A partnership with Portland's Geezer Gallery resulted in mixed-media artwork and printed stories.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - A reception at Marquis Tualatin Assisted Living spotlighted mixed-media artwork by World War II veterans and widows.The military service of seven World War II veterans was showcased and celebrated Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 14, at Marquis Tualatin Assisted Living.

Residents of the assisted living center who served in the war, as well as widows of war veterans, were encouraged to participate in a six-week art workshop recently. Using colored paper, soft-gel and rectangular boards, they each created a mixed-media piece to represent their time in the service.

"Many of them have never told their story before," said Cheryl Rogers-Tadevich.

Rogers-Tadevich is a practicing artist who works as the director of programs at the Geezer Gallery, a playfully named Portland-based nonprofit group that seeks to promote and display the work of senior artists, as well as create and partner in programming that engages older adults in art and creative disciplines.

"Part of it is socialization," Rogers-Tadevich said. "This group I was with, they actually now, they're buddies. They're talking to each other, and before, they didn't even know each other. And you know, they're having lunch together and doing dinners and things like that. So I think it's really that bonding into the communities that's pretty good. Plus, it gets them out and trying new techniques and doing things that are a little bit scary."

Of course, the participants all dealt with tougher situations during World War II.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - U.S. Navy veteran Joe Rolison shows off his mixed-media artwork during a reception at Marquis Tualatin Assisted Living.Joe Rolison, 94, recalled a close shave when he was serving on a ship off Ulithi, an island in what is now the Micronesian state of Yap. He was setting up for a movie showing on his ship when another sailor complained of an odd humming noise, he said.

"It got louder and louder, and pretty soon, he said, 'I think we should get out of here,'" Rolison said.

It was a Japanese kamikaze raid. Rolison said he got to the upper deck of his ship just in time to see a plane fly just a couple hundred feet above his head, turn and dive into another ship in his group, the carrier U.S.S. Randolph, killing more than two dozen crewmen.

One of the more unusual stories on display was that of 94-year-old Arlene Buschert. During the war, Buschert's late husband Eddie was stationed in Pasco, Wash., far from the Pacific theater, where he worked on airplanes.

"He got to come home every once in a while — hitchhiking," Buschert said. "That's the way you traveled during World War II."

Joe Ballard, an Iraq War veteran who interned at the Geezer Gallery this summer, helped Rolison, Buschert and other participants in the workshop put their stories down on paper. Quotes from each of the stories Ballard crafted with the veterans and widows appear on each piece of artwork.

Creating the art itself was another matter.

"They hand you big sheets of this paper here, and then they tell you to tear it," Rolison said. "You know, it's hard to do, because you just don't feel like tearing something up."

Buschert shook her head.

"We really didn't know what we were doing," she said. "Really."

But it all worked out. The new artists learned the technique, the art pieces came together, and Buschert and some others even ended up participating in an extended version of the program called "Capturing Time," making bound books to tell their stories. A reception for that program will be held Dec. 1 at the Marquis Tualatin Community Center, 19805 S.W. Boones Ferry Road.

Marilyn Brault-Binaghi, Marquis' activities director, said participants got "really, really into it" as they became comfortable expressing themselves.

"It's their own vision," she said of the work on display Tuesday at Marquis. "It's just a huge accomplishment, really."

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Arlene Buschert and Elmer Ballard say hi to each other during an art show for World War II veterans and widows at Marquis Tualatin Assisted Living.

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times
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