Rooted in creativity: Bringing back spirit of Silverton’s Old Oak

November 2018 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community
Carole DeMar in front of the Old Oak mural at Talking Oak Studios.   Melissa Wagoner

Carole DeMar in front of the Old Oak mural at Talking Oak Studios. Melissa Wagoner

By Melissa Wagoner

The Old Oak tree – once a gathering place for Native Americans and a landmark for early settlers of Silverton – is being given a spiritual rebirth by the new Talking Oak Studios, an art space and gallery set to open on Main Street in Silverton in December.

“[It’s] where early settlers of Silverton gathered to swap stories and debate current issues of the day,” owners Carole DeMar and Jeffrey Michael Tinkham, wrote in a recent press release. “Talking Oak Studios is dedicated to reviving the community spirit that naturally flourished beneath the boughs of this stately giant.”

Both DeMar and Tinkham are certified in the practice of creative arts and their studio will be a combined effort of their artistic strengths.

“My background is art therapy, psychology and art,” DeMar said. “I’m very interested in working with youth and, then again, pulling that kid out of adults too. [Michael] is a published author. He’s going to be offering writing groups.”

The space, which is currently an almost empty slate – but for the large mural of an oak tree DeMar has painted on the main wall – will eventually house a stage, flexible creative workspaces and even a writer’s nook.

“We want it to be a safe and supportive space,” DeMar explained. “It’s a great place for people who want to build their creative confidence.”

Although Talking Oak Studios will offer art classes, taught by both DeMar and Tinkham, they also plan to reach out to other organizations in the community – the school district and the senior center among them – in order to establish partnerships.

“It’ll be intergenerational,” DeMar promised. “We’ll have family events. I want to have times when mom or dad can come in and learn how to do art with their kids at home. I’d like to have some parent training because they’re not offering it enough in school. I want to talk with the high school to have teens work with retired people and kind of build those bridges as well.”

DeMar, an artist throughout her life, views art as an important way to build relationships and community, something she believes is even more important in the society of today.

“The world is too dialed in and we want a place where people can come together,” she said.

The couple – who have dreamed of opening this studio since they met, more than 20 years ago – are excited to finally be making the leap in Silverton, where they moved to be near their son three years ago.

“We want to get a feel for what the community wants,” DeMar added.

To make that happen, Talking Oak Studios will be hosting an open house Nov. 23 and 24, 1 to 5 p.m. in order to gauge the needs of the public while engaging them in a communal art project which will essentially grow the boughs of the oak tree’s leaves across the mural wall and out over the heads of the artists themselves – visually reviving the lost tree.

“Our vision is that Talking Oak Studios will become a vibrant community space,” DeMar and Tinkham explained in their announcement “where neighbors come together to create, collaborate and explore, to stretch creative comfort zones and try something new, to improvise and experiment, to listen and share stories.”

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