Arts alive and thriving at Rogue Valley Manor

Sometimes a duck dinner with cranberry sauce just falls in your lap.

This happened to me last night. It started when Robin Blomquist, a member of the Art Committee for  Rogue Valley Manor, asked my friend, Lane Hall, if he’d be interested in exhibiting his artwork next year in their Deschutes Gallery. He invited Lane to visit November’s opening reception for current featured artist Vince Carl so Lane could view the gallery and get a feel for how the show works. I felt privileged to tag along.

I have lived in the valley for over 30 years and have come to regard the Manor as a sort of gleaming bastion high on a hill south of town — a sumptuous home for retired citizens who had the foresight to invest in Microsoft and In-N-Out Burger. Aside from their annual rummage sale at the Armory, which is to grace us no more, alas, I had no contact within or without its hallowed walls until last night.

The Deschutes Gallery is located in the Skyline Plaza building. Upon entering, I shaded my eyes as the setting sun dazzled through a grand window, offering an unparalleled view of our beautiful valley. I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a crowd gaping alongside me. But then, they live there. That panorama is an everyday occurrence.

We found the gallery and met with Roberta Bhasin, chair of the Manor Art Committee and member of the RVM Foundation board of directors. We thoroughly enjoyed viewing the abstract work of Rogue River artist Vince Carl.

Carl was unable to attend the reception, so they enlisted Art Committee member Frieda Golding to introduce his work, explain his process and answer questions from a crowd of engaged residents eager to learn. During Frieda’s excellent talk, Lane and I decided it would be best to just hand her the microphone when his turn came. She gave a heartbeat to an already great exhibit with her knowledge and extensive art background.

Roberta explained that the committee’s purpose is to help enrich the lives of RVM residents through engaging visual art experiences. They accomplish this in a few ways: through monthly exhibitions in the Deschutes Gallery featuring regional artists who do not live at the Manor, with a reception and art talk; quarterly exhibitions of art created by Manor residents; and by managing and curating a nearly 1,000 piece Manor Collection. They also will, when appropriate, add to the collection by purchasing a piece of art from a Deschutes Gallery show.

Roberta added, “This not only enhances our collection but it supports the artists in our community. Our collection is considered to be one of the finest of its kind, and we are not aware of any other retirement community with this kind of arts focus, especially managed entirely by residents.”

The committee members have fine-arts educations, museum experience, gallery experience, arts-in-education experience and some are artists themselves. One is a professional photographer and database expert who has created their inventory system, housed on a laptop, which would be the envy of any museum.

We are impressed. Not only by the extent of dedication and professionalism, but by the diverse backgrounds of those with whom we were fortunate enough to meet and enjoy stimulating conversation and a magnificent buffet dinner — hence, the duck in my lap, or rather, my mouth. We laughed, drank wine and discussed the current arts climate. Roberta spoke of her and her husband’s decision to locate to the Manor.

“When Kumar and I chose the Manor, we knew it was the best decision we could possibly make for our retirement. Discovering the Manor’s art collection and now being privileged to chair the committee that works so hard to make its attendant activities happen has been like the icing on the cake.”

So, Lane’s show is set for June, and we look forward to another go-round with our new friends.

Nancy, another member of the committee, quoted a friend, Gail Schafer, who said, “If our government collapsed, it could be run by the residents at RVM.” I agree.

— Peggy Dover is a freelance writer living in Eagle Point. Email her at

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