Art project honoring local women adds 7 luminaries

'Founding Mothers: Portraits of Progress' continues

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



If You Go

• What: “Founding Mothers” public displays.

 When, where: Through Aug. 2, Esther Short Building, 610 Esther St.; Aug. 19 through September, Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main St.

A notable American poet and the first woman elected to Vancouver’s city council are among seven additions to an art project honoring community contributors.

Artist Hilarie Couture’s original exhibit — “Founding Mothers: Portraits of Progress” — was unveiled two months ago, featuring 40 women on 36 canvases.

Several of the new faces are of particular interest to organizations that will provide exhibition space in the weeks to come, Couture said.

The original exhibition schedule also has been revised because of changes in building availability.

After its current run at the Esther Short Building in downtown Vancouver ends on Aug. 2, the portrait display will return to public view — with the seven additions — on Aug. 19 at the Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main St. The event will feature an artist’s talk and demonstration by Couture.

The stories of several of the additions will be part of a museum-sponsored walking tour that features historical women of Vancouver, curator Brad Richardson said.

The new portrait subjects (listed in order of year they were born):

• Laura Slocum (1839-1914): Laura and husband Charles Slocum, a prominent businessman, built the downtown landmark known as the Slocum House. It originally stood at 404 W. Fifth St. and was moved to Esther Short Park in 1966.

• Hilma Powers (1882-1958): The first woman elected to the city council, Powers served from March 1952 to June 1954. She was a longtime teacher at Vancouver High School and was head of the English department when she retired in 1947.

• Elizabeth Crawford Yates (1885-1955): Yates worked in the 1910s as a stenographer in the county auditor’s office. She eventually focused on writing poetry. Yates helped found the Clark County YWCA.

• Anna Campbell (1889-1967): Campbell became president of The Columbian after her husband, Herbert Campbell, suffered a fatal heart attack in 1941. She served in that role until 1965.

• Hermine Decker (1908-1996): Decker was a playwright and writer when Clark College hired her in 1950 as a drama instructor. She taught at Clark until 1971 and helped design the college’s theater, which now bears her name. Among other civic roles, Decker helped save the Slocum House from demolition.

• Mary Barnard (1909-2001): While working for a Depression-era relief agency, Barnard wrote poetry on her own time. She sent six poems to famed poet Ezra Pound, who became her mentor and friend for 40 years. Her award-winning writing was published in national periodicals. Her 1958 translation of the ancient Greek poet Sappho has never been out of print.

• Shirley Sackman (born in 1928): Sackman taught English full time at Clark College for 26 years. She officially retired in 1992, but continued to work part time for several years and was one of three instructors honored with an Exceptional Faculty Award in 1995.