Art at the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute: What Fun

Here’s the quick rundown of the Fossil event:

Fossil Oregon, a town of 469 people, is the home of the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute, a small but energetic group of people dedicated to the paleontology and ecology of eastern Oregon. They are primarily an educational institution, but they also run a tiny bookstore and gallery. It was at the bookstore and gallery of OPLI that I put up my painting exhibit last Wednesday.

The reception was Wednesday evening, but while we were hanging the paintings that morning, the open door of the store made it irresistible to the townspeople, who wandered in to see what was happening. The greatest conversations were with Barbara Bowerman, widow of Bill Bowerman who invented the waffle sole for running shoes and trained many of Oregon’s best runners. Mrs. Bowerman lives in Fossil (one of her sons has a ranch on the John Day River) and at 94, she is definitely a celebrity in her own right. She not only had to find out what was happening at the store, but she brought with her two of her husband’s students, now teachers in their own right. I didn’t catch the last names of Leon and Neal, but here’s the whole crew, including Jan, gabbing away while Kelly hangs the exhibit.

Jan is on the left; Karen, who runs the fossil diggings behind the high school can be seen just behind her, Leon and Neal are just behind Barbara Bowerman.

This is how a few of the paintings looked in-situ: Kelly was worried about the sun hitting the bright-colored Sheep Rock (on the easel) but I was charmed by the way the light came through the canvas and persuaded her to let it shine.

The most charming (and funniest) encounter we had among the attendees were with a couple from Beaverton. The guy found a photograph by Ellen Bishop (the founder of the Paleo Lands Institute) and wanted to commission me to paint it. Everyone in the room tried to explain, first about copyright and second about artistic inspiration, but he was unconvinced. He said he would be setting the photograph (which he bought) outside my door, and expected to find it painted. I told him that for a half million or so dollars, I would go to the place where the photograph was taken and paint from life. He snorted at that a bit, bought the photo, and disappeared into the setting sun. I have yet to see the photograph outside my door.

The reception was jolly fun, the food good, and Kelly invited Jan and me to dinner at her tiny house around the corner. She is a musician as well as an efficient manager, and she gave us a private concert of some of her compositions. We got to walk back to our B&B through the silent village later that night, looking at the stars, feeling well fed, well entertained and content. –June

More photos:

Kelly Riley, the administrative assistant at OPLI.

This painting on the easel is what made us take 14 hours to return to Portland the day after the opening. Jan had to see this, the Blue Basin, just because…..

And this is Kelly’s sign, which is just to say that she’s a person it’s good to get to know!

This entry was posted in Art, eastern Oregon, Oregon Paleolands Institute, painting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Art at the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute: What Fun

  1. Steve & Christine - In Fossil says:

    How fun to run across this post while researching historical homes in Fossil. We, the couple from Beaverton, have now moved to Fossil and said photo hangs in our living room. Next time you’re in town stop by for a walk down memory lane. Just look for the yard with the gazebo across from the courthouse.


    • So where’s that photograph? I keep looking for it to appear outside my door:-)

      Hope you liked the post and your photos. We’re bound to be back in Fossil soon. We are currently moving from a big old house on SE Main to something smaller, still in SE Portland. But once that’s done, we’ll be traveling again.

      So glad you checked in. And maybe I could do a painting for something less than $500 thou. You never know (and now I want to make another smiley face, but I guess I’ll use my other mantra — snort–)



  2. terrygrant says:

    The paintings look so good standing up all together! Looks like a fun day and an interesting crowd.


  3. Gerrie says:

    How exciting to see your work all together like that. It is very impressive. congratulations!!


  4. Del says:

    Congrats on the exhibit, the pictures of your pictures look great! Nice to see your silhouette in #5. Since you and Jer both take pictures we rarely see either of you in the pictures. I have the same problem traveling alone, but once in a great while I will ask someone to take my picture – i.e., with the red bus at Glacier NPark. Doesn’t look as if I will go further north than Yosemite, maybe not that far even, but someday I will visit Fossil and tell them you are my friend.


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