Preserving the past


Above are two scenes artist Melissa Rackham chose to photograph and preserve with encaustic wax on wooden mounts.

Past and present meet at the Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, with their newest exhibit and their Meet the Author event.

The opening reception for Melissa Rackham’s exhibit “Sleeping Giants: The Ephemera of Ghost Signs” is tomorrow from 1 – 3 p.m. at the Dahmen Barn.

“The exhibit ‘Ghost Signs’ are all old signs on buildings from Savannah, Georgia, to Spokane,” said Julie Hartwig, exhibit coordinator at the barn.

Rackham said she’s always had an interest in run-down buildings and this ghost sign project fit well with that interest.

“I’ve always been interested in abandoned places, I love to travel, I like places with a sort of time-worn quality, showing the history,” she said.

Rackham started photographing the old signs about 10 years ago. She said when she started, it was just out of interest and she did not plan on making a show out of those images.

However, Hartwig approached Rackham about putting together this show and it’s been about a year and a half in the making.

In order to give the photos a unique look, Rackham placed them on wood and then covered them with encaustic wax. Those materials give the photos an interesting textured appearance as well as a noticeable smell from the wood, the stain used on the wood, and the wax.

“If people want to touch the images, they can, the wax protects the photos and (the photos) become a multi-sensory experience,” she said.

Rackham’s photos will be on display through March 26 and her art pieces will be available for purchase.

Sunday from noon to 3 p.m., Jeri Jackson McGuire will be at the Dahmen Barn for a Meet the Author event.

McGuire wrote the book “Images of Clarkston, Washington,” featuring old photos from around the Clarkston area.

Many of the photos in the book are from the Nez Perce tribe, as well as other Lewiston and Clarkston residents.

McGuire had never written a book before, but she was approached by a local historian who said she should write a book on Clarkston. McGuire said she’d written letters about what had been happening in the area, sending them to old classmates, and she eventually got a following of about 1,000 people. In her words, she became a town crier of sorts.

McGuire grew up in Lewiston, and so she finds it a little ironic that she was asked to write a book about her early school rival. However, the image selected for the front cover is of the bridge connecting the two towns and she said she feels that accurately represents the relationship between the two valley cities.

McGuire was given two months to write “Images of Clarkston, Washington,” which she said was fun but stressful, since it’s such a fast turnaround. However, the book has seen lots of success in the area, having sold out on Amazon and at Costco.

“I often hear from people in the area that reading the book is like a memory,” she said, going on to say that people have been reminded of events they had forgotten about when they read the book.

“Images of Clarkston, Washington” is available for purchase at the Artisans at the Dahmen Barn.

The Dahmen Barn is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Both events are free to attend.