Cottage Grove, Scene & Heard

‘Suitcase art’ premieres at upcoming Bohemia Mining Days Celebration

COTTAGE GROVE — Artists don’t just paint their masterpieces on canvas — some paint on found objects and turn ordinary objects into extraordinary works of art. 

In an upcoming show that is a part of the Bohemian Mining Days Celebration, the Cottage Grove Art Collective will display art that has been painted on suitcases, totes, and backpacks. The decorated items will be on display before the event. 

“It’s my hope it promotes the arts in Cottage Grove and a lot more people will join in on the fun,
said Glenda Wiffler, show organizer. 

So far, Laurel Gravem Alvarez has painted one of her trains on a tote, which can be seen on the poster advertising the event. 

“I chose to celebrate ‘The Blue Goose,’ an excursion train that ran out of Cottage Grove from 1972-1987 and was featured in film,” Alvarez said. “The Cottage Grove Historical Society is currently working to bring a mural to Cottage Grove celebrating the train!” 

This local artist will also be showing her art at New Zone Art Gallery in Eugene and at Apple Pie Antiques for the Cottage Grove Artwalk on Aug. 25.

Other totes painted by locals include one by Miranda Shively painted with a cow and a covered bridge on a suitcase. Loriana Jazek has painted an art box with a bridge and imaginative boot. 

One of Glenda Wiffler’s totes includes the Dorena Covered Bridge. The theme behind the imagery decorating these purses and suitcases is that it should be related to Cottage Grove in some way.

Who is the mastermind who got this plan in the bag? 

Wiffler has only lived in Cottage Grove for two years but in that time, she has unpacked a lot, starting up the Cottage Grove Art Collective by advertising on Facebook. 

Previously, Wiffler was the show coordinator for Rainier League of Arts, in Pierce County, Wash. She is a watercolor and acrylic artist, and she primarily paints horses and barns. She teaches an art class once a month at Middlefield Oaks Assisted Living in Cottage Grove and takes commissions painting dogs and horses.

“I thought the suitcase event would be an art event that people of all ages could participate in and also promote Bohemia Mining Days and Cottage Grove Art Collective,” Wiffler said. “I had been a participant when I lived in Washington in a suitcase parade and suitcase events that were a lot of fun. It brought people together and everyone seemed to enjoy it.”

The other artists on the committee who planned the suitcase event include Rachel Kyle, Glenda Wiffler, Laurel Gravem Alvarez, and Tracy Laub. 

The suitcases will be on display at Opal Center for Arts and Education from June 30 – July 12. 

Then the suitcases will be for sale at Bohemia Mining Days in Coiner Park July 13-15. Scott Borgioli, the Bohemia Mining Days festival coordinator, will pick his favorite and give an award. Candace Solesbee will give the Mayor’s Award. 

All mediums are welcome. All artists of any age in Lane County are encouraged to participate. There are no entry fees to enter. More information can be found on the Cottage Grove Art Collective Facebook Page. Artists must have their suitcase art complete and turned in to Opal Center by June 30 in order to enter. 

There is no limit to how many decorated suitcases or limits to the methods of decorations of the suitcases, but participants are asked to contact Glenda Wiffler from the Cottage Grove Art Collective ahead of time with the name of the person entering the show.

Sarina Dorie is an artist, writer, and dancer. She is the arts columnist for The Chronicle.



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