Art amid adversity

Some artists' reactions will be in evidence at the Village of Willamette Arts . Festival

(Photo: MOTOYA NAKAMURA/THE OREGONIAN) Flowers are favorite subjects of painter Mary Kollman Bell, .who was moved by the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., to depict a bleeding heart blossom over a U.S. flag. She will show her work at the Village of Willamette Arts Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

Life is fragile, yet joy and beauty are all around us, artist Mary Kollman Bell said she learned from the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks in New York and Washington.

To affirm the beauty and to honor those who died, the West Linn artist was moved to complete a painting of the pink-and white flower called bleeding heart as part of her exhibit for this weekend's Village of Willamette Arts Festival.

The showcase for more than 70 Clackamas County artists and musicians is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on Willamette Falls Drive in the historic Willamette district of West Linn.

Because the terrorism occurred while some artists were completing items for the festival, other works also might reveal the emotions stirred by deep tragedy, said Betsy Bensen, a spokeswoman for the organizing committee.

Painter Bonnie Taylor-Talbot was on her fourth trip to Paris with her artist sister, Tracy Taylor, when four hijacked passenger airplanes hit the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in rural Pennsylvania.

Many Parisians were affected by the loss of fife and destruction as much as she and her sister were, Taylor-Talbot said in a telephone call before leaving France.

"The people I've talked to have been subdued and sad," she said. "It's horrible.

"I bought a whole new set of paints and started copying (painter Henri) Matisse, just to calm me down. I love his colors. I was just painting colors on paper."

As she has done after past trips to France, Taylor-Talbot planned to paint a series of works in acrylic on wrapped canvas, which doesn't require framing. That means many of her most recent paintings will be ready for the Willamette show.

(Photo courtesy of BONNIE TAYLOR TALBOT) Bonnie Taylor Talbot sees her pictures as pure joy, with sunflowers, chickens and succulent pears among her favorite subjects. The work she expects to show this weekend will include architectural details she observed on a recent trip to France.

Data for future works

She doesn't always know how her paintings will turn out, she said, but she has taken photographs of window grates, iron work and what she calls "the fancy things above the doors."

Those, architectural details will be the inspiration for the series she expects to complete by Friday.

In her six years of painting professionally, Taylor-Talbot, 49, has gained a following for the sensuous chickens and audacious sunflowers that often appear in her watercolors and acrylics. Some of those are likely to be among the works she exhibits, too.

For Sandra Rocha Kaufman, 57, last week's events won't influence her cast garden sculpture and works in soapstone because they were completed weeks ago, to be ready for sale.

However, she has wondered whether the attacks will affect the mood of the festival, which drew together West Linn residents and local artists for the first time last year.

Bensen said the art and music could help "take people out of themselves."

Taylor-Talbot said, "I think it's really important for the community to have art at a time like this."

Bell, 45, who paints detailed flowers in layers of watercolor, said she couldn't work for many hours after the planes crashed, even though she had a painting to finish for the festival.

Finally, she forced herself to go into her studio and pick up her brushes, she said. Then she began to think about what really matters in fife, and she had an image of the shape and delicate colors of the bleeding heart blossom.

I want to help people remember the beauty that is around them," she said, "and to protect it and to use it to honor others."


What: The second Village of Willamette Arts Festival will have 50 artists showing paintings, sculpture. ceramic, jewelry, garden art, photography and weaving.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (September 22-23, 2001)

Where: The 1300 block of Willamette Falls Drive, West Linn. An additional 20 artists will show their work in The Gallery at Willamette, 1871 Willamette Falls Drive.

Directions: From Interstate 205, take the 10th Street exit, turn south toward the Willamette River and travel about two blocks to Willamette Falls Drive. From Oregon 43 just before it crosses the Oregon City Bridge, turn uphill onto Willamette Falls Drive and follow the road to the historic Willamette district.

Also: Six musical groups will perform at the festival. They are Sheer Bliss. guitar-and-vocals duo. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday: Rose in the Heather, fivepiece Irish fiddle band. 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday; Fulton & Fontaine. -folkpop duo, 3:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday. Arlene Hale, singer, songwriter and guitarist, I to 2 p.m. Sunday: Southern Nights, vocal trio, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, and Bradley Craig, guitarist and songwriter, 3:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: Free

Information: 503-650-0046

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