Call To Artists – The Mini Salon

International Small Works Traveling Exhibition
2020 Call to Artists

The Mini Salon was organized as a result of an extraordinary and accelerated effort from the partnership of NOW open studio, House of Friends Kenya & House of Friends Cincinnati.

A two year tour will take the The Mini Salon across the US and over seas to Kenya, Africa with possibility of a European leg. We want artists to submit pieces that embody the spirt of their work; (style, themes, or genera they usually work in.)

The only thing mini about this exhibition is the work. Our vision is for it to be monumental in every other aspect. Though the works will be uniform in size each piece will contain the spirt of the individual artist, but with I combined voice of a moment in time. Art soothes, persuades, perturbs, asks questions, and above all persists.

The incomparable year of 2020 will inevitably influence the artistic voice world wide. In isolation one would assume a certain ignorance of the outside world, but it has been shown in the repressive or darkest of times there is a shared knowledge that seems to always permeate. We hope to receive diversity in themes. (political intensity, subjective immediacy, lyrical, abstraction, conceptual, literalism, minimalism etc.) This show is not about a pandemic, but the fact is clear there will be an impact to the artistic world. This exhibition will serve as a time capsule of expression during a very significant time.

The co-curators of The Mini Salon Gina Hartmann & Jamey Ponte express, “our enthusiasm for this project has enabled us to expand internationally the impact of this unique and historical project. We hope to expose a broad spectrum of the viewing public to a world wide collective of artistic voices.” 


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Call to Artists Now Open…

Due to the current conditions happening world wide and the continuing spread of COVID- 19 we have decide to postpone our current call to artist for the OCT 2020 Residency. Please follow us on FB and watch for updates here. For those who have already applied your entry will continue to be active until we can resume the call and new dates for the Residency have been decided. Thank you NOW & House of Friends, Kenya

Artists are invited to submit complete applications for the NOW•FRIENDS; Artist Residency, Kenya programApplications will be reviewed on a competitive basis. One artist will be selected as the recipient. We encourage entering early judges will have opportunity to see work through out the entry submission period. Read more under RESIDENCY.

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Erica Hanson; April 2020 NOW Masters Project recipient!

Due to the current conditions happening world wide and the continuing spread of COVID- 19 we have decide to postpone this show. Please follow us on FB and watch for updates here. 

would like to congratulate Erica Hanson; April 2020 NOW Masters Project recipient.

The NOW Masters Project is an invitational series in which artists are chosen to have professionally curated exhibitions in one of the incredible art venues that have been generously provided to NOW. It is offered to artists with a strong Vitae whose art displays museum-level quality. Artists are selected for their high level of craftsmanship, vision, and professionalism

“The Unseen World”  a recent series of hand-stitched embroidery pieces will be on exhibition in April 2020 at The Olympic Mills Building, in SE industrial Portland. 

Erica Hanson was born in rural Oregon and grew up amongst the local flora and fauna. She holds a Bachelor of Science in drawing, painting and printmaking from Portland State University. In 2017 Hanson was a recipient of the Oregon Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC): Professional Development Grant Award.

Hanson draws on her formal science and visual arts education, knowledge of textile design, sewing, cultural mythology, biology and spirituality. Her recent embroideries bring to the foreground, otherworldly moments in time while traversing realms of other existence. Many of the pieces are embedded with phosphorescent (glow-in-the-dark) thread. Inspired by the theory that matter can share space, being visible or not it is up to the perceiver to perceive what is in front of them at any moment, thus creating one’s own unique reality.  


Hanson chooses to work on found objects, table clothes and linens. Her artwork crosses the line between “craft” and “art” by using a needle and thread to paint a picture. The string is a line on a plane creating depth and purpose. Colored threads as a painting device: each stitch a brush stroke.





See more work 

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A Global Performance!

What’s been going on with our friends from across the pond, House of Friends, Kenya:

November 2019, House of Friends, Kenya welcomed artist in residence  SARAH CAMERON SUNDE. HOF, Mombasa, Kenya hosted Sunde during the process of her time based art production 36.5 / A Durational Performance With The Sea.

36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea is a series of performance works and video works created by Sarah Cameron Sunde that engage people on personal, local, and global scales in conversations around deep time and sea-level. It is a complex, collaborative, evolving series of works spanning seven years and six continents.

