Art retreat draws group to former school

DUNBAR – An art class in a school room might not be a big deal. An art retreat in a school building that hasn’t been utilized as a school since 1989 is noteworthy.

Sherry Goshon, who lives in the former school with her husband Jeff, is hosting an artists’ retreat this weekend with Jean Bernard of Reno, Nev. A total of 15 guests from all over the country have arrived at the retreat in Dunbar, an unincorporated town between Le Grand and Gilman.

This weekend’s doll art workshop using mixed media art drew people from Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, Massachusetts and across Iowa.

“We come not just for the art itself, but we come for the friendships,” said Judi Rutstein, of Melbourne, Fla. “I think it’s exciting.”

Goshon and Bernard are established artists who promote their retreats through the Internet and word of mouth.

“We have several a year in different places and they are always at interesting places,” Goshon said.

Bernard said great work can come out of this kind of interaction between artists.

“The energy in here is electric,” Bernard said. “They are all sharing their experience which helps individually. That’s what a retreat is about.”

She said it also a free flowing weekend of creativity, where there is no structure.

“We have no rules,” Bernard said. “We give them a prototype and let their brains go on their way.”

The Goshons live in the former gym area at the school and renovated the lower classrooms into a retreat area. They hope to renovate the upper areas of the school as places for the artists to stay overnight in the future.