Columbia Gorge artists display their true colors

Foliage Tour features • paintings • sculptures • stories
by: Contributed artwork

As autumn enters its second month, artists in East County are sharing works as varied and colorful as the leaves all around us.

Artists who live and work in Fairview, Wood Village, Troutdale, Springdale, Corbett, Cascade Locks and areas in between are displaying paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry and ornaments in their studios through Sunday, Oct. 23.

The West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce sponsors this event.

At the Exhibition Gallery, 219 E. Columbia River Historic Highway, Troutdale, the public can pick up free tour maps from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and from there go to visit artists in their studios.

Authors and members of the Troutdale Historical Society will be on hand to act as hosts each day at the gallery as well.

Meanwhile, the artists have created special leaf-themed pieces, on display at the gallery, for a silent auction. The public can vote during the week for its favorite piece and a popular-choice award will be presented at the Opening Gala Event at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, in the gallery.

The gala will feature hors d'oeuvres and local vintage wine. Passports will be given to each guest, which will need to be validated at each artist's studio. Passports left with the last studio visited will be entered into a drawing for a special prizes.

An artists' party will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, in the Exhibition Gallery to wrap up the event, and the public is welcome.

A few of the artists talked to the Outlook about pieces they're sharing with the public this week. Here's a sampling of their comments.

Deborah Cross, Troutdale, 'Pine Needle Basket'

'One morning I woke up after one of our Troutdale wind storms and my deck was 6 inches deep in Ponderosa pine needles. That same week I was at a convention where I saw a book on making pine needle baskets. I got the book and taught myself how to do it.

'I really enjoy the idea of making something from nothing. This particular basket starts with a dried gourd, which is dyed. I then cut it open, clean and sand the inside and drill holes around the rim. The pine needles are then coiled around to finish the shape. The coil has to constantly have new needles added to keep it at a uniform thickness.

'The needles on this basket are gathered while still green and dried in the dark to maintain their natural green color. The stitching is done with artificial sinew, which is also used to wrap around one complete coil of needles for decoration.'

Jerry Mishler, Corbett, 'Haying Columbia Gorge'

'Hay time is a week-long event here each year, and we get to see so many familiar faces during the week that its one of the highlights of our summer. Coupled with the beauty of a mid-summer evening - you have all the elements of interest I look for in a subject.

'I draw the piece with pen and ink and cross-hatch it to produce a finished, black and white drawing. I then use colored pencil to bring the piece to a more finished state. I use these color sketches to paint from in the studio. Some are based on small (paintings I did outdoors), but most are derived from photos. The loosely drawn border adds a little spontaneity to the piece. I pick 12 of these drawings each year to construct a calendar illustrating my travels and observations.

'In general, I'm drawn to more personal scenes that offer some subtle - often overlooked - beauty.'

Jim Kunz, Troutdale, 'Autumn Village'

'It's a combination of oil and acrylics. I've been working with this style, a combination of romanticism and fantasy - I've coined the term 'romantasy.' There's kind of a combination of warm and cool colors in this painting, which took about a week to do. The trees and the hills have your warm colors, your oranges and your reds. The greens are kind of a cooler color.

'I've traveled through New England during the autumn several times and I created this to evoke the kind of a spiritual feeling I get. This particular scene sums up the best of all my visits, the kind of the spiritual feeling in all the area. This is how I see New England autumn.'

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