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CCA New Beginnings Art Show

In the Gallery:

CCA New Beginnings Art Show

June 17th – July 30th

CCA Strategic Plan Unveiling – June 17th from 5-8pm

(Read more about the event here.)

Columbia Center for the Arts is excited to present
New Beginnings Strategic Plan & Art Show

Exhibiting Artists include:

Chas Martin, Rachel Harvey and Valerie Erichsen Thomson

Music by Tim Mayer



Columbia Arts has partnered with Dove Lewis Veterinary Hospital in Portland to bring over 100 pieces of Valerie Erichsen Thompson’s work. Valerie, who sadly passed away this spring, left her life’s work to Dove Lewis. They have, in turn, generously come to us to partner in this show with her radiant and contemporary paintings.

Drop in and see her work and perhaps find the perfect piece for your home or office. You will be supporting animals and the arts with your purchase by making it possible for Dove Lewis and Columbia Center for the Arts to continue our work.

Valerie’s works will be on display through July 30th.


LOBBY FOR LOCAL ART (June 17th – July 30th)

Chas Martin, was one of the early board members of Columbia Art Gallery and a local artist and designer. Chas’ sculpture style is the perfect three-dimensional compliment to Valerie’s two dimensional work. Very unique and fascinating art.
Rachel Harvey is a local artist you may be familiar with. She had a fairly recent solo show at CCA. Rachel has a unique vision of the Columbia Gorge landscape. Her work is captivating and gorgeous.

Featured in the Gallery

Valerie Erichsen Thomson

As I write this I am at the end stages of Leukemia. Any artwork you wish to scoop up you still can, though likely only for a short time, and a lovely friend and her hubby will pack and ship. So, your order then will come from someone other than me. The packaging and shipping will be accomplished with care and love.

I don’t know how much longer I will be able to communicate, so there may not be messages from me and once it feels like I can’t pass on the order information along to my friend, I will close my shop.

Thank you everyone. It’s been a trip. Life is miraculous. It’s dancing in front of us every moment. We just have pierce the veils we’ve put in place, to see it. And then, ah then. Painting is one of many ways to take you there.

My website will stay live until the domain expires. If possible I will update it in the next few days, but I mention it only, so you know there is somewhere you can peruse after I am gone, and hang out with some of the colors that visited my paintings. The link to it is at the end of this section.

Hug the ones you love, and maybe the ones you don’t. There cannot be too much kindness. ~Feb.10, 2023

For me painting is color poetry.

We say something “speaks to” us when we are drawn into it. Mysterious and delightful, this sensing, feeling something from the colors, shapes and gestures is the painting’s language, its conversation with us. Each painting is unknown before I begin. If I think I know how it will go, I am invariably mistaken as the poem, or fragment of a poem, is excavated. The scratchings, the smoothings, the gestures, the scribbles, bit by bit reveal something new. That is the fun part. The discovery, the unearthing … an interesting word that, for something uncovered, brought to light.

Collectors often ask me what influenced me or why I chose a title for a painting. The answer is I often don’t know. When I paint I am responding to colors and shapes, how the paint surface looks, whether the places where colors meet pleases. I may have transient thoughts while painting, where some fragment feels like something, but it’s often like a dream, hard to decipher when I come out if the dreamscape of painting. Often a title will present itself, like a fragment of a poem with a larger story, but amorphous still, and open to contemplation. Looking back on a painting once it seems to have coalesced, I often have a sense of a scene, with activity, but it remains tantalizingly elusive.
In 2022, I started to mix my own paints, using pure pigments and walnut oil to achieve the richest color and tactile paint quality.
I graduated from St. Andrews University where I received distinction in philosophy. I have lived in Scotland and Germany, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, graduated summa cum laude in textile design from FIT, New York and studied painting at The Art Students League in New York before settling in Oregon, USA.

My work has been exhibited on the east and west coast of the U.S. My last solo show was Critic’s Choice in Portland, Oregon. I was the winner of the Liquitex International competition cosponsored by ArtFinder, with the triptych The Wonder Of Days II chosen from entries by artists and galleries in 37 countries.

My paintings are held in collections worldwide, including the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, Australia, Croatia, Poland, France, Germany, Spain, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.



From our Writer’s Group:
Source of inspiration: Valerie Erichsen Thomson’s letter posted to the right just as you walk into the main space, from the lobby. Her own words, sharing her cancer diagnosis and how she was in the late stages of it, and then realizing she had indeed passed away – only a few months ago – I felt a sudden pang of loss. The finality that Valerie’s artistic talent was gone made me slowly walk through the entire space. I felt her creative spirit and realized how an artist can impact us – whether alive or not.

~Patty Golditch

Valerie Ericksen Thomson passed away in February of this year

And I am moved –

Almost to tears.

