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  Mary Beers

Today is an exciting day at Backstreet Gallery because we are opening our doors after being closed for maintence for 10 days.  Our fresh gallery is now open and we are featureing the multi-faceted artist, Mary Beers.

Mary Beers is a multi-faceted artist. Combining multiple components, Beers loves to create with various beads, metals, seed beads, stones, then weave them into intricate pieces of beautiful and unique jewelry. She uses the various weaving stitches, stringing, and wire work in her creations, but weaving is her favorite.   

Beers is mostly self-taught. Her interest in jewelry making began at seven years of age when she was given a kit filled with plastic beads. When she had leftovers from kits, she sought more supplies at bead stores. To learn more, she researched through books to learn basic techniques. Then at 12, she found the directions from a Native American trading post to construct a loom. With her Dad’s help, she did it. From there, she learned how to weave and her creative spirit took over.

From Manila, in the Phillppines, she was adopted and came to live in McMinnville, OR. After marrying, she came to Florence. She says that her greatest joys are her children, 4 year-old Ramil, and 8 month-old Zhade.

 After being commissioned to do beadwork and beading classes for her husband’s tribe, she was inspired to reprise her own work and designs. She hasn’t looked back since. In between her family and jewelry designing, she manages to fit in more creative efforts – music and the theater. You may have seen her in the recent production of Cabaret performed at the FEC. She has been involved with music at the Casino and the tribe. She sang at the Florence Festival of Books and often shares her lovely voice at Backstreet Gallery After Hours. Beers also enjoys the outdoors, cooking and is learning basket weaving in the Native American style.

Meet this outstanding artist and find out more about her work at her reception on the 14th. An array of scrumptious refreshments will be served from 3-5pm.



  Little Dickens Show Winners:  Jerry Polder & John McMahan

Guest artists, Jerry Polder and John McMahan are the featured artists beginning February 7th at Backstreet Gallery.  While these artists won Best of Show for their small pieces in the Little Dickens Miniature Show, this exhibit will surprise you with other pieces of their work. 


Jerry Polder works in a variety of media. His winning two dimensional painting used a combination of colored pencil, acrylic and black ink. Dark and light play an important part of his work. So look for some exciting pieces that combine his talents with mixed media.  Jerry has always been interested in art. His teachers in elementary school always commented on his talent. He went on to become a technical illustrator and draftsman, doing illustrations for parts and repair manuals.


For now, Jerry’s new creative flair is just a fun hobby. However, with his talent, there’s hope that we will see more of his art that breaks away from the technical side of his expertise.  You might also see Jerry outdoors, along the beach, hiking, bicycling or using his digital camera.

John McMahan has always been interested in art, appreciating its form and format. He enjoys primitive Indian art.  He is an excellent wood worker. His work placed a tiny wine bottle and two glasses atop a miniature table. He has worked with wood for thirty years. When turning whatever size piece, he uses regular sized tools and lathe.  However, John uses various kinds of wood, which he turns into more functional pieces. Their usefulness, though, might include a bit of whimsy- such as boxes with a lid that seconds as a top. He calls these top boxes.

Although very adept at wood working, John’s career is in the health care sector creating information systems.  He also enjoys working with glass. In the future we might see some of his glass blowing and hot glass torch work. He says he enjoys the instant gratification this art offers.  The outdoors draws his interest with mushroom gathering and inspires his digital photography. He takes his camera everywhere.

Meet our esteemed guest artists at a reception in thier honnor on Feb. 11th, 3-5pm.  Backstreet Gallery will provide a delicious array of tasty treats to enjoy while taking in the great art.  Please join us a bring a friend for a wonderful afternoon.



  Kathryn Damon-Dawson

Kathryn Damon-Dawson is March featured artist for Backstreet Gallery.  Her new series, “Barefoot on the Beach” captures Oregon kids loving the sand and surf with titles such as “Sophia’s Treasures,”  “Golden Boy of the Dunes,” “Ready Set Run.”   She chose to paint on 300# Fabriano hot pressed watercolor paper because it is appropriate for the bright visual experience of churning water, sun and sand.   These impressionistic paintings capture action and movement.  Kathryn gathered images for this series during her own enjoyment of our gorgeous coastline.   A quote by Donald W. Patterson, is appropriate, “Artistic vision comes from seeing with your eyes and feeling with your heart.”   

