Artist's mantra is 'collect, create, contribute'

The basis of education may be "the three Rs," but the foundation for Lo Smucker's artistic life is "the three Cs" — collect, create, contribute.

The Ashland artist collects material, creates eclectic sculptures and collages, then contributes a portion of the proceeds to charitable causes.

This weekend, Smucker will continue her long-standing practice of donating a part of her earnings from sales. She is one of 25 artists taking part in the third annual "Art for the Garden/Art for the Home" show at the Ashland homes of Cheryl Kempner and Marydee Bombick.

Admission is free. A portion of art sales will be donated to The Children's Cancer Association.

Metal art, pottery, fountains, dyed silk, jewelry, garden art, fused glass, vases, woodworking, paintings, photos, painted gourds, Japanese-style floral designs, cards and other artwork will be on display in the houses and gardens at 421 Prim St. and 447 Pape St.

The homes are located off Wimer Street, just two blocks away from each other.

Exhibit hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

This is Smucker's second year of taking part in the art show, but her practice of giving money from her sales to different causes goes back several years.

Back when George W. Bush was president, he sparked Smucker's anger by cutting funding for international family planning efforts.

Two friends had been urging Smucker to have an art exhibit in her own home. They offered to host and bring people in.

Shy about showing her art, Smucker hesitated, but then decided to have the show and donate all the proceeds to International Planned Parenthood.

The success of the show led her to adopt her "collect, create, contribute" concept.

Her father also was an inspiration.

"My father's motto was, 'You help others.' I had such respect and love for him because I know he did that," Smucker said.

She has continued to donate proceeds to battle hunger, muscular dystrophy and cancer. A Zen center, three churches, preschoolers, victims of fighting in Darfur, Guatemalan children who live in dumps and a person who lacked medical insurance have been among those helped by Smucker.

While the causes are serious, Smucker takes great joy in salvaging materials and crafting her pieces, which range from the whimsical to the sophisticated.

She and her husband, Len, love to prowl the railroad tracks and peruse refuse containers in the Mistletoe Road light industrial area near their home on Tolman Creek Road.

Smucker found soggy papers adorned with butterflies in a dumpster. After drying the papers, she combined the butterflies with pictures clipped from National Geographic magazines to create collages.

A local cabinet maker gives away his scraps for free — a boon to Smucker. "He loves for us to recycle them," she said.

To create a flat wall sculpture, Smucker used wood scraps to form a base, then added remnants of her neighbor's old picket fence — tinged in subtle hues with diluted paint.

The fabric collage "New York! New York!" employs clothing tags to form images of Central Park, Times Square, the financial district and the Statue of Liberty.

In her garage, Smucker has drawers filled with odds and ends. Scrabble pieces, dice, thin metal strips that once formed the broom bristles of a street sweeping machine.

"After the street sweeper has gone through, I can pick up oodles," she said, holding up the bristles so that her hand resembled a bewhiskered cat's head.

In fact, Smucker plans to combine the bristles with a circular saw blade that she found to fashion a cat.

Smucker has adorned several sculptures with symbols from Ashanti, a region in west Africa. The meaning of the symbols ranges from the pragmatic to the mystical:

"Bite not one another."

"When moon dies, it leaves a star."

And Smucker's favorite, "We are wandering souls."

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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