Annual art show highlights unique, handcrafted pieces
For several days each fall, a line of people snakes around the Sam Cox Building in Troutdale's Glenn Otto Community Park.
The crowd consists of those who are eagerly awaiting the Larch Mountain Country Artisans annual Heart of the Country Show and Sale. Members of the group, celebrating its 40th year, connect art afficionados with everything from metal and wood carved art to mixed media and pottery pieces, and several hundred people attend the gathering each day.
This year's show is from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, at Glenn Otto Community Park, 1102 E. Columbia River Highway, Troutdale.
The Corbett-based Larch Mountain Country Artisans were founded in 1979 by painter Carol Selberg and multimedia artist Teresa Kanser. The pair were looking to create a support group for their fellow artists and crafters.
According to historical documents from the organization, "The group's purpose was and is to provide support and educational opportunities to its members as well as offering an avenue for the free exchange of ideas and information in its monthly business meeting."
In its first year, the group garnered eight members; now, there are 34 artists and crafters. Many of them are from the Estacada area, including Sue Dumolt, Karl Haugen, Deirdre Johnson, Tacy Jones and Phil Lingelbach.
The Heart of the Country Show and Sale began in 1980. In its inaugural year, it was held in the barn of a local oil painter before moving to the Columbia Grange Hall in Corbett. In 1992, the show outgrew its previous home and moved to the park in Troutdale, where it remains today.
Longtime member Robin Ceiliani, who creates a variety of handmade soaps and yarns, has appreciated watching the organization grow.
"The quality of the art has gotten more diverse," Ceiliani said.
Though there are a variety of items available at the Heart of the Country Show and Sale, one common element is that everything is handcrafted.
Shoppers will find jewelry, ceramics, pottery, home spun wool, candles, paintings, paper mache, fused glass, wreaths, lotions, wooden bowls, greeting cards, stained glass, fiber art, three dimensional mixed media paintings, quilts, jams, photography, hats and printed fabrics.
"We were making hand crafted (items) before it was popular," said Phil Lingelbach, who creates wood carved items.
"These are things you'll never find on Amazon," added mixed media artist Magda Moor.
The items at the show vary from year to year, and attendees typically won't find the same things twice.
"It's not like you'll come back and see the same things next year," Moor said. "We use a lot of locally sourced items."
Additionally, some artisans do live demonstrations of their work, including paintings, during the show.
"A lot of people want to know how we do what we do," Lingelbach said. "It's an opportunity to meet our people and tell our stories. (The group) has an interesting history."
He thinks the show's location at Glenn Otto Community Park is fitting.
"It's in a nice area, and away from all of the city stuff," he said. "We get a lot of people who are walking along the trails and see the show."
Those involved with the show also appreciate the items that are available.
"It's one of the best holiday events I've ever been to. It's a great place to get local art for the holidays," said Kathy Kollenburn, who creates fused glass pieces.
"It's nice to see people return each year, and see new ones."
Community is a central element of Larch Mountain Country Artisans, whether it's within the members themselves or in the greater area.
"It's interesting how we've come together," Ceiliani said, discussing how members join the group. "You know someone who brings you into the fold. It's served us well."
The artisans are involved with several other aspects of the Columbia Gorge community, as well. Along with inviting local students to participate in the Heart of the Country Show and Sale, the group has also awarded a scholarship to Corbett student artists, facilitated an art in schools program and donated to Vista House.
Their location is a significant part of the identity of the group and their annual show.
"It's a huge thing to have been in the gorge and in that community for a long time," Ceiliani said. "There's a real love of this area. We bring local artisans together, who live in this area and work in this area. It's a wonderful part of Corbett and Troutdale history that comes together."
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