Opus School of Music charts new course in Camas

Opus School of Music, in Ridgefield since 2006, recently set up shop in a Camas house on Northeast Second Avenue with two pianos donated from Portland Piano Company and, seemingly, a line of students out the door.

Director Rob Melton chose Camas because he wanted to locate in a community that has “great school teachers” and “families that invest in their kids.” When a friend, Dave Pitassi, ultimately led Melton to the space the school occupies now, a practice room was named after him. Room naming is an important part of the Opus aesthetic — all the rooms in the school are named after different people and things — and it lends an air of aspiration to greatness and gratitude for support.

While the school offers individual and group lessons from pre-K to adult, light retail and rentals, what sets it apart from similar schools is the jam band. All classes participate in performances and recitals throughout the year, but the jam band is a different beast. All students learn four of the same songs, including The Lion Sleeps Tonight and Brown Eyed Girl and pick up gigs around the county throughout the year. A performance might include between four and twelve kids running through their set twice. Often, previous students join in, and there are always extra bongos and shakers for audience participation.

In addition to the jam band, the Polyroux Music Festival takes place at the Old Liberty Theater in Ridgefield and showcases local and rising talent. The festival, founded and curated by Melton, has just completed its fifth year. The Autumnal showcase is, of course, each fall.

“The idea is that music is meant to be played for people,” said Melton, adding that he was “bummed out” taking lessons as a child only to learn that he had to “find that community” on his own.

Today Melton is a graduate of Portland State University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in piano performance and a Masters in Teaching Music (MAT). He used a captivating Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 for the new venture. Families are included at every turn. A cozy backyard deck, front yard raised bed garden and comfy sofas inside the front door welcomes all to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

At home with her craft

Sally Sellers makes houses a focal point of her work

By and Large Inside-Outside_opt

submitted photos

Sally Sellers, a Clark County resident for 30 years, uses textile media to create abstract designs from urban architecture.

“In addition to carrying high emotional content, the structure of a house possesses a geometrical joy which offers many design possibilities: all the windows, doors, angles and supports offer the opportunity to use a different color or line or object,” said Sellers.

Sellers said that using images of houses wasn’t a deliberate decision, but rather an unconscious response to an emotionally difficult period of time, when her middle daughter became so medically fragile that she had to go live in a children’s nursing facility in order to survive.

“I was devastated by our inability to care for her properly in our own home,” said Sellers. “My idea of a house/home as the ultimate place of refuge and protection was brought into question.”

Originally, Sellers made art quilts by machine, but as her artwork evolved, she began incorporating beads, pearls and even discarded electronic parts. And although it may seem odd at first to sew electronic parts into a picture, Sellers said “they looked just like little windows or doors to me.” Now she simply refers to her pieces as “textiles.”

She said that she is not a purist, and will mix hand-dyed as well as commercial fabrics — it depends on what the piece needs.

“I once cut up a pair of my niece’s gym shorts because they were the perfect color of green,” laughed Sellers.

After taking a class in beadwork, she “became enamored of encrusting a little piece of canvas with these glittery objects.” When her sister passed away, Sellers shipped the sister’s beads from Michigan to Washington – all 536 pounds of them.

She is always opening up to new themes in her work. She said that the idea of numbers going on and on into infinity “enthralls” her, and she wants to create more images centered around the number pi. Currently, she is working an “incredibly tactile” piece centered around the human hand, stitched from beads. She said she is also exploring using beads to make lines on textiles rather than stitching.

“However,” said Sellers, “that kind of work can get so tedious that I need to break out every now and then and start stitching larger pieces of fabric together to make images.”

Sellers’ work has been juried into major textile exhibitions, including Quilt National, Crafts National, and Fiberart International. She said her proudest moment was exhibiting a piece at the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City. Unfortunately, she did not get to see it.

“I was going to go to the opening, but then 9/11 happened and everyone was afraid to fly for a few weeks. I still have my ticket,” Sellers lamented.

Sally Sellers will exhibit her work at the “Clark County: Living the Good Life” art exhibit through the end of September. Building hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1300 Franklin Street in Vancouver.

