49º North Artists received permission early in the implementation of Art on The Line project to use the old Oroville Laundromat windows to display local artists’ work.

Even though the building has been shuttered for the past 15 years, everyone seems to know it well. As one resident told us, “Oh, my kids were raised in that building.” Depending on the ratio of laundry to kids, we can understand that connection. In fact, we are starting to think of the place as the Clubhouse for 49º North! We have been storing tools and gear inside and seem to start and finish planning sessions there.

The Laundromat–or the Highland Center as written on the south façade–started out as a creamery in 1945, re-invented in the 1960’s to take in laundry in the former ice cream parlor in front. Washing machines are gone but a bank of dryers remains, probably because the pipes and ducts appear too formidable to remove. Evidence of war-time cold storage for milk still exists in the back of the building behind thick wood-clad walls and heavy, insulating doors. If the odd piece of machinery on site turns out to be an ice cream maker, as we suspect, there will be more news from the back room!

The front windows, on the other hand, now feature art.

The watercolors of Judith Moses, a professional artist who lives and works on the Colville reservation at Keller, are in one of the 11-ft windows, mounted on a backdrop of old, shabby-chic doors. Judith says she paints the life and the people she sees around her every day and has never lost her sense of wonder at it and them. We believe her rendering of “In-Laws & Outlaws” pretty much says it all. Could not be more awestruck to have Judith’s work as our first storefront display!

The second window features the three hand-colored historical maps of the 49º North area that Lisa Middleton of Great River Arts created for Art on The Line, which she has donated to 49º North Artists to support fund-raising efforts. These reprints of the original maps are about 3-ft. wide or more, enabling high-resolution copies and clear detail, making them irresistible to those looking for their grandfather’s homestead, we’ve learned. So we hung them close to the window glass for a better view from outside.

Images of the 1900 “Homesteaders” map of the North Half of the Colville Indian Reservation, the first road map of Okanogan County (1915?), and the first Oroville city plat map of 1906 are at our online shop. Lisa also made it possible for us to sell 11×17” prints of these maps as well as an 1870’s map depicting the original Oregon Territory, also hand-colored.

Thus is Art on The Line launched! We have had a lot of support from building owners and the business community in creating the displays, donating space as well as loaning display fixtures, and cheering us on. Besides, we have gained a whole new skill set for future career development – we are qualified window washers.