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Looking for an unusual Halloween experience that combines the spooky with art? Then look no further than a trip to the Alberta Arts District in Portland, to see the exhibit of 52 original artworks by Charles Addams, of “The Addams Family” fame.


PHOTO BY RANDALL STUART - Cerimon House founding member Gretchen Rumbaugh and Kevin Yell, OC resident and Cerimon board president, pick up paintbrushes to speed the renovation process.The exhibit, opening Oct. 29, just in time for Halloween, runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Dec. 13 at the Cerimon House, a nonprofit humanities organization, located at 5131 N.E. 23rd Ave., two blocks off of Alberta Street.

Although the venue is in Portland, Oregon City resident Kevin Yell, co-owner of Ainsworth House & Gardens, a special-events venue in Oregon City, is the chairman of Cerimon House’s board, and has been working for five years to help the organization find and renovate its new home in the Alberta district.

“I was introduced to Randall Stuart, the founder, by Gemma Whelan, a mutual friend and theater director. When I saw and heard what Randall was hoping to do with Cerimon House, I realized it was very similar to what we have done at Ainsworth House, though for us it was in a for-profit rather than a not-for-profit structure,” Yell said.

The two “houses,” Ainsworth and Cerimon, became “sister organizations,” one in the city and one in the country, “both dedicated to creating a venue where individuals, families and communities can come to celebrate, remember, learn and create,” Yell said.

New home

Stuart started Cerimon House six years ago, naming it after Cerimon, a character in Shakespeare’s play “Pericles,” who brought back to life Thaisa, the much-loved character respected for her wisdom.

The mission of Cerimon House’s programming, Stuart said, is “the four C’s: community, curiosity, creativity and ceremony.”

In March 2012, Cerimon House staged an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” at Ainsworth House to great success, but all along, the board members have known they needed a permanent, much bigger home.

Then, late in 2012, Cerimon House acquired a neighborhood Masonic Lodge, just off Alberta Street in Portland. And from there began an epic renovation process of the 1924-era building.

Now, after months of rehab, the newly restored Masonic Lodge hosted a grand-opening, fund-raising gala on Oct. 24.

“For anyone who has gone through a home renovation, you’ll be able to relate. When you have a ‘home’ you can more easily build a community and make shared dreams for the future a reality,” Yell said, adding, “We’re excited and exhausted and looking forward to that first ‘toast’ to the completion, but also the future suddenly becomes possible.”

Addams exhibit

Attendees at the grand opening were treated to an early look at the exhibit, which opens to the public Thursday.

Addams’ cartoons appeared in The New Yorker and other magazines from 1938 up until his death in 1988. Some of his darkly humorous recurring characters became collectively known as “The Addams Family,” and those characters spun off into TV shows and movies.

“The Charles Addams art exhibit is a wonderful event for our opening. It’s artful, edgy, slightly irreverent, but also very much about welcoming the outcast into the center,” Yell said.

“Cerimon has always been about finding ‘the third way’ when we do things; one can be original and still succeed. Addams did that with his art, [and now] Cerimon does it in a renovated, fun building. Being true to your own path and open to the ‘new’ is not mad — well, just a bit mad, but it can work,” he added.

Yell noted that it is about a 40-minute drive from Clackamas County to the Alberta Arts District, so people can take a short trip, see the exhibit and then take in the locally owned shops, eateries and alternative art venues.

“I love it up there; [it] reminds me of living in London in the 1970s and then the Bay Area. There’s something for every age group,” he said.

Connections

“Cerimon and Ainsworth House have already shared some programming, so supporting Cerimon means we can bring more small-scale arts events to Ainsworth House and, therefore, Clackamas County,” Yell said.

He also noted that the cartoon class supported by the Clackamas County Arts Alliance Youth Arts for Change program at Parrott Creek Correctional Facility will visit the Addams exhibition.

“Charles was not without his own run-ins with the law. The Addams mansion is based on the home he was caught breaking into as a youth. This is a wonderful example of art being used to remind youth that early mistakes do not mean your life is over. Also [Addams’] sense of humor was very ‘weird’ for his time — something young folks can often relate to,” Yell said.

He added, “The “End of Class’ exhibition for this year’s cartoon class from Parrott Creek will be held at Ainsworth House for the fourth year running. We hope to make more of these connections happen between ‘city’ and ‘country,’ for those who are most in need of artful help.”

For more information visit cerimonhouse.org.

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