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Fine art to fund brighter futures

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Friends of Red Lodge show to benefit Native Americans re-entering society

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Art on display at AntFarm is from Native Americans in the Oregon correctional system and a select few local artists.Provided by the Friends of Red Lodge organization, the array of Native American-themed art adorning the walls at AntFarm Cafe and Bakery is not just for show.

From 3-6 p.m. Sunday, May 21, the art will be on display and for sale at the 39140 Proctor Blvd. location.

Representatives of the nonprofit organization will be on hand to educate the public on its cause: preventing criminal recidivism of Native American people.

"It's an opportunity for us to speak with people and answer questions, and reduce stereotypes people have about people in prison," Executive Director Trish Jordan says of the show.

"Red Lodge is really the only Native American-focused program in the Oregon correctional system."

The organization founded the Native American Prison Art Project in 2007 in an attempt not only to engage prisoners of Native American heritage in positive expression, but to connect them with the community they would be reentering.

The majority of the art at AntFarm on May 21 is the work of such men and women.

All proceeds from the art sale go toward the Women's Transition House Fund.

As of February, funds from previous sales amounted to a downpayment on a house in Clackamas.

The newly acquired real estate will serve as a home for 10 women after they are released from eastern Oregon correctional facilities. The organization hopes to open its doors in June.

"Going back to where you came from is not a good situation," volunteer coordinator Debi Vann says of the need for a halfway house of sorts. "They fall back into old habits."

Red Lodge hopes to be a "positive environment" for people to reacclimate to everyday life.

Vann, owner of a local graphic design company — Cherokee Designs — got involved with the organization to help format the art and present it at its best: matted and framed for hanging.

"I'm helping them because it's a program I believe in," she adds. "I wanted to help them make the art look a little more professional. Plus, I'm Native American."

This will be the first show held in Vann's neck of the woods, and as someone fairly involved in the Sandy community, she looks forward to sharing this other passion with her town.

"I'm excited just in general for people to see the art and be educated about the program," she explains. "I think it's a worthwhile program, and that people would be interested to see the art and see what the program's about."

At the show, there will be original pieces and prints by both Native American and local artists, greeting cards and mouse pads for purchase.

The evening will kick off with some cultural entertainment — Native American drumming and storytelling — then, at 3:30 p.m. guests are invited to dine on traditional buffalo stew, fry bread and dessert for a small fee.

Entry to the show and sale is free of charge, and dinner is $7 for adults and $5 for children under 12 years of age.

For more information about Friends of Red Lodge or its cause, visit www.redlodgetransition.org.