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BY SUZETTE THE ROCK LADY
Valley Voice Contributor
What is this little building and where did it come from you ask?
It has been named the Alsea Book and Rock Exchange. For many years it had been a dream of mine to create a “little free library”. I had seen them everywhere, from town to town as we took our grandchildren on adventures, and I wanted to create one!
Oddly enough, thanks to Corona Virus my dream was able to come true!
Here is the story of how Alsea was blessed with this wonderful gift.
My husband, Kenny Vogler, and I moved here to our little cabin in the woods on May 15, of 2018. It seems like such a short time ago to say the date when so many good things have happened to us since we moved here to this wonderful little town called Alsea. We feel like we found the place we want to call home.
It was in the back room of the garage at the little cabin that I discovered the woman that used to live here was an artist. Her name was Gloria.
I found several beautiful sketches of trees and the river, a few of buildings that I told myself it was our cabin in the woods. I am thankful that our daughter-in-law, Kelly Hamblin, saved these sketches and has since given them to Mary Obrien at the school. We also discovered a lot of paints and brushes and drawing papers, so I decided to try my hand and paint a front sign for our cabin! We named it The Triple C Cabin; Cast, Catch and Cook.
This was about the time I realized that I liked to paint, and I might even be kind of good at it? I started painting rocks and even made cute Christmas decorations and rented a booth at the Grange for the 2019 bazaar. Of all the hand- made items we made, the rock paintings were the first to sell out and most popular. I thought…hmm, this cannot be? Can I paint stuff? Huh? Weird right?
I took on a job at the Alsea School and continued to paint rocks and give them away to adults and students at the school.
Our son, with his wife Kelly and their kids, moved to Alsea in June of 2019 and Kelly began taking the kids to the Alsea Library. Unbeknownst to me, MaryAnne Carr offered Kelly this cute little library that they had used in the past for displays but no longer had a use for it. “I know right!” Kelly did not immediately tell me this wonderful news as she did not know of my dream for a community little free library.
A little time had passed and along came Corona Virus. Boom, here we were in this little locked down town and everyone was so sad. We thought, what could we do to cheer people up, spread some kindness and let people know this town is still strong and we care about each other?
I had always left painted rocks at Debs Café and had even set up a (T1L1) stand on her porch. Sadly, Corona Virus shut down the Café for quite some time so rock sharing had come to a complete stand still.
Then one day as Kelly and I were chatting, she told me of the kind woman at the library that offered her this little library thing before the library was shut down and she was thinking of going and getting it to set it up for the kids of Alsea. My surprised response was, “What did you just say to me Kelly? Oh my gosh. I’m on a mission to get that Library.” The library was closed due to Coronavirus, so I had to make some calls but was successful in acquiring the little library building from MaryAnne Carr. She was so kind to meet me there so I could pick it up and get the ball rolling on the project.
Now, where to put it? It immediately came to us that Clark Park would be a nice, centralized spot. We approached Matt and Shauna Clark with the idea and they were very supportive of the project and were more than willing to allow us to put up the library in Clark Park.
Okay, who would we get to build the structure to house the little library? Well, I decided to recruit Alsea Home Services, and my husband, and son, to build a shelter for it. They agreed and were so kind to incorporate shelving for rock sharing.
On April 28, 2021, The Alsea Book and Rock Exchange was up and running!
The “Exchange” is for everyone to enjoy. We have already had so many books shared. Thank you all so much. There are books in the library for all ages and from time to time there will be blank cards, recipes, flowers and of course, rocks.
The Rock Trading is called a T1L1 (take 1 leave 1).
There are stands all over the US and the idea is to take a rock and leave a rock for someone else to find. We incorporated this program into the exchange project. I have listed our stand on Facebook since Highway 34 is a Scenic Byway and we have already had people stop by and leave rocks from all over the US at our little stand in Alsea!
Maryland, Washington, Virginia, just to name a few states I have seen rocks from. Most of all, the expression on someone’s face when they find a painted rock is priceless. And yes, you can leave a blank rock!
It is NOT100% finished. We still need the sign but EVERYONE is welcome to stop by and trade books, rocks, recipes...and kind quotes?
Huge thank you to Alsea Library for donating the little Library, and to Kenny Volger and the Hamblins for building the structure to put it in. I'm certain it will last for years to come.
Thank you to Matt and Shauna Clark for letting us put it up in the park. You are awesome!
Lastly, I wanted a way to say "Thank You All" so much for embracing and welcoming our family into this community. My hope is that the Alsea Book and Rock Exchange will bring joy, smiles and neighborly cheer!! I believe that had we not moved here, I may have never discovered that I love to paint! From the bottom of my heart, I hope the town enjoys it.
Enjoying the Alsea Summer Children’s Art Program
BY MICHELLE FLAMEZ
Valley Voice Contributor
The free Alsea Summer Children's Art Program was made possible by a grant from the Benton County Foundation, received by Alsea Community Effort to fund afterschool program development.
The art class was instructed by me, Michelle Flamez. At first, we were concerned as to where we could hold the classes not knowing what Covid-19 limitations would be placed on public sites hosting community activities. However, we began our program with meeting at Alsea Christian Fellowship (ACF) Church with a positive attitude.
We originally planned for six weeks (two-hour sessions) but we were able to have an extra session thanks to ACF providing free space! Thank you, Pastor David Pollard!
That enabled us to finish our community service project! We served 12 children and their families in Alsea. In the first session we created art journals, which the children loved! They worked on them before and after class every session! Followed by Nature Art, clay, pressed flowers, and watercolor.
We learned that sometimes art is about the process versus the finished product! We did several cooperative art projects and we ended with a community service project. We painted the trim on the new bulletin board that will be installed at the corner of the Alsea Deadwood Highway and Highway 34. With attention to cooperation, beautifying our community, and cultural awareness (what's Alsea about; what should we paint on it; etc.)
We also had to use some problem-solving skills on this project. We can't wait to see it completed. We were blessed with several great parent volunteers. Special thanks to Blossem DeGroat, our program volunteer. The children and parents made some new friends. Always a good thing.
With donations from the community and leftover supplies from the classes, we were able to make and distribute gift bags of art supplies to the children in the program so that they could continue to grow in their art work at home.
We are already making plans for next year. Perhaps we'll have a guest artist. Maybe music with our art lessons. Thank you everyone for supporting this wonderful, successful program. We hope it can be a yearly event!
Alsea Art Show
The Corvallis Art Guild and Vistas and Vineyards Plein Air painters of the mid-Willamette Valley will be joining together for a show in September and October at the Alsea Branch of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. Many Vistas and Vineyards members are also members of the Corvallis Art Guild.
Artists in this show include Dominique Bachelet, Dick Badham, Miriam Edell, Randye Jensen, Phyllis Johnson, Karen Kreamer, Helen Kropp, Sue Noel, Janet O’Dougherty-Hessel, Peggy Sharrow and Dee Yarnell. These artists draw and paint in a variety of styles and mediums. Vistas and Vineyards members paint outside from May through October, in locations around the valley to the coast. Many of us are inspired by nature and the beautiful Oregon landscape. Different techniques include the use of graphite, ink, oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, fabric and collage.
Corvallis Art Guild and Vistas and Vineyards-Artists on Location have group pages on Facebook.