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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment December 13, 2017


12/5/2017 1:49:00 PM
Art in the natural world
The work of Caroline Stratton-Crow is on display at Sisters Library. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
The work of Caroline Stratton-Crow is on display at Sisters Library. photo provided

By Helen Schmidling


Caroline Stratton-Crow stepped back from hanging the last piece of art on the wall and exclaimed, "This is really pretty scary - seeing all of my art in one place!"

This month, Stratton-Crow's whimsical, natural watercolors and acrylics are hanging on the walls of the Community Room at Sisters Library. This collection is not a comprehensive view of her creative art. She left the three-dimensional spirit masks and horses at home. More than 20 paintings in the library represent her signature images: junipers, horses, ravens and owls, plus a few watercolor landscapes.

The earliest piece in this show is called "Dancing Junipers." She loves junipers, because they grow in the most difficult conditions, and the junipers that grow in rockier soil have more character than the ones that grow in easy conditions. Stratton-Crow's junipers are gnarly, yet whimsical, in stripes of gray, brown, and tan that twist playfully around the trunks and branches.

Her horses are an expression of freedom, strength, and power. "I've been horse crazy since I was a little girl," she said with a wide grin. "It's a focus on connection, and it's why so many young women grow to love horses. There's an ongoing communication," she said, about the connection between horse and rider, and the freedom and feeling of riding. She got her first horse when she was in eighth grade. "I set up jumps and rode all the time. I was ridiculously smitten," she said. She had to find a new home for her first horse when she went off to college, but since then, she has acquired five more horses, all mares, and has made each one since the first a life commitment. "I just make it work for me."

Owls are another prominent symbol in Stratton-Crow's work. "I just see them all the time when I go out riding," she said. "They just show up in my life, through the trees," whether she's out walking, or riding one of her horses. "They are a spirit animal for me." It's unusual that she sees owls during the daytime, because they are nocturnal, but she thinks the daytime owls are bringing the dark into the light. Sometimes she paints a single owl and other times perches owls in the branches of junipers. Owls are a symbol of wisdom, and Stratton-Crow strives for wisdom.

And what about the crows? "Well, I'm married to one," she laughs (Her husband is Jim Crow). But the birds on the branches or in the sky are really ravens, not crows. "They're in the same family, that includes magpies and jays, but they do not interbreed." To Stratton-Crow, they are quick-witted and smart, and they represent magic, and she says, "I love the magical."

Stratton-Crow grew up in Delmar, New York, a suburb of Albany. She moved to the Oregon Coast as a teenaged hippie, and studied at Oregon State. She learned astrology, which inspired a further study and lifelong career in psychology. She moved from Oregon, back to New York and then Pennsylvania, where she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology from Millersville University.

Her professional career was as a psychotherapist, working with couples, families, and individuals. She was a crisis counselor, and worked for many years in private practice. As an avid horsewoman, she often used horses in her therapy, and sought advanced training in equine-assisted psychotherapy. She still serves as an independent mental-health practitioner in Deschutes County for court hearings.

Stratton-Crow has two grown children who live in the Sisters area. She is also a regular practitioner of yoga, and at one point, taught classes. Stratton-Crow's paintings and three-dimensional horses are regularly displayed and sold at Sisters Gallery & Frame Shop on Hood Avenue. Her website is carolinestrattoncrow.com.

Her work will be up in the Community Room of the Sisters Library until January 2, 2018. It will come down in time to make room for the Annual Art Exhibit, sponsored by the Friends of the Sisters Library (FOSL). Art Exhibit dates are January 10 to February 23, 2018, with a reception on Friday, January 23, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The highly anticipated People's Choice Awards will be announced at the close of this reception. Voting takes place January 10-23.

The call is open to any artist who wishes to enter. The limit is two pieces of wall-hung art, or up to five pieces of other art such as jewelry, ceramics, or sculpture. All submissions are subject to approval by the FOSL Art Committee. Submission date is Saturday, January 8, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the

Library.

An art exhibit agreement is required, and one can be obtained by stopping at the Sisters Library, or at the FOSL website, www.sistersfol.com.





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