COAST

Farewell to a free spirit

Newport's Juergen Eckstein -- painter, sculptor, traveler, and community presence -- died Oct. 31 following a stroke

My first encounter with Juergen Eckstein came not long after I moved to the Coast. I was attempting to learn the art of pottery at a little do-it-yourself pottery shop in Nye Beach. Most of us were making rudimentary bowls or mugs or whatever was the latest trend in Pottery 101. In strolled Eckstein, balancing a large piece of plywood with a handful of ceramic faces gazing skyward. Even unfinished, those faces had a soulfulness that made them seem more than art.

Juergen Eckstein carved “Absence of Emptiness” out of a 16-foot chunk of redwood that had washed up on the beach years previously.  He worked on the sculpture from 2007 to 2012, when it was dedicated outside the Newport Visual Arts Center.  Photo by: Karen Pate
Juergen Eckstein carved “Absence of Emptiness” out of a 16-foot chunk of redwood that had washed up on the beach years previously. He worked on the sculpture from 2007 to 2012, when it was dedicated outside the Newport Visual Arts Center. Photo by: Karen Pate

Eckstein died Oct. 31 due to complications following a stroke. He was 77. His death has shadowed the Newport community accustomed to seeing him and his work around town — the driftwood sculptures outside the Performing Arts Center and Visual Arts Center, the paintings in shops and restaurants, the various pieces at For Artsake, the local artist co-op he co-founded. He’ll be remembered for his art, but equally so for the way he lived.

The German native liked beer, was passionate about the environment, eschewed medicine, and traveled the world with his family. He settled with his wife, Dianne, in Newport in 2000.

“I think he was just a really free spirit,” said Cynthia Jacobi, friend and fellow artist. “He always liked to say he was an unschooled autodidact. He had a unique way of looking at things.”

Jacobi isn’t sure when she met Eckstein, only that he’s one of those friends who seems to have always been part of her life. She does recall when she first got to know him. In 2004, Eckstein launched The Yellow Umbrella Project.

Juergen Eckstein invited all of Newport to join “The Yellow Umbrella Project” in 2004. “First individuals, forming trickles as others join creating streams of yellow umbrellas as they move closer towards the center of Nye Beach where they gather as a sea of yellow,” he wrote on his website. Photo courtesy: Gary Lahman
In 2004, Juergen Eckstein invited all of Newport to join “The Yellow Umbrella Project,” to create what he described as “streams of yellow umbrellas as they move closer towards the center of Nye Beach where they gather as a sea of yellow.” Photo courtesy: Gary Lahman

“Juergen’s idea was that people would get yellow umbrellas and start walking from wherever they lived or different places in Nye Beach and meet on the beach at a certain  time. And if you were looking from above, you would see all these rays of yellow all converging onto Nye Beach. All these people … just went to the beach with their umbrellas and said hello and went home. Everybody loved it.”

So much so, they urged Eckstein to make it an annual tradition.

“He said, ‘I only do things once. I don’t repeat,’” Jacobi recalled.

In 2013, Eckstein drove with friends to Burning Man, a temporary city dedicated to art and community that sets up annually in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. He took with him a 20-foot sculpture dubbed the Wolkenkuckkucksheim. In a feature in the Newport News-Times, Eckstein described Wolkenkuckkucksheim variously as “a place in the clouds where you feel at home, or it can refer to a place in the clouds where the world is at peace, or it can mean a man has his head in the clouds, meaning he’s a little bit nuts.”

Eckstein was also a painter, mixing paints from his own recipe, including gold flake, and painting with a small brush, Jacobi said.

Continues…

‘Their art is my work now’

Jennifer DeCarlo, owner of a new gallery at Salishan, talks about transitioning from artist to art dealer, the rise of art fairs, and the place of visual art

Art dealer Jennifer DeCarlo hadn’t planned to move to the Oregon Coast, but when a job in the hospitality industry beckoned her husband north from California, DeCarlo packed up her gallery in San Diego and moved with him. She’s opened a new gallery specializing in photography, jdc Fine Art, in the Marketplace at Salishan. DeCarlo calls it an “offbeat spot” for art, but not without its unique merits — sort of like the “Hamptons of the Pacific Northwest,” she said. I talked with DeCarlo about art, her move, and her future in Gleneden Beach.

