Arts Alive: An art and rural garden adventure

Column by Laura M. Mancuso

Danji Isthmus painting at the Lombardo garden in O’Brien. (Photo by Laura Mancuso, Illinois Valley News)

Garden and art enthusiasts were in their element Saturday, May 18 during the Arts Alive event coordinated by The Southern Oregon Guild of Artists and Artisans.
It was a gorgeous sunny day for a drive around the Valley to explore beautiful gardens and discover amazing art.
Attendees could purchase tickets at the event hub in Kerby, also receiving a map with numbered gardens and their addresses. They could also scan a QR code to navigate via Google Maps.
The first stop was in Cave Junction at the home of Jim and Celia Lettis where fruit and vegetable gardens could be explored. I was very inspired at all the work and love that was put into the gardens. Jim Lettis said he works in his garden four to five hours per day. Honey bees buzzed around as Jim picked asparagus that was ready to eat. Participants could also view and buy the art from Stephan Kirkland’s ceramics and Joshua Beach’s blown-glass art.
Garden No. 2 was at Marble Caves Distillery at 7247 Holland Loop Rd. in Cave Junction owned by Cathy and Rod Warner. Participants were able to sip on rum or brandy and soak in the lush flower gardens with the prettiest peonies I have ever seen! I have to admit that I purchased a painting from Brian Davis called “Serenity.” I have it in my office to relax me when I get overwhelmed with my work. You could also view the lovely art by Kendall Art Glass, Miri Admoni’s jewelry & mixed media art and Annie Buma’s wood art.
Next, I traveled to rural Cave Junction and remembered how pretty it is just to take a drive through the Valley. There are so many secret retreats and the Campanoli residence is one of them. I got to pet a sweet horse in Baron’s barn and view a little pond surrounded by art and flowers. Available at this piece of paradise: paintings by Dara Daniel, sculpture by Charles Churchill, fabric art by Bonnie Campanoli and if you were lucky you could hear a story by Georgia Churchill.
Garden No. 4 was a stop at Sheila’s Magic Forest Sculpture Garden in Takilma. I was sorry I had to miss this stop due to my late start, but other participants told me there was a nice, relaxing path through the forest. I have seen Mason’s art many times and it is wonderful – you can get lost in the detail of her paintings. Guests could also enjoy the needle felted landscapes by Kat Allan and copper sculpture by Shapoiur Mirzai.
The view didn’t disappoint when I drove along Redwood Hwy. toward O’Brien when the snow-capped Siskiyou Mountains popped into light. The fifth stop was the Lombardos’ Garden. I rushed out there because I didn’t want to miss the chance to see the turtles and lily ponds on Kathy’s wildlife preserve. Seeing the yellow flowers on the pond really made my day complete and it was fun to see Danji Isthmus painting on her canvas. Also available was art from Ana Jurisic, Janet Dowingstar, Forest Whitting and a sculpture from Terry Davis.
The last stop was Bridgeview Winery at 4210 Holland Loop in Cave Junction. It is always a pleasure to go out to Bridgeview and sip on a glass of wine by the pond and watch the swans. If you haven’t been to Bridgeview in awhile you really should stop by to see the remodeled tasting room and view “Our Art in the Vineyard Gallery.” Currently the gallery features textured paintings from Pam Haunschild and poetry from local writer Barbara Parchim.
I love exploring the Illinois Valley and hope you do too. Remember to set a time to stop by the Guild Gallery and Art Center at 24353 Redwood Hwy. in Kerby, open Tuesday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.