Thursday, June 11, 2009
Dick and Jane's Spot in Ellensburg
Sometime back in the mid-1980s there was a feature in the Seattle Times' Sunday magazine that mentioned, and pictured, Dick and Jane's Spot, a one-of-a-kind art happening located in Ellensburg. Soon after I read about it, the trio played a gig in Ellensburg, and I insisted that we go find this place.
That was the first of many visits to Dick and Jane's Spot for me. Every few years I'd go back to see how things had changed – what was different, what was the same.
The Spot was the house and yard of Richard Elliot and his wife Jane Orleman, both artists, and friends of artists. They began in 1978 to make their home and yard an ongoing, ever changing art gallery for their own work and the works of others. It was meant to be fun, and it certainly is.
Jane is a painter, mostly, still. Over the years Richard became interested in making geometric works of art with reflectors, and patented a process for protecting the reflectors once he had them in place. He did several public art installations of his reflectors, which can be seen at their web page, http://www.reflectorart.com/index.html.
Dick and Jane enjoyed how much people enjoyed looking at their house and yard, but had signs up saying that it was a private home, and to please respect their privacy, so all the public got to see was the front yard, the exterior walls of the house and garage, and the fences that circled the place. The first time the trio dropped by, the north side of the house featured a painting (of Native Americans, as I recall, but my recall is shaky), and you had to walk around in a dirt parking lot to get a view. Now the City of Ellensburg has set aside a strip of land on the north side of the house so that you can walk along looking at the reflectors there without walking into traffic. The public art extended from the house to a series of “totem poles” on the north edge of that strip.
On a trip to the mysterious east about a month ago I went by Dick and Jane's Spot to see what was new and take some photos, and sign the guest book at the front corner of the property. It had been a while since I'd been there, and when I got to the guest book I was sad to learn that Dick passed away last November 19, after a fourteen month fight with pancreatic cancer.
After arriving home from that trip, I went to the web site to learn more about Dick and Jane, and was rewarded with rich images and the stories of two interesting human beings, who happened to be artists.
Jane chronicled her process of recovering from childhood sexual trauma through her paintings and writings. That's something you'll never learn from looking at the Spot, but it's there on the website, and her sharing is a great gift to others who walk a similar road.
So – here are my pictures from my last stop at the Spot. It's still there, and if you're in the neighborhood of Ellensburg, it's well worth dropping by. The Spot is located at 101 N. Pearl Street. Going east on I-90 you take the 106 exit and head north on Main until you get to 1st Street. Turn right, and you'll see the house on your left at the end of the block. Going west on I-90, take the 109 exit, and follow the same directions from there up Main. Enjoy!