History of the Coast Redwoods Art Association

and the Crescent Harbor Art Gallery

The Crescent Harbor Art Gallery
1955 to 2007

(Written by Garretta Lamore In 2007)

The 1950s

In 1955 Thelma Mills Thompson, mother of Doris Dalbec said, “At first we were just  artists, meeting In all sorts of weird places; basements, garages, little rooms in the old high school and even the old Coast Guard Station.  Doris remembers being dragged around in 1958 at the age of 11 to art meetings with those “old folks”.  Another honorary member, Jewel Elaine Vickers, reminded us in a February 2003 letter from her home In Twenty Nine Palms, that she too was present at “the very first meeting when It all began”.  We sent her a Directory so she can see how we’ve grown.

The 1960s

In1961 Gretchen Desjardin arrived in Crescent City. She gave weekly art lessons in her home. A $5.00 fee Included instruction and lunch with her famous lemon meringue pie. In1963 her lawyer husband (husband#3, who nicknamed her “Gretchen” because he thought it suited her better than her real name, “Molly”) helped the artists incorporate themselves and their bylaws as the DEL NORTE ART ASSOCIATION. Dues were set at $1.00 a year.
Gretchen passed away in 1999 at the age of 93, having outlived 5 husbands. Teaching art at the college and painting ’till the end, her influence touched the entire art community.

A Second Street office, located in the mall behind the now Gallery of Arts and Culture, served as the next meeting place but was swept away by the March 26, 1964 tsunami.  Three months later, and as a result of that disaster, Dorothy lshoy came here to join her husband, who had come to help rebuild the town. The following year brought Cathy Dean. These two women formed the backbone of the club for the next 40 years, helping the Art Club open a real gallery for members to show their work.

A grown-up Doris Dalbec later arranged for workshops by nationally known artists such as E. John Robinson, Ted Goerschner and a very talented Medford teenage teacher named Richard McKinley who now has his own column every month in the magazine “Pastel Jounal”.  For six years our gallery hosted workshops of the grand old man of watercolor, Duane Light, a contemporary and friend of all the American watercolor greats: MIiiard Sheets, Robert E. Woods, Rex Brandt, George Post, etc.

Dorothy lshoy’s retirement from 25 years as a public school teacher including 9 in Smith River, allowed her to devote more time to the gallery and to return to her first love, painting.  Dorothy had served as our President for two consecutive terms in every decade since her arrival.

Cathy Dean was an accountant tor many businesses, including her husband’s Del Norte Office Supply. That business expertise proved invaluable to the gallery then and continues to this day. She has made out our tax returns for over 30 years.  Besides serving as treasurer and president several times along the way she became a talented watercolorist.

Art Scholarships were started in 1966 and have continued to be awarded. The gallery
prints several children’s coloring books which help fund our scholarships. The children’s charming drawings are educational even to adults, revealing much about the culture of our three local tribes, Hoopa, Yurok and Tolowa. The coloring books are about our local wildlife.

Two other 60’s arrivals to Crescent City were also destined to be great assets to the gallery, not only for their volunteering but also because their oils and acrylics were top sellers in our gallery: Gloria Ziemer, arriving in ’66 for many years our assistant treasurer, and Amy Hallock, arriving in ‘68. Retiring after 22 years of teaching in Missouri and 13 in Crescent City, Amy at age 92 has helped with many fund-raisers, and volunteers teaching oils at the gallery every Saturday afternoon.
(Gloria was killed in a car accident a few years ago, but Amy, who will be 100 years old in July of 2015, is still doing well in Missouri).

The 1970s

The Chamber of Commerce sponsored an annual Arts and Cultural Fair at the fairground in ‘70, ’71 and ‘72.  In 1973 the Del Norte Art Association continued with a yearly July 4th Art Show at the Cultural Center, preceded by the Chambers deck party the evening before. This has remained our principal source of income from the combined sales of booths, food, art, and door tickets.

In 1970, $6000.00 was raised in just a few months by an enthusiastic public to build the Cultural Center. For years our group had envisioned a center for the arts, so we willingly promoted the city’s plans for a combined Art and Conference Center, built on beachfront property, but those plans for the center for the arts never became a reality.

