Ear: Bill

Last week, this column mentioned that popular local artist Bill W. Dodge would be exhibiting new or publicly unexhibited fine art signed collector prints at the Angi D Wildt Gallery, 106 10th St., along with his iconic Astoria folk art. Better yet, Bill will be at the gallery for the art walk on Saturday to greet one and all.

Did you know he was first introduced to the Pacific Northwest at that very same location 30-plus years ago?

"It was at this address that I decided to open one of the first art galleries in Astoria," he told the Ear, "a decision made by the ending of a four-year romance with my California neighbor, who just happened to be Academy Award-winning film star Joan Fontaine — but that's another story.

"I was introduced by two local artists, Diane Beeston and Shirley Dahlsten, to the empty 10th Street space, and opened The Bill W. Dodge Gallery. Shirley decided being a gallery owner wasn't what she wanted to do — she wanted to spend her time at her easel. So, Diane Beeston and I decided to move to a smaller space on Commercial Street, where the little bakery is today.

"Then a friend of Diane's approached us and offered us an opportunity to design and open an over-the-river ice cream shop/restaurant. It appeared in a small article in Sunset Magazine.

"Its demise came when the entire Sixth Street wharf and an adjoining restaurant burned totally. That disaster ended both of our gallery ownership desires."

Not owning a gallery didn't keep Bill from his art. After the fire, he continued painting in his Alderbrook cottage. He moved to Portland for a while for a (thankfully) short-lived retirement, then back to Warrenton.

And now, he's happily un-retired, back home at his old Astoria gallery, and looking forward to Saturday.

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.