Sneak Peak! OUR OWN JUNGLE. Installation at Tyson Gallery.

Why hello there,

Yesterday I finished installing my new show, Our Own Jungle, at Tyson Gallery, in NW Portland, Oregon. It’s up! I am so happy to announce this! Lots of work went in to the production of the sculptures for this installation, and many of them have never been seen in public before!

I am including a few sneak peak photos, details… bits only.

To see the rest you’ll have to come visit. There are many more sculptures not included here, and there is really no way of conveying the entire installation with photographs.

The exhibit is at Tyson Gallery, in the Everett Station building (625 NW Everett St, in NW Portland). The Gallery itself is actually on Broadway, between Flanders and Everett. The gallery # is 116. The opening is from 6 to 9 on Thursday october 1st.

jungle flower vines (j. perelman photo) jungle vines (j. perelman photo)

our own jungle shadow (j. perelman photo)our own jungle inside (j. perelman photo)

I’ll have a closing party too, but it will be a plastic bag drive, so the art may be harder to see. You should come on thursday, if you can. I know, it’s so soon! I’m so excited for you to see it!

All of the sculptures are all made from already used plastic bags. I can teach you how to turn plastic bags into yarn thing at Mission Mill Museum in Salem, Oregon – the 4th saturday of October.

And the mural is mine too. Similar to paintings that I do. And you can visit me at Portland Open Studios, the 2nd and 3rd weekends of October, in my studio, to learn how and why I paint and what I do.

Hope to see you soon.


Katie Simpson Spain

PS These photos were taken by Jessica Perelman.

installed! installation! murals! cool!

Hi all y’all.

Yesterday, sunday september 28th, I put up my installation. It is up! Thank goodness.

Here are some photos of the installation process.

I went over to the lovely Tyson Gallery at 9 am, and I left at 6:30 pm.

I started with some mural work, for maybe 4 hours I put paint on the walls. This took me less time than I thought it would. I’ve done murals and I’ve painted a lot of paintings, but these murals are the closest to paintings in my abstract landscape series. They are a lot more loose, and less detailed, less drippy, and lighter. But they are pretty similar. So, maybe that’s why 3 big walls only took me 4 hours. Huh! I think I would have worked harder on longer on them, but didn’t want the walls to be distracting from the sculptures. Just to add atmosphere. I think it worked!

Then I began installing the sculpture. Hanging lots of it from the ceiling, and stretching these vines across the gallery. Hanging flowers from them.

At some point I had the hammer up on the top of the ladder and moved the ladder, and of course the hammer fell off the top of the ladder and hit me on the head!!!!! Ouch! At that point I sent a text message out and one of my dearest friends, Jessica Perelman, came and helped me! Thank you Jessica! She saved me! I was about to give up. It’s so hard to see something that you’ve been working on all day. It was around 4 that she came over to the gallery, and helped me install the rest of the sculptures, gave me input, and talked me out of my stupor. And she took some great photos, which will be included in the next entry.

By the time I left I was jelly-brained. I can totally paint for 9.5 hours, work for other people for this long, crochet sculptures for this long, but installing… it was intense! Physically and emotionally. Putting all of these sculptures that I’ve worked so hard on for the past year and a half up. Figuring out where they go, how to group them, it was fun and very challenging. I went home and fell asleep on the couch watching a dumb movie about Phillis Diller. And woke up with a stuffy nose. Don’t think I’m sick, just tired.

Please check the next blog entry for sneak peak pre-opening photos.


these are vines before they were installed

these are vines before they were installed

installing things.

installing things.





October of Wonder

Hello all you lovely folks!

I just wanted to let you all know about the upcoming OCTOBER OF WONDER!

Many glorious events will be happening. You are invited! A few of mine include:

First Thursday at Tyson Gallery!
I will have a large installation here, Our Own Jungle. It will be completely
amazing, a plethora of plastic flora! Many new pieces of this organic looking
plastic bag sculpture. Come see huge brightly colored and intricate sculpture.
Tyson Gallery is located at 625 NW Everett St #116. This is actually on the
Broadway side. Please come see the show from 6 to 9 pm on First Thursday
the 1st of October!