The artists continued to rent gallery space all over town; the balcony of the Cultural Center; a room below the Grotto Restaurant; a College of the Redwoods classroom when it was located on the fairgrounds; and the low point, a shed with its bare bulb, collapsing ceiling, and wood chopped by Dorothy lshoy for the stove.


1980 — Still with no permanent home, the group cont1nued to jump from the 5th street laundry building to the Jed Smith Shopping Center to the second floor of the Northcoast Marine & Electric (above our present location).  And everywhere they jumped, our magic carpet was sure to follow, secured at a great bargain from Parson’s Paint and Floor Covering by Amy Hallock and Lynne Parker. Parson’s has cut up and rejoined the original carpet with every move, finally piecing it back together in its present location where amazingly, in 2005, the board reluctantly voted to bid farewell to our cinnamon colored carpet and buy a new one.  Gladys Hue, of course, wrote our warm and witty newsletter for many years, cooking great turkey and roasts for our annual dinners and served as president a time or two.   A booklet of her elegant and beautiful poetry is sold at the gallery.

In 1984, Thelma Ostrow, a member and local businesswoman encouraged the group to look or a permanent home.  Cathy Dean, Doris Dalbec and Deanie Cave found a rental above the present gallery but Thelma pressured the group, very much against their will, to purchase the entire building, taking on a huge ($25,000) mortgage, but even more daunting, raising the $7,500 down payment. Thelma spearheaded many fund- raisers, the biggest being “The Snow Ball”, a dinner dance at the Cultural Center whose auction raised over $2,000. The remaining $5,000 was borrowed from member Barbara Smith, but large cash gifts from the members were needed to make renovations before moving in. To quote Gladys,”It must have stunned the husbands that the ladies had taken on this huge debt  They had no choice but to pitch in! Those who did, and so much more over the years were Bill Goss, Jan lshoy, Jay Dean, Charles Currie (who built our back room shelves and cabinets); Carol Parker, who marks our booths each 4th of July,  Maynard Dalbec, who built our big work table, Ed Hue, who completely rewired the gallery; and much later, Chet O’Neil, who built our beautiful display bins and shelves. Through the remodeling plans and hard work of designer Bob Harper, the former machine shop was transformed into our present gallery.  Dorothy lshoy wrote grants which funded our outside stairs, a handicapped bathroom, aluminum folding tables, easels, chairs, shrink wrap machines and vinyl floor covering (laid by Dorothy lshoy and Gloria Ziemer (Grants don’t do all the work!).  Frances Currie and others cleaned years of accumulated machine oil from the floors as well as helping carpet the walls. Deanie Cave gave us our current TV and Garretta gave children’s art lessons until our VCR was paid for.  Members have donated and willed an impressive library of art books and art teaching videos.

Our volunteer system has worked well.  Our gallery orders supplies including metal frames, watercolor paper, mats and foam core which we sell at slightly over cost. Every other month, volunteers headed by Lynne Parker hang new paintings. Lynne is Membership Chairman so her smart computer can also punch out our labels for our newsletter.  Lynne’s beautiful wildlife pastels and watercolors are also top sellers in the gallery.  Donnetta Summers does such a great job keeping our library’s books and magazines shipshape.  She and Cheryl Anderson are responsible for our gorgeous salad luncheon table displays. Lee Beising clips all the articles for our history books. Lloyd Kirkpatrick sets up the chairs for our 4thThursdays. Hank Northrip keeps our garbage under control.


1990 – For over ten years our award-winning assemblage artist Steve Mattson has provided the muscle to carry equipment to and from our 4th of July show and takes care of some of the maintenance on our building.  When he was our president in an explosion of creativity, Steve painted, in “Ace Hardware Red”, the awnings, our eight foot “ART sign, in short, everything but the geraniums which mercifully were the correct color, anticipated and planted by Gloria Ziemer, and now being maintained and improved by our current master gardener Nancy Chernak.