How difficult is it to move an art gallery?

DeCarlo: I’ve owned a gallery for about 10 years and have worked in Chicago and San Diego.  No doubt it is challenging to uproot, especially considering how the typical gallery model is anchored to place. I’m trying to see the positives and benefits of these family moves.  With the advent of the internet and rise of art fairs, the desire of reaching everyone, everywhere has never been more true, or more difficult.  There is so much intangibility and noise, contact without connection.

Though atypical, I’m trying to see our transience more like ephemerality. Here or there, I’m always working, and these moves put me in a unique position to make more connections and more discoveries.  I have the unique opportunity to engage new communities in meaningful ways, find new patrons and artists, and carry and cross-pollinate contacts. 

Jennifer DeCarlo launches jdc Fine Art in San Diego in 2011.  She recently moved her gallery, dedicated to content-driven contemporary art by photographers, to the Marketplace at Salishan. Photo courtesy: Jennifer DeCarlo
Jennifer DeCarlo launched jdc Fine Art in San Diego in 2011. She recently moved her gallery, dedicated to content-driven contemporary art by photographers, to the Marketplace at Salishan. Photo courtesy: Jennifer DeCarlo

What led you to a career as an art dealer?

I am trained as an artist. When I got out of grad school, I started working at an art gallery and really liked the work. I realized the work by the artists represented in the gallery was better than mine. This was better suited to my skill set, so I decided, I’m going to be an art dealer. You get to be creative; you get to work with the artists and their ideas. You get to help shape the ideas and explore the ideas with them.

Do you still create your own art?

No, I don’t. Their art is my work now. I get to help them position it. I get to help them frame it. Visual art is the first language I understood. Visual language. That’s what I mean, too, when I say being an art dealer brings all of my skills together. I am dyslexic. It was hard for me to learn language. It’s very tricky. Written language is weird. It reduces things. Visual language is very palpable, emotional, immediate. It hits you and you think about it. I like the ability to have this long looking with people. Look at things, think about them together.

Continues…

Calendar: Coasting through the slow season

It's quiet at the beach, but there's still plays to watch, photos to see, poetry to hear, and banners to bid on

It’s the slow season on the Oregon Coast, that time between summer crowds and holiday madness, but enough is happening to provide an excuse to get out of the house.

In Newport, it’s time for the Nye Beach Banner Auction. Many of the 43 artists involved in creating this year’s banners chose to honor Newport’s sister city, Mombetsu, Japan.

Rowan Lehrman, who contributed this banner to last year’s Nye Beach Banner Project, is one of 43 artists participating in this year’s auction.

“It is an honor to create a banner for your enjoyment,” writes Rhona Chase in her catalog statement. “This year’s Sister City theme inspired me to discover the similarities between Newport, Oregon, and Mombetsu, Japan — both port towns that pride themselves on a crab-based economy.”

For the first time, pre-auction bidding will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 9 and 10. The auction, with musical entertainment, happens 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Newport Visual Arts Center; bidding closes at 7 p.m.

The 11-year-old Nye Beach Banner Project celebrates local artists, beautifies the community, and raises money to support youth arts education and public art through the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.

“Walking around the narrow streets of Nye Beach in Newport, it’s hard not to notice the creativity of area residents — banners hang from light posts like beckoning sentries, inviting residents and tourists alike to watch for the next piece of original artwork at the next street corner,” Tom Webb, director of the Visual Arts Center, said in a press release. “We encourage the community to attend the banner auction and support their efforts.”

The auction is free and open to the public.

ALSO AT THE VISUAL ARTS CENTER, the  Oregon Coast Council for the Arts presents Drawing in the Northern Light, an exhibition of photographs and poems by Joseph Ohmann-Krause, in the Upstairs Gallery through Dec. 28. An opening reception will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 7, with an artist talk at 3:30 p.m.

The traveling exhibition comes from The Little Gallery at Oregon State University. According to the exhibit catalog, the images and poems are inspired by Vilhelm Hammershøi  (1864-1916), a Danish Symbolist painter who painted in the northern light.

