Five Portland Artists Let Us Peek Into Their Quarantine Creative Spaces. Here’s What We Found.

Welcome to our 2021 Spring Arts Guide.

Puppet Maker Katy Strutz's Frieda and Iris puppets (Christine Dong)

It's easy to assume Portland is in a creative rut right now.

Normally, spring is when local arts organizations unleash their most ambitious programming on the public. It's the big finale before the summer hiatus, the time when the rain stops, the clouds part and stir-crazy Portlanders flock to galleries and theaters to see what everyone was working on while in hibernation.

After a year in quarantine, though, and leaving the house still considered a health risk, the presumption is that most artists have simply chosen to take the season off.

But in this city, creativity never stops. It adapts.

For this year's Spring Arts Guide, five Portland artists let us into their personal workspaces and told us the stories behind the tools and trinkets that have allowed them to turn isolation into art.

Acclaimed author Willy Vlautin, for instance, has been watching St. Johns from the window of his second-floor office space for over a decade, and turned what he's seen into a stunning new novel. Textile maker Vo Vo spent the beginning of quarantine amassing a collection of free yarn, then weaved free blankets for anyone in need of a little extra comfort, while puppet maker Katy Strutz has a whole corner of her basement studio dedicated to tiny monsters she's built for an upcoming stop-motion film.

And, of course, we also give you a heads-up about the most compelling arts programming this season. Sure, in-person events remain canceled, but there's still plenty to look forward to, from a "jazz opera" filmed under a bridge in North Portland to Oregon's most famous theater festival going virtual.

A year ago, the thought of only getting to interact with art through a screen for the foreseeable future sounded like a total bummer. But the ways in which artists are finding ways to reach an audience is inspiring in itself. We hope the following pages inspire you to engage with what they're offering. Even if it's happening at a distance, it's still an act of connection.

For Over a Decade, Willy Vlautin Has Watched St. Johns From His Office. Now, He's Written a Book Inspired by What He's Seen.

Puppet Maker Katy Strutz's Basement Studio Is Full of Miniature Monsters and Multiple Bins of Hair

At Home, Filmmaker Alberta Poon Is as Much of a "Mood-Slash-Light Psycho" as She Is on Set

Like Their Art, Artist Vo Vo's Workspace Is Informed by Their Life Experiences and Anarchist Philosophy

Jazz Musician Ezra Weiss Has Gone From Leading Big Bands to Playing Alone in His Home

Here Are the Most Exciting Arts Events of the Spring Season

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