Monday, November 26, 2012

#100 Nation's Christmas Tree

24x30 acrylic, ready to hang, $550.
I LOVE living near Giant Sequoias. I feel protected by these massive trees, as if they stand guard over California's central valley. Just knowing they are only an hour away somehow makes me happier.

COINED our nation's Christmas Tree by Calvin Coolidge in 1926, and the only living thing to be declared a National Shrine, the General Grant Tree stands in Kings Canyon National Park in the southern Sierra Nevada. Reaching 270 feet tall, and 107 feet around the base, it is one of our national park's biggest attractions. It is the 2nd largest Sequoia in the world, and is about 3000 years old.

EVERY YEAR, on the 2nd Sunday in December, there is a holiday wreath ceremony, with a non-denominational message, to honor the men and women who have died in service to our country.

WINTER, for many, is a time to reflect, enjoy loved ones, and get close to nature. I thought this tree, and the critters that live below it, would be the perfect December painting for my yearly Three Rivers Calendar. Just finished in the nick of time.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Painting by Nadi Spencer

CENTER STAGE STRINGS just finished up their 3rd annual summer camp for gifted students aged 8-19, here in Three Rivers. Held over a 2-week period each June, 20 exceptionally talented students of classical music attend intense practice sessions, perform in concerts, and learn from world class teachers and artists. For the citizens of the town, it means watching these amazing performers up close and personal – at concerts, library programs, master classes, and even boating on the lake. The students stay with various host families and attend meals at Harrison Hall. Performances are held at the Community Presbyterian Church.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pat O'Connell's Truck

 Nadi Spencer Art.

FOR PEOPLE who live in or travel to Three Rivers, California in December, this sight is a yearly delight. Santa sits in this 1946 Chevy Cab-over and waves to all who pass by, wishing a warm and safe holiday season. The truck's care-taker is Pat O'Connell, a retired service station/towing business owner, an avid gardener, and a local treasure. For more than 40 years, his mechanical skills and good humor have helped countless drivers.

READ MORE about Pat here and here and here

DO YOU have a "Pat" story? Post it here in the comments. I'll bet there's a million.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Barton/ Pierce House

Nadi Spencer Art
123 YEARS OLD, this house is the oldest standing house in Three Rivers. And it has been owned by only 2 families, the Bartons and the Pierces.

AFTER their journey in 1865, from Davenport, Iowa to California, in a covered wagon with 9 children, James and Susan Barton homesteaded for a decade in the foothills near what is now Elderwood. They then moved to Three Rivers, becoming the first of six generations of Bartons to reside here. They built the Barton House in 1880, where the family lived for the next 32 years.

IN 1888, the Barton's 11th son, Mont, married and inherited the ranch. In 1910, at the age of 43, while working on the first electric irrigation pumps in the area, he was killed. He was the first person the be buried at the new Three Rivers Cemetery. His wife and youngest of 4 children moved to Elderwood.

IN 1910, another couple, James and Julia Pierce, from Coalinga, took a trip to Giant Forest. They traveled by train as far as Lemon Cove, then by stagecoach up the north Fork road, stopping for lunch at the Barton Ranch. (At that time the front door faced the river and the road passed between the house and the river.) The Pierces became enamored with Three Rivers and convinced the Bartons, who no longer wished to own the house since their son's death, to sell the property. Shortly after that, Susan Barton died on her 69th wedding anniversary; 8 months later, James died at the age of 93.

THE PIERCES moved into the house and the family grew. Julia was a teacher and home-schooled her 4 children, eventually sending them to Sulfur Springs School on Kaweah River Drive, and then to Woodlake High School. A second story was added to the maroon house with green trim. Water for the claw-foot tub was heated on the woodstove, as were the family meals. A large copper pot was used to scald hogs, make soap, and launder clothes.

ORCHARDS supplied the family with apples, olives, peaches, plums, apricots, persimmons and pomegranates, and then, eventually, oranges and grapefruits.

A RENOWNED flower garden boasted roses, zinnias, jasmine and 75 varieties of irises, while the vegetable garden produced melons, cabbages and squash to fill canning jars for winter. The Jersey cow "Old Pet" supplied the milk for butter and ice cream.

THE LATE 30's brought many changes. The back porch was screened in, sheltering a wringer washing machine and flush toilet. Due to severe allergies, Jim left the ranch for the relief of a desert climate. All the children left, except Elizabeth and her daughter Juanita, who grew up at the ranch and stayed with "Nana" Julia until she was 12. Then, in 1945, Elizabeth remarried and they moved to Morro Bay. Julia obtained (at age 60) a California Teacher's certificate, taught school and continued to manage the ranch until her death in 1948.

FOR THE next 18 years, Dale and Virginia Williams rented the house. Virginia was publisher of the Three Rivers Current, the local newspaper. They eventually built a home on Kaweah River Drive, and friend and fellow historian, Joe Doctor, of Exeter, acquired the cabin as a getaway place for family and friends, spending weekends and summers enjoying the river. After attending college, Julie Doctor worked in Sequoia Park and lived in the house for the next 17 years. She was able to purchase a piece of the Barton property, and in 1995 built her own house close by.

SAL NATOLI moved in for a year, then handed off caretaker duties to Billy Hancock, who remains the current resident.

PRESENT OWNERS of the Barton/Pierce house are Juanita Kibbe Roy Tolle (grand-daughter of James and Julia Pierce, and Helen Pierce (daughter-in-law of James and Julia).

FEEL FREE to share your story of this historical building in the comment section below.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Colors of Three Rivers

WENDY McKELLAR, owner of Colors Art Gallery, paints her home town,Three Rivers, every day. She often gets out of bed and completes a small painting before going to the gallery to open for the day. Everything she sees is a potential next painting. She works in oils, but can't wait to display a new piece, so make sure it is dry before touching! Her gallery is filled with her furniture pieces and paintings, and also the work of about 20 other artists. Things change constantly, but it's always colorful and inviting. Stop in for a visit to brighten your summer.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Slicky gear is now available! Shop for a wide variety of shirts and gift items HERE.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Music and Art

CENTER STAGE STRINGS, a summer camp here in Three Rivers for young string musicians, offered Nadi Spencer a chance to try musical portraits. 20 students spent the last 2 weeks learning, practicing and delighting the town with their music.

NADI recently started a "Painting A Day" challenge, painting a picture a day for 80 days, and all must be something she photographed from her home to her studio, a 2-mile distance. Danielle Belen, director of the camp, talked at the local library (which is within Nadi's 2-mile area), and demonstrated to the audience how music can tell a story. From photos taken, this painting emerged. You can view all of Nadi's daily paintings, along with her other art at