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20th Art Beat: Featured artist's talent 'shines'

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For Art Beat’s featured artist, the word “shine” means much more than referring to the polished metal surfaces of his sculptures. Like so much with Mylan Rakich, there is more to him than meets the eye.

To Rakich, “shine” means the energy and the underlying self-empowerment of his artwork.

“It also refers to the ability of composing art with a lot that is available to you and the duality within the work,” said the 39-year-old New York native.

“Shine” is also the title of his featured art piece for this year’s 20th Anniversary Art Beat. The sculpture is a three-dimensional metal sculpture installation and is patterned after various architectural elements. He says the inspiration for the piece was PCC and its building designs.

“The campuses are composed very nicely,” said Rakich, who lives in St. Johns. “What I do is I look at a building and its exposed structure, like a support beam, to get my ideas. Rock Creek was the particular setting which inspired this piece.”

Rakich, a large scale metal sculptor and an assistant sculpture professor at Portland State University, will discuss his unique approach to three-dimensional compositions in mild steel at Art Beat. He will lead demonstrations on Tuesday, May 8 from 11 a.m. to noon in the Building 3 Forum at the Rock Creek Campus; Wednesday, May 9, from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Little Theatre at Sylvania Campus; and Thursday, May 10 at the Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building (Room 108) at the Cascade Campus from 10 to 11 a.m.

On Monday, May 7, Art Beat officially gets underway with an opening reception from noon to 1 p.m., outdoors between the SS and the Moriarty Arts and Humanities buildings at the Cascade Campus. PCC District President Preston Pulliams will officially unveil and accept Rakich’s featured piece.

For more on the Art Beat schedule visit its Web site at: artbeat.pcc.edu.

Rakich, who lists expressionist and minimalist painters as his biggest artistic influences, started out being interested in architecture while in college. But the scope of the industry was a bit much for him to take on all at once. He preferred focusing on smaller niches of the industry to hone his design skills.

“I wanted to make it more personal,” he said of his career.

Instead of architecture, he has worked as a basic carpentry instructor for Wayne Technical & Career Center in Williamson, New York and as an art instructor at PCC’s Rock Creek Campus. Even though Rakich holds a bachelor’s degree from State University in New York and a master’s degree in art from PSU, he is working on an associate’s degree in welding technology from PCC.

“I thought that I could weld and after going through much of the program now I know I can weld,” Rakich said.

Besides an artist and a professor, Rakich works as a carpenter. He plans to get a contractor’s license to expand his skills into home renovation or construction.

“I wear a lot of hats,” he said. “But I favor teaching because I like being around students who have a youthful atmosphere of creativity.”

Rakich has plenty of creativity himself. He is a regular at Portland’s Butters Gallery (520 N.W. Davis). You can find much of his artwork at the gallery (http://www.buttersgallery.com/Artist-Detail.cfm?ArtistsID=404) and he plans to have a one-man show next year there. He also has art installations at Clackamas and Lane community colleges and in city parks in Washington state.

After living awhile in New York, Rakich came west to do his graduate studies and originally thought of settling down in Seattle during the mid-1990s.

“At the time, Seattle was hot,” he said. “While living in Brooklyn I met a lot of people from the West Coast and they suggested the city. I had never gone anywhere and thought that maybe I should get out of there. They said, ‘Go West young man,’ so I did.”

After a long, beautiful drive across the country, Rakich couldn’t go any farther than Oregon.

“I just stopped in Portland,” he added. “I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to stay here.’ And I’m glad I stayed.”

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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