VISUAL ART

Gearhart’s secret little jewel for artists

Since 1950, the Trail's End Art Association -- the oldest of its kind on the north coast -- has offered artists a place for camaraderie and confidence

Susan Bish remembers well the first time she set foot in Gearhart’s Trail’s End Art Association gallery.

Painter Susan Bish says she was not much of a joiner when she first heard about the Trail’s End Art Association more than 30 years ago, but today, the former association president says she’s glad she took the plunge. “In the Dunes,” by Susan Bish

It was the mid ‘80s. Bish had learned of the gallery and studio from association members she met at the Astoria swimming pool. In her high school and college years, Bish, now 82, was an avid painter, but over the years, she had left the medium as she became more involved in the theater, married, and raised a family. She was intrigued about the association, but as she told her friend, “I’m not much of a joiner.”

So her friend offered to pay half of Bish’s membership — $20 at the time — and Bish signed on. She was excited about the idea of getting back into painting and sharing the camaraderie of other artists. But she would soon second-guess herself.

“I remember the first time I walked into the building,” she said. “I was a little turned off. It was all these little old ladies who painted rocks. I thought, oh my god, this is pretty bad.”

The association’s studio and gallery, at 656 A St., is in a former school built around 1905. Photo by: Lori Tobias

She stuck around anyway, eventually becoming association president.

“It’s changed greatly over the years and it’s all for the good,” Bish said. “It’s a fantastic organization and I’m glad I joined when I did.”

This month, as the 68-year-old association prepares for its annual Holiday Fest, it also celebrates its status as the oldest art association/co-op of its kind on the north coast. Besides providing studio and gallery space for members, it offers classes and workshops open to the public.

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Here is not there

In Transit: From Home to Where at Blue Sky Gallery

by RACHEL ROSENFIELD LAFO

Immigration is a hot topic these days, not only politically but also in the cultural sector as artists respond to a growing humanitarian crisis. The traveling exhibition In Transit at Blue Sky Gallery through December 30 confronts this timely and difficult topic through photographs and videos of migrants and refugees in the Middle East and Europe who have been forced to leave their homes due to war, political upheavals, economic deprivation, and strife. While the situation in each country varies and each migrant experiences a different set of circumstances, there is a commonality to their existence in a state of transition, with little security or recourse.

The five artists selected by curator Peggy Sue Amison have worked with immigrants in Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Italy, and Germany, providing a window into the lives of people who endure in constant states of uncertainty, loss, sorrow, fear and frustration. By collaborating with their subjects over a period of time, sometimes years, and giving them a voice, the artists restore dignity to those often seen only as interlopers or victims rather than individuals.

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Resilience and Strength in Glass

Not Fragile at the Center for Contemporary Native Art at the Portland Art Museum

by STEPHANIE LITTLEBIRD

The history and human heritage associated with glass working is a lengthy one. Boasting over 3,600 years of documented evolution as an art form, glass is something we rarely think about due to its ubiquitous nature. However, it is a material integral to everyday life. From the windows in your home and car to the lightbulb above your head, glass is, quite literally, everywhere. As an art form it is associated with fragility or vulnerability. But, glass is remarkable because it can only be manipulated with temperatures at or above 2,800 degrees fahrenheit. As such, it is a material that requires strength, respect, and adaptability.

Not Fragile at the Center for Contemporary Native Art at the Portland Art Museum is a unique collection of glass works created by some of the Pacific Northwest’s premier Native artists, including Joe Feddersen, Dan Friday, Lillian Pitt, and Brittany Britton. The Center for Contemporary Native Art serves as a dedicated gallery showcasing the perspectives of working Indigenous artists. Not Fragile is currently on display through June 9th, 2019.

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Coos Bay’s Everybody Biennial

The Coos Art Museum's big biennial of Oregon art is a come-one come-all affair, with no gatekeepers. How's that work? You'd be surprised.

COOS BAY – What if they gave a Biennial and invited everyone to join in?

That’s not, of course, the way biennial art shows ordinarily work. From Venice to São Paulo to Shanghai to Sydney to Istanbul to Havana to Berlin to the Whitney in New York, biennials tend to be ambitious, careerist, elbow-throwing affairs, intent on one-upping the art world with the biggest names, the newest trends, the deepest scent of money, and the even deeper desire to shape the next chapter in the shifting story of global contemporary art. Competition is fierce, and acceptance into one of the big-name biennials can make an artist’s career.

