If you’re up for an afternoon that will net you a great little summer dress and a chance to meet’n’greet a handful of chatty shop owners, head to this Northeast Portland enclave of bohemian boutiques. The gentrified blocks are filled with a mix of twentysomethings and young families, and great places in which to find a gardenialike paper-shaded chandelier or a vibrant bolt or two of Japanese fabric.
THE SWEETEST LITTLE ILLUMINATION STATION
When we first came across the fabulous handmade paper lanterns of Lám Quáng (“Lovely Lanterns,” Portfolio, Mar.-Apr. 2003), the Vietnam-born computer scientist-turned-lanternmaker was single-handedly crafting mult-tiered lamps shaped like sea anemones, tulip heads and giant jellyfish out of hand-crafted paper, galvanized wire and strips of bamboo at his HIIH GALLERY (2929 N.E. Alberta St., 503-493-4367 or go to hiihgallery.com). Well, what a difference half a decade makes!
The 47-year-old now makes his handmade paper lamps and light sculptures with the help of his wife, Kestrel Gates, within babbling range of the couple’s year-old son, Xanh Calvin Clarence. Their otherworldly creations hang in more than 50 offices, studios, restaurants and retail locations, and set the right mood at many special events. “Our flower-inspired fixtures are the most popular,” says Gates, who keeps in-gallery hours on Saturdays (“Lám and the baby are in the back!”). “We just did big modern cylinrical pieces for Andina and we’re two days away from finishing a multi-gardenia chandelier for a private residence.”
Yeah, you could buy an armload of Ikea’s $9.99 steel-and-paper Dudero floor lamps and adorn your rooms with the 54-inch-tall “alien with an in-the-round food baby” fixtures for what one of Hiih Gallery’s (pronounced “hi-hi”) illuminations costs, but wouldn’t you rather live—or dine or play or toil—beneath a softly illuminated oversize gardenia or venus flytrap? Us, too! Prices start at $100 for a clip-on sconce.
BOLTS AND BOLTS OF BEAUTY
DIYers who are into Home Dec will love the mix at BOLT (2136 N.E. Alberta St., 503-287-2658 or go to boltfabricboutique.com). The pretty shop with the copper bowl-like light fixtures sells bolts and bolts of cottons, wools, flannels, linens and bamboo-blends, many from hot designers such as Amy Butler (vintage-inspired materials), Kaffe Fassett (fabrics great for quilts, duvets, tablecloths and runners), and Etsuko Furuya (Japanese contemporary). Bolt also offers sewing classes and stocks beaded trim, patterns, embroidery supplies and notions.
So what did we most want a few yards of?
That would be (clockwise from the dotted brown fabric, right): Leopard by Echino ($17.25 a yard), Panther by Echino ($17.25 a yard), Kaivo by Marimekko ($36 a yard) and Turbulent by Marimekko ($39 for a 39.5-inch by 56-inch panel). “Some of our clients drive in from Seattle to shop here,” says Bolt team member Julia Henning.
VINTAGE SLIPS AS COLOR CHIPS!
The girly girl in you will surface at the 8-year-old TUMBLEWEED (1812 N.E. Alberta St., 503-335-3100 or go to tumbleweedboutique.com), where great everyday dresses (by such companies as Odd Molly, Free People and Pete & Gretta) hang with a mix of bracelets ($160 for a metal cuff made of riblike pieces of silver), handbags, vintage belts and a lineup of newly hand-dyed vintage slips ($60 each) in a colorwheel-like display ranging from purple to moss to lavender to orange to hot pink to red.
NEED TO STOCK A CELLAR? PUT SOME OF THESE CORKS IN IT!
Sweater up before you head into the perfectly chilled air in CORK (2901 N.E. Alberta St., 503-281-2657 or go to corkwineshop.com), the latest retail offering from Darryl and Sarah Joannides. (The couple spent a decade as the creator-owners of the popular restaurant Assaggio in Sellwood.)
Two years ago, the Joannideses dreamed up Cork, which focuses on mostly organic, biodynamic and sustainably produced bottlings from small wineries. Still, check out The Chocolate Shop at Cork, a corner stocked with bars and bars of artisan chocolate ($10 for a bar of Chocolat Bonnat); the Bubbly Tub (below), filled with spirits that sparkle, fizz or foam; an olive oil bar at which you can buy extra-virgin olive oils at bulk prices; and The Beer Shop at Cork ($4.50 for Kelpie Seaweed Ale from Scotland). Salud!
FILE UNDER “STYLE”
From the oh-so-midcentury modern facade to the company logo to the furnishings and accoutrements inside, OFFICE PDX (2204 N.E. Alberta St., 888-355-7467 or go to officepdx.com) will speak to your “modern worker” DNA swirls that prefer the well-designed paper clip rather than the dime-a-dozen ones that the average cube dweller uses.
A vintage Steelcase desk or a 1950s business manual quickens the pulse of Tony Secolo (below), who co-owns the shop with his wife, Kelly Coller (left). He’s the creative director (he’s a grad of the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle); she’s the marketing director. Together, the couple keep Portland’s design-savvy crowd in Pina Zangaro masonite portfolio covers ($60 for an 11 by 17 cover), Jack Spade messenger bags ($195) and Blu Dot’s The Real Good chair ($130).