Another talent has lost her voice, and yet –

She speaks to us from beyond.

Her work speaks for her now.

And there’s not a way to thank her –

For her colors,

For her emotions,

For her personal connections.

My heart lightens,

and I feel the vibrant movement of her passionate creativity,

Unapologetically splashed on each wall


As if a snapshot was taken of a mood at just a fraction of its explosive climax

I am happier, being here…

My stress is replaced by Valerie’s colorful heart.

A barage of emotions as I traveled among five paintings by Valerie Erickson Thompson….her colors painting a story

~ Patty Kaplan

June 28 2023

Light hearted


a kitten surrounded

by her toys


a celebration of

a bright starry night.


Today I awoke

in chaos

too many directions



can’t get there from here

watch out

you may fall in.


The dark cloud is rising.

The swallow

outside my window

reminds me it’s



Memories of past summers

when we slept in the forest

among my friends

the trees

and flowers

up high

and yet

comforting down below.

Maybe no one


disturb me here.

No chores

no rules

no one to

compare myself to.

No where to go.

I can rest


Featured in the Entryway Gallery:
Lobby for Local Art

Chas Martin

“My life is a series of questions: What if? What else? Why not?”

Chas Martin’s imagination comes from his incessant curiosity about everything. It is the foundation of his imagination.

After studying Visual Communication at Pratt Institute in New York City, Martin worked with Boston and San Francisco ad agencies as an art director and creative director. In 1980 he pursued painting full time. He also began exploring 3-dimensional work. In 1981 he moved to Hood River, where he lived until moving to Portland in 1998. Travels and readings about other cultures feed his imagination. His sculptures and masks are influenced by petroglyphs and myth. His approach and his results are both playful and serious.

Martin is a former instructor at Boston Art Institute, San Francisco Academy of Art University, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Northwest Academy, Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and currently at Oregon Society of Artists. He lives in Portland, Oregon. His imagination, however, is not geographically attached.


My masks and sculptures are multicolored, genderless, racially and religiously neutral archetypal metaphors. They are nuanced storytellers whose gestures depict universal experiences, qualities and situations.

My process begins with pages of sketches to discover each character’s spirit. Some characters evolve for several years before their truth emerges. At that point, I begin 3D construction. The wire armatures are literally line drawings in space. I reshape and refine the dynamic gestures to best express each character’s story. Every change alters the form and the space of the gesture. As a director guides an actor, I negotiate with my characters to tell their stories.

In theater, each scene ends with an unanswered question, engaging viewers, advancing the plot, and building suspense. The spaces created by my sculptures present questions. While exploring the form, viewers become part of the surrounding space and therefore, part of the story.

We are social creatures. We seek common bonds. My characters are agents of connectivity. These symbolic figures invite you to step through preconceptions to discover that we are not so much individuals as individual expressions of a whole community.

Follow more of Chas’s works here:

Rachel Harvey

Landscape artist Rachel Harvey was born in Portland, OR, in 1968. She was raised by hard-working parents who taught her strong ethics and pride in accomplishment. Her father, a minister, moved the family to the Midwest during the formative years of Rachel’s childhood, which engendered in her an affinity for the wide-open. The family eventually repatriated as Northwesterners, but this love of land and sky never left her and would ultimately inspire the direction of her art career.

The first in her family to attend college, Rachel’s goals were pragmatic, and art was certainly not on her radar, except for a couple of electives in drawing and watercolor. Neither tripped any triggers, and she went on to receive a BS in Accounting from Portland State University in 1994. She then obtained her CPA license and pursued a career in finance, first with a Big-Six accounting firm and afterward as a freelance bank auditor.

In 2007, after the birth of her first child, and chafing under the self-imposed rigors of motherhood, Rachel was introduced to the wonderful world of oil painting through a community education workshop. Instantly recognizing her destiny, Rachel left accounting, embraced art, and has never looked back. Within two years of the launch of her art career, Rachel had obtained gallery representation and was showing her work at top-tier juried art festivals.

Rachel’s art education has been a self-taught course of trial and error, as well as miles and miles of canvas, with a few workshops sprinkled in. For the first two years, she painted almost exclusively en plein air. The reluctance of her second child to take naps on schedule forced her to reconsider her painting habits, leading to the set-up of a home studio, which in turn facilitated larger works.

Rachel paints out of her studio in Hood River, OR, where she lives with her 17-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. She travels often and hasn’t met a state or country she didn’t like. It all finds its way into her work, along with endless inspiration from her own front porch view.

Follow more of Rachel’s works here:

You can read the full story of our Strategic Business Planning Project here.


Questions? Email us at


Thank you to the Union Pacific Railroad and Oregon Cultural Trust for funding this project, and to the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD).