In this city's art world, Amy Ruppel is an "It" girl: Her images are splashed across billboards, and they graced walls of the Portland Art Museum at this year's Biennial. They've even surfaced in the pages of this newspaper.
So it's no surprise that she'd eventually marry one of her many admirers. Well, sort of.
When Randy Montgomery approached Amy
at an art show in December 2001--titled "Meeting People," no less--
himself to her.
It wasn't because he was a fan of her work,
he admits, but because he was
single. And he was looking.
"I'd just come from a Christmas party where I'd had a couple of beers," he says. "I was feeling a little cocky."
In reality, he'd never heard of the artist. On that December evening, Amy showed off her artwork, one of 500 tiles in the group show. Her exhibit was a 4-by-4-inch wooden block, "tile # 37," in which a photo of a girl riding a bus in Tokyo was transposed and then covered in wax. That night, Amy handed Randy not her phone number but an invitation:
a postcard for her next art show.
It wasn't long before they started dating. Randy, now 40, is an imported-food buyer and self-confessed rock-and-roller. He thinks the couple is a good match because of their differences. "We're polar opposites," he says. "She's got a soft, quiet heart, and I'm the thrasher."
One of the biggest surprises in the early days, he says, came when Amy, now 34, wanted to come along on a road trip to see British techno duo the Chemical Brothers. After all, she's an ambitious artist type who gets up early and works long hours. A rock tour is more suited to late risers who like to party for long hours.
It was on another trip last fall--to Europe, this time--that Amy got a surprise of her own. The couple was drinking Belgian ale and eating cubes of cheese when Randy placed an engagement ring on the table, saying, "Here's your ring."
Amy says she responded with a simple
question: "That's it?"
What happened next, according to Amy, is her boyfriend got teary-eyed as he recounted his failed attempts at two other, more formal proposals. The night when they visited the Eiffel Tower, the weather had been too windy, while on another occasion, the waitress in the restaurant had been too rude.
Still, despite the informal proposal, Amy said yes. (And now, a year later, she'll admit she was expecting that Randy would propose at some point on the holiday.) Once the bar's patrons got word of the engagement, the two were toasted with Belgian beer for the rest of the night. And though Amy doesn't recall many details of that night, she says: "I will always remember those cheese cubes."
They planned their wedding for the next fall. The ceremony took place at sunset. The location? The roof of the EcoTrust building in the Pearl District. The weather? Stormy.
But as Randy tells the story, he had reserved some sunshine time for the honeymoon. He kept the location a secret from Amy until just before they boarded a plane for Panama. For 10 days, the couple lazed about the Central American country.
"There was nothing to do but walk into bath-warm water," Amy says. She snapped scenic photos of the journey, which are now posted on her website.
And what of that first tile painting, the backdrop to the conversation on the night the couple met?
Amy says it's not for sale.