She is also participating in “Reaching Beyond: The Northwest Designer Craftsmen at 60” at the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher Building in Bellingham, October through December 2014.

You can view more samples of Sellers’ textiles at her website,

WSU Diversity/Disability Film Festival starts today

Washington State University Vancouver will screen four movies during its 2011 Diversity Film Festival themed "Diversity and Disabilities: Celebrating the Abilities in Us All." Films will be shown at 4 p.m. Sept 12 – 15 in the Dengerink Administrative building, room 110. Admission is free and this event is open to the public. Each film highlights different disabilities including those considered physical, cognitive, familiar or extraordinary.

"Wretches & Jabberers"
Today, Monday, Sept. 12
In "Wretches & Jabberers" two men with autism embark on a global quest to change attitudes about disability and intelligence. At each stop they dissect public attitudes about autism and issue a hopeful challenge to reconsider competency and the future.

Tuesday, Sept. 13
Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Himalayas, Blindsight Follows the gripping adventure of six Tibetan teenagers who set out to climb the 23,000-foot Lhakpa Ri on the north side of Mount Everest. A dangerous journey soon becomes a seemingly impossible challenge made all the more remarkable by the fact that the teenagers are blind.

"Music Within"
Wednesday, Sept. 14
Richard Pimentel was always a great public speaker with a winning personality, but when he tries out for the country's top debate team and is rejected, he takes his shattered dreams to the Army for a tour of duty in Vietnam. When a bomb blast takes his hearing, he returns home to become a groundbreaking speaker and campaigner on behalf of the rights of everyone with a disability including his fellow vets.

"For Once in My Life"
Thursday, Sept. 15
This documentary is about a unique band of singers and musicians and their journey to show the world the greatness-and killer soundtrack-within each of them. The band members have a wide range of mental and physical disabilities-as well as musical abilities that extend into ranges of pure genius. The film's Director, Jim Bigham, will be a special guest at the screening.

WSU Vancouver's Diversity Council sponsors the Diversity Film Festival annually. For more information, visit

Urban entrepreneurship

New market creates connections between backyard growers and buyers

story + photos by mary preiser potts

Urban Growers Market
Second Fridays (next one Friday June 10!
2315 Main St., Vancouver
(One World Merchants parking lot)

Embarking on its first year, the Urban Growers Market is an evolution of Craft in the Village, started in 2009 by Chris Stevens of NW Shirts and Liz Halili of One World Merchants. The new market brings together a mix of backyard growers, small farmers and food artisans, as well as artists and crafters. It features a co-op table run by Urban Abundance, a barter table where backyard farmers can swap produce, and a table where fresh eggs and plant starts are offered by Posey Patch.

You may even see a table of budding child gardeners trade and sell their own fresh produce.

A swift outpouring of support got the market off the ground. In just a few days, a Kickstarter campaign raised money for permits and fees. Sponsorships from local businesses followed. Other fundraisers included the Vancouver Vixen (skateboard) Benefit Race sponsored by NW Shirts, as well as a silent auction and concert at the Brickhouse organized by Anni Becker.

“The Urban Growers Market has been fully funded by the community, 100 percent,” Halili said.

The local food movement in Vancouver is already strong. As the UGM founders see it, the more options there are for buying local, the better, especially as people become increasingly concerned about their food sources. This is evidenced by the proliferation of community-supported agriculture farms and farmers markets in recent years.

“All of the neighborhoods around here are very interested in buying local. It’s just giving them another option for a local, community, family event,” said Sunrise O’Mahoney, a co-founder of the Urban Growers Market, alongside Halili and Stevens.

Bigger than the sum of its parts, the market aims to serve as a community gathering place. In a city with low walkability in many areas, the founders hope to provide people with a reason to get outside, walk around and get to know their neighbors.

“This is just something that oil has done away with. People don’t know their neighbors…. I would just like for people to see how closely tied we are,” Stevens said.

A backyard grower and mother of three, Erica Barnes-Davis sells produce via the Urban Abundance co-op table. She thought participating in the market would be a good way to educate her children about where their food comes from.

