By Luc Hoekstra – Campus Editor
Archer Gallery hosted a posthumous birthday party for gallery namesake Jim Archer on the evening of what would have been his 76th birthday, April 20, with ten featured speakers.
Archer Gallery director Senseney Stokes said she wanted to have a celebration for Archer at the gallery since his death on Nov 28, 2017. Stokes said Archer’s family hosted his memorial at Holladay Park Plaza, his retirement community in Portland.
Archer’s niece Katie Archer Jolma provided bottles of white and red wine and was a featured speaker who shared what she said were unique experiences as part of Archer’s family.
“He helped me see how much larger the world could be,” Archer Jolma said.
Archer’s colleagues spoke at the event about his passion for his students and special focus on minority students. Former Clark instructor Kathy Bobula said Archer helped create the first queer club at Clark in the ‘90s, known then as the Gay and Lesbian Penguins.
Charles Froelick of Froelick Gallery in Portland spoke about his experiences in the local art world with Archer, who promoted and supported minority artists. “Even as he lost his vision, art was important to him,” Froelick said. He said Archer would go to art shows and have the artists verbally describe their art to him.
Archer’s former coworkers Marjorie Hirsch and Carson Legree read a letter from Seattle artist Greg Kucera recounting Archer’s “slow, torturous decline” from AIDS.
“AIDS is not gone,” Kucera wrote. “It’s just slowing down its assault as the scientific and medical communities beat back at it.”
Kucera wrote that both he and Archer were lucky to live long enough to receive “the cocktails of drugs that came into practice in the middle of 1996 … There was a time when, encountering each other in the middle 1990s, we were like two skeletons hugging each other in some hope of holding onto life itself.”
When Clark College President Bob Knight opened the sequence of speakers at 7:30 p.m., he introduced the legislative representative of the Washington’s 49th district, Monica Stonier. Stonier spoke about why Jim Archer and Archer Gallery are important to local art education and why art education is important.
“What an amazing teacher,” Stonier said of Archer. She said he brought out curiosity, wonder and passion in students and believed in them.
After the program of speakers, attendees sang “Happy Birthday” and returned to the lobby for desserts and wine. Stokes displayed two large photos of Archer.
Stokes said though the event went well, she doesn’t think she will have the same kind of party next year and that this event was specifically intended to address Archer’s death.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally erroneously identified Jim Archer as the founder of Archer Gallery.