Forest For The Trees 2015

Non-Profit Public Art Project. 30 artists realizing their creative visions in Portland's cityscape.
Gage Hamilton
1,400 Facebook Friends
Portland, Oregon
United States
1 Team Member

Forest For The Trees is a non-profit project dedicated to the creation of contemporary public art. The project brings together local and international artists in a collaborative setting and provides them with the creative freedom and resources to create lasting works in environments that are freely accessible in the Portland community. The organization aims to improve the visual landscape of the city through quality artwork, and to provide opportunities to the creative community to participate in establishing Portland’s visual identity. Furthermore, the organization educates the public on the artwork, intent and process through workshops, panel discussions and classes.

This August, we intend to further our organization’s goals by providing new artists with more opportunities to create both murals and three-dimensional installation works in the public realm. During the week of August 24th, 30 artists will be provided the locations, equipment, materials and support necessary to realize their creative visions. In the last two years, Forest For The Trees has been behind the creation of 35 new murals in various neighborhoods around Portland, almost entirely created within two weeklong painting sessions. These murals have become landmarks that are embraced by the local community and visitors alike, contributing to Portland’s reputation as a creative cultural destination.

Artists play a powerful role in building the culture of a city, and by allowing artists to present their work in highly visible public environments we are cementing their value in our culture. Not only does this project create a local identity through the work of Portland’s art community, but also connects us to a larger global community. Visiting artists come from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Cambodia, China, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa and the UK, as well as various US cities and Native Reservations. The mixing of local and visiting artists has allowed for a greater diversity of work and sharing of ideas that enrich the Portland culture. It also broadens the exposure and opportunities for local artists to further develop their careers before a global audience, thus contributing to Portland’s stature as an international creative hub.  

This project has shown that with your support we can offer the right mix of resources and creative freedom to allow artists to impact the visual culture of Portland.


Aaron Glasson

Alex M Peterson

Andrew Hem

Blaine Fontana


Celeste Byers

David Rice

Gage Hamilton

How & Nosm



Jade Rivera

Jaque Fragua

Jenene Nagy

John Gourley

Joram Roukes

Josh Keyes

Low Bros

Mary Iverson

Michael Reeder

Michael Salter


Ola Volo

Olivia Knapp

Paige Wright

Rustam Qbic

Spencer Keeton Cunningham

Stella Im Hultberg

Troy Lovegates

Zach Johnsen

Zach Yarrington

What We Need & What You Get

We've set the funding goal of $10K here, but we could definitely use more to make this even bigger and better. This is a shoestring budget for the amount and scale of the artwork we produce, but costs still add up. The money goes directly towards paint, equipment, materials and permits needed to create these pieces, as well as travel and lodging. The artists and organizers are donating their time in order to bring this to life. Plus, with the help of local grants that match our funding, every dollar you give is worth twice the value.

We have some exciting new rewards we are offering, including prints from AJ Fosik, Josh Keyes and Troy Lovegates, a 10-course dinner by chef Gregory Gourdet, Artist discussion panels at PNCA and Portland Art Museum, Artist led workshops, Coava Coffee and FFTT mugs, as well as new hats and tees!

This is our third year now, and each Summer we've learned how to make a bigger impact than the last. There are many challenges, but we know how to navigate those so that they do not become risks. If we do not reach our entire goal, we will still use the money we've raised to go as far as it can to create some new amazing work in Portland. If we do reach our goals, it will be an awesome Summer :)


August 29

Souther Salazar was born in 1978 in Hayward, CA. In the early 1990s, as a teenager in rural Oakdale, Salazar made photocopied cut-and-paste mini-comics and ‘zines. After graduating from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, he moved to Los Angeles where he lived and worked for ten years before re-locating to Portland OR, where he is currently based. Salazar’s artwork transports the viewer into a vibrant and endless world of overlapping narratives and dreamscapes— half-remembered, half-imagined places “where stories can develop and take on a life of their own.”  Utilizing a wide variety of freely mixed media, found objects and layers of assemblage, his work evokes the wonders and imagination that many of us abandoned in childhood. Salazar often exhibits his collages, paintings, drawings and sculptures in dense and frenzied installations that encourage exploration and discovery. 

In 1981 I was born on a naval base in the Philippine islands. For well over a decade my family hopscotched back to the US where we finally settled in Arizona. In 2007 I managed to escape the desert before I was baked alive and chased down my art school dreams in rainy Portland, Oregon. Later I decided art school wasn’t my ticket and entered a period I like to call The Great Lull.

In 2013 I procured a tiny vial of magic potion from a creepy old witch lurking in a dark cobblestone alleyway. The cost of my soul was an exceptional bargain. After imbibing the glowing confetti colored syrup I removed the bar towel from my back pocket and quit my bartending job, running all the way home to immediately start painting. Enriched by a steady diet of youtube videos and intense research I taught myself to sculpt and made a small army of bipedal animals wearing clothes. Initially I had sought the career of an Artist because I thought it would be a great excuse to rise around noon each day, but instead I became something of a Morning Person and am now enslaved by the army I myself created.

John Gourley is an Alaskan who grew up “off the grid” whose best friends were dogs and his sketch pad.  His companions of wildlife, northern lights, silence and whatever sci-fi videotapes he could get his hands on inspired his early art and remain a consistent theme today. As a child, in Wasilla, he was prohibitively introverted; he claims that his bandmates forced the lead-singer job on him when Portugal the Man formed, in 2005. Seven records and a decade later, Gourley seems to have settled into his role. John currently lives in Portland with his girlfriend and baby daughter and stacks upon stacks of unfinished art. 

