There are many reasons why someone creates art – whether it be therapy, or stress relief, or just pure passion. When someone has that passion and the talent to match, it is a gift to all of us who see those creations. This is undisputed for an eclectic artist, David “Ringo” Wonnacott of Columbia River Correctional Institution. His portraits and murals can be found throughout the facility with everything from movie characters to scenes of nature, and even portraits of employee’s own furry friends. It all began for Wonnacott when he was a tattoo artist.
“I never spent much time as a kid doodling or coloring, it wasn’t until later that it interested me. I didn’t learn how to paint or draw or have any instruction, but I just knew I wanted to be a tattoo artist,” says Wonnacott. He was originally drawn to tattooing because of its representation of being taboo and grimy. Prior to tattooing becoming mainstream, it was stereotypically just bikers, criminals, the punk rock scene, and bad girls who would wear them. “The first tattoo I ever did was a rose, free handed, it just came naturally, and the money was good. I just knew it was for me,” he stated.
Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) is extremely proud of its relationship with the Multnomah County Library and The Library Foundation, which recently donated $9,000 worth of books to CRCI and Inverness Jail. The grant money is from the Every Child Initiative and was used to fund classes at CRCI such as “A Book is a Bridge.”
Pandemic restrictions in 2020 did not allow for volunteers to provide such classes, so the grant money could not be spent on books and supplies for the programs. However, the Library Foundation had to put the remaining grant money to good use, so it was decided 50 percent of the remaining funds will be used to supplement and replenish the institution’s General Library and 50 percent will go towards children’s books.
When visiting resumes, a table will be set up filled with children’s books and each child will be able to select a book to take home with them.
On April 24, 14 adults in custody (AICs) walked in Columbia River Correctional Institution’s (CRCI) spring GED graduation ceremony. Chief of Security and Interim Superintendent Joe DeCamp spoke to the graduates. CRCI has graduated 30 GED students this year so far, which is a fantastic accomplishment considering it’s one of Oregon’s smaller facilities.