825 NW Wade St
Estacada, OR 97023
Enola Egge — Reception and Exhibit
sponsored by the Estacada Area Arts Commission and Friends of the Estacada Library
Enola Egge: “Out of My Head”
Estacada resident and self-taught Cajun artist Enola Egge was born on a houseboat in Golden Meadow, Louisiana, on Bayou Lafourche, in the late 1920s, where her hunting-and-fishing-guide father, her homemaker mother and their large family of nine children lived.
Raised in Lafitte, Louisiana, Enola had a colorful childhood on Bayou Barataria, helping her father build pirogues, skiffs and fishing boats, roaming the swamps for edibles such as paw-paws, berries and blue crabs to bring home to her mother, catching turtles and muskrats to sell for spending money, hunting for alligators with her big brother, and trolling for shrimp with her family.
At age nine, she went to work at the local shrimp-processing factory. At 14, she served as hat-check girl at an illegal gambling casino “out in the boondocks,” she says, under the watchful and protective eyes of her uncle. “No one ever dared bother me!” she said.
Winning a jitterbug dance contest was a highlight of Enola’s teenage years. Her family was filled with musicians, and she’d been going to local dances with her cousins since she was small, accompanied, always, by hovering aunts. An excellent dancer and only 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 90 pounds, she was easy to lift and twirl and was light on her feet. The prize: $10.
A few years later, Enola became an elevator operator at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, singing to hotel patrons from floor to floor, and turned down a marriage proposal from a visiting Arab prince because she didn’t want to leave Louisiana.
She had a change of heart about leaving, at age 20, and headed for California and adventure. Marrying a firefighter, she settled on the Monterey Peninsula, where she reared their two children.
Enola moved to Oregon in the 1960s. She successively owned two small ranches, raising cattle and other livestock, and opened a popular Oregon coast restaurant, Enola’s Pie Kitchen, before retiring and taking up oil painting.
Working alla prima––wet-on-wet––Enola often mixes colors right on her canvases. She uses Winsor & Newton oils exclusively.
Although she became an artist late in life, Enola’s early experiences have informed her work, which has been described as “outsider art,” original and non-academic. Her oeuvre is immense and imaginative. Subjects of her oil paintings range from earthy to otherworldly––from swamp birds, fishing boats, and bayou scenes to ghosts, bizarre landscapes, and unearthly creatures.
As Enola says: “It’s all from out of my head.”