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James Cloutier

Artist and native-born Oregonian James Cloutier poses with the cartoon creatures in his newly-completed volunteer project, a mural that enlivens the outdoor play area at St Vinnie's First Place Family Shelter. The small figure on the left is Hugh Wetshoe, the soggy Oregon everyman popularized by Cloutier in his Orygone cartoon books. "Over 100,000 copies were sold," he notes. Following high school in Portland and two years in the navy, Cloutier first arrived in Eugene in 1958 to study art on a UO baseball scholarship. He fell in love with Africa on a summer trip to build classrooms in Ethiopia, then returned after graduation as a member of the first Peace Corps group in Kenya. "I used art a lot, illustrating brochures for farmers," he recalls. "It was a formative experience." Cloutier returned to the UO for an MFA, then made a splash in the 70s with his "Oregon Ungreeting Cards." He founded Image West Press in the 80s to print the Orygone books. In 2004 he updated his 1985 cartoon map of Eugene, incorporating 300 local businesses. "The original had 75," he says. "It easily took six months longer than I expected."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 5 January 2006

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