Joseph Ohmann-Krause's photographs and poetry, inspired by Danish Symbolist painter Vilhelm Hammershøi, are in the Upstairs Gallery of the Newport Visual Arts Center.
Joseph Ohmann-Krause’s photographs and poetry, inspired by Danish Symbolist painter Vilhelm Hammershøi, are in the Upstairs Gallery of the Newport Visual Arts Center.

Ohmann-Krause, professor of French at OSU, first came upon Hammershøi’s work in 2015 through a catalog of the artist’s paintings. “The term northern light is used here less in geographic or cartographic terms, and more as an aesthetic or visual compass needle,” writes Ohmann-Krause. “The north is less a reference to the polar star than it is to a protection against the direct sun, le plein sud in French, a warm attractive light much favored by Matisse or D.H. Lawrence, or several generations of painters and writers who, in the early 20th century, were drawn southward to the Mediterranean, to colonial Africa or to Mexico in search of more radiance. The northern mists of romantic nationalism had long hidden the industrial squalor that it contained.”

Continues…

‘Dinosaurs are the gateway drug to science’

Fossil fanatics Ray Troll and Kirk Johnson will visit Salishan Resort to talk about their latest book, "Cruisin' the Fossil Coastline"

Like many, I always associated Ketchikan-based artist Ray Troll with the crazy T-shirts sporting colorful fish or other wildlife and lines like “Ain’t No Nookie Like Chinookie” or “There’s No Ho Like Coho.” Troll’s art — irreverent, funny, sometimes dark — is an icon of Alaska, and likewise big, bold, and unique.

What I didn’t know was that as much as Troll is known for his wildlife and Alaskan-lifestyle art, he’s also equally well known — at least by some — for his love of fossils.

“It’s a lifelong thing,” Troll told me when we talked by phone this week. “I’ve been drawing dinosaurs since I was 4 years old. People know me for my fishing T-shirts, but my love of prehistoric things has been lifelong. Dinosaurs are the gateway drug to science. I was an early paleo enthusiast. I was using crayons; I still use crayons, but they are professional.”

Paleontologist Kirk R. Johnson (left) and artist Ray Troll have collaborated on a second fossil-filled book, "Cruisin' the Fossil Coastline."  Art by: Ray Troll
Paleontologist Kirk Johnson (left) and artist Ray Troll have collaborated on a second fossil-filled book, “Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline.” Illustrations by: Ray Troll

Troll and fellow fossil expert Kirk Johnson are bringing their latest book, Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline, to the Oregon Coast. The pair will give a free talk and sign books Nov. 13 at Salishan Resort in Gleneden Beach. The talk is presented by the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, where Troll and Johnson, a paleontologist and director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, collaborated on the book, a sequel to Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway. The project took them nearly 10 years to complete, earning them a Guggenheim Fellowship and taking them from San Diego to the northern reaches of Alaska.

“He’s the word guy,” Troll said of Johnson. “I’m the picture guy.”

Continues…

Artists talking to artists

The inaugural Clatsop County Arts Summit will cover everything from lease-to-own art to copyright law

We bought our first “major” piece of art from a little gallery in Belize. It was an oil of a favorite stretch of beach where the hubs and I had taken to spending a few weeks every winter. It was a large painting, and we decided it would go over our bed in place of a headboard. Carefully, carefully, we packed the canvas home, then dropped it at the local frame shop to be mounted. Home, we headed to the bedroom to hang the piece, eager for this finishing touch that would complete our master bedroom.

“It’s too big,” my husband announced.

I looked on from the foot of the bed, nodding grimly. What the hell had we been thinking?

Fortunately, there were a few other spaces it would fit, and the painting found a home on our living room wall. But the lesson hasn’t left me, and now as I ponder a piece that we recently fell for, I can’t escape the doubts. What if?

Astoria artist Dave Ambrose will talk about how artists can use a lease-to-own program to get art into the hand of would-be customers during the Clatsop County Arts Summit next month. Photo courtesy: Dave Ambrose
During the Clatsop County Arts Summit next month, Astoria artist Dave Ambrose will talk about how artists can use a lease-to-own program to get art into the hands of would-be customers. Photo courtesy: Dave Ambrose

It’s a vibe Astoria artist Dave Ambrose picks up on all the time as would-be buyers peruse his work, wondering, will it or won’t work in my house? So Ambrose created his own lease-to-own program. He’ll share his tips on making that work next month at The Business of Art: Artists Teaching Artists, the inaugural Arts Summit hosted by the Arts Council of Clatsop County. The summit is designed both to promote arts in the county and to provide workshops and discussions to “educate, empower, and inspire professional artists.” It will run from 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. Admission is free.