Kathryn’s exposure to the arts began early with an excellent public school program in New York State and continued throughout her life.  Early retirement in 1990, gave Kathryn the gift of time to follow her passions and to take occasional water-media workshops; first with Virginia Cobb and most recent with Ted Nuttall.  Kati Davis was locally influential.

Kathryn is an active member of Watercolor Society of Oregon whose mission includes education and exhibitions.  Her 2011 WSO entry “Arbitrage and Lace” was 4th place winner and will appear in “Notables,” American Artist Watercolor Magazine along with four other award winning Watercolor Society of Oregon painters.    

Join us in celebrating Kathryn at her reception,  Saturday, March 10, 2012, 3:00 – 5:00, at Backstreet Gallery 1420 Bay St., Florence, during GALA Art Walk.



  Muriel Wilhelmi

We are honored to feature Muriel Wilhelmi as the Featured Artist for April, with her show titled “Seascapes”.  “These outstanding seascapes feature skies filled with glowing sunsets, and waves swelling backlit by the sun.  She is a master of illustrating the light as it plays on the water.  While most of her work is in transparent watercolor using a palate of luscious color, she also works in oils and acrylics.  Muriel has had a lifelong affair with art, beginning with drawing and then moving into painting. A number of workshops, including several presented by noted artist, E John Robinson have inspired her into creating the remarkable work she does today.  

Much of her inspiration in seascapes came from living and working in Mendocino. There she owned the Village Art Gallery where she showed her own work as well as that of 12 other artists.  Muriel’s paintings are included in many private collections in the U.S. and abroad. She has won numerous awards in California and in Oregon, and is also a member of the Watercolor Society of Oregon.  Muriel’s work has been displayed in various shows and venues around the area, including the FEC, The Blue Heron, the Rhodie Show, Florence Library, Ona’s in Yachats and the Mind Power Gallery in Reedsport.

Muriel and her husband, Jerry, share their home which is situated near a woodland pond, with ducks, a few chickens and three cats. They have four children, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren and still find time to travel, go to jazz festivals, and dance. Muriel also crochets and knits.  “I’m just kicking back and enjoying life. It’s a joy to be here in Backstreet Gallery,” she says.

Please join Backstreet in honoring Muriel April 14th, 3-5 pm at Backstreet Gallery. Refreshments will be served.



  Jennifer French

Jennifer French’s show is entitled “Oregon Feathers N’ Petals” which features unique art work depicting local birds and flowers. Each piece is hand carved into linoleum, mounted on wood. While these blocks are typically used for print-making, Jennifer paints them in colorful acrylics to create very unique wall hangings.  Infused with Jennifer’s love and joy is her 1-of-a-kind card series, Gull’s First Impressions©.“Living in Florence, I enjoy watching hundreds of seagulls dart here and there. It brings me great pleasure to bring these sassy and sociable creatures ashore. My cards share a humorous bird’s eye view of human nature.”   

Her passion for the arts started early. With a background in advertising, journalism, and marketing, it’s no surprise she founded Backstreet Gallery seven years ago, now home to 24 artists. “We are an enthusiastic, creative group of artists and enjoy sharing our new techniques and ideas with each other. Inspiration and motivation is very contagious at our local artist co-operative.”  Writing is another of her creative achievements. “Hoot Owl Shares the Dawn” is a multi-cultural, young adult novel that won honorable mention in the 2005 Independent Publisher Awards. Her second young adult novel, “Fidgets” is about ADHD. She’s working on another book “All Under the Same Roof,” a quirky mystery that takes place in a retirement home. Jennifer’s books are available at Backstreet. In addition to Jennifer’s decorative linoleum blocks and insightful novels, her May display will include some watercolors that reflect her spirit of joy and whimsy.

Important to Jennifer is her deep concern for others, and she supports various social justice groups such as Basic Rights Oregon and PFLAG. Also, an Oregon Certified Ombudsman, she advocates for residents’ rights and dignity, at many assisted living and memory care facilities in Florence. She’s also an advocate for Peace Harbor’s Patient Council.  She is a board member of Seacoast Entertainment Association and member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. For more fun, Jennifer enjoys bird watching, gardening, reading, fishing, cooking, watching spectator sports of all kinds and collecting antique books.  

Meet Jennifer French and find out about her art, May 12th, 3 to 5:00 p.m. at Backstreet Gallery at 1421 Bay Street. Great refreshments will be served.



  Jan Landrum

Talented watercolor artist, Jan Landrum, opens her month long show, “As I See It”, on June 5th.  Jan uses a variety of subject matter, seascapes, florals, landscapes, lighthouses and portraits in her unique pieces. She creates with ease, especially when she, “lets it all happen”, with waves crashing against the shore in her beautiful seascapes. 

