The Palouse — that immense, wheat-growing region of eastern Washington and western Idaho — may not be considered a place for art so much as a place for growing things. But don’t tell the artisans whose work is displayed at Artisans of the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown, Washington, along Highway 195. Inside this historic structure reside treasures for sale by local artists — treasures like photographs of canola fields, scented candles, hand-knit baby items, turned wood bowls, and any number of unique artistic endeavors. But Dahmen Barn is also a home — a home for artists who work in studio spaces carved out of the renovated interior. A home where those who find beauty in the area can teach, exhibit their wares, and answer questions from tourists like us. (Photographs of the interior of the barn and the art are not permitted. But take it from us — they’re well worth seeing!)
Frank Wolfe built the barn in the 1930s for Jack Dahmen to be used as a commercial dairy, but Jack sold it in 1952 to his nephew Steve Dahmen and wife Junette. It was Steve who began the construction of the now-famous wheel fence. Over 1000 rusting, quirky wheels and spokes form the fence that has become a haven for photographers. You can see photos of this folksy, farm artistry in numerous publications such as National Geographic.
Because both Steve and Junette were artisans in their own right, they donated the barn to the community in 2004 to be used as artists’ studios. Throughout the long process of restoration, the barn was cleaned, gutted, stabilized, and then outfitted with new flooring and interior timber frame support. Last came the additional modern necessities — heat, restrooms, etc. (Click here to read about the barn’s extensive transformation.) Today, the Dahmen Barn is a tribute to the donors and visionaries of Uniontown as well as to the artisans who fill it with both fine art and folk art of the area.
Other notables at the site include a red barn bearing a quilt pattern and a folk art cow made of gathered metal parts gazing at the passing cars. But it was the juxtaposition of the weathered, rusting wheels on that long, meandering fence that made us take cameras in hand and snap away.
If you want to visit Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, be mindful of the hours. The barn is open Thursdays through Sunday only from 10 AM to 6 PM with early closure at 4 PM during January and February. No admission fee. Be sure to bring your camera. You don’t want to miss this piece of Americana on the Palouse!
Artisans at the Dahmen Barn
419 N. Park Way P. O. Box 36 Uniontown, WA 99179 509-229-3414 www. ArtisanBarn.org Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DahmenBarn?ref=br_tf My Pinterest board — Barns, Farms, and Country Things: http://www.pinterest.com/rushasams/barns-farms-and-country-things/ If you want to see more of our travels throughout the Inland Northwest, click on the page at the top of this blog: Inland Northwest. Thanks for traveling with us!