body-worker who practices various energy-healing techniques,
Karimio Alaeddine honored his hands by painting a portrait of one
of them. The only piece of childhood artwork the Portland native
can remember is a drawing of an eagle he'd done as a five- or six-year-old
on the back of a dresser, completely hidden. Nowadays his
art can be seen around town on canvases, screens and windows.
Karimio Alaeddine's favorite part of painting is working with people,
co-creating a presence for their environment.
of self and brother"
"Whether window art for a business, a canvas, decorative screen
or even the exterior of their house, it's where people spend time,
make friends, eat food; and it's vital that they feel comfortable,"
Karimio's latest work can be seen on the 14 windows of Hoda's Restaurant
at SE 34th and Belmont in Portland.
"One of Hoda's owners was at the produce company across the
street from my studio when he saw my art," he said. "He
came over and asked if I could do something for the restaurant.
His partner wanted the work to be traditional, and with all the
window space, we decided that arches would be perfect."
Karimio researched and refined the design till everyone was happy.
"It was a challenge combining their wants with the style of
the place, the color scheme and my creativity, but I think we did
well. And the neighbors love it," he said.
"Art feels like a gateway to me. It has the ability to open
a channel to the other," he said. "It can also be a reminder
of our origins. And not because it's a depiction of something, but
because of its presence."
Life of their own
It doesn't take much to inspire Karimio to paint; anything that
reminds him of the joy of life will do.
"The other day my inspiration was a flock of pigeons on a
high wire," he said. "It's always something in the outside
world that turns on something in my inner world the real,
tangible 'I want to eat this day' moments. Then I can't leave the
studio. Things that wake me up inspire me. Sometimes it's as simple
as cabinet doors."
Karimio's favorite artists include Papa Cezanne, Schiele, Giacometti
"The Parisian bohemians have kept my interest, too,"
he said. "And Paul McCartney's paintings are wonderful.
"Clemente's portraits are also very inspiring. He leaves them
while they still have a life of their own; he doesn't tell them
to do something they can't.
"The color and action of a painting are what's important to
me," he said, "not the realism."
Portraiture is Karimio's main focus, and usually his most successful
"Portraits hold my attention more than anything else,"
he said. "I can look at them all day. When I visit museums,
I'm always drawn to the portraiture first."
Trying on personalities
Karimio's childhood activities did not include crayons and fingerpaints.
His artistic voice didn't show up until he was 20.
"At 20 years old I was starting a new life, becoming someone
new, trying on different personalities. I started drawing and painting,
and eventually enrolled in art school. I was checking out all my
curiosities to see what this new guy wanted to do with his life."
Karimio also tried ultimate frisbee, dancing, eating healthy, eating
unhealthy and dating. It turned out he was "really bad"
at random dating, so he stopped. But he couldn't stop painting.
"It's definitely been a part of my evolution," he said.
"Painting is probably the most challenging part of my growth
because it's just me. There's no one around to critique, validate
or otherwise change my work. Just me.
"If I'm channeling, it's all coming through me. If I'm creating,
it's all coming from me. I'm much more comfortable in a crowd of
semi-strangers talking about art than I am in my studio, alone,
walking through all the turns alone. But I can't stop. Many times
I've tried. But sooner or later, it's the most important thing in
my life again."
From the heart
Last month Karimio had a Valentine-themed group show at his studio.
He's now in the process of planning SALON.25, a two-night event
both for artists and the public, which will take place in Portland
this spring or early summer.
"It's going to be the freshest art party of the year,"
he said. "The first night is for the artists. We'll work together,
enlivening a space together, finding that sinking-in-place feeling.
"The second night it opens up to the public. They'll be invited
to come in and feel the process of art, models, music and dance.
Good things will happen."
Karimio would like to take SALON.25 on the road someday. But for
now, his dream is more emotional.
"The world is starving for heart," he said. "My
goal is to bring as much heart to the art world as possible. Art
can be enjoyed on many levels, and then life goes on."