As part of Cottage Grove’s May Art Walk, Opal Center for Arts and Education will present a retrospective of late watercolor artist Shirley B. Froyd’s work, on Friday, May 27 from 6-8 p.m. It will be followed by an informal celebration of life, beginning at 7:45 p.m. Details will also be announced about “The Art of Soaring,” a community art program being launched at Opal Center in Shirley’s memory. Opal Center is located at 513 E. Main Street in Cottage Grove.

 Shirley B. Froyd (1926-2020) was a beloved member of the Cottage Grove community for more than forty years, after moving to the area in 1977 to begin building a log home with her own hands at Cerro Gordo. During those decades, she created more than 700 watercolor paintings in her home studio, becoming an accomplished member of the Watercolor Society of Oregon. Her work was frequently displayed in galleries, businesses, private homes, and more. She also made artistic contributions to two downtown murals in Cottage Grove, and many other local creative projects. Besides being an exceptional watercolor artist, she worked in many other mediums over the years, including leatherwork, stained glass, silk screen prints, acrylic, pencil drawings, and woodwork. She was also an accomplished pilot who earned her wings at Stephens College in Missouri in 1946, as part of the nation’s first aeronautics program for women. She went on to win the All-Woman Transcontinental Air Race in 1952 — better known as the Powder Puff Derby — before settling into a career as a flight instructor. Locally, she led over fifty hikes and bike trips for the Obsidians outdoor group; and for twenty years volunteered every Monday morning at Mt. Pisgah, doing trail maintenance and more.

 After Shirley’s passing in May, 2020, her family donated her vast and diverse art supplies to Opal Center, with the aim of establishing a community art program for children and adults. “The Art of Soaring” will be launched this summer, beginning with art classes for kids. The program will reflect Shirley’s curiosity and love of adventure, focusing on art as an exploration and expression of identity. 

More details about the program will be revealed at the Art Walk by Opal executive director Michele Rose and artist Paula Goodbar, who are guiding the program into being along with other teachers. 

 The informal celebration of life will fondly recall Shirley’s loving memory as a gentle, kind person with endless curiosity and open-mindedness throughout her remarkable 94-year life. It will be hosted by her son Eric Alan, along with her daughters Karen and Carol.

All community members are welcome to come and tell stories, bring mementos, or otherwise share in a lighthearted celebration of Shirley’s legacy. 

RSVP for the celebration of life are appreciated but not required, at [email protected]