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Pittock Mansion art exhibit features historic Northwest landscapes in effort to draw more visitors

Artist Eliza Barchus embodied a resilience that sustained her and her family at the turn of the 20th century.

PORTLAND, Ore. — To many who visit it, Pittock Mansion is a work of art. So it just makes sense that the paintings currently on display at the historic house museum embody the same sense resilience that the Portland landmark is known for.

The artist behind those paintings is Eliza Barchus. The majority of Barchus’ work was comprised of Northwest landscapes circa 1910, including Mount Hood, Multnomah Falls and Crater Lake. That work carried her through an economic crisis and the early death of her husband.

“You know, art is usually one of the first things to go when the economy gets bad,” said Charles Muehleck, who loaned Pittock Mansion most of the 65 paintings currently on display. “She was able to manage her way through it; she built six homes, mostly in barter and trade of her paintings.”

“(Barchus) overcame so many adversities,” said Paula Gangopadhyay, CEO of the nonprofit Pittock Mansion Society. “She not only became successful as an artist but she was also sustaining her family."

The exhibit is the first effort to come from Pittock 2.0, an initiative to bring more people inside the mansion.

“The response has been great,” said Gangopadhyay. “To quote one of our long-term volunteers, she says that she has lived in Oregon for 20 years and had no clue about Eliza Barchus and the story.”

Beside the art exhibit, Pittock Mansion is welcoming guests back to the gate lodge, which has been closed for more than three years due to COVID-19. The 2,000 square-foot property is where the Pittock Mansion estate keeper and his family lived.

“They tell the intra-connected story of the mansion and everyone who contributed,” said Gangopadhyay.

"Eliza Barchus: A Woman of Resilience" runs through February 11.

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