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Powerhouse art project returns to Estacada

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Am Griswold and Annette Reisbick used multiple mediums, including fiber and clay, to create their 'Faraday Collaboration.'The Powerhouse Project is back.

For four years, the Estacada Arts Commission and Portland General Electric collaborated to attract artists to powerhouses on the Clackamas River, resulting in original works being created for travelling art shows.

Artists toured River Mill Powerhouse in 2010, Oak Grove Hydroelectric Facility in 2011, Faraday Powerhouse in 2012 and North Fork Dam and Powerhouse in 2013 and created art based on their experiences.

The pieces were put on display at the Estacada Library, PGE headquarters in Portland, the Clackamas County Development Services Building and Clackamas Community College.

Now, the artists have brought back some of their favorite pieces for a show that will hang through June 13 at the library.

Arts commissioner Jane Reid is glad to see the work return.

“So many amazing things were produced,” she said.

The project generated everything from pottery and sculptures to woodwork and photography. “There were a lot of mediums,” Reid said.

PGE began constructing its powerhouses along the Clackamas River in the early 1900s, and they still provide energy today.

The areas are typically off limits to the public, but during the art “jams” ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Brenda Scott's piece 'North Fork Textures' uses terracotta to recreate rusty textures she saw at the North Fork Dam and Powerhouse 2013. artists were able to tour the facilities.

“It was so powerful to be in those places,” Reid said. “It was a beautiful collaboration (with PGE). We were so lucky.”

In 2013, PGE received a national award for its work with the project from the National Hydropower Association.

The Estacada Arts Commission has not had a powerhouse tour for several years since they’ve already toured all of PGE’s facilities along the Clackamas River.

“We missed it,” Reid said. “We really wanted to bring it back.”

Brenda Scott, whose piece “North Fork Textures” is in the show, was glad to see the project return.

“Since the last show, I think more people talk about it, and now people who didn’t know about it originally can come see it,” she said.