Director's Notes

What a picnic we had at Grass Mountain last week! Serape blankets spread out and shoes kicked off, with a golden light that makes you forget all the past cold days.
With plates filled, and glasses too, we ate and talked, learning how each of us is connected to Sitka, and what we hold as wonderful about our time here. I met recorder teachers thrilled to be reunited with their tribe. Visited with a man who has been Frank's friend since childhood, later walking with his wife down into the meadow grass, our footfall finding tiny insects that filled the air. Arm in arm, "like old ladies," we braced each other, stepping into mole burrows and snags of blackberry vine, the view of the Pacific pulling us down the slope.
After dessert, fuller than was possible to imagine, a warm patch of grass under a magnificent sixty-foot tall black locust tree beckoned us to move into the closing light of the evening and stay awhile longer. Laying in the grass or reaching down to hold a handful of loamy earth, we took in the vast meadows, the clear sky. Joanne showed me how as a child she braided the limp green ­­­­­stalks of the daffodils, their flowers gone to paper in the wind. Grass Mountain made us feel welcome and at ease together.
It's true, that there is magic at Sitka, in this place. Yet I believe it's really the people who have shaped Sitka, the board and staff who steward our programs, the residents, teachers and students that come here: they are the real magic.
We have deep roots with longtime friends and supporters that make our community here. Every year for the past twenty spring seasons, the talented teachers of the Winds and Waves recorder workshop fill our hilltop with music; you can almost see the notes filter into the trees and settle in the birds nests. And our newer friends, the final residents of the season, arrived during dreary weather to be rewarded by the current explosion of spring, having made a brief home here and a real connection to Sitka and each other. They will scatter soon, taking with them part of the Oregon coast, remembering the fine fat rain falling down during a hike up Cascade Head and perhaps the sounds of elk hooves in the snow. 

I hope that Sitka will magically weave into their future research, their art, their poetry and music, and stay their hearts. Most of all, I hope that that Sitka has offered them the time and quietness to be bold: that they'll always experiment and trust their process, that they'll make friendships & undertake collaborations that pull them forward, and that they are forever touched by the natural world and their place in it.

Leslie Jordan
Executive Director
May 2018
Workshop Highlight: Pacific NW Botanical Drawing with Natural Dyes
Mon-Wed, May 28-30
Featuring new Sitka instructor Melissa DeTroy, this workshop will be adventurous and fun, revolving around a central three-step process. Students will learn the process of dyeing paper for the background of their drawing using coffee and other natural dyes. Students will have three days to process their paper, find a subject from nature to draw and learn/practice basic drawing techniques for the final execution of the drawing. Students take home a finished piece, extra dyed paper and a sense of joyful, creative spirit!

Melissa offers a unique perspective into connecting our physical world through the use of simple mediums to convey a story or deeper experience. Check out her insightful work on her website and her Instagram profile.

Click here to learn more and register for this workshop.

Introducing the Sitka Summer Staff
Welcome Alida, Heather and Kristin!
Studio Tech Alida (top); Marketing Interns Heather (l) and Kristin (r)
With the workshop season right around the corner, it's time to introduce the talented people who will help run our workshop and marketing program this summer.

Alida Semonsen, our 2018 Summer Studio Technician, is from Lotus, California and received her BFA in Printmaking from California College of the Arts. She took a class at Sitka in the summer of 2016 and is so excited to be back.

Our summer Marketing Intern position will be divided between 2 people. Heather McMillan will be our first Marketing Intern starting in May, followed by Kristin Clayton who will take over the position in in mid-July. 

Originally from a small mountain town in the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains, Heather draws inspiration in her songwriting and music from her hometown. Heather just graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor of Music in Commercial Music Business and a Minor in Humanities.

Kristen is an art historian and artist from Melbourne, Florida. She received her B.A. in art history from the University of South Florida. Kristen is now a graduate student studying Nonprofit Management with a focus in Art and Cultural Leadership at the University of Oregon where she also works as the Program Associate for the School of Planning, Public Policy & Management, and as a co-curator/museum educator for the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
Free Sitka Events this Summer
Sun, June 10 at 4pm at the Lincoln City Cultural Center
Oregon Humanities Conversation Project 
(see article below)

Wed, July 25 at 4:30pm at Sitka
Mingle and Muse with Hector Hernandez
Muralist and Mosaic Artist

Sat, Aug 4, 11-2 at Sitka's Grass Mountain property
Grass Mountain Open House
Mark your calendar for this annual summer celebration - stay tuned for details!

Mon, Aug 20 at 4:30pm at Sitka
Mingle and Muse with Maya Vivas
Ceramic Artist and Co-founder of Ori Gallery

Get all the info and directions -- click here.
New! Residency for K-12 Educators at Grass Mountain
Deadline for applications is May 21, 2018
Sitka is excited to offer a residency designed for K-12 educators to spend two weeks at our new Grass Mountain property on Cascade Head. Educators will have the opportunity to work with local experts and Sitka artists to develop environmental curricula with a hands-on, creative element. Educators in any discipline, and working for school districts with high underserved or at-risk populations, who seek an opportunity to develop and share lessons in ecology or environmental stewardship are encouraged to apply.

