Saturday, August 16, 2014

You're Invited to The Gallery's New Location!

Hello, beautiful friends! If you're wondering where all the Gallery magic has been lately, come join us at our new WordPress digs -! The blog is still under construction with an awesome brand unveiling coming up, so stick around! Grab a macchiato and let's savor more beautiful art together.

Peace and Harmony, 
Tara Shea

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Finding My North Star

How I've Reconnected with My Purpose

Hello, dear friends! How are you? A busy spring at work, a two-week European vacation, and various lovely design projects have kept me buzzing! I'm glad to be back state-side and have had a chance to plan out some fun upcoming posts for you! During my (massive) plane rides and multiple eurorail trips, a question has been nipping away at me: 

"What core activity do I do for the world? How do I contribute? What's that 'thing' I could do for hours and never grow weary of? When do I experience 'flow' and what am I doing when I get there? When does my soul harmonize best with those around me? What's my gift?"

As a landscape designer, I've always known "creating" has been my main joy, but as I've sat with these questions, my heart found my guiding North Star in a clear and determined way. I am here to create beauty. That is my highest calling, my raison d'etre, my purpose. Plants happen to be my current medium. Dreaming up beautiful landscapes and bringing them into reality for those around me gives me an expanded sense of high-calling and harmony. It's not just about aesthetics - it's about presenting a lovelier reality others may not have dreamed of an inviting them to participate. I long to inspire beautiful feelings inside the hearts of others through my work as a designer. A certain lovely mood or essence that may be indescribable but is potently felt when entering the space. 
 This is my gift to others. 

PS - If you haven't asked yourself these questions regarding your purpose, do it! I cannot describe to you the peace that knowing yourself brings to your life. A clear picture of who you are helps guide where you want to go. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How to Find People Interesting

Three Tips I'm Using to Overcome Conversational Boredom

Hey friends!

I have a small confession: I'm not into you. WHOA! Okay, let me back up and put this in context. I live a social, happy lifestyle with my friends, lover, colleagues and acquaintances that involves healthy, meaningful interactions. By no means would I be classified as socially awkward or unsocial. Slightly introverted in large groups - yes - but I have strong feelings and a clear voice and I use it regularly. Yet, I still get bored in the middle of conversations even though I know how important it is to show people you care by listening.

I enjoy you. I really do. But in those conversations of "Hey, how's it goin? What did you do this weekend? Where are you taking your summer vacation? Blah...blah..blah..." I check out HARD. 

I guess what I'm getting at is:

Kind of a bummer, right? Deep inside I want to care what people have to say and in my head I KNOW the folks around me have unique and wonderful things to share, but this overwhelming sensation of boredom grips me. FYI, this is super embarrassing for me to share this, and I hope some of you out there can relate.

Like a typical human being, I am the most fascinating subject on earth and breaking out of this self-focused mold is very, very necessary. Self-absorption is lame and it's time to kick this habit!

So you've probably tried "being a good listener" too, but faking interest only works some of the time if I'm really truly present and really f-o-c-u-s-i-n-g. Then I have a new problem - worrying that my "trying-to-pay-attention-to-you" demeanor will be just as insulting as frank inattentiveness.


1. Speak your mind. If "What did you think of the game last night" doesn't dazzle you, TAKE the conversation somewhere that does. Stagnating in verbal wasteland does no one good. By being in-tune in the moment and sharing some of your inner dialog with those around you, genuine conversation has better odds. This doesn't have to be totally random and off-the-wall, just some keen thoughts that you've been pondering. I know I always love it when someone sidesteps the tete-a-tete and digs into a real topic. Get gutsy, and open open!

2. Try to learn something. Key-in on the other person's experiences, expertise, background, etc and selfishly ask questions that might help you in other areas of your life. If you are actually interested, the other person should get a nice rush from being the expert and enlightening an eager novice.

