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Germaine Bennett

Germaine Bennett
Photo by Paul Neevel.

“I grew up surrounded by bars,” says Germaine Bennett, who was raised in Hurley, a small town in northern Wisconsin notorious for its raucous nightlife and prostitution ever since lumber and mining boom eras in the 1800s. Every summer in high school, and later in college when her family had moved to Oregon and she was at the UO, Bennett returned to Wisconsin as head waitress at the Dairymen’s Country Club, a private lakeside resort. “I was self-sufficient,” she says. “I earned money for college, had good sense and didn’t get pregnant.” She was president of several student groups at the UO, and went on to grad school at the UO, UNC and UC-Berkeley, where she earned a master’s in education. She taught for a year at Napa College, then returned to Eugene, married Allen Bennett in 1961 and taught high school part-time while raising three children. “I’ve been active in Democratic politics all that time,” says Bennett, who also took art classes at the UO and LCC, had exhibits and got serious about printmaking. In the early ’90s, she and her parents returned to Hurley for a visit. “Many taverns had burned down, except for Nora’s Bar,” she reports. “Nora was still there and she greeted my dad.” For 20 years, Bennett has made Nora’s Bar and its imagined debauchery the subject matter of many prints. See them in July at the Schrager and Clarke Gallery, 760 Willamette.