Residency Provides:
  • An opportunity to live for 2 weeks, free of charge in a family-friendly, 2-bedroom house on Cascade Head, near the mouth of the Salmon River
  • Includes $1000 educator stipend, $150 travel reimbursement and $250 materials stipend
  • Opportunity to participate in a Sitka workshop and 1:1 consultation with a Sitka artist to help with the development of creative hands-on environmental activities
  • Access to Cascade Head Scenic Research area including the Salmon River estuary, Cascade Head Nature Conservancy trail and 80 private acres of forest on Grass Mountain
  • Use of Sitka's kayaks and canoe to explore the Salmon River estuary
  • Access to local Forest Service experts and scientists at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and Visitors Center
  • Pass to the Oregon Coast Aquarium

The application deadline is May 21, 2018. Click here to learn more and apply.

Sitka Hosts Oregon Humanities Conversation in Lincoln City 
Surabhi Mahajan
Topic: "What is Cultural Appropriation?"
When: Sunday June 10, 4pm to 6pm
Where: Lincoln City Cultural Center
540 NE Hwy 101, Lincoln City
This is a free event, open to the public. 

The Conversation Project is sponsored by Oregon Humanities with the goal of bringing people together to talk-- across differences, beliefs, and backgrounds-- about important issues and ideas. Sitka is inviting  Surabhi Mahajan to lead a conversation on the topic "What is Cultural Appropriation?"  This is not a lecture, it is a facilitated conversation by someone who is passionate about this topic (but not necessarily an expert), come prepared to explore ideas together.

Issues of cultural appropriation and identity are complicated. Facilitator Surabhi Majahan will lead us in a conversation to explore cultural appropriation beyond who's "allowed" to wear certain clothing or cook particular foods. Power dynamics influence who benefits from certain cultural experience, and-given the global nature of our world-parts of our individual and cultural identities are shaped by cultures other than our own. How do we make sense of this and what effect does it have on us as individuals and as Oregonians? Join the conversation!

Sitka Joins Open Studios Tour: Art on the Edge
Studio tour artists: top, Annamieka Davidson; bottom left, Jennifer Anderson; right, Lynne Wintermute
Come spend a beautiful weekend in May on the Oregon coast! Sitka Center will be participating in the second annual Art on the Edge studio tour hosted by the Lincoln City Cultural Center. Sitka will host 3 talented workshop instructors who will set up a working studio and displays in Sitka's beautiful studios. While on your tour route, feel free to stop by with your picnic lunch and enjoy our spacious surroundings. We have plenty of benches, picnic tables, and beautiful views to enjoy! 

The Sitka artists participating are Annamieka Davidson, Lynne Wintermute, and Jennifer L. Anderson. Annamieka Davidson is a Portland-based artist whose paintings explore themes of hope and healing with imagery of humanity and the natural world. Lynne Wintermute works out of her studio in Pacific City, painting acrylic expressionist landscapes as well as abstracts in oil and cold wax. Jennifer L. Anderson is a book artist and printmaker exploring natural themes through printmaking; primarily intaglio, relief printing, and stone lithography. All three artists are teaching this summer at Sitka. Check out our online catalog for more information on their workshops.

You can start at any studio on the tour, and buy your map and entrance button there. A good place to start is the center of the tour route, at the Lincoln City Cultural Center. To learn more about Art on the Edge and all the participating artists, click here.
It's here! The New Line of Sitka Gear for 2018
Nora Sherwood
Every winter, the staff hunkers down with catalogs and fabric samples and chooses a new design by one of our talented Sitka artists. For 2018 we're proud to present an intricate pine cone drawing by Nora Sherwood, now in her third year at Sitka teaching science illustration/drawing. You may have also seen her work at the Art Invitational last November. To preview all the new Sitka merchandise, visit our online store - this year there's a short- and long-sleeve tee, new apron and zip-up hoody. Get a closer look and make your selection when you arrive for your workshops this summer.

Nora has a professional certificate in Natural Science Illustration from the University of Washington and is a working artist in Lincoln City, Oregon. In addition to commissioned work for scientific journals, Nora shows work in galleries around the Pacific Northwest, and teaches workshops. There's still room in one of Nora's workshops this fall, a special science-and-art collaboration (includes mushroom hike!) : Intimate Mushroom Portraits in Watercolor.

Get to know the flora of Cascade Head
Introducing the bristly-stemmed checker-bloom

Looking down Cove Overlook at peak bloom for the bristly-stemmed checker-bloom. Photo by Susan Healy

Article by Catherine Dunn, the Oregon Coast Preserves Steward for The Nature Conservancy. She lives in Lincoln City.
If you're hiking up to Cascade Head for a view of the Salmon River estuary exchanging water with the Cascade Head Marine Reserve, don't forget to look down at the grassland vegetation. As the days get longer and warmer, the composition of the floral landscape continually changes. One special plant to look out for starting in late May through July is the bristly-stemmed checker-bloom. It is also known as the bristly-stemmed sidalcea and hairy-stemmed checker-mallow but is most reliably known by its latin name: Sidalcea hirtipes .