Portland Open Studios!
Come see me working in my studio the second and third weekends of the
month, (the 10th and 11th, 17th and 18th). I will be there from 10 am to 5
pm all 4 of these days. Contact me for more information and please visit to get a lovely tourguide for the event.

Plastic Bag Yarn and Crochet class at Mission Mill Museum in Salem!
Come learn how to make plastic bags into yarn on Saturday October 24th.
The class will be from 1 pm to 4 pm. The museum is located at the old
Mission Mill – 1313 Mill St SE Salem, Oregon 97301 (503) 585-7012
See details and sign up here:

Hope to see you soon! Thank you so much for your support!

Katie Simpson Spain

Check out my new blog!

I’ve got a new website coming, but for now:

guardian (blossom detail)nyc drawingsfairytale woods

roosevelt island

the first time i went to roosevelt island, i went with my sweetie. we took the train (the f is the only one that stops there) and walked north. i’d read a little and found that there was a little old lighthouse at the north end. so we walked there. it was maybe 6 or 6:30 pm. the island is quiet compared to manhattan, and we walked on the queens side. very residential tall buildings and parking lots, and there were cats! just laying around. so close to the busy city, but by the way the cats were just hanging out i could tell it was so much calmer. it was a lovely evening.

the lighthouse was pretty and old.

there was a full low moon, and it was still light out, a man on a bike told me to take a picture of it. i didn’t though. i was staring up at the lighthouse at this point.

we walked back along the manhattan side and were awed by the view of the tall buildings from the middle of the east river. we took the tram back over, which was wonderful! such a view, and it was sunset. just gorgeous. and the tram is cheap (compared to other trams we’ve ridden… you just use your metrocard!), and fast and solid.

the next time i went with my friend robin. i met here there, on the island. since the last visit i’d done more research and realized i’d missed the part i’d be most interested in. a ruined building! ahhh! so i made a plan to go with robin the day before we had to fly back to oregon.

the ruin is beautiful. old and very ruined, fenced off and growing ivy and weeds. no roof, just the sky visible through broken bits. at some point (i think in the 80’s) supports were added after one of the walls fell down.

the hospital has been unlived in since the 1950’s or so. and before that it was not terribly inhabited. way back it was more used, but has just fallen apart in the past 50 years. and now it’s all exposed and broken up. it is very beautiful. it opened in 1856.

so many people must have died here, the only hospital in new york to deal in small pox. didn’t really want to bug the dead people. in retrospect, and with respect, i should have stayed longer. maybe they were bored. all stuck in that fenced ruin on the quiet part of the little island.

if you like old buildings that are being taken back over by nature, very near very large cities, you’ll love this place.

some history of the island: click here and here.

DSC00419 from the tramrenwick hospital renwick windows

a quick drawing i did on roosevelt island

a quick drawing i did on roosevelt island

art jitters!

hello, does anyone have brown plastic bags (f. meyer, safew.) to give me?

i’ve been trying to fall asleep for 3 hours in nyc (1:30 here, not 10:30, wild-westies) – worrying about the tyson installation that i haven’t been able to work on – because of my new york adventures.

the show opens on thursday october 1st, so i have about 3 weeks to finish everything and then a few days to install.

i actually did complete one small sculpture, early in my trip, before i realized that i needed to actually get as much out of this trip as possible. as i will be working more for other people and unable to spend so long here. for a while.

if you have any bags to give me, i’ll be staying up ass late (after other work) for the rest of the month working on as much sculpture as possible and the 6th season of buffy. maybe the 7th too, depending on how many hours i end up in crochet.

just had the idea to do some loose abstract mural work in the gallery. i’ll have to check with the curator, but i think it may be ok. i know i’ve seen the walls of the gallery painted before. and if i help to restore them to white it’ll probably be ok. plus it’ll look so cool! that’d take me another 10 or so hours though. maybe. it’d be pretty abstract, and be on multiple walls (this is good! i can jump between pieces to increase productivity due to drying time) but i am a perfectionist. so i’ll have to be less specific than usual. and they’d be big. so there’s that.

and then there’s open studios! the 2nd and 3rd weekends of the month. i need to organize my studio and set it up so it’s a good place to show the public what i do. and set up demo stations, so i can work and interact at the same time. and then i have to organize the plastic bag crochet class i’ll be teaching at the mission mill museum in salem. and get all of that stuff ready.