“It’s so hard for kids to know about seasons for foods,” she said, “since we can get anything anytime from some part of the world.”

The ‘wow’ factor

Artistic Home and Garden makes DIY concrete projects simple and satisfying

Artistic Home and Garden
421 N.E. Cedar St., Camas

In a time of slumped home prices and a still-sludgy real estate market, homeowners are looking to create a “wow” factor in their yards and gardens. Artistic Home and Garden has been providing that wow factor for more than 14 years. Warehoused in Camas, the business that Tammy Ramadan and her husband Farouk started in 1997 has grown exponentially over the years and has garnered customers and fans all over the world, said Tammy Ramadan. “For some reason,” she laughed, “Norway loves us!”

Artistic Home and Garden specializes in molds for concrete items such as stepping stones, benches, birdbaths and fountains.

The company has recently carved out a niche creating architectural-style molds for concrete balusters, railings and structural columns. Farouk Ramadan is an architect and the designer of the company’s 50 unique molds, while Tammy Ramadan is a history buff and offers, as she puts it, the average homeowner perspective. Each mold tends to convey some historical reference or significance, particularly to the Northwest.

The company manufactures its molds in Washington using Pillar Plastics in Washougal for its injection molded designs and Accel in Seattle, previously contracted with a company located in the Orchards area of Clark County.

“We’ve had the opportunity to make [our molds] overseas, but we are keeping jobs here,” said Tammy Ramadan.

While the majority of Artistic Home and Garden customers are do-it-yourselfers, a fast-growing number are contractors who have made finished products from the molds part of their product offering. For the relatively low price of an injection mold, the contractor can make up to 100 reproductions of any one item before the mold begins to wear out. In the residential line, molds can last up to 50 reproductions, inspiring ubiquitous garden art projects and gift items.

Tammy Ramadan has a great rapport with her customers. They call and email to ask about products, double check instructions, offer feedback on their projects and, best of all, send photos of beloved finished works. Tammy said a lot of her ideas for molds come directly from customers, such as the balusters which are the company’s second biggest seller.

Quite a lot of customer interaction happens through the company’s website, which includes instruction downloads and videos. Customers are “really into home improvement, into nesting and making their homes beautiful,” said Tammy Ramadan. “They have the tactile experience of making their [item] on their own and they are so surprised and happy.”

–Jessica Swanson

Friday Fiver: Lizzabeth A!

Sue Wall won $5 to spend at Lizzabeth A in dowtown Camas in last week's Friday Fiver!

Lizzabeth A is a home decor shop that carries accessories, furniture, table linens and tableware, wall art, lamps, candles, and much more.  Darren Gygi prints have just arrived in store this month!

Find Lizzabeth A at 415 NE Birch Street in Camas or call 360-834-6071.

Know of any business that would like to gift $5 to some unsuspecting shopper? email me


Battle Ground gallery fills a North County need

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Avalon Art Gallery and Studio has inhabited a light-filled, two-story space in the live-work-shop development Battle Ground Village since last May. Complete with a top floor classroom and wrought-iron upper balcony, Avalon has fashioned itself a place to gather and support culture in North County. Paulette Wanless Smith and her husband and silent partner Bruce Smith came out of retirement to bring more life to an already flourishing local arts community. However, with the close of the Cupola Gallery in April of 2010, North County artists were facing a venue shortage.

Wanless Smith, herself a hobby potter, has been involved with the Battle Ground Art Alliance for 10 years and is the current president. So finding a passel of unique local artists came easy, pulling from the Ridgefield Art Association and the Northwest Oil Painters Guild, as well as the BGAA and others.

The 1500-square-foot space is a showcase of Northwest artists, and many mediums are unusual such as Bob Cossman’s leather arts. More than two dozen artists are represented in the gallery, and most live in Clark County, but others are based around the region, hailing from Whidbey Island, Gig Harbor and Lake Oswego, Ore. Current and recent artists include Austin Barton (bronze sculpture), Tina Hunter (mosaic), Diane Ringer (gourds and paper), Ann Cavanaugh (fused glass) and Jim Gola (oil).