Although the plant's showy multi-flowered heads blanket the slopes of Cascade Head in pink each summer, it is actually a rare species due to the diminishing availability of its specialized habitat. It occurs only in northwestern Oregon and southwestern Washington on bluffs along the ocean and meadows in coastal mountains. It is listed as endangered in Washington, is a candidate for listing in Oregon, and is a federal "species of concern". The populations are few but they can appear large and abundant like at Cascade Head due to the plant's rhizomatous growth habit. This means their underground roots spread laterally and a large patch could just be one plant with many genetically identical clones.

Sidalcea hirtipes is classified within the mallow plant family - Malvaceae. Flowers in this family are characterized by a funnel shaped flower with 5 separate petals surrounding a distinctive set of reproductive parts. The numerous stamens (those are male organs including the pollen-bearing anthers and a filament) are fused to create a column around the pistil (that's the female organs including the stigma, style, and ovary). You would recognize these features in a hollyhock or hibiscus flower, which also belong to the mallow family. Another member of this family from Eurasia, Althaea officinalis, was used by the ancient Egyptians to form the original marshmallow, hence the name. Don't try your own recipes with our plants - remember, they're rare!

Fused stamen tube around the pistil, and leaf shape variations. Photos by Catherine Dunn

The bristly stem, photo by Catherine Dunn. Larger hermaphroditic flowers on the left and smaller female-flowered plants on the right. Photo by Mike Patterson.
Sidalceas can produce a variety of leaf shapes. The basal leaves tend to be rotund with rounded teeth. Leaves growing on the flowering stem are highly dissected with many lobes creating quirky patterns.

Sidalcea hirtipes also creates different plants with different sexual organs. Some plants have botanically "perfect" or hermaphroditic flowers - those with both pistils and stamens. Other plants just have female flowers. Studies on another coastal Sidalcea species with the same uncommon reproductive strategy have shown that predating weevils are attracted to the pollen of the hermaphroditic flowers, making the female flowers more successful in seed production. So that may be why plants seemingly disadvantaged with only a single type of sexual organ have persisted the evolutionary test of time.

And of course, as you probably guessed, another distinguishing feature of this plant is the bristly or hairy stem. This underlooked detail is not as show-stopping as the flowers or leaves, but it is consistent and beautiful.

To protect this rare plant, The Nature Conservancy manages its coastal prairie habitat on Cascade Head. One threat to this grassland is the conversion to shrubland or forest. This year we are working to combat that ecological succession in areas where shrubs have reached densities sufficient to shade out the grassland species. Crews from the Angell Job Corps and local volunteers have cut coyote brush to reduce their canopies. You may see the branches from these shrubs scattered on the grassland as you hike the switchbacks. They are drying out and will be consumed by a controlled burn this summer, which is intended to reduce thatch in the grass and open up bare soil for the germination of prairie species, such as our beloved Sidalcea hirtipes.

If you're interested in learning more about the natural history of Cascade Head and sharing that knowledge with others, you can become a volunteer naturalist. No experience is necessary, just a willingness to learn and come out to this beautiful preserve. Nature Conservancy volunteer naturalists are asked to spend at least 2 weekend days interacting with preserve visitors and attend a mandatory training on May 19 th . To sign up, click here to email Molly Dougherty at The Nature Conservancy.
The Nature Conservancy is also hosting a few habitat and trail restoration volunteer work parties at Cascade Head this summer. Come out and enjoy a day working with our Oregon Coast Ecologist, Debbie Pickering. We have events scheduled for June 2, July 21, August 11-12, and September 22. Click this link to register for any of these work parties or other opportunities around the state.
If you live nearby and want to hear about other coastal volunteer opportunities with The Nature Conservancy, you can join the "on-call volunteer" email list. In addition to habitat restoration on Cascade Head, we can also work on restored estuarine sites around Tillamook and Oregon Silverspot habitat around Yachats. To learn more, please email Catherine Dunn.
Gisler et al. Henderson's checkermallow: The natural, botanical, and conservation history of a rare estuarine species. Kalmiopsis Volume 12, 2005. Link to article
McEvoy, Esther. Sidalcea hirtipes : Is a Native Plant Gaining a Roothold After Biological Control of a Weed? Bulletin of the Native Plant Society of Oregon, September 1995. Link to article
Swartz et al. Conservation Assessment for Bristly-stemmed Checker-mallow. Publication of the USDA Forest Service Region 6 and USDI Bureau of Land Management. January 2011.
Wells, Jeff. The Long Sweet History of Marshmallows. October 13, 2016. Link to article
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56605 Sitka Drive, Otis OR 97368