3. Be honest with herself. If you seriously are't into someone, perhaps you need to be challenged by a crowd of people you look up to and want to emulate or learn from. Feeling "out of your league" is a great way to stay on point. A change of social scenery may be all that's needed for you to fully re-engage. Take inattentiveness as a clue that you need more stimulus so the crowd your with a favor since it's probably pretty apparent you are unfulfilled. So identify the group of people you are attracted to and get out there!

For more reading, here's a post discussing how to overcome lack of interest in those around you. Based on the comments, there's a fair amount of people who suffer from the boredom blues too.  If that's you, what do you do to make genuine connections and find beauty and intrigue in those around you? Thanks for posting your suggestions below!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Sunny Streets of Portland in April

PDX Art Walk: Self-Guided Street Adventure

No lie, it's over 65F this weekend!!!! I can't EVER remember a sunny, warmer, sunroof-down kinda summer in all the years I've lived in Portland. Yes, please, and can we have another SoCal spring? 

In preparation for my trip to Germany next month, I treated this weekend excursion as a dry run for the following: shoe fit, handbag functionality, and personal stamina. SO glad I'm ordering some better flats - ouchie! By handbag is small, but did get heavy at the end of the tour. My stamina was directly proportional to the number of small snacks I kept on hand! Better make sure that handbag scenario is addressed to allow maximum space for almonds and dried fruit.

The walking tour was FANTASTIC. I have a crazy great map ("A Guide to Portland Public Art") with multiple walking routes through the city. There's also a free corresponding iPhone app with dropped pins on outdoor displays. If you haven't trekked around, you will be astounded with the number and variety of public art! Here's what caught my eye. What's your favorite piece of Portland art?

Cat in Repose - Kathleen McCullough
Looks like those soap bar carvings we all made in middle school! Good kittie.

View from the suspension bridge at Union Station. The bridge jiggles.

Cairns - Christine Bourdette
This collection of 5, are so fun to stand next to! Each cairn is totally unique with perfect tapers and width variance. The silver ledgestone plays off the brick station wonderfully. These 3-D pieces are very viewer-friendly; you'll have to stand next to them to get the full experience. 

Each cairn is topped with a capstone to cover the central opening. 

Did you notice the detail work? (The overlap onto the brickwork.) This guy also has an indented layer about 1.5' off the ground. Almost like the artist left subtle characteristics in each piece for us to discover!

Driver's Seat - Don Merkt
A giant eye, reverse-order Roman numeral clock face, plus a giant seat and steering wheel all aimed at the Station. I feel like this is actually a junglegym tenuously masked as an artpiece! Climb aboard and grapple with this piece. Love the three large eyelashes and the way the clock face acts as the pupil with the remaining negative space as the white's of the giant oculus. Clever.....

The Legend of the Green Man of Portland - Daniel Duford
This display is also a set. There are 10 pieces along 5th and 6th from a graphic novel telling the story of a mythic "green man" viewed periodically throughout the city inspiring visions of a legendary tree and mysterious previously-unseen building. Some of the pieces are numbered reader boards with cool colors and some are large monuments. Fellow blogger, Patrick tells of his encounter with The Green Man here. Who know's what magic may befall you in the midst of the city....

Burls Will Be Burls - Bruce Conkle

Untitled - Bruce West
This one is so simple I actually walked half a block before realizing I had passed it! I see the shape of two figures laying down in the band duo. Shadows of the newly-leafed trees participate in the visual experience darkening different sections of the stainless steel. It's grown on me - sleek, interpretable, cool.

Daddy Long Legs - Mel Katz
Great color choices! Especially for our (normally!) bleak weather.

Pile - Malia Jensen
Put TWO birds on it! An on two books, a folded pillow, and an artfully askew crate to be exact! Cute and fun. This is a great one to twirl around for a different experience on each whimsical side.

Portland Shopping. Yes, it's Fabulous

Solabee! Found a gem of a store that has inspired yet another summer resolution - get a green living space with more houseplants that I tend well and do not devastate! Overwhelmed with the descriptive words required to give you an accurate assessment of this botanical gem, go visit their brick and morter or at the very least their luscious web presence.