Each work in the series consists of a live performance event, a time-lapse video, and a long-form cinematic video work from a different coastal location. For each: Sunde travels to a location threatened by sea-level rise to stand in a tidal area for a full tidal cycle, usually 12-13 hours; water engulfs her body and then recedes again.

“Sunde chose the Kwale Region along the Pangani Coast in Kenya as the African location for the series because the area is known for its historic landmarks, a melting pot of vibrant cultures, and a point of entry into Africa for the rest of the world. Coastal areas will face extreme flooding, and excess salt in the soil are predicted to make water importable and agriculture extremely challenging. At the same time, Kenya is working to develop a sustainable economy, and if the population is aware of the challenges sea-level rise will bring, there is hope for adaptation and mitigation. 36.5 aims to connect the Kenyan people to these issues, while raising global awareness about Kenya’s climate change challenge.”  – 36.5

This is the 7th work in the series below is location and time the event took place.

36.5 / Bodo Inlet, Kwale, Kenya                                                                                          November 8, 08:10 – 20:16.                                                                                                                 12 hours, 6 minutes  

“We had outstanding participation from the community of Bodo with over 50 people standing in the water and hundreds of people participating from the shore. Incredible singing and dancing from UKT group and Kwale Arts marked the passing of each hour and audience members planted 700 mangrove seedlings, throughout the course of the day to protect the Bodo shoreline.” – Sunde

Find out more about this project and see the video:

2019 House of Friends, Artist in Residency, Mombasa, Kenya / SARAH CAMERON SUNDE

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…and the NOW•FRIENDS ; Artist Residency, Kenya recipient is…

Congratulation!  The NOW•FRIENDS ; Artist Residency, Kenya recipient goes to Theda Sandiford. 


Theda Sandiford, is a self-taught mixed media artist based in Jersey City, NJ. Though art is engrained in her psyche, Theda’s first creative endeavors were in the music business as a digital marketing executive. After years of ground breaking digital branding work for musicians, she began exploring her own artistry by transforming found and meticulously collected materials into mixed media works, photographing her process and then digitally manipulating these images to extend the narrative as part of her personal mythology. Fragmented identity juxtaposed with the existence of infinite possibilities is a recurring theme in her work. Her work Selfie-Joy was licensed to BET’s Being Mary Jane in 2017. Theda has shown extensively in Jersey City, Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

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House of Friends ; Kibera Arts District

Jamey Ponte of House of Friends Kenya is helping the organization develop its newest artistic project. The Kibera Arts Districts (KAD), located in the Kibera Slum Settlement of the Nairobi Area of Kenya, will build off of “a revolution of creative expression that has burst in the past few years in Kenya,” as Ponte puts it. Though it will contain micro galleries and studios, the purpose of KAD goes far beyond opening creative spaces. The mission of the district is to allow artists to become activists, thinkers, and groundbreakers. Artists will be making their own decisions and learn from their mistakes without the interference of corporations or NGOs that might restrict or rob the artists of their freedom of expression.
Ponte recognizes and appreciates that there are already a number of art efforts in Kibera, but none have gained the professional, national, or international respect that Ponte anticipates KAD to have. Although a gallery /studio known as Maasai Mbili is a real gem and partner in the community worth noting. It is not government or even NGO funding that will make the district a success, but instead the synergy created by the artists who are given freedom to express, create, build, and sustain their community on their own terms. Outside funds will certainly play a part in the district’s development, but Ponte emphasizes that KAD wants to avoid a culture of handouts; that is to say, when “charitable” efforts are superficial and unhelpful, they only slow down community growth. Ponte strongly believes that if the locals of Kibera do not seize the opportunity for development, the area will be taken away from them by tycoons whose motives are not at all community-centric. According to Ponte, “the real purpose [of the district] is to keep the artist and residence from being displaced and [to find] a way they can own what they are doing and not being lied to by fake NGO programs that said they would help the past 60 years.”
Ponte expects local businesses to pop up among the art studios once the district has grown. This may include food spots, jewelry and fashion design, libraries, spoken word joints, and East African film theaters. Ultimately, it is the community that will decide the shape of the district, not House of Friends. The rent control in the intended area of development will give an extra advantage to these small businesses. Ponte shares House of Friends does not have control over where exactly KAD will develop, but he guesses it will be in what is called “the entry of Kibera,” the safest corner of the area.
Though the project has already been launched, it will not be publicly advertised until as late as next year. Ponte estimated that it will be three years until the district has fully blossomed, at which time “saying Kibera Arts District will be a common phrase not only to Kibera locals but to art lovers across the globe.” Ponte hopes that KAD will spread and promote an understanding of the artist’s role in a community. And if wealthy corporations try to hijack the program? “We will find a new place to go just as artist[s] have for hundreds if not thousands of years.”
More information on House of Friends can be found at
Be sure to investigate the NOW Friends artist residency if you are curious about Kenya’s art culture.

