written by:
March 7, 2014
Obsessed with Southwestern art and one-of-a-kind crafts, the owners of this Portland, Oregon, store explain their aesthetic in ten easy pieces.
Lowell Portland

The interior of Lowell in North Portland, which focuses on handmade, unusual and one-of-a-kind items, with an emphasis on Southwestern and Native American art. Founders Maya Rose and Dino Matt both met in Tucson before moving to Portland in 2010.

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Navajo Germantown Wool Rug, circa 1920s
1. Navajo Germantown Wool Rug, circa 1920s

“We’re particularly enamored with Navajo weaving and textiles. We both grew up around them and they carry a great significance for both of us. This piece is very special. It’s made out of Germantown yarn that was introduced in the late 1800s. It was very expensive and only used by skilled weavers -- the Navajo really liked these bright colors, they couldn’t get them from traditional dyes. It’s interesting because this yarn is not traditional- it was introduced by settlers, but it really helped encourage and build a market for Navajo weavers.”

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2. Forged Iron and Brass Combs by Angie Terry

“Our friend Angie Terry makes these for us. She’s a master blacksmith, artist and studio administrator at The Pacific Northwest College of Art in downtown Portland. She makes amazing hand-forged iron, brass, and bronze work, so it was very hard to pick just one thing to feature from her. She’s been making these great combs and folding combs -- reminiscent of switchblades. They're beautiful and fully functional"

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3. Porcelain "Pablo" Vase by Jessica Hans
3. Porcelain "Pablo" Vase by Jessica Hans

“Jessica is a young, contemporary artists out of Philadelphia. We saw her work and wrote her a love letter, asking if she would consider having her work in our store; turns out she had already heard of our store and the love was mutual. We’re always impressed by her painterly glazes and use of color and texture. She also does pieces with unusual materials like gravel."

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4. Ceramic Double Vase by Dino Matt
4. Ceramic Double Vase by Dino Matt

“My boyfriend and co-owner Dino makes a small amount of one-of-a-kind pieces for the shop. My favorite thing about this vase is the channel in the middle that allows water to pass from side-to-side. He makes these in a variety of sizes. I'm happy to be the official tester of his prototypes before they make it into the shop. The double handled mugs are a collaboration: I had a dream he was making mugs with two handles side-by-side, so he made it happen. It’s a great feeling to hold two handles next to each other, and it looks cool.”

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Chubby Carved Wood Folk Art Duck -- Shop Mascot
5. Chubby Carved Wood Folk Art Duck -- Shop Mascot

“Pretty wild folk art carving of a duck -- we think it’s a duck, that’s our best guess. Looks like it has a bit of an astigmatism. It embodies all we love about old, hand-carved things. Reminds us of cartoons, kind of got a little de Kooning look to it, lots of things going on. It’s part of our shop, not an item for sale."

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6. Swirled Clay Pot from Mata Ortiz circa 1970s
6. Swirled Clay Pot from Mata Ortiz circa 1970s

“Mata Ortiz pottery re-emerged in a new generation of artisans in Northern Mexico in the 1970s. Their pottery is an adept example of mixing different colors of clay together to create an intricate marbled effect. It doesn’t have any glazing on it, it’s just sanded down and burnished. We’ve know a few contemporary ceramic artists who have tried to marble clay like that and it’s really difficult to get it to not crack apart, since it’s a whole bunch of different clays mixed together.”

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7. Oaxacan "Alebrijes" Carved Wooden Dog, circa 1950s
7. Oaxacan "Alebrijes" Carved Wooden Dog, circa 1950s

“There’s a famous guy named Manuel Jimenez, a Oaxacan carver, sort of the grandfather that started the trend for the crazy, brightly colored Oaxacan folk art that is popular today. We both collect his work. He used natural materials for his colors and his carvings have unusual details. He has all these identifiers for his work -- a very specific way of putting nails in to attach the arms, a special way of carving the hooves, and he rarely signs his pieces. We really love the subtle details and whimsical quality. We like things with a history.”

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8. Old Carved Wooden Hands Used to Display Rings
8. Old Carved Wooden Hands Used to Display Rings

“Before we opened the store, we were invited to a private showing and sale at a local artist’s studio. Amongst art supplies were things she collected; it was very inspirational for us both for our own work and the shop. The hands were from her collection and we fell in love with them and decided we couldn’t ever sell them, so we use them to display our vintage Navajo and Zuni rings.”

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9. Mayo Wire Basket Collected by Family Friends, 1960s-80s
9. Mayo Wire Basket Collected by Family Friends, 1960s-80s

"Many years ago, family friends from Tucson established a fair trade with the Mayo Indians in the Copper Canyon region of the Sierra Madres. They wanted to encourage productivity and the continuation of arts and crafts. They never really sold a lot of the work, and every time we hang out with them, they’ve found a few more amazing things they’re willing to let go of. The basket is made of bailing wire, a thick wire used for fencing. It’s not very easy to work with, so it’s impressive they bent the wire by hand.”

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10. Fossilized Colorado Dinosaur Bone+Sterling Silver Pendant by Scott Owen
10. Fossilized Colorado Dinosaur Bone+Sterling Silver Pendant by Scott Owen

"We like to offer things that are rare and one of a kind. Scott is a jewelry designer living in Colorado on land that is a natural resource for fossilized dinosaur bone. He has an amazing process. He digs for it, cuts it, and makes the jewelry. He’s also a silversmith. This piece is from the late ‘90s, his recent work is a lot more intricate.”

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Lowell Portland

The interior of Lowell in North Portland, which focuses on handmade, unusual and one-of-a-kind items, with an emphasis on Southwestern and Native American art. Founders Maya Rose and Dino Matt both met in Tucson before moving to Portland in 2010.

Lowell

Founders and Co-Owners: Maya Rose and Dino Matt

Opening Date: December 2011

Address: 819 N. Russell Street, Portland, Oregon

Phone: (503) 753-3608

Follow On: Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr

What’s it all about: This airy, welcoming North Portland store specializes handmade, unusual and one-of-a-kind items, with an emphasis on Southwestern and Native American art (the founder both met in Tucson before moving to Portland in 2010). They “focus on what other shops don’t have.”

Philosophy: “We didn’t want to have a watered-down concept.. we wanted to make a living doing something without compromise.” —Maya Rose

Best question a customer has asked in the last week: “When we do get people in who haven’t been in a gallery or a high-end shop—not even high-end, our stuff is pretty affordable—they’re not used to having to pick up items to find the price tags. People thought we just had a house of these incredible curated objects open to the public. Literally, they came in and said, is any of this stuff for sale, or is this just your house and you live in the back?” — Maya Rose

View our slideshow to see some of Maya and Dino’s favorite pieces.

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