Boy's Fort - The funky Portland bloke's version of Hallmark. Only better. For a tomboy like me into graphic, oversized,  industrial furnishing and cool textiles this whole store is like a packed Christmas stocking. Cheers!

Johnny Sole - Don't go anywhere else for leather shoes and handbags. Bring some coin, you'll want to get you some boots!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Spotlight on Green Walls

Gardens on the Vertical

Lately, most of the Gallery's posts have been nature-related with lots of photos of green growing things. Prepare for another one. I don't remember where I first heard of Patrick Blanc, but I simply MUST share his work with you. Get a load of these magical green walls. 

Blanc's work covers some of the most prestigious hotels, business, and private residences across Europe and Asia with his pioneering techniques. Blanc used his years of globetrotting field research on how plants cling to rocks and trees without soil and still manage to thrive. With a felt pocket system irrigated with mineraal water, his green art lives high above our heads as lush and happy as if they were growing in some steamy tropic lost jungle.

First off is the Athenaeum Hotel in London. This green tapestry runs up two sides of the hotel and contrasts crisply with the bump-out glass bays and clean white exterior. What could be more joltingly lovely in the middle of a misty city? 

Next we have Blanc's wall L'Oasis d'Aboukir in Paris. See some constructions pictures here on how this vertical garden was installed. SO much lovelier that graffiti, no? I can just feel the cool air wafting off the wall as the planting reduces the overall summer heat bouncing off the pavement. 

Pont Max Juvenal in Aix en Provence.....

On a smaller but no less breathtaking scale, Blanc's interior work has me craving my own office green wall like this Club House Vertical Garden in Hong Kong. Love the flowering species. I've seen lots of walls with sedums and carex, but Blanc's palette range is staggering. A+ in diversity.

OH, I can't forget Blanc's office. Yes, that is an aquarium under his desk with a green wall behind. Totally reminds of that childhood book "The Salamander Room" where the little boy's whole bedroom transforms into a wild forest were the walls are trees and the carpet is forest fauna. Blanc, you have a killer work space!

Now this is a better fit at my house! Found it here with a delicious scroll-worthy line up of more green walls. I hope you are as delighted with these creative ways to cohabitate with plants as I am. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Nature Walk + More Flowering Natives!

Tualatin Hills Park and Rec Center Trails

How are you all? Welcome to a lovely weekend! Here's my scrapbook for last weekend's sunny, Sunday nature walk. Calm. Fresh. Vibrant. Chipmunks, baby squirrels, red-headed woodpeckers, bees, and even a deer greeted me as I sauntered through the friendly forest. Sun on my face. Peace in my heart. I hope you have a green sanctuary somewhere close to where you live. Free therapy! :)

Continuing our native flower theme, below you'll find a shot of our Oregon State flower - Mahonia aquifolium or Oregon Grape. Tough...not super beautiful but prolific in our climate. At the very bottom, you'll see a gorgeous gem-of-a-flower called - Erythronium or Fawn Lily. Pure, white, and delicate. I'm in love! 

Keep exploring your world! {And share some pictures!}

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pink, Blue, and White Flowering NW Native Plants

Spring Flowers

Today is a surprisingly warm day for March. Usually, plants aren't breaking bud yet, but take a look-see at the bright spring flowers I found on this weeks hike! 

Red Flowering Currant - Ribes sanguineum

I don't know why this shrub isn't planted. Around more homes and businesses for its rich pink floral clusters! Super lovely. Hummingbirds kill for it. It does grow up pretty shrubby (like the size of a refrigerator).

And here is the white-flowering sister Ribes indecorum with much looser and smaller clusters. It's always a treat to find a native with larger flower displays - so many wild plants have small, inconspicuous flowers for insects to pollinate. 

