Ever since arriving at George Fox University to teach art seven years ago the art department every fall has had a wonderful retreat of sixty of us on the Oregon Coast at a place called “Sea Krest.” Agate Beach just north of the city of Newport has been a place of refreshment and reflection for us every year.
Sea Krest has always struck me as a unique place with lots of character and charm. Beautiful wood walls, a lovely large fireplace, interesting hinges and hardware on the doors and cabinets, and panoramic views of the ocean have always lent to the feeling of coming up for air that the location has provided. I have learned as of late what or whose legacy that “feeling” may also be about.
As of the last four years or so, it has come to our attention that Salem First Baptist that owns the property is going to sell it (though it’s not currently on the market). Every year with sadness we say goodbye to the Sea Krest wondering if this time will be our last there.
Last week I was at the Newport Visual Art Center talking with Sally Houck the director there about my upcoming exhibit in June with them. I mentioned how every year the art department comes out and stays at a retreat center on Agate Beach. She said “The one run by the Salem First Baptist? That’s the Bloch House! He’s a famous composer that lived there from 1941 until his death in 1959 (his wife would live there till 1963 when it was sold to the church).”
It seems the Bloch Foundation for the past years has been trying to raise funds to purchase the estate so they can get the house historical status and make it into a possible visitor/retreat/cultural center. Suddenly it made sense why every year the church told us that it may be sold in the next year. They are waiting for the foundation to raise the funds.
Although originally from Europe, and having lived in New York, some of Ernest Bloch’s most famous pieces were written during the years he lived in this home.
So…. “Thank you Ernest Bloch for letting us have a retreat in your house! It has been wonderful and quite a place of refreshment for all of us and our art endeavors. In an odd way I think your legacy in the arts may continue in ways that you may not imagine as you have created a place that is an inspirational refuge and influence for many artists to come.”
For more information about Ernest Bloch, here is a link to the foundation’s website: http://www.ernestbloch.org/
As well as a link to an Oregon Art Beat that featured his story: http://watch.thirteen.org/video/1480949596/