Salem graphic artist wins state grant to sustain work

Salem graphic artist Jane Malone poses with her artwork (Courtesy/Jane Malone)

Salem artist Jane Malone was scrolling through Facebook one day when she liked a post–Oregon artists who had made it through the pandemic had a chance to win some cash. 

“We had been living off savings for awhile and I just happened to see the post,” Malone said. “I thought, yes I’m an artist and I’m resilient so I threw my hat in.”

It paid off. 

Malone was named this week as one of the 485 artists across the state to win a recovery grant ranging between $1,000 and $5,000. Malone took home $1,200 of the $2.75 million distributed. 

“In reaching Oregon’s artists, we know we are not only supporting these individuals financially, but also enabling them to continue their creative careers and enliven the cultural environments of Oregon,” said Brian Rogers, executive director of the Oregon Arts Commission in a prepared statement.

The commission partnered with the Oregon Community Foundation and Marion L. Miller Foundation to offer the grants to artists to experience financial hardship during the pandemic due to loss of income or opportunity to financially benefit from their art. 

For Malone, the pandemic hit hard.

A freelance graphic artist, Malone saw opportunities dry up fast as Covid cases swept over the state bringing regulations for crowd sizes and events. 

“I was in event promotion and then Covid hit and it was an absolute dance to stay afloat,” she said. 

The $1,200, Malone said, will go back into her art, which she describes as modern with a bit of a tattoo feeling. 

“I have thick outlines in a lot of it and I just saturate with color,” Malone said.

Artist Jane Malone’s favorite piece of her work hangs over her bed at her Salem home (Courtesy/Jane Malone)

Her favorite piece? A pair of sugar skull brides standing in front of a stained glass window that hangs over her bed.

“I don’t see well at all, I’m really near-sighted,” Malone said. “When I take my glasses off and look at it, there’s no outline. It’s like when rain obscures a window and all you see is the lights from the city.”

And the city of Salem is a big part of her inspiration. After growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Malone moved to the Pacific Northwest about 10 years ago with her two children–a son, 11, and a daughter, 23,–and her partner, Roger. 

“From the desert, the Pacific Northwest looks like utopia,” she said. “It’s just beautiful. Even the air feels like it has life here. It’s crazy that people grew up here and it’s like, you live in paradise but to them it’s just a Tuesday.”

Malone’s art reflects what she sees in Salem but it can also be seen around Salem. She has a 30×40 inch mural hanging in the Infinity Room downtown and is set to have a Halloween installation there in 2023. She also has a booth at the Saturday market.

“We’re the big purple tent and I might be the sandal of the Saturday market because I have pin-up stickers,” Malone said. “There’s a certain amount of tongue in cheek with my art.”

That includes quarantine badges she created, also available at her big purple tent, for things like not hoarding toilet paper and refraining from “hooking up.”

According to the Oregon Arts Commission, Malone was not the only artist influenced and impacted by the pandemic.

A total of 600 eligible applicants for the grants reported $9.1 million in revenue losses during the pandemic. 

 “In times of crisis, artists help us make sense of our world and stay connected to one another,” said Martha Richards, executive director of the Miller Foundation in a prepared statement.

For Malone, she’s stayed connected to her art which includes screen printing–a callback to how she got started with her grandfather’s photo finisher–painting, graphic design, and stickers. 

“I dabble in everything, just general nonsense I guess,” Malone said. “I never won anything though, so this was exciting.”

Other Salem artist winners included Nathan Helgeson (music), Tracie Hodgson (visual arts), Graham Middleton (music), Greg Moreland (theater) and Denise Steele (multidisciplinary). Their grants range from $1,000-$5,000.

Contact reporter Caitlyn May at [email protected].

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