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Artists block prints reflect Damascus

Renee Ugrin's talent, creativity capture area's natural beauty

Renee Ugrin's Damascus is a windy, rural hilltop where she grew up as a child and now lives with her husband and son. It's a place filled with memories of orchards and farms. It's a place she's been documenting through her art for much of her adult life.

'When I look out at this landscape, I not only see what I see today, but there are layers of experiences here for me. I'm trying to record that into my work before it completely disappears,' Ugrin said.

Ugrin, 54, is a wood block print artist. A collection of her work, inspired by the natural world and her garden, will be on display at the Providence Center of Aging Gallery in Milwaukie through Dec. 5. The exhibit is a collaboration of the Providence Center on Aging, Providence Milwaukie Hospital and the Arts Action Alliance of Clackamas County.

Nineteen framed prints are on display in the gallery, which features a different Clackamas County artist 50 years or older four times a year.

'They're mostly scenes from my home,' Ugrin said. She lives in the 1928 home she grew up in, on 9 acres of property that overlooks the buttes of Oregon City, Clackamas and Happy Valley. Her grandparents made 70 acres in the area their home in 1902 after moving from Australia.

Her home is surrounded by a lush garden of bushes and trees, climbing vines, flowers of every color and size, and, in autumn, the sweet smell of ripe grapes. Beyond the garden are open fields, homes dotting the landscape and, to the northwest, the home-covered buttes of Happy Valley. She spends much of her time sitting in the garden, sketching new scenes and carving blocks.

After creating a sketch, she draws the image onto the wood block, then carves away what she doesn't want to print. 'The ink is rolled on to the block, and I make prints. Then I carve away the image for the next color and repeat the printing process, so each time I reduce the block,' Ugrin said.

The reductive block method is good for a number of reasons, she added - it conserves wood, is graphically challenging and allows her to build on previous carvings rather than a new carving for each color.

Ugrin received Oregon Arts Commission Awards in the All Oregon Art Exhibitions in 1982, 1987 and 1989.

Her work is regularly featured at the Portland Art Museum's Rental Sales Gallery and at Print Arts Northwest Gallery in the Pearl District in Portland.

She also sells her prints through her Web site, www.reneeaugrin.com.

For more information about Ugrin's block prints featured at the Providence Center of Aging Gallery, call 503-513-8404.

If you go

Who: Damascus artist Renee Ugrin.

What: Wood block prints.

Where: Providence Center of Aging Gallery, 10150 S.E. 32nd Ave., Milwaukie.

When: Through Dec. 5

For more information: 503-513-8404