11/02/2006 -- Spindrift News - Spotlight On Silver Heron


Long-time residents still tell stories of the aquarium that H. L. Collins erected here in 1925, the oldest building in Depoe Bay, built as a tourist attraction to sell local real estate. Fred Robison relates tales of catching and supplying sea life for the exhibit tanks. Locals became enamored of the antics of resident sea lions and harbor seals, Sally, Ringer and Boe. Those same folks will be delighted to know that all three animals were placed in new homes (Sally & Ringer at the Children's Zoo in Indiana, and Boe at Sea World in San Diego) when the aquarium began its transformation into the new Silver Heron Gallery a scant few years ago.

John Woodmark purchased the aquarium in 1978, and continued to run it as a local attraction until 1999. At that time, aquarium attendance had begun to decline and the building was ripe for a renaissance. He made a gift of the building to his wife, Talley, who has strived for the past seven years to pull off the biggest "Extreme Makeover" in Depoe Bay. In the midst of remodeling three homes, opening a jewelry store in Portland (Woodmoore & Gray), purchasing the largest sunstone mine in the world (the Ponderosa) and dealing with the loss of their oldest son, Wade, Talley is finally nearing completion of a long-held dream, and the Silver Heron Gallery is set to open on Thanksgiving weekend.

Many obstacles challenged Talley along the way. After the water filtration system from the old aquarium was removed, she donated it to the City of Yachats, where it now provides drinking water to that entire area. A facelift done on the rock fa├žade of the outside storefront was done on a stone by stone basis as they were jack-hammered away. One of the larger challenges was removal of the seal tanks inside, which had to be removed by laser cutting, a process which took more than a year to complete. But the most daunting task of all came as Talley was preparing to open last year, when news of Wade's death knocked the wind from her sails.

"Wade was part of the life blood of this gallery," Talley says. "But I feel his spirit here with me in this venture." One of the permanent installations within the gallery is a fusion painting that was executed as a tribute to Wade himself, "Mourning Song" by Cole Black, which hangs in the upstairs piano bar (see photo, below right). Downstairs, a sunstone necklace created by Cal Bosch, "Wade's Autumn Harvest," holds a permanent position in a first floor display case. Wade's former home, a house on Bay Street above the gallery which formerly served as the water exchange site for the aquarium, will soon go through a metamorphosis of its own since Wade's death. When completed, it will serve as a place for families who have lost children to spend time on the coast, and as a retreat for visiting artists. In the case of the latter, artists can donate artwork to the Wade J. Woodmark Foundation in exchange for their lodging. The foundation and the Silver Heron have also joined hands to begin a new emerging artist educational program connected with schools in Lincoln and Washington counties and in Texas.

The Silver Heron represents the work of more than 75 nationally- and internationally-recognized artists at the gallery, which displays an eclectic mix of traditional, contemporary and modern one-of-a-kind pieces. Art glass, sculpture, paintings, wood, furniture, jewelry, photography, metal, clay and mixed media pieces can all be found on the premises. In addition to the piano bar, the gallery boasts a wine-tasting salon which features wines from Talley Vineyards in California and Sunstone Wines, an all natural wine from a privately-owned Oregon vineyard. Encompassing more than 3,000 square feet, this newest cultural venue on the Oregon Coast is also available for private parties and events, boasting a occupant capacity of 75 to 100.

A labor of love which has taken on new dimension since Wade's death, Talley is so grateful for the support of her husband, John, their families and many friends, but especially her son, Clay, who has been her rock. While the Silver Heron has been operating for the past 6 months by appointment, successfully selling artists' works, Talley is excited about the upcoming grand opening of the gallery. There will be six separate invitation-only private parties to celebrate, and then the doors will be thrown open to the general public to enjoy the gallery to its fullest. Talley is also available by phone or private appointment for corporate and in-home residential art planning and placement. To learn more about this very special place, look online at www.silverherongallery.com, or call (541) 765-2886.

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