Clearly this career journey in art demonstrates that tenacity is the essence of any career decisions. Gail and Stan Beppu, artists living in Portland, Oregon, show profound insight into their success in the world of art. From the time they first noticed each other in a pottery class, their respect for balance resonates with their resolve to remain on the artists’ way.
Both are talented artists, but as a united team, providing a role model for understanding what we want in life: a formula to move from Point A to Point B.
Stan went to trade school in California, thinking he’d work in construction. He also served in the US Army late in the Vietnam era. Almost on a lark, he took a pottery class where he met Gail. Once they left Arizona State University, they worked in pottery production, learning the industry, as well as manufacturing and distribution. They had no clue how rich the road ahead would be. They married, scrimped and saved, had two little girls and eventually purchased land near the Oregon Coast. They designed their home, which he built by himself. Money was scarce although they worked hard. Seeing their parents’ determination and dedication, their children declared, “We will never grow up to be artists.” Today they see their grown children working with the same diligence and ethics.
As their lives unfolded in unexpected ways, they worked into the wee hours of the night preparing for art shows, building structures to house massive paintings, attending school meetings for the kids, while simultaneously participating in ecological preservation activities. At one point Gail moved into art administration for a private school for several years. She is the marketing and sales arm for all their efforts. One year she realized she worked seven different jobs or projects but both stayed true to their art interests.
When they opened their art gallery in downtown Portland a few years ago, she managed all aspects, from coordinating the work of 22 artists, the shows, advertisements, and attending Chamber of Commerce meetings. Stan continued painting and other endeavors which produced income.
When asked about the most gratifying part of their careers, they echoed each other. “If you are an accountant, the numbers must agree. An engineer determines the best solution. In art there is so much more opportunity. There is no one right answer to any problem,” said Gail. Stan, the quiet partner, bobbed his head in agreement.
On the flip side, they’ve had to acquire bank loans. Often bankers don’t understand how artists can afford to buy a building to house an artists’ cooperative when they want to purchase a building or other large purchase. Gail literally counted the cars passing a location to convince one banker of the merit of her loan application. The economy affects art deeply with every recession.
Recently they closed their downtown Portland gallery to look toward the next step in their careers. He is working at the Portland Art Museum, while re-modeling a commercial building they own in Southeast Portland so they can adjust their lifestyle to online sales rather than a physical location.
What can we learn from Stan and Gail? She said it clearly as we ended our conversation:
“When I reflect on my profound moments of joy or sorrow that shook my being, it was clear that where I lived, what I had in the bank, what I ate, what I was wearing or where I worked, had little to do with who I was or what I was feeling. Art, with all its diversity is my passion.”
As you travel on your career journey, is there a career algorithm? What really ignites your fire? In truth, there is no quick formula for success. It takes guts to get to the glory. It takes passion and patience. Introspection and planning help, but for long term success, you must be flexible, creative and passionate.
Please visit the website www.beppugallery.com to see more artwork and information about Gail and Stan. They are amazing people who continue living the joys and challenges of their talent.
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