Her latest love is portraiture. She developed a penchant for art at an early age and began sketching people whenever she could. She now meets weekly with the Figure 8’s group where the artists paint from a live model. Last month several of her pieces were in the Figure 8’s show.  Her love of art continued. As an adult she began with oils and now works almost exclusively in watercolor. Jan was an original artist in the Gallery of Local Arts, in Florence during the 70’s.

 For relaxation, Jan escapes to her studio, a retrofitted Fifth Wheel situated in the midst of her inspirational forest and garden where she can turn up her favorite music and lose herself in creativity. Being a member of the Rhododendron Society, the Garden Club, and an active gardener, its no wonder her studio sits in such an idyllic locale.  She is a member of Susan Weather’s watercolor class where she continues to hone her skills. There and with her membership in Backstreet Gallery offers her the opportunity to be inspired by and learn from her fellow artists. “I love the friendliness of working with other artists.”  Active in her church and as a co-founder of the Alzheimer Respite Center, a day facility manned by volunteers, fulfills her compassionate side.

Jan’s Granddaughter-in-law, Mary Beers, is also a member in Backstreet Gallery where she shows her unique beaded jewelry. Mary is the mother of two of Jan’s three great grandchildren. Having her great grandchildren here in Florence brings her great joy.



  Denise DeKemper & Pamela Vosseller

July is a double feature at Backstreet Gallery including handpainted silks by Denise DeKemper andPamela Vosseller’s unique altered art. 

Denise’s interest in art began as a child. She designed and her mother sewed her clothes. Denise and her sister tie-dyed together. She’s also worked in stained glass and mosaics.  Some may know Denise as Mom to her Corgi dog, Joe. “Is that Joe?” some may ask as she walks along with her husband, son and Joe.  However, Denise is rapidly becoming known for elegant painted silk scarves, wall hangings, and other distinctive silk pieces, introducing a new art form to Backstreet. Denise’s work is gutta-serti, French for “rubber fence”. Similar to batik, she uses rubber-based gutta resist instead of wax. She draws her creation on paper then traces it onto silk using the resist. She then paints dyes onto the silk. The dyes are set by steaming the silk.  Denise first saw silk painting in Mexico then attended a workshop to learn the process. While at a state fair, Denise submitted a piece to the homemaking department. They sent her to the fine arts department citing the quality of her work, where a gallery owner invited Denise to display her work in a gallery.

Pamela’s art journey started with traditional drawing/painting techniques. “Over the last two years, I have been exploring mixed media. I add to my paintings whatever it takes to achieve my vision. The world is alive with possibilities.”  In 2011, Pamela challenged herself to complete 100 Art/Road Journals using recycled books. These journal creations have allowed her to create with no boundaries. She incorporates original art, embellishments, clay, metal, papers, and text. The journals are traditionally and uniquely bound for the public to record their dreams or memories.  Pamela says, “I have come full circle, returning to Backstreet Gallery. I was a member with Backstreet when the gallery was in the little house on Laurel. I find Backstreet to be a network of diverse artists. This has inspired me to try new art techniques as well as providing opportunity to continue my participation in community projects.”

Come out July 14th from 3-5pm to meet these two fine artists and learn more about their art.



  Models on the Move

Presenting Models on the Move, a reception on Aug. 11th will honor all the artists who took the challenge to redesign a wooden model and create unique pieces of three-dimensional art.  With a silent auction on August 29th!


On August 2nd, the models will move into Backstreet’s display window. The models will be for sale between the Art Walk on August 11th, until After Hours on August 29th. That will be the culmination of the fun where the models will move on to the highest bidders at the Silent Auction. Proceeds will go to support G.A.L.A. Art Walk that takes place the second Saturday each month.

The moveable wooden models have been dressed, adorned, affixed to and rearranged in so many compositions. There were no limitations as to what the artists could do with their creative talents and imaginations. Come see how the artists have put the pieces together.

Bring family and friends to this community event at Backstreet Gallery, 1421 Bay St. Saturday on Aug. 11th, 3-5PM to view this exciting show, enjoy scrumptious refreshments and pick out your favorite model. Then enjoy live music and the finale of Models on the Move, at the After Hours Silent Auction on August 29th, 4-7PM.



