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Randy Stender

"I was artistic as a kid," says stockbroker Randy Stender, local arts activist and a founder of the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA). "My creativity in recent years has been creating venues for public art." After high school in the Bay Area, Stender came north for degrees in business and history from Lewis and Clark. He spent a year in Europe, then returned to Portland, where he began a 27-year (so far) career at Merrill Lynch, and met his wife Susanne. Four years later they moved to Eugene. In the early 90s, Stender and Dottie Chase founded the Gallery at the Airport, now in it's 14th year. "I wanted to support visual arts," he notes. Ten years later, Mayor Jim Torrey asked him and others to look at the old Sears Building as a possible art center. "Too big and too ugly," they reported. Instead, they expanded their group and launched DIVA three years ago in offices vacated by the Oregon Festival of American Music. "We just had to slap some paint on the walls. It's perfect for what we had in mind," says Stender. "We've had 12,000 visitors and shown 200 artists in the last year."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 22 November 2006

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