THE GREAT 1995 GROTTO RESTAURANT FIRE directly across the street meant we no longer had their waiting customers browsing through our gallery, a primary source of daily tourist revenue. In 1999 we lost our upstairs tenants. The two lost revenues meant we could no longer meet our mortgage payments! Thanks in no small part to letters to the community by Walter Morse and “begging” visits by President Leapha Morse; in less than a month, we had paid off our $6,000. mortgage in full. (We passed the hat at a meeting of our sister group in Brookings, The Pelican Bay Art Association. On the spot, they gave us checks totaling more than $800.).  Elk Valley Casino gave us $500, and North Coast Arts, Inc., a local charitable art foundation, contributed $1,500. to the cause.

Our 1995 fundraisers were monthly studio tours.  We spent the Sunday afternoon of each month with a different artist in his or her studio, enjoying goodies, live chamber music and a demo by our host artist.  Donations at the door totaled over $500 for the year.  Memorable was Liz James’s studio overlooking the Winchuck: Dr. Hewitt’s demo, moving all do of us from Lynne Parker’s pristine new studio to Carol’s vast garage; and world famous Ron Ranson whose demo squeezed 65 of us into Garretta’s guest room (thereafter referred to by Ron as his “California Orgy”).   In 1996 the StudioTour moved into our gallery, becoming our monthly 4th Thursday Noontime Demos, preceded by a social half hour of conversation and finger foods.


2000 – Since then, as Program Chairman, Garretta Lamore had had the fun of inviting local, national, and internationally known artists to demo at our gallery. Attendance has been terrific due to “reminder” phone calls to all 200 members by our committee of 13 chaired by Joy Johnson and of course, our excellent monthly newsletter, edited by John Helgeson who not only includes minutes of our monthly business meeting, open to all (held on the 3rd Thursday at 11 a.m.) but also biographies of both our monthly demo artists and “Artist of the Month”, our calendar of events, a cartoon strip, and news about our members artistic achievements.

We artists continue to donate our work to charity auctions for The Public Library, The College of the Redwoods Scholarship fund (our art work has been a substantial part of the more than $20,000 raised each year since 2000 at their annual Gala Autumn dinner and auction). Artists also volunteer their teaching time in public and private schools for many years.

In August of 2002, the late Vivian Goodwin‘s gift of $2000 (plus $1,500, the amount we raised selling her art supplies, donated by husband Len Goodwin) enabled us to add an exhibition room to the gallery. Another great gift, local arts benefactor North Coast Art Inc. first gave us a $1,700 apple computer and a year’s internet use. John Helgeson, with 30 years experience as a graphic artist gave a free class every Friday afternoon on his art application. In 2005 North Coast Arts gave us a new PCX which has proved very helpful to Doris Dalbec as she puts our 2008 Directory together, assisted by Garretta Lamore.  A remarkable gallery transformation was brought about by Chris Hutchins who made curtains and painted cabinets. She and Doris in a whirlwind of activity tiled the kitchen area.  Who taught them to do that?

A great improvement to our 4th Thursday demos has been our 2004 purchase of a 32″ TV and the loan of a video camera, which allows us to watch the demo at the same time it is being recorded.  Of course we continue to save a video for our library as well as presenting a copy to the demo artist.

The gallery hosted two champagne receptions for our juried photo show and a fine art juried show in 2007, organized by John Helgeson and Rick Hiser.

The past seven years have been so productive; the lease paid off, the 4th of July booths with a waiting list; a host of new members; our wonderful tenants upstairs (a tourism development agency) construction of the exhibition room and the purchase of two computers and a copy machine to run the gallery.

In reviewing the past 50 years, it is hoped that our little history, fondly dedicated to Dorothy, Cathy, Gloria, Amy, Lynne, Gladys, Doris and Frances, will be a reminder to members, and especially newcomers, that there are those who have worked almost continuously for 30 years or more for our gallery.

by Garretta Lamore 2007
Dorothy turned 90 in 2010 and did a W.C. demo for us.
(She was born July 9, 1919 and died December 18, 2021 at age 102.)
Amy, age 93, moved back to her beloved Missouri.


2023 Update
16 years later, and we are still going strong.   The organization that eventually became the Coast Redwoods Art Association has been in continuous operation since 1955 – 68 years!!!t