In his photographs, Loren Nelson frequently documents the changing face of rural Oregon. Portal to the Past focuses on Walters Blacksmith Shop, which opened its doors in 1890 and closed in 1962 when Charles Walters, the 94-year-old owner, retired. Earlier this year, Nelson began visiting the shop, untouched since Walters closed the door for the last time. Using a traditional large-format camera and shooting with available light, Nelson sought to convey a sense of timelessness and of mystery, as though he were unpacking a time capsule.
Nelson studied photography at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and at Portland State University. He uses a Deardorff 4x5 view camera, which he values for creating what he describes as a “meditative approach” to photography. His work is in numerous public collections, including Rock Creek’s (you can find three photographs in Building 7, including one from his “Under Wraps” series, focusing on plastic-wrapped buildings.)
Nelson received funding from the Regional Arts & Culture Council to produce the photographs you see in Portal to the Past.
Nelson will be speaking about his work On Friday, October 24th at 12:30 PM. A reception for the artist will be held from 6:00-8:00 PM on Saturday, October 25th. Both events are open to the public. Please join us!
The Rock Creek gallery is open Monday- Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. The gallery is located in Building 3 of the Rock Creek Campus of Portland Community College at 17705 NW Springville Road, Portland.
For more information contact Prudence Roberts at
Director, Helzer Art Gallery