This Artist's Home Has All That She Wants: Her Paintings, a Bed to Call Her Own, and a Soft Landing

Photos by Peter Schweitzer

Who: Buckley
Where: Slabtown, Northwest Portland, Oregon
Style: European essentialist

In the six months she's lived in her 600-square-foot studio apartment in northwest Portland, the artist Buckley has spent maybe six weeks there, total. She splits her time between Portland and Los Angeles, where she also has an art studio — and often travels for commissions. (See her work on display at Hunker House.)

Having lived in Portland for several years in her 20s, she's no stranger to the city. "I have a good access to myself here," she says. "It's slower and quieter." And settling into northwest Portland was no accident, either. She savors the anonymity, as well as the vaguely European feel. "It's not the cool neighborhood of Portland. This neighborhood, it's older," she says. "It feels like England a little bit — or certain elements of Paris."

The space itself is minimal, calming, and a bit timeless — "essentialist" in her own words. A few built-ins, a bed by the window, small mementos from trips abroad, and little else. "There's something about having too many things that creates noise in my field."

What gives the space its cohesion and overall sensibility, says Buckley, is the palette. "Every color here has some percentage of gray in it. The feeling of the space is a soft minimalist vibe that's just meant for a soft landing."

A soft landing is exactly what Buckley sought in what would be her first home in many years — a place that is spare, tranquil, contemplative. Indeed, she feels a certain kinship to the 100-year-old building. "I feel like this place is an old lady, thinking, sitting here like a philosopher — and that's what I feel like inside," she says.

What's left, then, is her work — paintings in various stages of being finished.

Many of the paintings are due to move soon, as soon as her new Portland studio is finished. "Right now, it's just nice to have them around, and wake up to them."

"I love my bed so much," Buckley says. "When I'm not here, it's what I'm thinking about. I don't know if it's because for so long I didn't have a bed in the world that was mine." The placement of the bed is deliberate as well. "The bed is special and important, but its function is so I can look at the view." The brick courtyard, and the mossy roof, is the first thing she sees in the morning.

The built-in desk is actually a Murphy bed original to the apartment. "I use it for paint storage," she explains. "It creeps me out to put my bed in the coffin every night."

"My whole life, I've put my studios first," she says, which is one reason why her raw materials take center stage in her apartment. "I've always dressed my studios more than I've dressed my homes because I end up spending more time there."

LOCALS KNOW BEST

Favorite piece of design or architecture in your neighborhood, town, or city: So many! In my neighborhood, there's the facade of the Gregory building, which is really beautiful. It's really simple, art deco, and sculptural. It's something that I'd love to have made.

And in my neighborhood, the churches just blow me away. They are all really stunning. There's a church on 19th — a big, beautiful gray church with big red doors. The west side, in general, has a lot of that. It feels like England.

Best places for thrift store finds, antiques, or flea markets: I can't tell or else it'll blow up the spot. It's sacred. It's far away, so people won't go.

There's a place called The Bins. It's bulk, you just sort through a lot of things. And also Lounge Lizard and Vintage Pink.

Best farmers market: In Southwest, there's one by Portland State University — that one is amazing. And there's one in Southeast that is in front of People's Co-Op. That one's really special — there's a special mushroom man and lots of different, great fruit.

Best happy hour: Portland is such a drinky town. Angel Face is definitely my favorite bar.

Best cheap and cheerful restaurant: I love Teote.

Best place to experience art and culture: I come here for nature — nature and music. The music here is really amazing. I love going to shows at The Old Church. It's another really beautiful church on the west side. You sit in pews and watch really great bands.

I also come here for film — this is a really great film city. A friend of mine curates Church of Film. As far as arts and culture goes, they are an incredible programmer for avant-garde and old experimental films from around the world.

Best coffee shop: Commissary Cafe is right across the street from me. It's a beautiful space.

If I were to have visitors, I would take them to: That's really easy. I have a visitor now, so I am already scanning my brain for what we've done …

Mount Tabor is a volcano in the middle of the city, with a really beautiful park.

I always take people to Tusk, which is a really amazing restaurant for any time of day.

And I love taking people to The Hoxton, to their speakeasy, for a drink at night. It's such a dream place — they have great music, DJs, but it's really low-key, you can order late-night Chinese food, and really, just stunning design.

And Pepe le Moko is also beautiful for a drink.


Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle, design, and women's health.