PORT ORFORD — Professional kudos are the perfect 10 year anniversary gift for WildSpring Guest Habitat owners Michelle and Dean Duarte, who opened the business in June 2004.

The elegant, eco-friendly retreat in Port Orford earned two travel industry nods this year: The Oregon Travel Commission’s 2013 Sustainable Tourism Leadership Award and national Top 10 Eco Hotel list from the TripAdvisor GreenLeaders Program.

Comfort and natural beauty are the hallmarks of WildSpring.

“It’s an environment that sends the message that you’re cared for,” said Michelle.

A visit to WildSpring is a chance to remember what nature and beauty are all about, with really good bathrooms, she adds with a knowing smile.

More than one travel writer has left WildSpring lost for words. The setting defies traditional description, with its marriage of elegance and eco sensitivity. Guests will find the plush bedding and in-room massage tables they expect in a luxury urban hotel, while the paths leading from the cabins to the ocean view guest hall let visitors bathe in clean sea air and sunlight filtered through stands of cedar.

“Everyone wants to create a better place to live in. People choose to live here because it’s such a pretty, authentic small town,” said Michelle.

The Duartes’ goal was to create the kind of lodging establishment that they’d want to live in. Their low-impact development model gained support from the Port Orford planning commission and local contractors, who helped build an ocean view getaway that fit within existing land and water regulations. Only two living trees were removed from their wooded hillside in the construction phase.

Michelle and Dean nurture the property’s second-growth forest, wild animals and native vegetation with chemical-free fertilizers and insecticides. WildSpring guest cabins feature repurposed furnishing and radiant heat systems. Among their sustainably minded partnerships, the Duartes were early participants in the Oregon Travel Philanthropy Fund.

WildSpring 2014 awards follow a string of travel industry plugs in publications such as Sunset Magazine in 2012 and USA Today Travel in 2011.

Hawthorne Gallery

Creating great art is one part inspiration and two parts discipline, says painter and sculptor Daemian Hawthorne.

Hawthorne spent his youth living on the Southern Oregon Coast. He’s the son of artists and gallery owners Chris and Julie Hawthorne. Following several years living in California and attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Hawthorne is back home, ready to apply artistic discipline in a region brimming with natural beauty and inspiration.

His decision to pursue formal art study met with skepticism from some, he says. So, you want to go to art school? It must be all about sex, drugs and rock and roll, right?

Perhaps for some students. For Hawthorne, study is all about honing his craft and learning to work even when he’s not feeling especially inspired.

“Some of my best pieces were made on days when I didn’t feel like painting,” he said.           

As a Pacific High School senior, Hawthorne’s art hit the national scene with a Congressional Art Award and showing in Washington, D.C. In recent years his work has shown in galleries in California and Oregon. Local residents can view his work at the Hawthorne Gallery in Port Orford.

As a professional in a family of artists, (award winning jeweler Lisa Hawthorne and sculptor Steve Kuntz also live in the neighborhood), Hawthorne said his early challenge was to avoid creating pieces that replicated work by other artists in the family.

But family encouragement is a benefit, he says.

“There’s absolutely a lot of constructive criticism along with tremendous support,” said Hawthorne. “There’s always a reason (for their critiques). And quite often, they’re right.”

This summer, he’ll roll up his sleeves in his new studio. Hawthorne and his wife Kate selected a home outside Bandon with lots of space to work. His goal is to incorporate abstract painting techniques in his figurative work.

He’s a new father, so his daughter is a regular model.

“I’m having a blast drawing Maya. Babies have these crazy proportions you don’t see on an adult. The fat rolls on her forearm are particularly cute,” he said.

He relies on his classical training to plan figurative subject matter, which often feature human subjects. Digital editing allows him to experiment with light and color values.

Hawthorne’s abstract work reveals an underlying geometry, loosely defined by color saturated sections of canvas. Free-flow application of surface lines and swirls illustrate the lighthearted enjoyment Hawthorne experiences in the process of abstract painting.

It’s like engineering versus alchemy, Hawthorne explains. In his new series, viewers can look forward to pieces that join planned composition with the magic of abstract expression.

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