Parent bids adieu to school with a special mural

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Grove parent Keri Bloom poses with her twins, Arielle and Max, in the school library with her painting of cougars reading.There have been a couple of cougars loose in Lake Grove Elementary School for years, but they prefer reading to hunting.

The big cats are the stars of Lake Grove parent Keri Bloom’s painting, which hangs in the library. Bloom also plans to polish off a mural for the fifth-grade celebration next month.

The Lake Oswego resident became the school’s go-to artist about four years ago when the Parent Teacher Association raised funds to repaint the entire school, brushing blue onto the beige walls of the beloved room full of books. The hallways were brightened with yellow and the gym was revived with dark blue.

The school had last been painted in 1991, and the library staff said a little art would coincide well with the long-awaited repainting. Bloom offered her help. She already was an active volunteer, shelving books at the library and serving as chairwoman of the after-school art program.

“Education is the most important thing we have to give our children, besides love and all that — and rock ‘n’ roll, no not really,” Bloom said with a soft laugh.

Cathie Kane, library technology assistant, said school employees didn’t have any inkling of Bloom’s skills as an artist. Kane said Bloom stunned them when she brought in the completed project.

“She is very modest, very kind, a sweet, loving mother,” Kane said. “I can’t say enough about her, so talented.”

Bloom long has loved to add color to canvas. For decades, she’s attended workshops on using pastel sticks and colored pencils as well as oil, watercolor and acrylic painting. She never stops seeing the world in a creative light.

“I feel like I’m constantly bombarded by the beauty around me, the designs and colors,” Bloom said. “I’m highly affected by that kind of stimulation in my environment.”

Her painting came from her environment: A cougar is the school mascot; the felines are reading “Finding Forest Friends” together in the library to help them locate and cook future prey.

The artwork also honors her twins, who now are in fifth grade. Also in the painting is a book called “Anteater Antics” for her son, Max, who loves the long-snouted creatures, and a book called “We Love Guinea Pigs,” because that encapsulates how her daughter, Arielle, feels about the pudgy cavy.

The painting’s background represents the Northwest’s landscape of tree-topped hills and mountains. Employing house paint in the background, she put acrylic over it to add dimension to her feline subjects.

A figure flying in the sky represents a child’s mother who died that year.

Kane said she felt the staff never got the chance to properly laud Bloom, and her two children are graduating this year, so she’ll be moving on.

“I thought we better hurry up and do something,” she said, noting why she called the Review.

Bloom also wants to say farewell to Lake Grove, and she’s doing it by donating a mural to be exhibited in the gym.

She is using the same media as she did for the cougars, this time to create a tree with deep roots and birds winging about.

“It’s actually just going to be an image that represents growth, and then, when you grow up and fly away,” she said.

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