WEST LINN, Ore. -- To really appreciate the art and the heart of Jan Rimerman, you have to start with her turtles.
“Baryshnikov is a Russian Tortoise and he’s quite sassy,” Jan said holding up the impressive reptile at her studio in West Linn. “I’ve had turtles since I was tiny and I don’t think I’ve ever been without a turtle.”
Jan is a turtle parent to five in all. The turtles are all rescued and living comfortably now in a custom, temperature controlled room with heated floors, a pool, a special diet and all the comforts a turtle in captivity requires.
Jan knows the personality quirks of each one and they know her.
“Each turtle has a little turtle personality and when we walk into the turtle-quarium all the little turtle heads go up,” she said.
So it’s no surprise that when Jan and her partner, stone sculptor Dave Haslett, found out the Western Pond Turtle was disappearing in Oregon and Washington, they wanted to help.
“We wanted to help save their habitat through the Wetlands Conservancy,” Jan said.
Specifically at the Conservancy’s Nyberg Wetlands Preserve in Tualatin. You’ve probably seen it as you drive through the area on Interstate 5.
According to the director of the Conservancy, Esther Lev, “That wetland is probably the most viewed wetland in the state of Oregon.”
In addition to providing flood control, the wetland is also home to herons, ducks, geese and all kinds of water-loving creatures. But it needs a little work to be just the right habitat for the Western Pond Turtle.
“What pond turtles need is a surface to bask on and they actually need some open spaces,” said Esther. “We wanted to make that place more homey for Pond Turtles.”
That’s where Jan and Dave come in. At a special event this weekend, called “Rock, Paper, Turtle, Art for Wetlands,” you can buy a piece of their art and they will give 25 percent of the money to the Conservancy. Other artists have also joined in, some with donations for a silent auction.
The timing couldn’t be better. Just this week there was a Pond Turtle sighting at Nyberg. An encouraging sign for someone like Jan, working to make sure that turtles are around in the wild for generations to come.