News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Cha Rnacircle, June 18, 1944 – September 26, 2020

Cha Rnacircle passed away September 26, at her home in Sisters in the company of friends. She was 76 and, despite a cancer diagnosis six months ago, was active, creative, and engaged with her friends and in her business endeavors through it all.

Born Charmian Marie Mack on June 18, 1944 in Clovis, New Mexico, to Fred and Opal (Brown) Mack.

The family moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico when she was five. Cha spent most of her school years there. After graduation she finished beauty school and began work as a hairdresser while also attending Eastern New Mexico University.

She decided her real interest was in being an artist, so she left college and traveled to Mexico to study painting and learn silversmithing. But she found her passion in weaving and ended up studying in San Miguel de Allende and Instituto Allende. She became quite skilled and made many beautiful and creative pieces.

Cha returned to New Mexico, was married and gave birth to her daughter Klu. She worked at a gallery in Ruidosa and several other jobs to support her art habit and returned to ENMU to teach weaving.

In 1974, Cha and Klu moved to Anchorage, Alaska, and she became fascinated with carving in fossilized walrus ivory and ancient mammoth and whale bone. She worked as a bench carver for a wholesaler making carved items for the tourist market and learned the trade. She eventually went into retail, and with a partner Jeanne Ekemo, opened a gallery/gift shop in Anchorage “Forever in Ivory” featuring her creations.

She had gallery/gift shops in Wrangell and Ketchikan, Alaska, while her daughter was in high school. In 1988 they moved to Juneau and opened a gallery she continued to carve almost daily. She became well known for the beautiful faces she would carve into cross sections of fossilized walrus tusk and walrus teeth, which had been buried for hundreds or thousands of years and picked up the mineral colors from the earth. She had several gallery locations in Juneau for 22 years under the name of “Cha for the Finest.”

She moved to Texas in 2008 to care for her daughter who was in poor health and who passed in 2009. While there she discovered an interest in dinosaur fossils and they would go out exploring in the popular Glen Rose dinosaur fields. Next Cha relocated to Green Valley, Arizona, to be with her mother, where she opened a new gallery and also wrote a series of books of prehistoric fiction inspired by the ancient peoples and the artifacts found in Alaska. The series is called “Voice of the Ancients.”

In 2013 she moved to Sisters and opened a gallery here. Through good times and bad, through snowdrifts and fire smoke she persevered and loved being here and the friendliness of the community. The gallery closed in 2017 and she continued to sell online. She is preceded in death by her father, mother, and daughter. She is survived by her brother William of Green Valley, cousins, and lifelong friends in Texas, New Mexico, and Alaska. She found many new friends in Sisters and we miss her greatly.


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