BANDON — For as far back as she can remember, Carol Waxham’s Langlois gallery Raincoast Arts has been a work in progress. But then the same could be said for the artist herself and the woven creations she makes weaving thread and yarn.
Waxham opened Raincoast in 1991 in Langlois’ historic Woodmen of the World Lodge building. It was a business that grew out of her career making and selling her art works at various events.
“I had been selling at craft fairs and the Portland Saturday market for about 12 years,” Waxham said. “My first husband traveled a lot by the coast and he was fascinated by this building and it eventually became our gallery.”
In 1990, the couple purchased the structure, which was made out of Port Orford cedar and dated back to 1897. They began to renovate it and slowly bring it back to life, which wasn’t an overnight process since it had been boarded up for seven years with no electricity or usable plumbing. They moved in, lived upstairs where the lodge hall once was and filled in part of the downstairs with the art pieces Waxham had at the time.
“We opened up a couple months after my second child was born and that’s how I remember how old the business is because she’s now 23,” Waxham, whose originally from the Bay Area, said. “We raised our two daughters in this gallery.”
Now Waxham runs the gallery with her current husband Thomas Medlin, who does a variety of silver work, including jewelry creation and knife sharpening. Their two dogs - one a huge hairy mixed breed named Leroy and the other, Mini, a tiny chihuahua mix (both affectionately referred to by them as the “beasties") also reside there and are eager to greet visitors.
The gallery itself features works from local Bandon artists like Victoria Tierney, Connie Zane and Michael Ousley. Tierney’s watercolors are hung throughout and so are Zane’s. Paintings in acrylic by Ousley take up a large section of the wall. Pottery, rock fountains, wall hangings and a variety of other art pieces are also on display and for sale.
“We like to have a place where some of the very creative individuals in the region can show their works,” Waxham said. “I look for work that I admire and that will fit in well here. It’s a very eclectic mix of creative work.”
That mix includes Waxham’s work, too. There is a full circular rack of her multi-colored hand woven wraps and cocoons next to a large selection of scarves and hats. Waxham’s hand-made quilts and beaded jewelry are also displayed around the gallery.
Waxham herself has been around and involved with textile arts as long as she can remember. She grew up with a mother who made all her clothes during her high school years and under her tutelage, Waxham herself became a seamstress.
Inside the gallery towards the back, her loom is set up with 15 yards of different colored and patterned thread equipped to create a series of garments.
“I’ve weaved for about 35 years,” she said. "It’s like anything else ... when it goes well it’s pleasant and when all the yarn is tangled it’s frustrating.”
That frustration might be why Waxham mixes things up by engaging in other art forms and with other artists in her gallery.
“I like trying new things,” she said. “I’ve done some paintings and collage for some community shows in Bandon. I’m involved with so many different artists that there’s a lot of inspiration.”
For his part, Medlin finds both the artists involved in the gallery and those that visit intriguing.
“You get to meet tourists and locals as well as the artists,” Medlin said. “We’re dealing with an interesting mix of human beings.”
In general, both Waxham and Medlin try to make the gallery a very friendly place.
“Some people are intimidated by art galleries, but this is a place where people can come in and visit,” Waxham said.
They also strive to offer pieces that are affordable. Waxham’s woven products range from $30 to $98.
“We have stuff that’s low-end, medium- and high-end ... because regular people need art, too,” she said.
Mostly, Waxham said she wants to honor the original pieces that she displays and the artistic process itself.
“I think art is essential," she said. "You need to have creativity in your life.”