Kevin Clark/The Register-Guard

New mural at the Obsidians Lodge illustrates the group’s spirit

By Winston Ross

The Register-Guard

Appeared in print: Monday, May 3, 2010

There is art throughout the Obsidians Lodge in south Eugene; pictures of hikes and ski outings in the region’s stunning mountain passes, paintings of clouds and panoramas, maple carvings, a Northwest landscape etched into the glass of a garage door in the stately building’s newly renovated entryway.

The art reminds the Obsidians of why they exist: Since 1927, the club’s 500 members have been exploring Oregon’s outdoors in groups, scheduling hundreds of hikes, mountain climbs and winter snow trips each year.

On Sunday, the lodge unveiled a stunning new addition, along a retaining wall in the courtyard just outside the entrance.

The piece is a ceramic relief mural, and it’s the work of artist and Obsidian Dallas Cole, the group’s former president who now lives in Wilsonville. The mural portrays two hikers, greeting each other at the base of a waterfall splashing on a collection of — what else? — obsidian rocks. It was made with a half-ton of clay and ash from Mount St. Helens, requiring the firing of more than 70 individual pieces, which were laid out by artistic mason Scott Wylie of Eugene.

Like many works of art, there are subtle things to notice, explained Cole, who was on hand to talk about her piece Sunday.

The lines on the hikers, for example, are “not wrinkles” but topographical markers, a representation of where they’ve been, she said. The two are greeting each other because they love to go out and hike and climb.

On the geese, at the base of a tree with a handicapped parking sign on it, Cole had this to say: “When you are having a hatch of eggs underneath you, you really need a special place to park.”

Cole humbly thanked the 100-person crowd by saying she was “honored you would let me put my graffiti on your beautiful, beautiful wall.”

And she inspired attendees right away. Member Gary Kirk raised his hand and said he thought the signs on the right and left of the hikers spoke to the idea that they were looking to escape civilization.

Cole thought about that for a second, and replied: “I don’t know; I think we go to some pretty civilized places out there, too.”

Copyright © 2010 — The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA