One of the finest accolades Rip Caswell ever received was from a local woman who, as far as he knew, never purchased a single sculpture from his downtown Troutdale gallery.
“She said whenever she’s having a bad day, she comes in here and feels so much better,” Caswell says. “She said, ‘I just love it here.’ I gave her a big hug. What a compliment — that I could give a retreat to people.”
Patrons new and old are likely having similar epiphanies as they file into the newly renovated Rip Caswell Sculptures this weekend. A grand opening celebration is under way to mark the transformation of a 100-year-old former potato warehouse into a striking showplace for Caswell’s voluminous body of bronze creations.
A ribbon-cutting early Friday evening, which included words from Caswell and Troutdale Mayor Jim Kight, launched a weekend of fanfare to unveil the newly rechristened Rip Caswell Sculptures.
The 16,000-square-foot facility is a brighter, more open and dynamic version of the former Caswell Gallery, which opened at Historic Columbia River Highway and Northwest Graham Road in 1991.
After considering numerous options — including building a new structure somewhere else — and three years of planning, design and construction, Caswell seems serenely pleased as he surveys the completed project.
“For being a 100-year-old potato warehouse, it’s pretty nice,” he says. “It was nice we could save it.”
While the old gallery featured the work of other artists along with Caswell’s sculptures, as well as a foundry and framing business, the new place is solely for Caswell to sculpt and display his formidable bronze works.
“I decided to simplify and focus on the work of being an artist,” he says. “Before I was spread so thin. I needed to focus on my first love, what brought me into the business."
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