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Harvesting the fruit of seed money for art

After giving out $60,000 to local artists last year for 17 art projects, the Haines & Friends Foundation will display many of the resultant works at the Crystal Ballroom of Ashland Springs Hotel during First Friday art walk starting at 5 p.m. Friday. 

The grants, started three years ago by Ashland lawyer-developer and public art enthusiast Lloyd Haines, have now grown so that half the grant amount is donated by local supporters, says its development director, Dee Perez. It started with only money from Haines.

“It’s an outstanding show of support for Ashland artists, and lets them be recognized as the intellectuals and professionals they are,” says Perez. Their works will be on display in the back room of the hotel’s main floor, with refreshments and a cash bar.

“It is meant to educate our community about the power of art — and how we can use art to improve our lives and the lives of others,” said Denise Baxter, executive director of Ashland Art Center and a main participant in the grants.

With her $3,500 grant from last year, JoAnn Manzone created an art program for at-risk and homeless teens at Hearts With a Mission. The project, she says, built positive self-esteem and helped make a sense of community, by “making something you can use,” namely felt mitts and pouches for oneself and others, to protect against the cold and carry needed items.

Ann DiSalvo used her $2,500 grant for a series of six nude figures, in pastel, showing our relationship to other animals. Her picture “Due Respect,” showed a bear in the woods with a female nude. Part of the grant, she adds, was used to repair her truck and get to wildlife places.

“The grants mean a lot,” she notes, “as it respects and values local artists. Most (art) money goes to education, especially early education, so these grants really help adult artists who are really struggling and have never had a grant like this. I’m very happy it exists.”

Abram Katz used his $4,000 for a digital storytelling project, now in its third year, where students at Ruch School use a range of media to digitally tell the stories of their lives by scanning pictures, Internet images and adding voice-over segments to make a digital movie — something “they find much more interesting than studying Christopher Columbus.”

Students also paint and digitize a picture of themselves in the mirror, an act that often brings tears to their eyes and prompts deep self-exploration. The project also engages interns from Southern Oregon University, who work as his teaching assistants.

Shoshanah Dubiner got a $4,000 grant to paint views from electron microscopes of how a bee or butterfly sees the world, including the pollen on their heads — then fancifully embeds it with dancing humans. She got inspired for “bioscapes” through a biology class at SOU and notes she came to appreciate how bacteria are “holding up the whole life support system.” A painting of hers, cast on PVC plastic substrate, will be planted on Arbor Day on the school’s Center for Sustainability on Walker Street.

Sue Springer, a mainspring of the Creative Arts Trails in the Ashland Watershed, organized the ceramic statue of the Pacific Fisher last year and is now issuing a call for art for the coming year’s project on the Bandersnatch Trail. It has a March 15 deadline, with applications available Friday evening at the hotel.

Those wishing to contribute to the next round of grants may contact Dee Perez, dperez@charter.net.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.