The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Beth Poirer
For The Sentinel 

Lifetime work of Goldendale artist to be honored


Charlotte Van Zant-King

A LIFETIME OF ART: Goldendale artist Arlene Larison will have her work honored this Friday.

The Golden Art Guild features the work of a unique Goldendale artist this week. Arlene Larison, who at 85 is still an active painter, will have a reception Friday at 5 p.m. in the Camplan Room at the Goldendale Library. Forty pieces of her work-a small portion-will be on display and on sale.

Larison is one of the founding members of the Golden Art Guild. Arlene has served as bookkeeper, treasurer and director. When being asked what she feels is one of her most important achievements, she says, "Just surviving all these years. When I was a child I thought it would be neat to live to see the year 2000."

Larison was born in a very little town, Buffalo, Okla., in the northwest part of the state, right next to the panhandle, where she grew up on a farm. After she married, she and her husband moved frequently: Woodward and Alva, Okla., Pratt, Kansas (these moves were for her husband to complete his degree), then nine or 10 towns (that she can think of) in central and northern California. They had three children, each born in a different state.

After retiring, Larison and her husband became fulltime RVers and visited all the lower 48 states. She did at least one sketch a day during that time. They started getting tired of feeling rootless. "It's a long story but we had already ruled out anywhere but the west coast states," she says. "Oh, well, I'll tell it. I didn't like the east at all. One thing, I grew up on the prairie, where one can see for miles, and in the east it was either in towns, cities, or there were trees blocking your view. I felt hemmed in. I wasn't really happy until we had at least gotten west of the Mississippi. Then somewhere in Texas, we had spent the day looking at houses, then when we pulled into our RV park for the night, all we received (instead of the usual list of activities, maps, etc.) was a storm-watch map. Well, my husband's home town had had major damage, including his home, when he was in his last year of high school, and schools had too much damage to use so since the tornado was in April, they passed everyone and called it good for the year. (He always said he "blew out of high school" because he was flunking his typing class and probably would not have passed if it had not been for the tornado). I grew up on a farm and all the barns had been destroyed at least once and the house had a bulge in the side from a previous storm. So being handed only a storm watch map really brought it all back to us, we looked at each other and said "Haven't we had enough of this in our lives already?" The next day we headed west and didn't even think of looking for a place to live until we got to California." They started looking in Sacramento, then north, and in December 1994, Arlene and her husband came to Goldendale.

Charlotte Van Zant-King

Acrylic by Arlene Larison.

"I do art because there's something within me that has to do art-I'm driven to do it," she says. "I used to get real crabby if I didn't paint frequently." A cousin who has done a little genealogy told Larison that she had found a "connection" to Thomas Eakins. Having always been drawn to landscapes and bright colors, Larison now works mostly in acrylics. She says, "I started out in oils. But then I started out before anyone had ever heard of acrylics." She also makes collages by tearing up other pieces she has made that she's not happy with. She received a BA in Fine Art from Stanislaus State in Turlock, Calif. "I was within one course (and a research paper) of graduating with a degree in Art History when we moved (again) and the next nearby college did not offer a degree in Art History, so I basically had to start over. I think I had way over 200 semester hours of credit when I finally made it. I was somewhere in my 40s by then." She belonged to the Central California Art League of Modesto, Calif. She started the Art Club of Alturas, Calif., and went back several years later and had a solo exhibit there. She has entered in juried shows whenever they were not too far away and exhibited a few years at the Trout Lake Art Festival. 

In addition to the Camplan Room display, Larison's work can currently be seen at The Dalles Art Center and Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River.


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