but i’ll be home soon. and i can worry about all of that stuff then. i’ve got a busy day tomorrow, with the cleaning and laundry and packing and making sure everything is taken care of. then the getting to the airport, on the plane and going home. and then the being home part. so i’d better try to fall asleep again. hopefully it’s not another hour of that turning, tossing, flipping, worrying stuff.

thanks for reading my late night insomniac rant.

more about the new york trip soon. i’ve got some good stuff that i forgot to put in here.

planetarium and vegan foods date!


so yesterday was labor day. so my sweetie had the day off!

we went on a long wonderful date, thank goodness. dates are fun! especially in nyc. even the president does that! nyc is for dates. nyc is for love! (sigh.)

we went to the hayden planetarium at the natural history museum. it was pretty darn cool, but when we got there we had to wait for an hour to see the show we wanted to see. narrated by whoopi goldberg. so we had an hour to go around the museum and look at dead animals from various parts of history. both of us have been to that museum a lot of times,  so it was not that exciting. dead stuff. dinosaur bones are cool though, so we looked at those a bit. also got to see a few meteorites, which i love. especially the ones riddled with crystals. iron and crystals from space! intergalactic traveling preciousness.

the planetarium is pretty cool, it shakes as part of the effect, like when a projected planet or star nearly hits you. kind of fun. and whoopi goldberg has a delightful new york voice, scratchy and engaging. the projections were pretty good too. one of the new systems.

we will forever be swayed by our previous ability to see free planetarium shows on lunch break. we met at the science museum we both worked at, and although that was a while ago now, we still have a hard time paying 48 dollars for half an hour of planetarium time. damn. it was the most expensive movie we’ve seen here so far. and not the best. but it was fun. and now we know.

so then we went in search of the vegan pizza slices! we went to a place called ‘viva herbal pizza’ in the east village. yes, i’d done my homework. and this was the closest place (and one of the only ones) that had a variety of vegan choices by the slice. not so good! and very pricy. i’ve made better. other restaurant patrons were thoroughly enjoying their choices, but mine was like a big cracker with artichoke hearts on it. plus it had tomato sauce, even though i didn’t think the sign said it did (i have problems with tomato) so i ate part of it and had some nice stomach cramps later. but it had some seitan on it that was delicious. and casey’s seemed better. they had slices with cow or other hooved animal cheeses on them… but the selection seemed better online. the vegan slices that i saw at the actual restaurant had tofu or something else on them instead of fake cheese. i really wanted fake cheese. ah well, now we know. there are apparently other places to get vegan slices, but mostly you have to order a whole pie. and most of the places with good reviews are in brooklyn. more vegans in brooklyn? i dunno.

then we went to a not so vegan bar (yucca) and had good, strong margaritas and tacos. i had a drink that had basil and pepper in it. i love basil! so that was fun! it was by tompkins square park, on ave. a, and we sat next to the open window and it was a lovely balmy evening.

then we went in search of the vegan icecream. the first shop we tried to visit was closed! it’s called ‘lula’s sweet apothecary’. it was labor day, and the evening… so many places seemed closed. but luckily we were in the east village. so we went only a few more blocks and went to ‘stogo’ and i had the most amazing coconut based vanilla icecream i have ever had the pleasure of eating. at this point my stomach was rocked from the pizza/taco/drinks. so i didn’t make it through my icecream. my delicious husband had mango sorbet, which was also very good. we traded off. but we liked mine better. it was amazing.

i’d say, from this experience, that the vegan icecream of the east village is very good, but you may have to go to brooklyn to get some vegan pizza that is pizzay enough for you.

all in all it was a very good evening. i love going on dates here. there is no shortage of things to do. an endless supply of excitement.


governor’s island (holiday weekend)

for the past year or so – whenever i’ve been in nyc – i’ve looked out from the bottom of manhattan and seen these islands in the distance. governor’s island, the one with the statue of liberty on it, ellis island. and i’ve wanted so much to visit one of them. taking the staten island ferry past governor’s island last week made me want to more!

my kind of tourism usually involves food and art, and walking around for 6 hours at a time just to see the way things are organized, hear what the city sounds like, and get muscley legs. but sometimes you have to go where all of the people are!

