A tour of the tropical cartoon landscape Bwana Spoons calls home.
If you’re driving, you might skip right past the tiny Grass Hut, situated on Burnside across from the Union Jack strip club and Grendel’s coffeehouse. But walking or biking, it’s hard not to be lured in by this art space’s lime green walls, driftwood sculptures, and population of wild, wonderful characters. Operated by the resplendently bearded duo of Bwana Spoons and Justin “Scrappers” Morrison, Grass Hut is a respite from cold collector emporiums and doubles as a clubhouse for local artists like APAK and Martin Ontiveros. We turned up in time to catch ping-pong, morning coffee, and a quick tour.
Grass Hut Summer Camp
Summer is really short here, so we designed this summer camp for our friends to hang out together, but it’s open to the public so all these people have been coming along! You get a bandanna and a patch for being a camp scout, and then we have these special badges you can earn, like “Fire-Maker” or “Wild-Life Feeder” (last week, we went to feed these large orange rats called nutria). This week is Skate or Die Trying, and next week we’re riding around to all of Portland’s parks with a bag full of equipment and trying to play every sport we can think of. Scrappers
This is my brush I can’t live without. This is the apex of my art. I got this locally at a shop over on Hawthorne. There was one grouping of them and I bought them all–now I can’t find them anywhere else. They make another one that looks exactly the same but the brush is different! Bwana Spoons
Grass Hut Sports
We used to be big into foursquare but our ball got ran over by a bus. When our show Ding Dang Dong (featuring work from Wrecks, Cupco, and Aaron Piland of APAK) started going up it seemed like ping-pong was the logical next thing. Every first Friday at the gallery we have an art opening at Grass Hut; this year we’ve had shows by J. Otto, Trish Grantham and Amy Ruppel, and Tim Biskup and his daughter, Tigerlily. Scrappers
This is my favorite little guy. I found him at an antique market where everything was way overpriced but he was like… two dollars. He’s a bearded owl dwarf, handmade in Iceland, and he’s standing next to a Star Wars figure from my childhood. Bwana Spoons
This is a series of Globby: His mommy is an octopus and his daddy is an ice cream. They are waiting to be individually painted. Part of the charm of toys manufactured in Japan is that the base color doesn’t have to be white–it can be anything you want. The color of his head is supposed to resemble a piece of orange plastic that’s been sitting on the beach for a long, long time. Bwana Spoons
We’re lucky enough that a lot of our friends send us special things to sell in our store, either things they have left over from their art openings or stuff that they’ve made especially because they want something in here. Portland has a “locals only” vibe to it. It’s kind of a joke (since many people here are from somewhere else), but kind of not. That’s why I made this shirt with Paul Bunyan on the front; and on the back it’s a tree stump that says “Tourist Go Home.” Scrappers
Grass Hut is located at 811 e. Burnside St. (at SE 8th st.).
Favorite Portland Artist:
Bwana Spoons: Ayumi Piland is my favorite, but I really dig up-and-corner Mark Warren Jacques, too.