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Pendarvis family nurtures 'creativity center'

by: John Klicker, Sherry Pendarvis, co-owner of Pendarvis Farm, shows off an innovative stand-up bass — built by her friend Rick Kennedy — with a wheelbarrow body. Kennedy hopes musician Greg Brown, one of the headliners of Pickathon, will play his “dobro-weber” creation, which is a dobro built into a Weber grill.

Sure, they've got Grammy nominated artists and a sustainability plan that would make Al Gore proud, but the real selling point of the eighth annual Pickathon Roots Music Festival is the location.

Pendarvis Farm sits on 80 acres of meadow and forestland smack in the middle of a burgeoning Pleasant Valley.

The land has been in owner Scott Pendarvis' family for more than a century. It was once used for hay farming, but Scott and his wife, Sherry Pendarvis, have a different vision for the land.

'We want this to be a creativity center,' says Sherry, an artist who met her husband in the early 1980s, when they both attended Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Sherry grew up in a musical family in southern Oregon. She plays the violin. Scott plays the flute and ukulele. Since taking over Pendarvis Farm in the late '80s, the couple has befriended a great number of Portland area artists and musicians.

Their property, which is home to whimsical barns made of recycled material and filled with art from the Philippines, where Scott's parents lived for a while and Ethiopia, where Sherry's family once resided, has become an epicenter for musicians who want to jam or just sit back and take in the Pendarvis' view of Mt. Hood.

'People who come here say there's a real tornado of creative energy coming from here,' Sherry says. 'We've had weddings out here, concerts and friends out for jam parties … but the Pickathon is the biggest thing we've done here. We had to take a month off to get ready for it!'

The couple hopes the music festival, with its assortment of big-name bluegrass, blues, folk, country and 'roots' musicians will draw attention to their idyllic sight.

Over the past couple decades, Sherry and Scott have seen the area around their farm turn into a maze of housing developments. Sherry likes her neighbors - and has tried to cooperate with them when it comes to hosting music events like Pickathon, which won't have amplified music past 11 p.m. - but she doesn't want to see the Pendarvis Farm turn into another sub-development.

'It's such a lovely place. We hope we can have some high-end art and music happening out here,' Sherry says. 'We would like the Pickathon to be the start of something very special … to do more concerts like this and be a real (center) for the creative community.'

Pendarvis Farm highlights:

• 80 acres of forests and meadows with campsites and hiking trails for festivalgoers and a gorgeous view of Mt. Hood.

• Lovely animals, including the Pendarvis' friendly dog Freckles (although no pets are allowed at the Pickathon), and Sherry's horses.

• A network of funky barns, including the Galaxy Barn, where 21-and-over crowds can gather at Pickathon for late-night, non-amplified intimate shows with artists like The Wood Brothers, The Juanita Family Band, Martha Scanlan, The Wilders, Kris Delmhorst and The Avett Brothers.

• Art installations that make you do a double-take - Sherry works for a place called Studio Concepts, which puts out some incredible art installations (think Rose Parade floats), so there are remnants of her work scattered around Pendarvis Farm. Look for the brightly colored mushrooms; the large metal piano, which is functional once you put a keyboard in it; and a collage piece dedicated to Sherry's favorite blues artist, Robert Johnson.