In this economy, a proprietor has to have a few tricks up her sleeve to make a go of a new art gallery in a small community. Wanless Smith, fortunately, has more than a few. Each artist who shows in the gallery pays $30 per month to be there, and the gallery takes a modest 30 percent commission on top. Avalon also has two classroom spaces for use by local instructors who pay a fee to teach in the space.

On one wall is a collection of artists who offer portraits on commission. And custom framing by Vancouver’s Aurora Gallery is available by appointment in the upstairs space. Artists who are framing their own work get 20 percent off on framing. The gallery is also available for meeting and event rental. Another revenue generator are monthly events hosted in the space. Each featured artist is highlighted for two months. On the second Friday of the first month, a traditional art opening showcases the artists’ work. On the following Friday, a varying special event is on the books.

Avalon Art Gallery & Studio

Battle Ground Village

819 S.E 14th Loop, Ste. 109, Battle Ground


Arts Education on Fort Vancouver?

[From the Fort Vancouver National Trust]

The Fort Vancouver National Trust is seeking input from arts organizations, educators and artists regarding the proposed adaptive reuse of the Post Hospital as an arts education center. 

The Post Hospital opened in 1905 and in 1918 aided in the recovery of more than 20,500 patients who fell ill to the Spanish Influenza that year. The building has most recently served as offices for the Army, but has been vacant since the mid-nineties. The Post Hospital is owned by the city of Vancouver, but the Fort Vancouver National Trust holds the lease for the building and is considering it as a venue for the arts and arts education.

Artists of all disciplines and interested members of the public are invited to participate in a Community Conversation about the potential use of the Post Hospital as an arts education center. Participants will take a tour of the building (scheduled in advance by appointment) on Thursday, February 10. The Community Conversation will then follow on Tuesday, February 15 from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

During the conversation, participants will be asked to provide input on the potential uses of the space based on insights gleaned during the tour and to brainstorm with peers in a short breakout session divided into four discipline categories: Visual Arts, Performing Arts – Dance & Music, Performing Arts – Theater and Literary Arts.

Those interested in participating in this Community Conversation should schedule your tour of the Post Hospital by contacting the Fort Vancouver National Trust, 360-992-1800.

Facebook Friday Fiver winner!

Glenn Grossman of Vancouver won a free family pass worth $10 to the  Clark County Historical Museum during our last Facebook Friday Fiver (Tenner? Tenor?) Thanks Susan Tissot and CCHM for such a generous gift to one of our readers!

The Clark County Historical Museum is located at 1511 Main Street in Vancouver and can be reached at 360-993-5679. Currently featured at the museum is Autumn Trout Gathering, a Celebration of Richard Brautigan, running through Jan. 30. Ongoing is Road to Equality: The struggle for women’s rights in the Northwest.

Do you know other businesses that would like to draw in customers by giving away $5 during our Facebook Friday Fiver promotion? Write on our wall.


FB Friday Fiver winner!

Anna Petruolo of Vancouver has won $5 at Woody’s Tacos in Vancouver Marketplace courtesy of Tula Design, the awesome designer of many of our publications here at North Bank Magazine and company! Tula Design is a regional full-service graphic design studio and a long-time supporter of business in Vancouver.

Want to bring new customers to your store? Email me at about participating in the FB Friday Fiver giveaway!


Kiggins getting restored

A group of volunteers and artists/interested people are helping restore the historic Kiggins Theater on Main Street in Vancouver.

Watch the blog for updates on the demo and restoration and also to find out when volunteer opportunities are coming up. AND, if you are so inclined, take the poll on the right hand side of the page, which will help shape the future of the beloved venue.

PS: This photo is by Cara Cottingham. Thanks, Cara, for letting us know, and for all the great work happening.


Artists in the Vineyard Art Festival

07.04.2010 Listen up. This sounds super great.

Art, food, wine and music will be featured at the first annual Artists in the Vineyard art festival on Saturday July 24 from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday July 25 from noon to 4 p.m. Come and meet the artists and enjoy a glass of wine while you stroll the bucolic setting at Confluence Vineyard and Winery. Artists will dedicate a portion of their proceeds to support the Oregon Food Bank and Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Representatives from glassybaby will be on hand selling their hand blown glass votives, and a portion of their sales will also go to OFB and Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

The winery is located at 19111 NW 67th St. in Ridgefield. For more information contact Kathy Winters 360-887-2160.

