By Jason Cox
Of the Keizertimes
Winning the top prize at the Mayor’s Art Gala couldn’t have come at a better time for Barbara Bassett.
The Silverton-based artist’s “Peaceful Path,” a landscape oil painting, won first prize at the Mayor’s Art Gala Saturday night at the Keizer Civic Center. The painting was purchased for the building using private dollars and becomes a permanent part of the city of Keizer’s art collection.
“Love the size and color with the Community Center interiors, and I like landscapes in public places very much,” Christopher said about the winning work.
For Bassett, the prize money was part of a good-things-come-in-threes personal miracle, allowing her to travel to Boston for her adult daughter’s heart surgery.
“Artists are always struggling for money,” Bassett said. “It’s not a real lucrative field. I was almost on my knees, saying I need to make something happen here. Within a week I won this contest, another piece sold and I had someone who had heard about my work and wanted to commission a piece.”
Art itself is almost as personal as family health – so much so that she had never entered a juried contest before the Mayor’s Invitational. “Peaceful Path” held even more meaning – it was depicting the same kind of landscape her late father loved to gaze upon.
“He was a farmer and loved to look at the land,” she said. “He would just look at the group of trees, the texture of the grasses. It just made him feel so peaceful.”
Art has become Bassett’s third career. She managed the Utah State Bar Association and later worked for an international consulting firm. Art took a back seat while she was caring for ailing parents. Now she has jumped into the art scene in a big way, painting regularly and owning a membership stake in the Lunaria Gallery in Silverton.
But this was the first time she’d put up work for judgment.
“It was actually kind of uncomfortable, especially with a piece that means so much to me,” she said. “It puts your heart and soul on canvas,and tells a lot about who you are and what matters to you” she said.
The painting depicts what she calls a “quintessential northwest (scene) with trees and water just moving through the land as we often see here.”
Among her accomplishments is a stint studying at the Etruscan Art School in Italy. And although the idea of studying art in Italy sounds serene, it was anything but.
“It was fascinating to go to the museums and paint, but they had these rains every single day,” she said. “And the class was about plein air (outdoor) painting. We were literally out there with easels blowing over and rain hitting our palettes. You just had to keep going … You realize there’s a lot of hard work that goes into painting.”
This is the third year of the art gala, which Christopher said benefits the community via exposure to art with no cost to the taxpayer.
“WE have our own personal art museum with a rotating venue,” Christopher said. “We currently have $25,000 to $50,000 worth of art in varying styles, subjects and mediums.”
Other artists earning recognition include:
• Second Place: Colleen Goodwin-Chronister
• Third Place: “The Way Home,” acrylic by Celeste Bergin
• Honorable Mention: “Gladstone GMC,” revolution print, by John Allgood and “Delphic Oracle,” cast paper painting, by Anne Kresge
• Jury Merit:”Autumn in the Valley,” colored pencil by Richard Helmick; “Snow Day,” mixed media, by Linda Jacobson and “Porsche Rennasport Wagen GTI Boxenstop,” serigraph, by Alan Richard Nies.