When we first moved to Portland, we rented a duplex apartment at the corner of 29th and SE Pine. Just a block from that place stands a tiny white church, built sometime around the 1920s and, until recently, a functioning place of worship.
But neighborhoods change and congregations shift, and the church had to close. It was bought by a fellow who planned to turn it into a home. His plans have slowed down, but are still in the works.
In the meantime, ceramicists Catherine and John Rondthaler use the space as a studio and, occasionally, have exhibits.
Last year we met Catherine. This year, saw both of them! They are really sweet folks. They met 38 years ago and have been silly-in-love ever since.
Besides enjoying the variety of ceramics they create and sell, we got to enjoy their stories. One piece was created when a throwing wheel malfunctioned and pitched a few gallons of indigo blue glaze into the air, splashing everything in sight. They liked the splashes, and some great bowls were created. I love accidental perfection!
Besides their ceramics, John and Catherine were showing beautiful prints made by another friend. Needless to say, we got some Christmas presents… but shhh! Don’t tell anyone!
This past Sunday we had plans. Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I decided we would drive through the country to hike around Silver Falls State Park. We enjoyed the fields of wheat, hay bales, vineyards, and grazing llamas. We were amazed at how close all this country is to the BIG city of Portland!
At Silverton, we got off Highway 213 and started out to Silver Falls, but because of a confusion of which direction to go, we needed to make a U-turn. And that’s when we got waylaid by serendipity.
On a narrow street, we saw cars lined up in front of an old stone gateway. This is the entrance to Coolidge and McClaine Park, where the Silverton Fine Arts Festival was being held! After about 30 seconds discussion, it was agreed that we should investigate. Bridgett saw art, I saw local history, and Grandpa Nelson saw Karmelkorn! It was destiny.
Laid out along the shady paths of this hundred year old park were booths selling every kind of hand craft. Quilts, stained glass, paintings, metal sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, hand sewn backpacks and bags. There were some wonderful “burses”, which are purses made using recycled book covers as the sides. I wasn’t able to get a picture because of the crowd.
I wandered down toward the creek, following chalk arrows that said “mosaic fountain”. I found local mosaic artist Christine Carlyle and her band of volunteers, putting the finishing touches on a wonderful project, a refurbished wading pool. Eighty years ago, this shallow pool was created for the little kids to play in while the older ones swam in the creek, but it has fallen into disrepair.
Christine was hired by the city to create the design, which is a tribute to local beauty. The tiles were laid by more than 250 volunteers, each working on small sections. It should be done, they told me, in a few weeks. There will be the pool and a center column with a sprinkler, all lovingly created and tended to by the local folks.
We had brought a picnic, but there were crepes and paella, so we had those instead. The food was so good, spicy, and made by people who were happy to talk about how they do it. I may want to try some paella myself, when the weather cools a bit. There was also lovely wine and beer from Silver Falls Brewery.
We saw many lovely things, but only two came home with us: a tall ceramic vase featuring the Portland skyline made by Portland ceramicist Nicole Curcio, and a set of pot holders by quilter Linda Lu. Practical and beautiful, these things will remind us of this day for a long time.
When we were full of food and joy, loaded down with treasure and ready to drop, Grandpa Nelson drove us home. We all found places to nap until it was time for a light salad dinner and movies, a broadcast of Finding Nemo and my newly purchased copy of Sneakers. Then off to bed.