so on sunday we got ourselves organized and went on a picnic with one of my oldest friends zoe. she and i reconnected last winter after 20 years. she was my favorite person in 5th grade, and she still completely rocks.

we met up in the beautiful governor’s island ferry station at the bottom of the island of manhattan – along with like 100 other people. and waited in line for a while, then boarded. the ferry station is right next to the bigger more modern looking staten island ferry station. as we pulled away from manhattan for the short trip to governor’s island, we were so excited to be on the water!

the island itself is lovely, and only open 3 days a week! so it’s clean and full of people when it is open. there are bike rentals there and paths and a lot of lawn for picnicing!

there was a lot of art there, many installations in the abandoned historical military buildings, and large sculptures in the fields between. the buildings are brick and stone. there were many houses with art installed on the first floors. gorgeous old officer’s homes with peeling paint and great built ins.

i really want to install something in one of these homes at some point. i need to find out how and where to apply for an installation. i have ideas about making plastic bag sculptures specific to the island. i have always been fascinated by ghost towns, abandoned buildings, military forts that have been derelict and overgrown. and i am all about installations of sculpture. this is exactly up my alley. this is my alley.

we walked around the island (the open parts) and walked through history.

i learned that no governor ever lived here. but people did since people lived anywhere. it used to be called nut island by the indigenous population, who would hang out there a lot and get the nuts from the island’s many trees. military presence has been recorded since 1776. i think. there are some old earthworks bits. hillsides built up. and some pretty old buildings. one is called ‘Castle Williams’ and i really expected to be able to see some if it’s history more. but all of the windows were covered in plexi and there had been some updates in maybe the 60s? so not much old stuff can be seen through the windows, some crumbled drywall, some insulation, some leaves.

but all in all it was lovely!

we got to lay on the grass and look at the clouds moving. i can’t remember the last time i did that. it was a really nice day.

when we were in line to catch the ferry back to the city i was bit or stung by an insect. it may have been a horesfly or a wasp. i think it bit me though, as no stinger was left behind. and i shooed it away pretty quickly, so i didn’t see it. i’ve tried looking up the biting insects of new york online without luck. i mean, there are a lot of insects around that bite… none seem particulary specific to governors island. my knee swelled up quite a bit and was painful for a couple of days. now it is just itchy, much easier to deal with.

beware the insects of governor’s island! but go anyways because it is really fun!



dia: beacon


i just went to dia: beacon today! it was so cool!

the building used to be a cookie or biscuit factory. and now it is vast and there is a lot of art there! the modernish kind. and there is a lot of work by each artist.

it’s not a museum that’s crammed full of art either. there is room for the art to do it’s thing.

it was great!

one room had 4 richard serra ‘torqued ellipses’ (oh, maybe 30 feet tall? hard to tell from down here on these short legs). very nice. also these lovely pits by michael heizer. you can tell i like the rusty metal? yep. i also very much enjoyed the john chamberlain collection.

oh, and the antoni taipes’ were  very nice! i realized (again… i already knew this, but every time i see this type of thing i am reminded) that i very much like art that is dirty looking, in the most traditional sense. art that looks like dirt is part of it. i heart dirty art!

mmmmm dirt and rust! sigh!

i wish the loise borgeois collection had been larger or more varied in creation date. her language has changed throughout the years quite a bit, which is lovely and interesting to me. they did have quite a few very good sculptures of hers though. i just wanted to see more more more!

we took the metro north from grand central to beacon and walked to the museum. big grounds, huge building. took us an hour and a half each way, along the hudson. gorgeous!

and there is some more walking to do around the area, such a beautiful part of the hudson river valley. there is a dock/sculpture/interactive-community-fishing-area that’s part of the museum to (well, it’s maybe 1/2 mile from the museum, but was funded and organized by the museum), and that is also lovely!

it was well worth the trip.

some day, i tell you what! some day i’ll have art there! damn right!

and then, oh glorious day, we went to b&h and had sauerkraut pierogies and soup! and juice, which they make there for you in whatever flavor you want. oh i am so full and happy now! and the guy at the restaurant recognizes us because we go there every time we are here (at least once), and casey goes when i am not here even. such good food! and the juice we had was watermelon, cucumber, grape. mmmmmmmm.

thanks for reading!

some little island castle on the hudson river, from the train