About 45 volunteers descended on the art center Monday to clear out the gallery, wash the baseboards and all the other menial tasks it takes to keep the nonprofit running.
Taking a break from wheeling a dolly near the entrance, Executive Director Roberta Lavadour said the art center has held volunteer maintenance days since the Arts Council of Pendleton finished converting the old Umatilla County Library in 2001.
Given that MLK Day was already a day of service, the art center decided to combine the two days last year.
“We thought it would be a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone,” Lavadour said.
Late Monday morning, volunteers could be found in every room, scrubbing, vacuuming and wiping every surface they could find. A small group of volunteers were focusing on the Alice Fossatti Ceramics Studio with explicit instruction to get out the clay from the walls, sinks and tables.
Two of the volunteers had a special connection to the room — Fossatti’s daughters Jeanne Christensen and Donna Collins.
A longtime kindergarten teacher and artist, Fossatti used to take her students into the hills near Poverty Flat to find clay for figurines and pinch pots.
Although Fossatti was alive to see her namesake ceramics studio open — she died in 2016 at the age of 102 — Christensen said her mother never got the chance to go down to the studio and observe a class in progress.
If she were alive today, Christensen said, Fossatti would be “giddy” to see how much the studio is put into use.
The volunteers’ thoughts wandered from namesake of the Alice Fossatti Ceramics Studio to the namesake of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“I think MLK would approve,” Collins said about the clean-up day.
All the volunteers had different reasons for being there. For Kathy Keener, it was literally helping clean up the mess she made.
A frequent attendee of the weekly Hip and Handmade drop-in classes at the art center, Keener said she enjoyed going to events at the art center because she could make a mess in a dedicated paint room instead of at her home.
The desire to give back helped motivate Keener to clean the paint stains and the dried gum off the tables.
Contact Antonio Sierra at email@example.com or 541-966-0836.