  Jill Hardin

Celebrate our September’s artist of the month, Poet Laureate, Jill Hardin.  A reception in her honor will be held at the gallery, Sept. 8th 3-5 PM, where she will present a reading of her poetry.

Available at the Gallery, her book, No More to Need, Is filled with deeply spiritual poems that roll off the page like a soft shower. Equally gifted in reading poetry, she will be offering a CD by the same name, an oral shower of poems, beautiful words to soothe your soul.

Her cascading rhythmic style of free verse is as intuitive and personal as is her interpretation in song.  

As a child, Jill advanced her skills on the piano. She studied music at the U of O as she realized that nursing was not for her. After spending 12 years singing with the Seattle Opera Company, she changed her allegiance from classical music to Jazz.

She also wrote and performed “Muse and Mask” for the Seattle Theater Festival.

It’s not surprising she developed musical and lyrical talents. Jill’s mother was a classical violinist and her father a jazz base player. Her brother, Tim Hardin, wrote songs like, “If I Were Carpenter”, and “Reason to Believe”.

At the gallery’s After Hours, 5-7PM, September 26th, Jill will sing with jazz guitarist, Michael Anderson. Great food abounds at both occasions.



   Ramona Welzel

Ramona is known to her neighbors as the Black and White Lady because of her black schnauzer, Pepper, and her white poodle, Lucky Lu, that she walks daily.  This has nothing to do with the fact that Ramona is a masterful pen and ink artist whose dynamic stylized black and white drawings are well known. She enhances many of her pieces with various values of gray washes and intricate detail. The results create the illusion of depth with interwoven abstractions.  She says, “Working with one color allows me the freedom to explore different methods of giving my pieces depth and dimension. This medium is also very challenging due to its permanency, which adds to the excitement.”

Her watercolors are also woven with her signature depth and dimension obtained by working in negative space, however they are executed in subtle colors, which evolve into  serene paintings.  Combining all of these techniques with sewing and folding angular pieces of hand-painted, colored and textured papers, she creates art she calls paper quilts. These creations are unique to Ramona.

Ramona’s distinctive works have won her awards in Celebrate Arts, Rhody Days Art Shows, and miniature shows at Old Town Coffee and Backstreet Gallery.



  Susan Weathers

Help us honor water colorist Susan Weathers at her reception on November 10th, 3-5 PM.


Known for her free-flowing watercolors, Susan was voted being best artist in Florence in Siuslaw News’ People’s Choice Awards for the past two years. She has been the recipient of awards at Celebrate Arts. Susan has been a member of the Watercolor Society of Oregon since 1986. 

While she doesn’t always predetermine the subject matter, she does often take pictures and works from them. Richly colored florals, people, ocean scenes and buildings like the Heceta lighthouse are some subjects of her rich transparent watercolors. Look closely. Each painting finished since 2008, has a small meaningful hidden heart, in memory of her Mother. 

With her dog, Rosie, Susan takes long walks on the beach watching the waves making a mental study so that she can capture the ocean’s movement in her work.

She also enjoys painting old boats. “They have a history giving them character,” she says. “The older and more dilapidated the better.“

With the exception of a few classes, the artist is self-taught. She conducts classes to teach others her splash and dash technique. She uses this process to find shapes that catch her interest to develop into a finished piece. She teaches her techniques on Monday afternoon. Contact her for classes 541 997-7202,

When not creating artwork, you might hear piano or guitar music in the air. Though she doesn’t read music she loves to make up her own tunes. She plays it through several times so she’ll remember her creation. She enjoys weekends with her grandchildren, Wednesday morning coffee with her son (Ned Hickson), and reading.

Genealogy fascinates her. Her American ancestry dates back to the 1600’s and she traced her lineage in Denmark to King Christian. “I love playing History Detective!”

After 30 years, she moved from her farm on the North Fork where she and her late husband built their home. Now she’s living in the home that once was her Mother’s. From cars to home repairs, her husband taught her to lose the fear of fixing things. “After all, they’re already broken!” She is known ’round Backstreet for being their fixit person.

A lovely garden opposite the window by her dining table, gives each morning a cheerful beginning. Mom’s old wicker chairs, a baker’s rack, host pots of flowers, plants, and gifts from friends. The smiling sun on the fence represents her mother’s sunny disposition. “That sun makes me smile each and every morning”, obviously an inherited trait.

Meet Susan at her reception Nov. 10th, 3-5pm or stop by Backstreet Gallery any day 10AM-5PM. Enjoy her distinctive work as well as that of 23 other local artists.



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