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Update…NOW•FRIENDS ; Artist Residency, Kenya

We want to thank all of the incredible artists who submitted to NOW•FRIENDS ; Artist Residency, Kenya. The quality of work was outstanding. The level of skill and vision of ever submission has been overwhelming. We hope to announce our selection for the 2020 Residency by weeks end.

Again thank you and good luck to everyone. – NOW•FRIENDS Team

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Introducing the NOW Masters Project

The NOW Masters Project is an invitational series in which artists are chosen to have professionally curated exhibitions in one of the incredible art venues that have been generously provided to NOW. It is offered to artists with a strong Vitae whose art displays museum-level quality. Artists are selected for their high level of craftsmanship, vision, and professionalism. The artist will be awarded a month-long exhibition that is professionally curated, assembled, and promoted. The artist is invited to be present during installation and for a reception during their time in Portland. Our hope is that the artist will use their time to personally invite top gallerists, dealers, critics, curators and collectors to the show.

The art world has been strongly criticized for not seeking out artists beyond their professional circles to promote and fund. The time is NOW to raise up underrepresented voices; here at NOW Open Studio we are taking up to challenge to present master-level artists to the art world at large.


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NOW•FRIENDS ; Artist Residency, Kenya

NOW open studio in partnership with House of Friends, Kenya presents an artist residency opportunity in Nairobi, Kenya; Africa starting in 2020.

This collaborated venture “NOW•FRIENDS ; Artist Residency, Kenya”  will give artists the opportunity to immerse themselves in real communities and obtain authentic experiences. During the 2 week residency artists are encouraged to step out of what they would typically consider their “work”. We want you to step back and take a look at how you perceive making art. While in Residency artists can take the opportunity to work with community members to work on a collaborative project; such as an artist book, or visit other artists working in Kenya to better understand a new perspective. Artist are encouraged to work with materials sourced in their surroundings to expanded their ideas of media. We hope at the completion of the residency artists will walk away with meeting new friends and a new project. This can be a single work made in a collaboration or a small series of works influenced by their time in Kenya.

For more information see;   Residency



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NOW welcomes Jamey Ponte of House of Friends

Art has the power to shape communities, generate hope, and create lasting emotional bonds. Some artists, however, feel that they may never attain these revolutionary moments through their art, but Jamey Ponte is here to convince us otherwise. House of Friends was founded by Ponte in 2003 and is an initiative born from the Child Wellness Fund where artists help community growth through art. In an interview this year in Portland, OR, Ponte gave a brief history of how he first came to Kenya–out of a series of random happenstances which miraculously landed him and his partner on a safari–and then explained how he came to enjoy Kenyan culture to its fullest. Open, friendly, humorous, and well-traveled, Ponte intrigued our audience with anecdotes that made travelling long distances seem worth it for the unforgettable memories. Memories, of course, are not the main reason to apply for the NOW•FRIENDS artist residency; the impact one’s art projects have on the Kenyan residency communities will last for generations. Imagine helping the maternal line of a family write their own book, Ponte suggested, which could be passed down from generation to generation. Imagine not creating for a community, but with a community, to help them tell their story in their own words. Ponte emphasized that the most important skills to take with you to Kenya are not artistic, but networking-oriented. Be flexible, be open, and bring a compassionate heart along with your paints and canvas. The biggest goal of NOW•FRIENDS is to create projects based on the community’s needs and desires, not the artist’s. If there was one thing I took away from Jamey Ponte’s talk that afternoon, it was that this experience will prove to you how effective art can be in this changing, frightening, seemingly unforgiving world, and that the world won’t stay so frightening if artists like you act up.
If you’re perusing the NOW•FRIENDS artist residency, keep in mind the passionate tales Ponte has to offer from past trips, the people you could meet who you would never contact otherwise, and these words of advice from Ponte himself which I could not fit into the above paragraph:
Don’t buy into the system.
Never do something just to be recognized.
Your grassroots projects do matter, because change never starts at the top, it starts with artists like you.

–Sophia Valdez

learn more:                                                                                      Follow House of Friends, Kenya on Facebook

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