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Artists to inspire Ashland

Hands-on puppet, chalk, poster workshops
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“ParaNorman” was directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler.
 Posted: 2:00 AM November 05, 2012

A creative storm is about to hit already-artistic Ashland. A New Yorker cover illustrator, Academy Award-nominated film puppeteer and a respected 3-D chalk artist are coming here to talk and teach as part of Art Inspires Ashland events Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9 and 10.

The ambitious, first-of-its-kind program for the Ashland Art Center has a lofty goal, say organizers: To impact the cultural environment of the Rogue Valley.

Since it opened three years ago, the center has offered classes, produced exhibits, provided studio space and given economic and social support to the visual arts community.

Art Inspires


• Friday, Nov. 9: Meet the artists from 7 to 9 p.m. at Ashland Art Center, 357 E. Main St. Grizzly Peak Winery wine and food catered by Smithfields will be served. $10.

• Saturday, Nov. 10: Workshops on 3-D Claymation puppet fabrication by Georgina Hayns (10 a.m. to noon at the Ashland Art Center, $50); 3-D perspective drawing by artist Tracy Lee Stum (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St., $30); and creating street posters with Eric Drooker (2 to 4 p.m. at the Ashland Art Center, $50).

• Saturday, Nov. 10: Gala event with RoxyAnn Winery wine and appetizers by A to Z Catering at the Historic Ashland Armory starting at 6 p.m. $50 (includes talk series).

• Saturday, Nov. 10: Inspirational talks at Historic Ashland Armory beginning at 7:30 p.m. $15.

Tickets available at the Art Center or

Organizers hope that 500 supporters will pay $15 to listen to three artists as they deliver storytelling, TED-style talks on Saturday. Their words will be accompanied by images of their work displayed on large screens in the Historic Ashland Armory. One of the artists may even play the harmonica, banjo or guitar.

"These will not be dry, academic talks," says Ashland Art Center's founder, Denise Baxter. "I value leaders in the art world who are animated, who can tell a joke and are fun to watch. They personalize a complicated subject."

Organizers promise surprises for audience members of all ages and are hopeful this fundraiser can become an annual event.

"Our center is a vital resource for arts experience and education," says Sandra Friend, owner of GrapeStreet Design Group and president of the Ashland Art Center's board. "We hope the community will come out to support us so we can continue to exist and be a dynamic force for creative enrichment, expression and engagement for artists and art enthusiasts in the Rogue Valley."

Practical advice and classes are important components of the events, says Baxter.

"So many people struggle as artists. We invited these three artists to show us how they found a niche and became successful," she says. "We all want to know what is their secret and how we can transfer their information and skills into our work."

She adds that the two days of events are not just for artists, but for everyone who wants to be inspired. "These speakers are exciting and so interesting," she says.

More intimate events with the artists also are planned.

There will be opportunities to talk with them at a Friday night reception at the art center. Each artist will be on one of the three floors of the downtown building at 357 E. Main St. They will be surrounded by examples of their work and a local artist will introduce them to the people attending the reception.

There also will be a VIP reception starting an hour before the Saturday evening talks at the Armory.

During the day on Saturday, there will be small-group workshops in which the artists will explain how to create work that has vaulted them to the top of their profession.

Reached while stranded in New York City during the storm on Tuesday, New Yorker cover illustrator Eric Drooker says he wants to "pass on useful skills in visual communication."

The creator of the graphic novel version of Allen Ginsberg's classic poem "Howl" and political posters also will deconstruct art posters as communication tools.

The 30 people — high school students and older — who attend his $50 workshop at the Ashland Art Center will have an opportunity to design a poster, flier or billboard that expresses their political or social statements.

Another presenter is Georgina Hayns, who supervises the puppet fabrication department at LAIKA, the Portland animation studio owned by Nike chairman Phil Knight. Hayns oversaw the creation of the metal-bodied, silicone-skinned figures for the 3-D stop-motion Academy Award-nominated film "Coraline" and the new comedy thriller "ParaNorman."

During her workshop at the Ashland Art Center, Hayns will show how production puppets are made and will talk about the major creative influences that have inspired her 20-year career.

The 20 people — from middle-schoolers on up — who can enroll in her $50 workshop will be able to move a puppet on a small stage set and will make a short animation, as directed by Jason Stallman, an animator on the "ParaNorman" film.

Students attending illustrator Tracy Lee Stum's $30 workshop at the Armory will learn about the "mystery and magic" of 3-D street painting. The group of 40 — middle-schoolers and older — will then create 3-D chalk drawings on wall-size panels that will be displayed during the evening's gala.

"My workshop goal involves exposing participating students to the street-painting art form as a means to ignite their own creative potential," Stum emailed from Tajikistan on Thursday night. "My group workshop will help demystify the laws and rules that govern illusionistic works, allowing participants to walk away with the knowledge and confidence needed to create their own magical images."

Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or at

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