Bev Birdwell sells her hand-painted ornaments at the Camas Gallery at 408 NE 4th Ave.
Everyone will remember 2020 for a variety of reasons, but COVID-19 will be at the top of most people’s lists. Schools are closed, businesses have either shut down or are working under very modified conditions, and the world discovered Zoom meetings.
Everyone has had to adapt and be flexible. So how did one local artist respond?
Bev Birdwell has painted for over 30 years. She teaches painting in her home art studio. But for 13 years, she has hand-painted Christmas tree ornaments and sold them at the annual “America’s Largest Christmas Bazaar” at the Portland Expo Center. This year, the event’s sponsor went bankrupt — a casualty of the COVID-19 restrictions. The event was cancelled, with many vendors losing their deposits.
Brainstorming ideas, Bev and a friend came up with the idea of characters on ornaments wearing masks. The ultimate symbol of 2020 — a Covid Christmas ornament.
Bev sells her hand-painted ornaments at the Camas Gallery at 408 NE 4th Ave. They’ve been flying out the door, says owner Marquita Call. You might say they’ve gone viral.
People are calling from around the country. Call just shipped an order to Washington, DC, and another to California. She’s sold ornaments to people in Chicago and Atlanta as well.
Like the idea of a Santa wearing a mask? Or how about a masked Santa carrying an American flag, with Frosty the Snowman saluting Santa and the flag? There’s a masked Santa holding his bag of toys and a roll of toilet paper. Bev has come up with a considerable number of creative characters.
How about Santa and Mrs. Claus with masks, a piece of mistletoe, and leaning towards each other for a Christmas kiss?
For Camas, she’s got a masked Joe Papermaker, the school mascot. For golfers, a masked Frosty is using a candy cane as a golf club with another candy cane marking the pin and the hole. There’s a masked Santa holding a roll of toilet paper in each hand, and a masked Angel holding a red heart. Or a masked Christmas tree with “Oh Quaran Tree” title wearing a 2020 toilet paper banner.
We asked what’s selling the best? “Every one of them are flying out of here,” said Call. “Well over $3,000 so far. I was just at UPS with 13 going to California. I mean, it’s just been insane.”
That’s a good problem for a business owner and an artist to have.
Birdwell recently helped the American Cancer Society with a fundraiser. Many of her ornaments were offered as incentives to donate to this worthy charity.
During the year, Birdwell normally teaches painting from her home with Arts Desire studio. Several years ago she was hired by Susan Scheewe to promote Scheewe paints in Taiwan department stores. But she’s having fun much closer to home this year. Bev is delighted that her unique ornaments are putting smiles on people’s faces at the end of a year marked by COVID.
You can see more at the Camas Gallery Facebook page here.