02/05/2009 -- Youngsters Paint Their Artful Dreams

When the Silver Heron Gallery opened in Depoe Bay almost two years ago, owner Talley Woodmark was always able to visualize something inspirational among the many beautiful paintings and wall hangings adorning its vertical surfaces. Her artist's eye was ever mindful of reserving a space to be filled with works by artists younger than one usually finds exhibiting in most art galleries; artists whose extraordinary talents belied their age. Talley always dreamed of using such works to create a permanent installation within the Silvery Heron. Those "Artful Dreams," as the exhibition is to be titled, are now becoming a reality.

"Artful Dreams" was originally founded by Mrs. Woodmark's mother, Norma Talley, back in the early 1970's, as a theatrical production company formed for children ages 5 through 18.

"Every child has said to their friends at some point in their lives, "Hey, let's put on a show!" Mrs. Woodmark reminisces. "In my neighborhood, my mother made it possible for that to actually occur!"

Mrs. Talley would help to write, direct, and sponsor these top-notch productions, with lighting, set designs, costumes, make-up, etc. And if that weren't enough, she would invite an audience of VIPs, from CEOs of corporations to actors and studio executives to high-ranking military officials, both foreign and domestic. Many times, these ladies and gentlemen would also turn out with hammers, saws and paint brushes, producing some of the most architecturally-creative sets one could imagine. The productions were performed in Virginia, California and Texas backyards, school auditoriums, barns, vacant lots, corporate meeting rooms & wherever there was space available and volunteers to make it happen.

"It was every child's artful dream to be a part of one of these productions. My mother made it possible for every child who wished to participate, regardless of their age, aptitude, or capabilities (or limits thereof), to contribute to the show," Mrs. Woodmark remembers fondly. "Eventually, both my parents were helping to stage shows of every kind and size so all could take part in the fun."

It is something which Mrs. Woodmark has never forgotten, and which she pledged to continue as an adult, but in her own, inimitable fashion. Beginning in 1999, she made it possible for 40 students to follow their "artful dreams" by sponsoring them to attend the Niemi-Talley Outdoor School program hosted by the Newport Middle School. Mrs. Woodmark and her husband, John, continued to fund the experiential school until three years ago when the program was recessed. As such, Mrs. Woodmark began to scout new areas where "artful dreams" could be encouraged. When she opened the Silver Heron Gallery in 2007, the perfect opportunity presented itself.

"I decided to focus on art exhibitions and scholarships for young, emerging artists," she says. "One of our gallery's premier artists, Bob Coonts, was here in September 2008 for an exhibition of his work during Salmon Bake weekend. His young granddaughters, Sierra and Shayla, were unable to attend, so I sent home two Oregon Sunstone pendants to them. They, in return, sent me the most beautiful, hand-made thank-you cards. I knew then that these talented young ladies were perfect to design the gallery's "Happy New Year" card for 2009. Their oil paintings, entitled, "For Each and Every Day and Night," depict the sun setting on the old year and a new moon rising in 2009."

The next step came naturally: to invite the girls, who reside in Windsor, Colorado, to be the first artists to provide work for the permanent Artful Dreams exhibition. Even though the girls are still young, this is not their first "professional gig." Sierra, who is 11, recently wrote, illustrated and published A Small Book of Dreams. Also, both she and sister Shayla, 9, previously participated in two art shows at the Centennial Gallery in Fort Collins, with their grandfather, Bob, and their father, Brent, a talented artist in his own right.

Mrs. Woodmark proudly adds that all three generations of the family will be represented at a Silver Heron exhibition beginning in September 2009. "Until then, everyone is invited to the gallery to view the Artful Dreams of these two talented youngsters."

The Silver Heron Gallery is located at 15 SE Bay Street in Depoe Bay; winter hours are Thursday through Monday, 11:00 to 5:00. Call 541-765-2889 for more information.

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