Dan and Mae Hitchcock

 Corvallis Gazette-Times

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Wine Barrels Bear Art of Area


Auction of Artwork to Help Philomath Downtown Group


By Raju Woodward


PHILOMATH – The wine barrel on the floor in Mae Hitchcock’s studio is emerging as a work of art in progress.  For the past three weeks, Hitchcock, an Alsea artist, has been transforming the 3-foot by 3-foot barrel from something that used to store red wine into a statement on salmon preservation.

     So far, Hitchcock’s barrel has two species of salmon painted onto it – sockeye and coho.  Hitchcock has painted the top of the barrel a greenish-marble design.  A brown bear is added to her curved, wooden canvas.

     “It looks like he’s coming out of the ocean right now,” Hitchcock said, of the bear, ”But that’s because I am not done with it.” Hitchcock plans to add rocks and foliage around the bear, so it looks like it’s emerging from the Alsea River.  She said she chose a salmon/bear  theme in honor of the species found in the Alsea area.

     “I’ve put about 15 hours into this so far,” Hitchcock said, “This is the first time I have ever used a barrel as a canvas.  I love it, though I wish I had a barrel of my own.”

     Hitchcock’s barrel is one of nine that will be displayed from July 2 to Oct. 17 at various locations in downtown Philomath.  The barrels are part of the Philomath Downtown Association’s first-ever “Roll out the Barrels” auction event.

      Community members and other visitors will be able to bid on the barrels during the display period.  Minimum bids are $100.  Sixty percent of the proceeds from each winning bid will go to the Philomath Downtown Association; the other 40 percent will go to the artists.

      For now, the nine artist are busy working on getting their barrels ready for the auction event.  All of them are from Benton County, which is one of the criteria for participation in the event.

     Several artist enjoyed the challenge of painting on a curved canvas.  Hitchcock joked she needed a potter wheel to rotate her barrel, which weighs about 80 pounds.

     The barrels were provided by Spindrift Cellars, which is one of the locations where the barrels will be displayed.  Other locations include the Philomath Police Department and the Benton County Historical Society Museum.

     Members of the Philomath Downtown Association’s promotion and design team got the idea from other U.S. cities that successfully held similar wine barrel auction events.

    “We hope it will be promote the arts in downtown.” said coordinator Cheri Gavin. ”We will be providing brochures so guests and tourists can take self-guided tours to view the barrels”.

     The auction bidding will be done online via the Philomath Downtown Association’s website at www.myphilomath.org, where interested persons can find more information on the “Roll our the Barrels” event.

For more information, call the Hitchcock's 541-487-4231, e-mail Hitchcockmastercode@gmail.com