Marge Woodfin, Pilot staff writer

The 17th Annual Festival of the Arts, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 7 and 8, at the boardwalk at the Port of Brookings Harbor, will once again be bringing more than 100 fine arts and crafts artisans from near and far.

One of the exciting events associated with the Festival is the Late Bloomer Grant program, begun in 2003. The program awards small grants to aspiring artists older than 50 andndash; thus considered "late bloomers" andndash; who demonstrate creative potential and apply for funds to cover needed classes, equipment, supplies, or anything that will help to further continued development of the participant's artistic talents.

This year, seven creative participants, representing a variety of artistic talent, received awards. The recipients include a watercolorist, an artist who works with acrylics, an artist who prefers oils, a weaver specializing in fiber art, a photographer, a writer, and a poet.

Cathy Moore

Cathy Moore, who requested a grant to pay for an advanced watercolor class with Brookings art teacher extraordinaire Audi Stanton, said that at the time she and her husband Bob retired to Brookings in 2007, she hadn't painted since she was in the seventh grade.

Finding a hairdresser led her to Kandi Legg at Salon Dolce. Legg, who is also an artist, introduced Moore to the local art community.

"It changed my life," she said. "Manley Art Center and Gallery has also been a wonderful experience for me, and I'm grateful to be living my dream."

The Late Bloomer award isn't the only recognition Moore has received. Her entry in the Azalea Festival Art Show, "Sierra's Easter Hat," received the first place award in the watercolor novice division and Best of Novice. "My first art show, and I'm still in shock," she exclaimed

Moore is looking forward to her next class, which she said would be another learning experience in her art education. "They (class participants) are learning how to paint water, and believe me, I need it,"

She also expressed gratitude to her husband. "He is extremely supportive and is always encouraging me to make time to do some painting."

Linda Ging

Oil painter Linda Ging is a retired teacher from Smith River, who also began her love affair with art in Audie Stanton's classes, following her retirement a couple of years ago. "It has been very exciting working in that medium," Ging said.

However, after being introduced to oils in a workshop in which she participated a couple of months ago, her love affair switched quickly to oils and she applied for the Late Bloomer award to "be able to purchase painting supplies necessary to continue working in oils."

In her application, Ging noted that it was only after she retired that she found time to "tap into the creative side of my brain." In an interview, she explained, "When I'm painting it's like meditating; everything else just kinda' drifts away. It has caused me to look at color and what it means. A side benefit is a new way to look at the world."

About the award, Ging said, "You cannot imagine what a boost this has given me as I move forward in the creative world."

She also credits her surroundings with providing inspiration. She said that she and her husband, John, love the ocean and the redwoods. "We travel all over, and are always happy to come back here."

Bonnie Loewen

Smith River acrylic artist Bonnie Loewen noted that she applied for the grant award "to further develop my knowledge of, and techniques in acrylic painting." Loewen, a semi-retired traveling nurse, explained, "I started painting one-and-a-half years ago, when I took up acrylics."

She said that, as a child, she pencil-sketched to please and emulate her dad, who was an artist. "I spent hours at my dad's elbow watching him draw." However, it wasn't until 2008 that she again recognized her need to create beauty.

Loewen, who requested the grant to purchase canvasses and paints, and to attend a Keith Sluder class in Bandon in August, has already received recognition for her artistic creations. "I won first prize last year with DNACA (Del Norte Association for Cultural Awareness) and several ribbons at the Azalea Festival," she said.

However, the ultimate exciting moment she anticipates is selling a painting. "I haven't sold my first piece. It will be so exciting to sell my first painting. Selling a few small prints is nice, but not thrilling," she explained.

Loewen paints with friends at the Harbor Gallery in Crescent City, and also with the Tuesday painters at Manley Art Center. "It's a social thing, too," she said about painting with friends. "We enjoy lots of laughing and talking."

Loewen indicated that receiving the Late Bloomer award is an additional encouragement to follow her heart with her art.

Jane Opiat

Weaver Jane Opiat, a fiber artist who creates beauty on her looms, said she had a dream to move to Oregon, live in the woods, and be a teacher. Part of that dream was realized nine years ago when she came to Brookings. However, the teaching part didn't exactly work out. She did teach some at Upper Chetco and Kalmiopsis schools, but her direction changed completely after she took a weaving class.

"When I was not at school, I was weaving," she said. "And I sold a few pieces, which was a validation of my work."

Earlier she had first begun fulfilling her need to create beauty with a paintbrush. "I transferred from painting to weaving. I didn't let go when painting, with weaving I can let go. I'm more interested in color, texture, and fiber in weaving. It's something people love to touch and feel."

She added, "I use colors from nature, tiger lilies, foxglove, rhodies, and weaving represents new growth in the evergreens."

She admitted, "I like teaching, but it's not good for me. I get too obsessed with the kids. Besides, I'm 58 and they want young teachers, and it's probably a good thing."

Opiat requested the grant to purchase a loom and weaving supplies and to attend a Northwest Weavers' conference.

"I used to paint, throw clay pots, design and create stained glass windows, but I was never really satisfied as an artist until I found weaving. I am so excited to be creating art that people want to wear."

Janet Richey

When asked why she submitted her application for a Late Bloomer Grant, writer Janet Richey asked, "Do you want the truth?"

In response to the affirmative answer, she said, "The most important is to subject my work to the critique of other creative people. I plan on publishing and I need the award." She added, "I have almost finished my first novel."

Richey admitted that she looks forward to the Writing for Publication workshop the grant will finance, but the recognition is even more important and rewarding.

See Winners, Page 3B