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Monumental art

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The ridgelines seem endless in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, home to several richly diverse ecosystems. Photo by Bureau of Land Management
Julie Hutslar
Julie Hutslar painting of Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains
Susan Roudebush
A section of a quilt Made by Susan Roudebush depicting a woodland persimmon tree.
Artists from Oregon and Montana are this year’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Artists-In-Residence

This summer, two women will travel to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument to capture some of its scenery for works of art, with one committing the beauty to canvas, the other to quilts.

But the respective journeys and resulting pieces of Julie Hutslar and Susan Roudebush won’t be just for them. They plan to share their meticulous brush strokes and precise thread loops with the general public, all with the goal of showcasing the 114,000-acre monument’s natural beauty.

Their efforts will be a cornerstone of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s 2021 Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Artist In Residence program.

Hutslar, of Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, and Roudebush, who splits her time between Ashland and Bend, will spend one-to-two weeks apiece among the monument’s natural beauty.

Both artists will share their work at the Hyatt Lake Campground following their artistic journeys. Hutslar’s presentation is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, June 11, and Roudebush will follow sometime in the fall, likely October, with a location to be determined.

Historically, the program has been intended to reconnect the public with public lands. It coincides with BLM’s 75th anniversary this year.

Hutslar started painting when she was 9 years old. Her parents imparted a room to her in an old farmhouse in Illinois, what she calls her first art studio.

“It always comes back to painting,” Hutslar says. “That’s my love. I guess it’s the way that I interpret nature. Most of the paintings I do are something that I see or experience in nature, and it’s just my way of just translating that.”

She honed in on her painting medium of choice in college when she took a watercolor class.

“I just really fell in love with watercolor because (of) its transparency,” Hutslar says. “Where as oil or acrylic, you can’t see through it. It’s thick like that, and it also takes longer to dry, and I’m a fairly impatient person. And when it comes to painting, I want kind of an immediate result, and so watercolor was perfect.”

Many of Hutslar’s works show a fondness for reflections, with mountains, trees and wildlife mirrored in bodies of water.

“I can’t help it,” she says. “I used to live on a sailboat in San Francisco Bay. That was my backyard for many years. Water reflections are just something I’m so drawn to.”

Roudebush plans to make three quilted panels during her stay, each depicting a region of the monument: oak savanna, grasslands and high-elevation areas. A bird, a butterfly and a wildflower specific to each biome will be present on the panels. It’s an idea that’s evolved over time, she says, a way to illustrate the unique diversity of the monument’s flora and fauna.

“I wanted to make materials that will have utility for educational purposes,” she says. “I think the idea of bioregions and the diversity within them is why the monument was proclaimed to begin with, but it’s something that’s not necessarily easy for people to understand.”

“I think it’s really striking, too, that there are several species endemic to the monument that just aren’t found anywhere else because of the unique geology that occurred when three mountain ranges intersected,” she adds. “That appealed to me, the science of that.”

Roudebush has been quilting for decades, starting with one she made for her niece’s birth nearly 40 years ago. She’s been sewing since childhood.

“I’m really sort of surprised I was selected for this, because I’m very much an amateur,” Roudebush says. “I have never had any shows of my work. I just make gifts for people. It’s an avocational hobby that I do.”

Hobby or not, the submissions of the artists caught the attention of Artist-In-Residence officials, who said the artists offered a “diverse representation of the visual arts community,” according to a news release.

Visit www.blm.gov/get-involved/artist-in-residence/air-sites/cascade-siskiyou for more information on the program.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanpfeil.