We had the good fortune of connecting with Shola Lawson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shola, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art is girlish, soft, sometimes provocative but never terribly serious. Lots of cats! I shoot pretty selfishly in that I try to develop photographs I would want to see hanging in my apartment. It wasn’t until about six months ago I started to toy with the idea of processing grief through art. As a larger concept I love this, but haven’t been able to access my emotions through creating art myself and I really want to! I’m currently working on a book compiled of my friends art and poetry with this idea in mind. It will be titled “Good Grief.”
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I grew up in Portland and as much as it’s changed over the years there are still some hidden gems that are near and dear to my heart and very much a part of what influences my work!
Peninsula park – One of the most beautiful parks in the world! A large variety of roses with this pretty fountain in the middle. It looks like a postcard from the 70’s! At sunset it’s quite possibly the most romantic spot in town. I spend my birthday here every year picnicking with girlfriends.
Blue Moon Camera – Are you into photography? Then you must stop by Blue Moon in Saint Johns. Their inventory is unmatched and everyone is super helpful and void of ego.
Downtown – Some people think downtown Portland is depressing because so many businesses are boarded up but personally I love it. It’s the perfect place to meander around, shoot photos and see where you end up. I love the historical public library downtown, my friend recently told me they have every back issue of cat fancy magazine, which is true! Nordstrom is great to score some free La Mer samples. Stand up comedy is also a must for the captivated and affluent.
Nationale – This has been my favorite shop in Portland for many years now. I’ve been visiting shop owner, May Barruel, since 2011 usually in search of the latest Apartamento magazine but never leaving without a lavender soap or an avant-garde record I never knew I needed.
Humane Society – This has always been my favorite place to take a date. If you’re into cats then you can spend a whole afternoon hanging out with them in a private room. I’ve always been a big fan of what they stand for and love their motto; “End Petlessness.”
Beaverton – I grew up in the suburbs (Beaverton to be exact) and it’s definitely worth visiting. If you drive deep enough you’ll hit West Union Gardens, an abundant berry patch open all summer long. I’m pretty nostalgic for the Target out there. I used to go in highschool with my friend to eat buttered breadsticks and people-watch. Uwajimaya is out in Beaverton too. A fantastic Japanese grocery store with all sorts of imported trinkets and treasures. I love the apple juice boxes there, you have to try apple juice from Japan! If you’re lucky you can score a purple sweet potato bun with red bean paste at their hot food bar.
Century 16 Eastport Plaza – This is that theater with those bed seats I was mentioning. Bring a fleece blanket, pillow, snacks. No rules out past 82nd avenue!
Rosmarino – Best Italian food in all of Oregon! Rosmarino is located outside Portland in a cute town called Newberg. Newberg is best known for their wineries but they also have great antique stores and cozy cafes. If you go on a Sunday you can get their wood fired pizza and it’s so good. I ate so much one time that I felt super sick and nauseous. No regrets!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Vikesh! He’s the person who recommended me for this feature. He really likes my art so naturally I have a lot of respect for him and his opinion (ha). Vikesh taught me that traveling abroad would be life-changing and that I should always ask for more than what I think I deserve. Also, a huge shout-out to my weekly art critique group – Lorraine and Ana (the maidens). I’ve known these two since high school so it’s really nice to have the history and trust that we do. We talk about everything in this group but it’s really about inspiring and supporting each other in our current art endeavors.