September 12

Born and raised in Toba, Japan, Yoskay Yamamoto moved to the United States at the age of 15. A self-trained illustrator, Yamamoto's artistic tastes expanded as he fell in love with the urban culture of the West coast. Yamamoto discovered a way to fuse the two different cultural backgrounds together into his work. Yamamoto nostalgically blends pop iconic characters from his new Western home with traditional and mythical Japanese elements, balancing his Asian heritage with urban pop art.

BRENDAN MONROE:Currently I live and work in Oakland, California with my wife Evah and our cat Jalapeño. Once in a while I take on illustration commissions, but most of the time I paint and sculpt for exhibitions. I think it’s important to constantly challenge oneself with new ideas and new mediums. My interpretations of the world are mostly rooted in science then executed through painting and sculpting. These are the best ways for me to communicate, but I always enjoy making other things as well.

“She’s climbed up the leg of a crane to research her paintings’ subjects, the perspective lines drawn with a sharp blade. A true explorer, she sets up camp in the northwestern wilderness, searching for the perfect landscape to destroy in the nearly non-fictional, post-apocalyptic story she’s telling.”

-Kristin Farr, Juxtapoz Magazine

October 17

Born during his parents' flight from Cambodia in the wake of the Khmer Rouge genocide, Andrew Hem grew up poised in the balance between two cultures — the rural animistic society of his Khmer ancestors, and the dynamic urban arts of the tough Los Angeles neighborhood where his family eventually came to rest. Fascinated by graffiti at an early age, he honed his skills with graphics and composition on the walls of the city before following a passion for figure drawing to a degree in illustration from Art Center College of Design. Working in gouache, oil and acrylic, he weaves atmospheric, richly textured narratives in a vivid palette of twilight blues enlivened by swaths of deep red and splashes of golden light. His haunting impressions of culture and landscape evoke the life of the spirit through the visionary manifestation of memories and dreams.

“Fosik’s feral creations take the shape of fantastic beings that communicate a subversive, anti-religious commentary through the depiction of hyperbolized fictional gods. Nameless, ​assigned no specific meanings or powers, beholden to no formal faith—real or contrived—Fosik’s idols are not meant to contribute to some grand theological narrative of the artist’s design. They are masterfully made beautiful objects that examine the nature of spiritual iconography through an absence of religious discourse. In this way, Fosik points to the power and scope of man’s innate creativity devoid of divine inspiration.” – Lainya Magana, Hi-Fructose

Born in 1969 in Tacoma Washington.  Josh Keyes received his BFA in 1992 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in 1998 from Yale University School of Art.  He has exhibited his work nationally and internationally and has work in private and public collections. Keyes currently lives and works in Portland Oregon with his wife and artist Lisa Ericson.

Inspired by 18th and 19th-century aesthetics and philosophy, Josh Keyes paints animals in a style reminiscent of anatomical diagrams. His work is characterized by an attention to detail and to physiological accuracy. Keyes, however, does not place his animal subjects in their natural settings; rather, they are often in peril, displaced from their natural ecosystems into dioramic fantastical situations. These landscapes are frequently isolated and contain an incompatible mix of the natural and manmade. Keyes acknowledges that themes of migration and displacement frequently feature into his work as a form of his preoccupation with global climate change and the human impact on nature. 

Born in Boston, MA and based in Porltand, OR Shea creates mixed media sculptures out of small discarded gadgets and lost cultural icons. These assembled parts are fused together with hand sculpted figures and animal forms carved out of clay and wood modeling mediums. Imbuing them with a sense of adaptability, transience and animism as they are pulled out of context, repurposed and recontextualized.



“Fosik’s feral creations take the shape of fantastic beings that communicate a subversive, anti-religious commentary through the depiction of hyperbolized fictional gods. Nameless, ​assigned no specific meanings or powers, beholden to no formal faith—real or contrived—Fosik’s idols are not meant to contribute to some grand theological narrative of the artist’s design. They are masterfully made beautiful objects that examine the nature of spiritual iconography through an absence of religious discourse. In this way, Fosik points to the power and scope of man’s innate creativity devoid of divine inspiration.” – Lainya Magana, ​​Hi-Fructose


Blaine Fontana currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Imbuing his vision with the divine symbolism of religious myths, worldly folklore and current social dynamics, his works contain a kind of shamanic exploration of meaning that recognizes the totemic quality and power of the image. With extensive experience within the design world, including working as a designer for Felt Bicycles and acting art director for Zero+ Publishing, Fontana’s work displays a virtuosic understanding of sign & simulacra and their role within our contemporary visual culture. Straddling the physical and metaphysical, organic and architectural, painterly and graphic sensibilities, Fontana fuses multiple visual strategies to forge an aesthetic language entirely of his own making.

Blaine Fontana received his BFA in Communication Art/Design from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA in 2002. He was awarded “Best in Show” for his senior thesis project, and is one of only seven distinguished alumni from 2000-2010. He is currently an Advisory Board member for the Northwest College of Art.


"Duality" by Gage Hamilton

Troy Lovegates

AJ Fosik

Other Ways You Can Help

There are a lot of people that are aware of the many murals we have been behind over the last few years, but they might not know where they come from since we don't put signage with branding or websites on the artwork or pay for advertising. That has been a conscious choice and we feel it is the right one. That means word of mouth is really essential in funding this project, so please oh please share this with your friends!

Find This Campaign On
total funds raised
Original campaign was 107% funded on July 16, 2015
Select a Perk
Do you think this campaign contains prohibited content? Let us know.
Help make it happen
for Forest For The Trees 2015 and Gage Hamilton!
Other Campaigns You Might Like