TREES, PLANTS AND SEEDS
Don’t think you have to head for a nursery in the ’burbs or the country to find ornamental trees or unconventional seeds. Head for the corrugated steel fence with posts topped with wooden finials that surrounds BUFFALO GARDENS (3033 N.E. Alberta St., 503-288-0220), which is your one-stop shop for both. Here you can crunch along pea gravel paths as you walk among small Lapins cherry trees ($18), Kanko Bai Japanese flowering plums ($26), Fire Crystal Asian persimmon trees and Desert King fig trees ($14).
Chickens in dog crates are stacked near a shed stocked with packets of seeds from the Territorial Seed Company ($4.90), the Iowa-based Seed Savers Exchange ($2.50) and the Maine-based Fedco Seeds ($1.85). If you’re an impatient sort, opt for the starter plants that fill flats that top cinderblock-and-crate tables. All that’s left is the digging, watering—and wiping the juice off your chin as you bite into a luscious home-grown veggie.
DON’T UNPLUG THE PATIENT JUST YET!
Who ya gonna call when your fridge goes on the fritz or your microwave does nada after you press the START button? Dial the APPLIANCE + REFRIGERATION HOSPITAL (3003 N.E. Alberta St., 503-281-0041).
This family-owned and -operated business has been working on more than 50 brands of appliances since 1947 for clients in Portland, Salem and Bend.
Don’t want to pay for a service call? There’s always the Spontaneous Repair.
DRESSES TO IMPRESS
Duck into GARNISH (1524 N.E. Alberta St., 503-282-3200 or go to garnishapparel.com) to relish the happy ending of a story that starts with a girl in Vermont learning to sew from a mother who loved the patterned life. Shop owner-designer Erica Lurie was running an outwear polar fleece business in high school, so it seems natural that after graduating from Montana State with a minor in Clothing and Textiles, the 31-year-old would be in the back of her own boutique operating a sewing machine, an intern still in high school by her side. Her 2-year-old shop is filled with unstructured tops ($74) and dresses ($224 for the Helen dress) of her own design, as well as pillows, tablecloths and estate sale finds.
GREAT GOODS FOR IMPISH SPIRITS
IMP (1422 N.E. Alberta St., 503-282-7467 or go to the store’s website, imponalberta.com) is a 3-year-old shop filled with all that proprietress Chris Karhi, a clothing designer turned interior design-shop owner, fancies. “I love handmade things,” she says. “When I find something I love, I sell it in the shop. Does my house look like my shop? No, it’s a more subdued. Okay, I have one room that’s pink.”
Cases hold hand-beaded Lily Lambert jewelry such as this necklace (right, $160) that Karhi calls “a little mandala.” Beach-cottage-perfect frames made from recycled blue-green boat wood from Indonesia ($88) hang near the door. Vases ($178) by San Francisco-based Dianna Fait are gorgeous, too.
THE THINKING WOMAN’S GALLERY
“I’ve had the gallery here for 11 years, since back when it was a Wild West town,” says Donna Guardino, who’s The Decider of the fine mix at GUARDINO GALLERY (2939 N.E. Alberta St., 503-281-9048 or go to guardinogallery.com). The finds here range from Old Flemish-style still lifes that Julie Ann Smith paints to mixed-media pods from the hand of Kim Hamblin ($120) to this 35 by 49 charcoal, conté and pastel piece (below) called Interpenetration ($750) by Alison Brown, whose work will be featured at the gallery in July along with Rick Gregg’s sculptures. “Alison has a very distinctive style,” says Guardino, a Bay Area transplant. “You really see a story in her pieces.”
FUEL UP FOR A 20-BLOCK STROLL’N’SHOP!
Snap up a table beneath the mural depicting a reclining Latina at the bustling
LA BONITA TAQUERIA (2839 N.E. Alberta St., 503-281-3662) and let the din of this tacqueria wash over you.
“96! . . . 97!” yells a woman behind the counter, signaling to waiting diners that two more orders are up—and getting you off your feet to order at the counter beneath the handwritten menu in purple, green, blue and yellow chalk. Tamales are $2.50. Meat Burritos cost $5.60. Opt for the three-taco Bonita Platter ($8.95), which comes with heaps of rice and beans.
Act surprised when you get the official meet and greet (okay, thorough sniffing) at EVERYDAY WINE (1520 N.E. Alberta St., 503-331-7119 or go to everydaywine.com) from the well-behaved shop dog Porter, a 9-year-old black lab. “Yeah, this is a dog-friendly place,” says Beth Boston, the owner of the 5-year-old wine store who started her own business after a stint at Sokol Blosser. “It’s a hangout that you bring your own food to and I serve the wine. People come with pizzas or desserts—and, of course, their dogs.”
Boston also holds Friday night winetasting events. “This whole wall is my wine list,” she says, sweeping her arm above Porter’s head toward the side of the yellow-walled, orange-ceilinged shop. “The layout is geographic: Here are the wines from California, Oregon, Washington, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal. . .”
Wine is sold by the glass ($4 to $10 a glass) or at retail plus a $5 corkage fee.