Fire inspires First Friday art show, ‘Burn Scar’

Burn scar

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 3.24.05 PMBAKER CITY — Hillery Lay well remembers that hot August day in 2015, when smoke billowed into the sky and the phone suddenly rang to urge residents to evacuate.

They had one hour.

“Once it became real, it was quick,” she said. “We had an hour’s notice to evacuate, so we were grabbing photo albums.”

The home, located in Stices Gulch outside of Baker City, was directly in the path of a wildfire that would become known as the Cornet-Windy Ridge Fire. It would eventually burn 104,000 acres.

Lay’s family had moved to Stices Gulch when she was 13. She graduated from Baker High School in 1999.

Her mom had passed away just a month before the fire started, and Lay was slowly cleaning out the house. When the call to evacuate came, they just grabbed whatever they could find.

They couldn’t return for three days, and by then it was with the sheriff who was taking in one family at a time.

“All that was left was metal roofing,” Lay said. “There was nothing to salvage at all.”

During the days of clean-up, Lay documented the devastation with her camera, and those images have inspired a new set of paintings. Her show, titled “Burn Scar,” opens Feb. 3 at Crossroads Carnegie Art Center, 2020 Auburn Ave.

The opening reception starts at 5:30 p.m. with an informal artist’s talk. Refreshments will be provided by Head Start Staff and Friends of Head Start, and there will be live music by Larry Lambeth. The Student Gallery features the artwork of Head Start students.

Lay describes her style as abstract, featuring figures, animals, trees, rocks and stumps.

“The land looks so different,” she said. “Natural disasters like the lightning-caused Cornet-Windy Ridge Fire change a landscape forever. That fire, is particularly symbolic for me — it wraps up a lot of painful events in my life into one blackened package. A burn scar left by a wildfire can shape a forest and a person for a long time.”

The show, however, also features works not related to the fire — like chickens.

“It’s not a heartbreak show,” she said.

The “Burn Scar” show will be on exhibit through Feb. 25.

Yart Sale

Short Term Gallery, 1829 Main St., will hold the annual “Yart Sale” during First Friday, Feb. 3. All work will be priced at $40 or less.

“Art supplies and artwork will be available, and it’s always very popular,” Brian Vegter said.

Pre-Valentine’s Day show

For the Feb. 3 art walk, Peterson’s Gallery will be offering a selected variety of work from regional artists that “we feel will make memorable Valentine’s Day gifts,” Davey Peterson said.

He said they will also unveil a new series of chocolates made to pair with Baker County’s Copper Belt Winery’s syrah. Free samples of the new Copper Belt syrah paired chocolates will be available.

The opening reception for the Pre-Valentine’s Party will start at 6 p.m. at Peterson’s Gallery, 1925 Main St. For more information, call 541-523-1022 or email

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