A Portland artist whose paintings speak volumes

Despite her recent spate of success outside the “City That Works,” there’s no arguing that Trish Grantham is a Portland artist. It’s not just because her commercial work is some of the most instantly recognizable in the city, and it isn’t because her repertoire of images – birds, toast, pandas and pissed-off looking doe-eyed girls 퀨͌� la Fawn Gehweiler – is decidedly Portland-centric. Grantham is a Portland artist because she gets it done right, and she gets it done herself.


As a painter Grantham has had amazing success, particularly for someone relatively new to the business. Self-taught, she began painting and showing art just six years ago, and has created a reputation for herself not just in Portland but up and down the West Coast and as far away as New York.


Her commercial clients range from local signage for Greg’s, the Fresh Pot to Adidas and the School of Visual Arts in New York. This month alone she has shows at the Aniki wine bar on Southeast Clinton, Genuine Imitation in the Everett Street Lofts, the awesome Lunarboy Gallery in Astoria and the Super 7 store in San Francisco.


As if that’s not enough for one month, Grantham has been picked to participate in “The Pony Project” a My Little Pony-themed show sponsored by Hasbro and Paper magazine opening later this month at the Milk Gallery in New York. The high-profile project features 50 well-recognized female artists from around the world offering their interpretation of the iconic toy. Grantham’s painted pony will be featured side by side with horses designed by the likes of Annie Leibovitz, kozydan, Dame Darcy and Betsey Johnson.


Her show at Genuine Imitation has already sold out and her opening on First Thursday packed the tiny gallery. The pieces, mostly mixed media, featured the usual Grantham inhabitants over collaged landscapes of Japanese newspapers and blocky fields. Thematically the works are consistent with Grantham’s other works, they ring of na퀨͌�ve ebullition and innocent melancholy. No matter their situation, Grantham’s characters seem confused by their inclusion. The work feels highly personal, occupied by moments and images whose weight is mysterious and, despite their innocent beauty, are keeping secrets.


Genuine Imitation consistently fills its tiny walls with impressive work from around the globe, using every inch to its fullest. With Grantham’s show the gallery seemed more empty, her paintings small and spaced generously. At first viewing I was a little disappointed, but after revisiting the gallery on a slow afternoon I realized that the quiet messages hidden in the pieces were accentuated by their placement. Like listening to highly personal music where the silence often carries as much weight as the words, the expressiveness of Grantham’s pieces speaks volumes in tiny voices.