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Art for the Boys

Art in the Orchard to benefit residents of St. Mary's Home for Boys, local high school students

Ceramic artist Wally Schwab isn't doing it for the money. He certainly isn't doing it for the recognition. In fact, Schwab is taking part in the Art in the Orchard show for one reason and one reason alone: the boys of St. Mary's.

"It's for a worthy cause. I feel it's our social responsibility to do what we can," he said of St. Mary's Home for Boys, Beaverton's residential treatment center. "I think it's important or I wouldn't be involved in it."

Schwab is just one of nearly 40 artists who have agreed to showcase their work at the first ever Art in the Orchard, presented by St. Mary's Home for Boys and Aloha-Hillsboro Sunrise Rotary Club.

The event will take place Aug. 4-6 in the orchard at St. Mary's, 16535 S.W. Tualatin Valley Highway, beginning with a $15 ticketed admission gala from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday. The gala will include an exclusive showing by the artists, wine tasting, music, desserts and a silent auction; the art show will then be free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

All net proceeds from the benefit will go toward college scholarships for residents of St. Mary's, as well as for Hillsboro and Aloha high school students.

The art that will be on display ranges from functional, decorative pottery like Schwab's work, to photography, painting and sculpture. The majority of the talent will be from Oregon and includes Beaverton-based artists Elizabeth Joy Kimes, Kathya Capote and Diane Ahrent. Some of the art in the show will also be by staff and students from St. Mary's.

Ken Rigert, co-chairman of the committee responsible for putting the show together, said he first started thinking about doing something of this nature more than a year ago.

Even though he and fellow members of the Aloha-Hillsboro Sunrise Rotary Club donate Christmas presents each year, Rigert said he wanted to do something much larger to help out residents of the home. Since his wife is a potter, he thought it would be easiest to use her connections in the art world to gather talent for the show; he also approached his Rotary club about providing the organization required for an event of this caliber.

Rigert said at first some members of the Rotary were a little skeptical, but they eventually came around and have joined him in putting together the show.

"To me it's a very good cause, and I think (the staff at St. Mary's) are doing a wonderful job," he said. " I don't mind working for a good cause."

Lynda Walker, director of community relations and development at St. Mary's, said she is grateful for groups such as the Rotary who have been supportive of the home for a long time.

"The community has been wonderful for these kids," Walker said. "The kids are shown a lot of nice opportunities by this really nice community."

Rigert said privacy concerns would normally have made the grounds of St. Mary's off-limits to the public, but the home recently started reaching out to the community and was very open to the idea of an art show.

The treatment center for males through age 17 was established in the 1800s for the care of abandoned boys and girls; it became a residential treatment center for behaviorally disturbed boys in 1968.

Each resident of the home goes through a rigorous two-year treatment program designed to provide him with skills necessary to develop positive thinking patterns, replace negative impulse reactions and to increase decision-making capabilities.

The residential treatment program accommodates a total of 56 young men, with an additional 25 who participate in the day treatment services offered by the home. Data gathered by St. Mary's Research Specialist shows that eight of 10 boys who graduate from the treatment program will either return to his family, be placed in a less structured care facility or become gainfully employed if 18 years of age. The majority of the boys at St. Mary's are from Oregon, and about 70 percent of the home's funding is secured through the state. The remaining funds are generated through direct mail campaigns, corporate sponsor-ship and foundation appeals.

Walker said numerous groups contribute time and money to the home, and they especially receive a lot of support from all the different Oregon steel workers' groups and people involved in the timber industry. She said all the people who help are important because it shows the boys there are people out there who really care about them and want them to succeed.

"I think it's wonderful … It's just interesting all the different groups that come to us with ideas," she said. "I love it when people come to us."