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'I Made It Myself'

Art show at The Springs at Carman Oaks offers a unique glimpse into residents' lives


REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Chloe Jacobson models the dress her grandmother, Maureen Whitman made for her. Whitman has been making clothes for 70 years, and Chloe says she wears the dress 'every chance I get.'Residents at The Springs at Carman Oaks can always choose from a wide range of activities — everything from cooking classes and bridge to swimming and fitness exercises. But a special event held last week at the Lake Oswego senior living community offered a unique opportunity to learn as much about the residents themselves as the talents they put on display.

“One of our residents on the activity committee suggested that we have an art show in which everything was made by the residents or staff members,” said Lisa Oetken, life enrichment director at The Springs. “We thought we would roll with it. We wanted to engage some of the residents who don’t participate very much or maybe reveal a budding talent. For the rest of us, it was just fun.”

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Patricia Smith displays a sampling of her watercolor note cards at the I Made It Myself art show at The Springs at Carman Oaks. Forty residents participated in “I Made It Myself,” contributing paintings, sculptures, wood carvings, quilts, ceramics, fiber art, homemade wine and toffee, and even fishing flies.

“The quality is amazing,” said marketing director Joyce Richter, pointing out the painted cards created by Patricia Smith. “They’re of professional quality.”

Smith was quite pleased at the opportunity to display her gifts.

“I’ve been an artist since I was 8 years old,” she said. “This event really inspires me to start again.”

Mary Helen Filz was a war bride during World War II. She made a beautiful wedding dress for herself, and it was on display at the art festival. Not only was Filz a talented seamstress, but she was also a fast worker. She had to be, because her husband-to-be, Bill, was about ready to go into the military when the couple decided to get married.

“We got married the day after Easter,” Filz said. “My wedding dress has been worn just one other time. My daughter wore it at her wedding.”

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Woodworker Walter Gablers' intricate pieces, including this Nativity scene, drew rave reviews at the I Made It Myself art show. Gabler made a lot of the furniture in his own home and says he's now working on a dollhouse for his granddaughter, although she's still too young to play with it.Filz was so good at sewing clothes that she once represented Oregon at a 4-H convention in Chicago, and she has kept her skills sharp since moving to The Springs a year and a half ago.

“I sew all the time,” Filz said. “We’re all shrinking here, so I shorten pants and dresses. Mostly pants. I take donations for doing it and use the money to support women who are trying to finish college.”

When resident Carol Walster was a teacher, she sought a way to entertain her students and also improve their behavior. Her solution was to make a peek-a-boo box, and the first one was quite simple — just a dog with a bone inside. But it was a great start for an activity that let her imagination run wild, with later boxes showing dinosaurs, Pandora and her box, and a family having Thanksgiving dinner.

“After I did the dog box, things got more and more complicated,” Walster said, adding that she was grateful for the opportunity to bring out her boxes for last week’s show — even the dog-with-a-bone box, which she has saved for many years.

“There are some boxes I haven’t opened since I moved from Springfield eight years ago,” Walster said. “There are boxes here no one has ever seen before.”

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Irene Garzouzi was among 40 residents of The Springs at Carman Oaks who displayed their work at the I Made It Myself art show.  Maureen Whitman, who has been making beautiful clothes for 70 years, brought along her 12-year-old granddaughter, Chloe Jacobson, to model the dress she had made for her.

“It is fun having Chloe here to model for us,” Whitman said.

“I wear this dress every chance I get,” Chloe added.

As for the art show, Whitman said, “Oh it’s just great! Lisa and Joyce took the idea and ran with it. The staff here is wonderful.”

So was the art show.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Carol Walster began making peek-a-boo boxes when she was a teacher. The boxes entertained her students, and let Walster's imagination run wild.