And this little treasure is a Blue Buttons - Cynoglossum grande. Just growing away happy as can be beneath a hillside of Oak on a SW facing slope.
Kinda makes your heart light just to see them.

If you have a favorite spring flower in bloom right now, comment-up! I'd love to hear.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Adventures with Coconuts and Banana Leaves....

How Hard Could it Be to Cook with Fresh Coconut?

Naive words. I really don't recommend tackling a humble coconut after a long day of work unless you have....BACKUP! If my girlfriend hadn't been as equally intrigued as I was by this tough hairy fruit that sloshed with a mysterious interior liquid, hope would have been lost. Here's my checklist for surviving a coconut encounter. May the you conquer the nut.

  • Get the GEAR! Find a hammer and screw driver (don't ask, just fetch). 
  • Find a very hard surface (aka concrete) and some old rags you don't mind damaging.
  • Find the 3 "eye" on the end of the nut. These are the vicious coconut's achille's heel.
  • Ok, go slow so you don't hurt yourself here. In fact, go get a buddy to help you hold the nut wrapped in the rag.
  • With the "eyes" facing upwards, firmly and precisely tap the screwdriver through each of the eyes with the hammer. This takes multiple smacks on each eye to make it all the way through the fleshy goodness.
  • Let the liquid drain out of the coconut into a bowl. This is coconut water. Nasty smelling. Kind of oily and waxing...not sweet and delicious. Get back to work!
  • This part is awesome. I'm not a big cook by any means, but any time I get to use a HAMMER, things are bound to get interesting.;) Wrap the nut in the rag again. Thwack that baby around the equator. 
  • Examine your progress. See a crack? Smack the nut again near the crack so it splits in half. 
  • RAWR! You win. :) You are now holding two halves of a coconut. Make a coconut bra, take a pic, and send to Instagram. 

  • Now that you've cracked the coconut it's time to prep it for feasting. Use the hammer again to break the hemispheres into chunks.
  • This part suuuuuucks. Begin to pry the woody-outernut from the creamy white meat. When I GTS'ed it ("Googled that sh*t"), it recommended using a veggie peeler on the white pieces after the husk was removed, but it was evident that my backup my slice her finger so we abandoned that idea.
  • After you've removed as much shell as you can or can take, begin grating the white chunks into delectable shreds. Hopefully, you have large chunks so you don't remove a nail with the grater.
  • Fling the beautiful shreddings onto a cookie sheet and toast in an over at 400F for about 10-15min depending on how crispy you like your shreds. 
  • I threw some slivered almonds and crushed pecans onto the sheet to toast too because I am a badass.
  • Take your treats out of the oven and throw in a bowl and SMOTHER WITH HONEY! Yeah, baby!

Now put your feet up and eat your socks off. This stuff is delicious - rich, vitamin dense, gluten-free, versatile, and a-mazing. If you are a lazy soul like me, you'll agree that this process can be done much more conveniently with pre-vanquished coconuts....after you've taken the coconut challenge and proved your tougher than a tropical nut. Good luck. :)

Banana-rama: Cook Fish in a Leaf!

If you follow Gallery of Shea on YouTube, you've seen a cooking video where I discuss a off-beat recipe I tried that involved a trip to an Asian market (my first time!), these greens below, and a banana leaf. Check the video for details on the recipe and my mixed review on cooking fish wrapped in banana leaves like little tamales. Comment below if you like using leaves instead of foil. Stay happy and healthy!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Fine Details of Forest Park

Exploring in the Mist

Despite lazy raindrops, I took a delicious morning stroll in the Portland rain forest known as Forest Park. These pictures are my souvenirs. It's all about the small details that capture your attention. Please enjoy then go find some of your own!

Hazy mist
Wild-rooted Cedars
Cascading water
Tiny moss clumps.
Stump and chain
Silvery lichen on red bark
Mini moss 

If you are into native plants, here's a fantastic field guide of what's-what around Portland. Browse pictures and brief descriptions before your next trail excursion.