Also, go to Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters today for the Ethiopian pour-over. It’s open LATE tonight and it’s making me very happy this afternoon.


Lincoln’s Gallery is fresh and laid back

lincolnsgalleryBy Jessica Swanson
Photo by Todd Gunderson

Last September, an art gallery Vancouver was looking for opened on West Ninth Street. Lincoln’s Gallery, born by local alternative folk band Lincoln’s Beard, is fresh and laid back. You won’t find framing or art supplies here – you may not even find the doors open, but when they are, feel free to sit on the couch, nurse a bottle of water and soak up the Renaissance aesthetic of its owners, Tyler Morgan, Kris Chrisopulos and Dwayne Spence.

Kris is an art teacher at Prairie High School, while Tyler teaches history in Camas. Dwayne is long a music promoter in the Vancouver area and an artist who has shown in other venues. In the band, Tyler plays trumpet, keys, glockenspiel, mandolin and sings; Kris plays guitar and sings; and Dwayne plays bass, banjo and sings back-up. The band has one full-length record, Our American Cousin, and will soon be releasing another.

“There aren’t too many relationships you have where you can do something like this,” said Tyler.

Tyler and Kris have no experience running a gallery and say they had no loftier intentions than creating a space where they could play, practice and hang friends’ art, as well as their own. But they are already booking months out and have shown local artists such as Reid Trevarthen, Selfless Creations, Anni Becker, Mitch Tarbutton and James Jacob. While Tyler said most of the off-the-street inquiries are about the coin shop next door, the first opening was shoulder-to-shoulder people. The band plays at each opening and uses the space primarily to practice.

Kris said the concept for the gallery came together organically, and stays together because people keep supporting them. He said it was something “I’d like to see in the place where I live.”

Artists and friends sometimes volunteer to keep open hours for the gallery – otherwise it’s open on First Fridays, other Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment.

The gallery fronts a space leased by fellow artist Brian Ripp, owner of Divergent Clothing.

“Brian has been a great influence,” said Kris, who collaborates with him on artwork. Kris said running a gallery and working with other artists inspires him to stay in the studio.

“From the art standpoint, I have produced more art than I ever have,” said Kris. And he added, “if somebody backs out, it’s up to you to fill the wall.”

Lincoln’s Gallery
106/108 W. Ninth St., Vancouver

Salmon Creek Farmers Market is looking for you!

05.16.2010 The newly formed Salmon Creek Farmers Market will locate behind the Three Creeks Library next to the Fred Meyer on 139th St. The market plans to open July 15 and run through Sept. 30 every Thursday from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Currently the group is looking for farmers, producers, artisans and entertainers. There is also an immediate need for volunteers for planning and sponsorship.

For more information on becoming a vendor, visit For information on volunteering, send an email to or call Ann Foster at 360-574-5093.

More awesome veggie opps — woo!


Whoa. First Friday madness

05.05.2010 The West Vancouver Art situation has never been more enticing. This Friday, May 7, marks the grand opening of The Space Art Collective and Tryckpress Galleri, Guerrilla Gallery’s first First Friday and the opening of the second season of Craft in the Village. Check out Lincoln’s Beard at Lincoln’s Gallery; The Shivas, We Play Quiet, Padraic Finbar Hagerty Hammond and Oigen at Guerrilla; Auxillary, Glitter Zombie, Briz and This Infernal Machine at The Space, plus drum circle and poetry. Downtown, find Angst Gallery, Gallery 21, Art on the Boulevard, Firehouse Glass (which is now doing their open houses on Saturday afternoons, but will still be open on First Fridays), Sixth Street Gallery and North Bank Gallery. And on 4th Plain and Esther, The Stray.

And I know, the art shouldn’t take a backseat to the action. But the action? Well, that’s what’s new.

Find it all, obviously, on your friendly local social networking system.