Peace’s paintings: New artwork to be installed at Silver Falls Lodge

June 2021 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community, Outdoor Life

The artist known as Peace with his painting of the South Falls in Silver Falls Lodge

By Melissa Wagoner

“I’m an artist and not particularly tied down,” Peace said of the journey that inspired him to work as the sole artist-in-residence at Silver Falls State Park for the first time in 2015.

Coming off a pilgrimage for peace, in which the artist attempted to run across the United States, Peace felt he needed a change of pace – literally. And so, he hopped on his bike and headed out.

“I decided, I’m not going to run anymore, I’m going to paint,” Peace recalled. “So, I put out to the universe – where should I go? And I heard a resounding voice say, ‘Go to Silver Falls.’”

Showing up completely unannounced, Peace was in luck that year to find previous Park Manager Kevin Strandberg in his office and amenable to his terms, which earned Peace, in exchange for his work, a place to stay.

“I painted a painting of South Falls that’s in the Lodge now,” Peace said of that first year’s project, which required him to
haul a baby stroller full of canvasses and supplies down the steep trail, rain or shine.

 “I wanted it to be as authentic as possible,” Peace said. “The impetus that first year was I wanted the experience.”

But more importantly, he wanted others – especially those who could not physically make their own way into the canyon – to have the experience as well.

“The next year, the manager of the Conference Center wanted everything to look like a photograph,” Peace said of his

second experience in which he painted a host of scenes for the Conference Center’s walls.

Now, five years into his tenure at the park, he has just completed two of the most challenging paintings he’s ever created.

“I’ve been here since Jan. 20,” Peace said. He was given residence at the Silver Falls Conference Center during the project. Adding, “To put two paintings out in that time was a bit of a stretch.”

 The challenge was the size. One canvas, on which Peace painted a stunning South Falls rimmed by snow and ice, measures ten feet by four and a half feet. The other, another snowy scene, but this time featuring the iconic wooden bridge beside the South Falls Day Use area along with a bobcat and a beaver, measures seven feet long by four and half feet tall.

“It’s 11,000 square inches of canvas,” Peace said. “It’s been very pushing.”

Utilizing few photographs for reference, Peace relied upon his own visualization and imagination to create the scenes, especially when it came to the bobcat and beaver.

“They’re the two animals I’ve seen here all winter,” Peace noted. “I’ve been tracking them the whole time.”

He was also observing the life cycle of trees, which features prominently – though much more subtly – in both paintings.

“It’s always difficult because you’re putting it out there forever,” Peace said of the desire to make certain each painting is deserving of its place in one of the most popular state parks in Oregon.

It’s a lot of pressure but surrounded by the beauty of nature it’s an artist’s paradise and there’s no place he’d rather be.

 

MELISSA WAGONER

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