Portrait of Two Artists: Sidonie Caron and Arne Westerman


    Sidonie Caron

Sidonie Caron’s paintings adorn interiors from the Empire State Building to Oregon Health and Science University.When the new Kaiser Permanente Westwide Medical Center opens in Hillsboro in 2013, two of Caron’s paintings will grace the walls: the massive “Magic Mountain” and “Kibbutz Ga’ash.”

“My older son, who has lived in Israel for many years, spent 12 years on Kibbutz Ga’ash,” she says. “Israel was importing trees from China and doing experiments to see if they could produce some kind of wood from this particular tree. That pink was the blossom on the tree. They died, but they looked beautiful at the time.”

Caron’s work encompasses disparate themes, from landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes to abstract, Asian and Judaica.

“Because I do different subject matter all the time, people may be a little confused,” she says, “but people who know my work can always recognize me. I think the sign of a good artist is someone who grows and evolves … otherwise, they just produce the same thing all the time, and that doesn’t show any growth or depth to the work. I’m eternally curious, I’m always seeking other things.”

The Berlin-born artist was just a year old in 1933, when her father found the words Juden raus! (Jews, out!) scrawled on his door. The family emigrated to Holland and then to England.

Caron was educated in London at St. Martins School of Art and the Central School of Arts and Crafts.

“I was surrounded by very good artists, and it can be intimidating,” she says. “Toward the end of my art school, my father said, ‘You’re never going to make a living at this. I’m going to send you to secretarial school.’ So I had to go secretarial school, which I was dismal at.”

Caron and her husband, Gordon, came to the United States in 1965.

“I started showing around and started actually selling work,” she says. “It was great for me to come here because I was suddenly recognized as an artist. That wouldn’t have happened for many, many years in England because after the war, people didn’t have disposable income.”

Caron’s work is in collections including Bertelsman, New York; Bantam Doubleday Dell headquarters, New York; Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA; Salishan Lodge, OR; Skamania Lodge, Stevenson, WA; and the Alexis Hotel, Seattle.

She has had solo shows at dozens of Pacific Northwest museums and has participated in invitational and juried shows, including the Seattle Art Museum; the Attic Gallery and the Mark Woolley Gallery in Portland; the Lawrence Gallery in Gleneden Beach; the McMullan Museum of Art at Boston College; and the U.S. Embassy in Mauritania.

Caron is represented by the Heidi McBride Gallery, Portland; Riversea Gallery, Astoria; and Portland Art Museum Rental Sales Gallery.

Oregon’s Percent for Art legislation requires that a percentage of the cost of public buildings be devoted to art, and, according to Caron, the selection process is “very competitive.” Her paintings have been selected for the Court of Appeals, Oregon State Mental Hospital, Oregon Institute for Technology and OHSU.

To make a living as an artist, one must be able to promote her own work, says Caron.

“The ones who succeed are the ones who have talent, no question, but they also have a business sense, and they have to sell themselves,” she says.

Caron’s work continues to make its way to public places where it can be viewed by multitudes.

“The new Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel – a state-of-the-art, wonderful facility – bought a piece of mine,” she said. “And I just sold one to a business (Baum Ellis) in the Empire State Building in New York.”

An exhibit of Caron’s Judaic art will open at Oregon Jewish Museum in March 2013. To view her paintings, visit www.sidoniekcaron.com.

    Arne Westerman

Arne Westerman’s canvas reflects the human face and form, and through his paintings every fleeting expression is held for eternity.

Eternity was not far from the Portland artist’s mind when he started painting at 50. “I felt life sort of ebbing, and I figured if I could paint, then my paintings would be on the wall long after I had stopped painting,” he says.

Westerman’s works belong to permanent collections across the nation, and private collectors around the world have brought him the rare success that allows him to be wholly devoted to his art.

“I always loved to draw as a kid,” says Westerman, who grew up in Old South Portland. “But I graduated from the University of Oregon in journalism, and … I eventually wound up with an advertising agency. I didn’t do art until I decided I didn’t want to be in the advertising business any more.”

Westerman then took a class in watercolors with Portland artist George Hamilton.

“His stuff was just so beautiful,” said Westerman. “He did landscapes. And so I started doing landscapes, and I realized that I really loved people, I love being around them, so I started doing paintings of people. I paint people from all walks of life, from street people to dancers to people doing whatever they do.”

Westerman credits Robert Kaller of the Galerie DeTours in Carmel, CA, for being the first to actively promote his paintings. “He got me into museums and that sort of thing,” says Westerman.

Westerman’s work is in the permanent collections of the Portland Art Museum, the Arnot Art Museum in New York, the Neville Public Museum in Wisconsin, the De Saisset Museum in Santa Clara, CA, the Huntsville Museum of Art in Huntsville, AL, and many others.

He is affiliated with the Attic Gallery in Portland, the New Masters Gallery in Carmel, CA, and the Austin Street Gallery in Rockport, TX, and has annual solo shows in all three. He has won grand prizes in juried shows throughout the country.

Portraits of Eastern European Jews of the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, drawn from memories of Old South Portland, are among Westerman’s Jewish subjects, though he says, “I treat everything with Jewish eyes. … I think I’m sensitive to people, to pain or unhappiness or joy; I think that’s very Jewish.”

Raised in an Orthodox family, Westerman attended Portland Hebrew School. “I had to,” he explains. “Jerry Stern and I got out of Shattuck School one day and Harold and Leonard Schnitzer were right there, waiting for us. The two of them grabbed us and said, ‘You have to go to Hebrew school,’ because they were apparently giving out an award for the number of people you could bring in.”

For many years Westerman has donated paintings to the Portland Jewish Academy and Oregon Jewish Museum auctions. He recently painted a portrait of Harold Saltzman, a baseball hero of his youth in Old South Portland, and donated it to OJM, where it is on display in the museum’s summer exhibit, “In the Game.”

Westerman’s work appears in many books, including The Best of Watercolor Figures, Best of Watercolor, Basic People Painting Techniques in Watercolor and The Best of Portraits. He is the author of two books, How To Become a Famous Artist Through Pain and Suffering and Paint Watercolors Filled with Life and Energy.

Westerman says his 2012 exhibit at The Attic, which opens on First Thursday, Sept. 6, will feature “a number of paintings about people loving each other.”

“The joy of being an artist is there’s always something else that’s exciting,” he said. “I have a million ideas I’ll never get to, and the wonderful thing about doing what I do is I’ll never die because I’ll bring a lot of smiles, a lot of thoughts to people by the work I do.”

To view Westerman’s work, visit www.arnewesterman.com.

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