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Exhibit showcases eclectic family artwork

October's First Friday Art Walk is tonight
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Grace Henson, left, Paul Charron, Sara Fine, Amy Charron, front left, Cielle Charron, are a family of artists who have show up at Hanson Howard Gallery in Ashland. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
 Posted: 2:00 AM October 04, 2013

A family of artists is showing work that ranges from sculptural models of ghost town buildings to paintings based on old family photos during tonight's First Friday Art Walk in Ashland.

Hanson Howard Gallery, 89 Oak St., is hosting the exhibit, which will continue through October.

The matriarch of the family, Grace Henson, raised her family in Ashland and was an art teacher at Phoenix High School in the 1960s and '70s.

If you go

What: "All in the Family," an exhibit featuring family members Grace Henson, Paul, Amy and Cielle Charron and Sarah Fine

When: Oct. 4-30, with an artists reception from 5 to 8 p.m. today, Oct. 4

Where: Hanson Howard Gallery, 89 Oak St., Ashland

The family members now live in Corvallis and the Portland metropolitan region, but were invited by gallery owner Judy Howard to team up for the October exhibition.

"We're very excited to be in Ashland," Henson said. "It's coming home."

Henson is showing colorful paintings, many of which are based on family photographs and stories.

Her painting "The Three Survivors" shows a man, a boy and a dog — all of whom survived harrowing ordeals.

The man, Henson's grandfather, was orphaned at age 12 and sold into bonded servitude. He ran away at age 14, was taken in by a Shaker religious colony, then later became a cowboy and homesteader.

The boy, another relative, fell into wheat harvesting machinery, which nearly severed his leg. A young surgeon who had just returned to America after treating wounded soldiers in World War I was able to save the leg.

The dog became famous in family lore after it attacked a rattlesnake and nearly died. It eventually developed an immunity to venom and went on to become a fierce rattlesnake killer.

Henson said she learned many family tales from her father, who was a great storyteller.

She has a portrait of him in the exhibit, standing astride his Indian motorcycle with telephone poles in the background.

When telephone poles and lines were being installed in the early 1900s, there were often few roads running alongside the poles — only trails, Henson said.

"They would hire people who rode motorcycles to be linemen for the telephone companies," she said.

In another nod to history, Henson's son-in-law, Paul Charron, is displaying intricately detailed models of ghost town buildings.

Charron grew up in Pennsylvania, then came to Oregon to attend college. He was instantly smitten by the grandeur of the West.

"My first year, I missed a lot of school. I just loved the wide open spaces and the vastness of the West," he recalled.

Charron often visits ghost towns and consults documents from the Historic American Buildings Survey when researching details for his building models.

The wood and ceramic models feature details such as brick, stonework, doors, a pulley, stairs, windows, railings and signs.

Charron, a greenhouse manager for the U. S. Department of Agriculture, often worked with his father, a carpenter. His grandfather built many churches, rectories and schools in Canada.

Amy Charron, his wife and Henson's daughter, shares her husband's love of sculpting.

A graphic designer for Oregon State University, Amy has been making playful, vibrant sculptures for a decade in her free time.

Her pieces include a poodle with curlers in its hair admiring a flamingo lawn ornament and a French bulldog dressed in a fake beard and pointed hat next to a garden gnome.

Amy said she enjoys making characters and imbuing them with personalities.

Preparing for the exhibit in Ashland has pushed all the family members to be more creative, she said.

"It's given us momentum. Before, I would say, 'I want to do more and make stuff, but I don't have time.' This has given us the drive and impetus to create," Amy said.

Her sister, Sarah Fine, is a graphic designer for the Portland Water Bureau and Amy's daughter, Cielle Charron, recently graduated with a degree in graphic design.

Cielle has made silk screens for the exhibit, while Fine has created colorful, whimsical sculptural wall pieces.

As a graphic designer creating art via computer, Fine said preparing for the exhibit was a fun way to return to three-dimensional, hands-on work.

Her pieces feature birds, cats, famous painter Frida Kahlo and an ode to the cult television comedy "Portlandia."

Fine said teaming up with family members for the exhibit has been fun and relatively easy. The family has shared ideas and chatted online via Skype, she said.

"We're just a crazy family that has always loved creating stuff. It's been very motivating to have the show. It was good to have a deadline looming on the horizon," Fine said. "We've had a lot of fun doing it."

To learn more about the family and their artwork, visit the exhibit's Facebook page at or Hanson Howard Gallery's website at, or call the gallery at 541-488-2562.

The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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