Unicorn auction benefits ROSE

Find out why the family of a ROSE Community Development Corp. founding board member chose to put part of his estate – about 10,000 items – up for sale, to benefit that community housing organization …

After Jim Barrett passed away, his children, Flo and Rusty Barrett, say they decided to sell off his substantial collection of unicorn art items to help fulfill the mission of the organization he helped create.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The late afternoon sun was setting shelves of crystal unicorn statuettes ablaze with sparkling light. But, people who were dazzled and entranced by these figurines didn’t come just to view the collection.

Lents Commons was packed on October 15, as folks from far and wide came to purchase items from perhaps the largest collection of unicorn-themed artwork ever assembled in the Pacific Northwest.

The unicorn crystal figurines and decorative items were from the estate of Jim Barrett, a long-time outer East Portland neighborhood activist, who was best known as a founder of ROSE Community Development Corp.

Patron Lucky Sheeley looks delighted with a unicorn-motif porcelain box she is considering buying.

Nancy Chapin, who heads TSG (The Support Group), says she’s amazed by the wide variety of unicorn-decorated items at the estate sale.

“As the son of Jim and Sally Barrett,” explained Rusty Barrett, “my sister and I decided to sell my dad’s unicorn collection.”

It started with his mom, Barrett said. “Some people fancy owls, chickens, or ducks. My mom fancied collecting unicorns. My father, Jim, kept collecting them for 14 years after her death, until his own passing.”

In all, approximately 10,000 individual pieces were put up for sale, he said. “My father was community-service-minded at all of his life. We are selling the unicorn collection to raise money for Rose CDC – my father and my mother helped to found it.”

Shoppers find good values at this sale of unique art items.

ROSE CDC Executive Director Nick Sauvie had two words to describe the event: “Really amazing.”

Telling about their relationship, Sauvie continued, “I met Jim at Southeast Uplift when I was working as a community organizer with other Southeast neighborhoods. Jim was President of the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association. There were a group of us who got together. We wanted to do something about all of the rundown housing in the neighborhood.”

Barrett was on the ROSE board, and served as its President, Sauvie added. “It’s great to see the community-building and the positive changes in the neighborhood that have happened over the last 25 years. Jim deserves a lot of credit for that. It is just the way Jim was: When there was something to do, he would step up and do his part.”

This Waterford crystal unicorn is one of the many items up for sale, with the proceeds dedicated to help fulfill the mission of ROSE CDC.

Inexpensive items sold quickly; some of the more valuable unicorn art stayed on sale at Lents Commons and at the ROSE CDC office; the final value of the estate sale has not yet been established.

> To learn more about ROSE CDC, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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