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“Wildfire,” the art of Ann Ruttan

Eagle Creek 2017

An exhibition titled “Wildfire,” by artist Ann Ruttan, opens June 21, 2024, at Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum. Featuring 13 original oil paintings, this exhibit highlights the devastating Eagle Creek and Santiam wildfires of 2017 and 2020.

The public is invited to a free reception with the artist Thursday, June 27, 2024 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Wildfire exhibition will be on display from June 20 through August 18, 2024.

Ruttan’s personal experience with the Santiam 2020 Wildfire changed her life. On a trip to Sisters, Oregon in September of that year, she unknowingly headed toward the wildfire that eventually destroyed the town of Detroit. Authorities closed the road right behind her.

Ruttan said, “By the time I got to the little town of Detroit the sky was a bright orange and it was so dark I couldn’t see the lake, which is right next to the road. It was very eerie to see orange and have it be as dark as night.”

Ann Ruttan

The emotional impact from the experience changed her artistic direction. Ruttan said, “Painting has helped me get over my bad fire dreams and the fear I feel when it is hot and windy. My efforts going forward are to tell people about the clear and present danger we all face. Climate change is here. We need to take action to mitigate climate change and prepare for wildfire.”

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum is located at 5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles, Oregon. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 541-296-8600 ext. 201.

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