On Sept 6. The Station House Gallery held its opening reception for its newest art exhibitions, themed around last year’s wildfires.
Attracting dozens of residents young and old to the historic building, the reception began at 5 p.m with wine and finger food. After a brief speech by local artists, whose works are being featured this month and a poetry performance, the night kicked off.
On the main floor was the evocative How I Spent My Summer Evacuation a collection of pieces from about a dozen local artists dedicated to the wildfire and subsequent evacuation of 2017. Paintings of flames, the burning forests and the view of evacuating cars all promoted much discussion on the attendees’ part.
Upstairs was Our Land Renewed made up solely of the works of local artist Linda Bacham. While not directly inspired by the fires, Bacham said while addressing the crowd she felt her pieces helped show the rebirth and healing the land is going through.
Longtime executive director, Diane Toop, has been working for the Station House for 23 years now and describes it “as a pretty darn good job.” Toop said that she always feels pride whenever they hold openings like Thursday’s event, where they get to continue a tradition of hosting professional art shows that was first begun in 1981.
The genesis of this month’s exhibits first came after Toop returned to the Station House after being absent for several weeks in the summer of 2017. Multiple members of the community insisted that she should run a show about the fires, still fresh in everyone’s memories.
“We didn’t want to do a fire show, we wanted to do a show that related more to the personal aspects of what happened to people. How they felt and ultimately how they dealt with the fires,” Toop said.
When they put out a call for submissions, however, they were not inundated with pieces as Toop has expected. She said that she believes many amongst the community now simply feel worn out and fatigued by the fires.
They were able to turn to the works of Bacham to fill the upstairs gallery, which Toop said, ultimately led to a nice complimenting effect between the two floors. While My Summer Evacuation is the artists’ stories of what happened to them, a Land Renewed, by the sheer nature of its name, communicates hope and looking towards the future, according to Toop.
“The show lets people vent and talk about how they felt, it brings the community together when they see that other people feel the same way,” Toop said. “It’s a process, art is a process and the gallery is a place that has always brought the community together.”
The two exhibits will run until Sept. 29 and Toop said she expects to see close to a 1,000 people come to see the exhibits.
“Prepare yourself to be emotionally touched by both shows,” Toop said.