PGF's Artists-in-Residence, sister-brother team, Anne and Tom Greenwood, have been developing their new project: Ray-mains Blanket Company during their residency at PGF. Using scraps from Pendleton Woolen Mills, and with the support of PGF's production team, Anne and Tom have created beautiful upcycled blankets that will be auctioned off at a community celebration commemorating the 20th anniversary of Albina Green, the park outside of Cherry Sprout Produce, on October 6th (4–9pm). They sat down recently to tell us about their project and residency at PGF.
How did the idea to make wool blankets come to be?
ANNE: We began talking about our fondness for old wool blankets like the Hudson Bay Blankets at our grandma’s cabin in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the Native American blanket our dad had that he got from his grandfather who owned a butcher shop in North Dakota. The story was that our great grandfather traded with the people indigenous to that area, most likely Mdeqwakanton, Yanktonai, and Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux).
Have you collaborated on other projects before?
TOM: We’ve contributed to each other’s projects on and off since we left North Dakota. We both went to art school, and from that point on we have always shared friends, and a similar aesthetic to making things in a way we learned from being siblings.
Blankets can hold so much meaning. We use them to keep us warm, to give comfort, and they also often become heirlooms that are passed down. Did these ideas come into your project?
TOM: Yes, we’ve been thinking about the deeper meaning of blankets throughout this project. The blanket company that we’ve developed during our residency at PGF, is named after our dad, Ray. At the time we started talking about this project we were experiencing some very intense emotions around how things transpired after he died. We wanted to include him in something, so we collaborated and both feel that something about him or our relationship to him is transmuted into this project.
What has your process for making the blankets from wool scraps been like? Do you enjoy working within the constraints of using reclaimed material?
ANNE: The making and piecing together of the blankets has been effortless for us as we both work within constraints like this often. The remaking found materials, in this case, the sizes of the scraps, or the weight of the fabric, or colors really told us how to put them together. It is a choice to work intuitively, allowing the aesthetic choices to happen very quickly and not over think anything.
What has been like to work at PGF?
ANNE: Amazing, we love them all. I have primarily been the one at PGF, as Tom had a life change and was not as available as originally planned. I have been very inspired by the depth of the people and the business; the capacity of what gets made and how it all happens is original and very authentic and genuine. It is going to be hard to leave, as everyone has been so generous with their time, resources, knowledge, and their praise for what we’ve been making,
Your blankets will be displayed and find new homes at the Albina Green 20th Celebration. Can you share a bit about the history of the park and how it came to be?
ANNE: We’ve both been living in the neighborhood of the Albina Green for the past twenty-six years. The project began as a grass-roots movement in the Spring of 1996 with a handful of neighborhood residents intent on transforming a neglected piece of tax foreclosed property into an open and usable green space. In November of 1997, as our supporters increased and the Humboldt Neighborhood Association (HNA) adopted our cause, we successfully petitioned the Multnomah County Commissioners to cede the property to the Portland Parks Department. Under the terms of that agreement, the HNA was given a $15k Lila Wallace Foundation grant in 1999 to develop the property and be contractually responsible as the caretakers and custodians of the green space. Michael Callahan, Patrice Kelly, and I designed the green space with community members and I have continued on as the primary steward.
Tom introduced me to Johanna Jackson and Chris Johanson around 2009 when they had just moved to Portland. They painted their amazing mural in the park in 2014 which brought so much life and color to the space.
Everyone involved in the event on October 6th shares a history with the space. There are overlapping layers of community that have formed over the past two decades that we’re excited to honor and celebrate.
UPDATE: Ray-mains blankets now available on Anne’s website HERE.