“Art is so subjective,” Ambrose said. “When people come to visit on our studio tour, I can watch them walk around the house and then they stop and look at a painting and they look at it and look at it, and I know they’ve connected. I say, you know you can take it home for $10 a month and see how it looks. I don’t have white walls, and background colors make art look completely different. You have to get it home and look at it. About 50 percent of the time they take it home, come back, and pay me in full.”

Continues…

Coast calendar: Calling all artists, and arts lovers

Lincoln City seeks new public art; Sitka Center holds a fundraiser; Floyd Skloot reads from his new book; and Cannon Beach celebrates stormy weather

If you’ve ever driven through Lincoln City on a summer day, it will come as no surprise that every year 8.8 million vehicles travel that stretch of U.S. 101. While that may be discouraging news if you’re sitting in traffic, it’s no doubt heartening to artists who’d like their roadside work to be seen. That the opportunity to do so comes with a commission of up to $120,000 only sweetens the prize.

Lincoln City’s roster of public art includes the Community Center’s swimming tile mural by Ted and Judith Schlicting. The city is seeking proposals from artists to craft a piece for the new Cultural Plaza.
Lincoln City’s roster of public art includes the Community Center’s tile mural by Ted and Judith Schlicting. The city is seeking proposals from artists to craft a piece for the new Cultural Plaza.

Lincoln City is offering one artist the chance to craft the first major piece of art to be installed in the new Lincoln City Cultural Plaza. But don’t spend too much time thinking about it. The deadline for proposals is Nov. 1. Get your request for qualifications (RFQ) here.  

Continues…

Spotlight shines on movies made in Oregon

Lincoln City's Bijou Theatre hosts the six-day Oregon-Made Film Festival with a dozen feature films, plus shorts and documentaries

Movie buffs learning that the Oregon-Made Film Festival is coming to Lincoln City’s historic Bijou Theatre will no doubt expect to see films such as The Goonies, Sometimes a Great Notion, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. And they will. What they might not expect is the handful of films they’ve probably never heard of and just as likely won’t soon forget.

The film festival will showcase about a dozen Oregon-made feature films, as well as shorts and documentaries, over six days beginning Oct. 25. I talked with Betsy Altomare, co-owner with husband, Keith, of the Bijou, about the festival. Her responses have been edited for length and clarity.

What inspired the Oregon-Made Film Festival?

Altomare: In about 2011, we did it during spring break because there were a lot of really cool movies made in this area, like Sometimes a Great Notion. (People want to see that all the time. Every month or so, someone says, “When are you going to play Sometimes a Great Notion?”) But we only did that in the mornings and just five movies. It was mostly popular with retired people who aren’t working during the week. For The Goonies and Free Willy, of course, we had families. But the films weren’t terribly well attended.

We hope doing a whole week with an Oregon-made film at every show time will change that. We’re going in different directions, too. We’re showing  short films, documentaries, and stories that deserve to be seen. The festival will also feature introductions from directors, as well as other movie experts.  
 

The cast of 1971’s “Sometimes a Great Notion,” based on Ken Kesey’s novel, included (from left) Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Lee Remick and Richard Jaeckel as members of the Stampher family. It plays Oct. 25 during the Oregon-Made Film Festival.
The cast of 1971’s “Sometimes a Great Notion,” based on Ken Kesey’s novel, includes (from left) Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Lee Remick, and Richard Jaeckel as members of the Stamper family. It plays Oct. 25 during the Oregon-Made Film Festival.

What were the criteria for choosing the movies?

Partially popularity and partially for information. We chose two documentaries by Salem’s Darrell Jabin. One is the History of Oregon Carousels and the other, the History of Oregon Movie Theatres. We have the silent film The General, made in 1926 in Cottage Grove with Buster Keaton. That’s always popular. Oregon film expert Dean Ingram will be on hand to introduce that. We’re also doing these shorts from the Wandering Reel Traveling Film Festival. Curator Michael Harrington does some really interesting shorts. He will be there to do the introduction.

Continues…