School), 1201 39th St. Tickets are available only through http://johnstandefer.com.

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.