Jer has managed to go on ahead of me (see yesterday’s blog), but I’m going to dally a while in Baker City. After the hamlets of Condon and Ione and Prairie City, Baker City (pop. 10,105) seemed like a metropolis. And in fact, I got to paint two libraries in Baker City.
The main Baker County Library is located along the Powder River at the edge of the Geiser-Pollman Park in Baker City. It’s a good-sized, well-glassed, V-shaped building, integrated fully into its surrounds. The photo below only captures about 1/8 of the full spread of the structure.
While painting on the bridge, I was chatted up, at length but without religious prodding, by two off-duty Mormon missionaries. I was also asked by a town resident: “What in the world are you finding to paint there?” When I replied the library was beautiful, there was a moment of silence and an implied “Harumph.” I don’t think the 60’s style building, which I found charming, has won all the Baker City-ites.
Doing the painting was a bit precarious, because I was perched on the far side of the bridge, and local teenagers on all sorts of self-propelled, wheeled vehicles whizzed past me, just missing the tri-pod feet of the easel. There were moments when I yearned to be back in Ione, where we met not a single soul. But then, I had shade and the burble of the River to accompany the conversations, so I didn’t yearn too hard.
Another ex-library in Baker City was probably more popular with the citizen who dislikes the modern style. The old Carnagie Library (built in 1909) is now the Crossroads Art Center. It houses not just a large visual art gallery, but also a dance studio and reception and meeting areas. It is located within the old downtown of Baker, which is on the National Register as a Historic District.
My painting spot there was, ahem, less salubrious than the one near the current library:
From about 6 PM until dusk, I was inside the fence which protected me from whizzing bicyclists. I was in the shade, which by the time we got to Baker City had become the primary criteria for a good place to paint from. There might have been other Baker City attractions to paint, but it was the shade that was crucial.
I also painted another library in the Baker County Library System, at the little town of Haines:
It was full noon when I painted there, but the Grange Hall is right across the street from the building , and the grounds of the Grange Hall featured a nice big tree: ah shade!
The main building was dated 1908 — the date is on the little box on the top of the building, but aside from the stepped down roof line, it looked like a concrete block building to me. Now I need to know if concrete blocks were available in 1908. The building pre-dates the Carnagie Library in Baker City, but the town doesn’t, so the library probably came a bit later in the hamlet’s history. An extension of the original building, which echoes some of its modern decorative features, can be seen just slightly, behind the foliage in the left of the photo.
When we left Baker City, I packed up my paints securely, knowing that I had managed to paint 12 studies in 6 days and that I was done and ready for vacation. We were off to idle about the Idaho Lochsa River region and I felt like I had done all the painting I would do for the next week or so.
But of course…… –June