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By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Librarian shows off Mac art for TV crew

“Did you get everything?” Caughran asked videographer Tom Shrider when he returned to town to capture a few more shots.

Shrider, working in conjunction with host Katrina Sarson and executive producer Jessica Martin had already gotten most of what he needed for the airing, set for Oct. 22.

“Did you get the fox at the aquatic center?” Caughran asked, referring to the tribute to Kent Taylor, former city manager.

“What about the art at city hall? And the penguins. You shot the penguins, didn’t you?”

She noted three mobile sculptures of birds are about to be installed near the police station. Too bad they’re not up yet, she sighed.

“But you saw the gryphon?” Caughran asked, wanting to make sure nothing was left out. “You didn’t get that one? Aww ...”

Sarson and Martin said they were delighted to work with Caughran, who has dedicated her retirement years to advocating for art and helping maintain McMinnville’s Tree City USA status. Caughran was delighted in return, but not that amenable to talking on the air.

“We had to sneak her into it,” said Shrider, who is married to Caughran’s eldest daughter, Suzette, a retired Newberg school teacher.

The cameraman persuaded his mother-in-law to wear a microphone while he shot footage of the art. Then, as she enthused about one of her favorite pieces, he turned the camera toward her.

“Once she got going, she was great,” he said.

Caughran grumbled good-naturedly when she recalled that day.

“I didn’t think they were serious,” she said. “I just thought we were playing around. Being on camera is awful!”

She was eager to get started, though, when the Oregon Art Beat team returned to finish the opening and closing shots. She met the crew at the McMinnville Public Library, making sure to wear the same outfit she had for the earlier taping.

“How’d they put the mic on before?” sound engineer Bill Ward asked her.

“I don’t know,” Caughran said. “I wasn’t paying attention. I was just having fun.”

Shrider and Martin directed her to a spot in the library parking lot. They wanted the library sign visible over her shoulder.

“We didn’t think about that when we built this building,” she joked.

When Shrider was all set, Caughran looked directly into the lens. No longer was she reticent about being on camera.

“I worked at this wonderful building for 33 years,” she said.

Try it once more, the cameraman told her. “Be free spirited,” he said.

She took a deep breath. “I worked at this wonderful building for 33 years!” she exclaimed.

Caughran was head librarian when the gray portion of the building went up in 1982. She started out in the brick section, then a free-standing library. It was built in 1914 with a grant from the Carnegie Foundation.

Through most of her tenure, she lived on Park Drive, just across City Park from the library. It made for an easy commute, she said.

“We bought the house first,” she said. “A year later, I got hired at the library.”

She retired in 1993 and quickly turned to volunteer work. Livable Oregon soon named her state volunteer of the year for her myriad activities in the community.

She founded Trees for McMinnville and continues to be one of its main workers, planting saplings all over town and pulling ivy from around the trees on Third Street.

She continues working on the native plant garden at the library, as well. She started it before retiring.

Caughran chaired the Millenium Party, at which local residents rang in 2000, and subseqent New Year’s Eve parties in the McMinnville Community Center.

She became a member of the McMinnville Downtown Association board. She joined its art committee, and used that position to advocate for everything from vintage street lights to concrete planters.

Soon, she could proudly point to dozens of pieces of public art, including one of her favorites, a young girl sitting atop a stack of books, reading. The bronze graces the Adams Street entrance to the library lot.

Other pieces near the library include a frog on a colorful lily pad, a modern take on books and a large, crouching bunny.

The bunny sculpture caught the Oregon Art Beat team’s attention when it was scouting locations near the library Aug. 5. The team decided to feature that sculpture and the park sign for Sarson’s opening sequence.

For the closing shot, they moved to a spot between the fountain and the giant Sequoia that once served as the city’s Christmas tree.

But the tree and fountain aren’t the focus of the closing sequence. That segment features a revelation about the relationship between Shrider and Caughran.

Shrider set up his camera and tripod as usual. Ward and Martin used their phones to record the sequence, as they planned to put everything together in the editing booth.

They laughed and joked, clearly enjoying themselves. But they were serious about their work as well.

They ran through the sequence again to get everything right, from the angles to the words.

And again. And again.

“This is abnormal,” Martin said about the multiple takes. “We never do it this way.”

And then they did it again.


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