Coos Art Museum’s Biennial 2018. In the center: Alan Bartl’s funkified bike trailer “Pork Slider.” Photo: Laura Grimes

Or you could just invite any and all artists in the state of Oregon to drop by with up to three works, and then fit them all onto your museum’s walls. That’s the way it works at the Coos Art Museum on the southern Oregon coast, where since the 1990s a “come one, come all” approach to its biennial has prevailed and, perhaps astonishingly, largely succeeded. In a way, it can’t get more daring. The show has no gatekeepers. Museum officials don’t know who or what’s going to walk in the door. You trust that it’ll be good, or at least not embarrassing. And what you get, you show. If ever there was a People’s Biennial, a purely democratic approach to the state of the art, this is it.

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The ultimate gift for your family

Upcoming Coast events include a workshop on writing your own obituary, as well as "It’s a Wonderful Life," Irish fiddler Kevin Carr, and the Gearhart Art Walk

Aging and dying may not usually be considered art, but you could argue that aging well – and perhaps dying, too — calls for a creative touch. And there’s no doubt that writing an obituary — at least an engaging, memorable obituary — is clearly an art. That’s the topic Wednesday afternoon at Manzanita’s Hoffman Center for the Arts in the ongoing The Art of Aging & Dying series.

Writer Kathie Hightower will lead the two-hour workshop beginning at 3 p.m. Nov. 14. Like many of us, Hightower likes to read obits.

Writer Kathie Hightower will teach a workshop on obit writing in Manzanita.

“No, not to be morbid, but as an honoring and out of curiosity,” Hightower said in a press release, which continues: “You know there is a wide variety. Many are pretty darn boring, just the facts in response to the template most funeral parlors ask you to fill in. Others capture the life and spirit of the individual, the true person who lived between the lines of roles like career, parenting, volunteer work. Which would you rather have represent you when you are gone? Boring or spirited?”

Hightower will share advice from professional obituary writers, as well as examples to inspire your own obit, and get you started writing it. It can be your gift to those who will write your obit when it’s time. (Or your way of ensuring it’s already done to your liking.)

“This exercise can be a true celebration of your life,” Hightower’s release adds. Participants should bring pen and paper or a laptop. They’ll leave with a start and questions to fill in additional details after the session, Hightower notes, as well as an assignment of choosing a favorite photo they’d want attached to their obit.

The Art of Aging & Dying series is held the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, alternating topics on aging and dying. The Nov. 28 program features a conversation on the humor and wisdom of spiritual teacher Ram Dass. Admission is $5. Check out future programs here.

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Visions of art and science

A collaboration between a painter and neuroscientist at Ford Gallery

By MALLORY PRATT

How do we understand what we see? Inquiring minds have been considering this question for millennia, ever since early Homo lineages started making marks on cave walls. With the rise of empirical science in the past two hundred years, art and science became separate disciplines, a trend Leonardo di Vinci definitely would not have understood.

Into A Study represents a decisive step toward reuniting these disciplines by asking the question “How does viewing art help us understand how we see?” This collaboration between Paul Rutz, a painter, and Amanda Hampton Wray, a neuroscientist, aims at nothing less than integrating scientific and artistic inquiry as seamlessly as possible. As with all joint ventures, the success of the project rests on a foundation built from long association, mutual respect and rigorous, thoughtful compromise.

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Nye Beach banners mark 10 years of flying their freak flag

The project, begun to address the Newport community's identity problem, nearly didn't get off the ground because of one controversial offering

Organizers can smile about it now, but 10 years ago, few involved in the fledgling Nye Beach Banner Project saw the humor. It all came down to one banner, the work of Rowan Lehrman. The front featured a topless woman painted in the style of bathing suit model Bettie Page, cavorting in the ocean waves, arm reaching up, ending not in a hand, but a crab claw. On the opposite side was the legend: “Nye Beach is 4 Freaks.”

Eileen Hearne created this banner, part of the “10 x 10” show, in 2015. All banners are 22-by-44-inch canvases. Photo by: Tom Webb, Newport Visual Arts Center

“I wanted to make a statement on inclusivity and beauty standards and the way our culture twists things,” said Lehrman, chef at Tables of Content restaurant. “That was the first year of the project, and it really got off to a shaky start. People took offense. They thought a man painted it and it was pornographic. Someone said the word freak bothered them. It was very tense in the beginning. There was talk about not proceeding with the project.”

What few knew was that the work had been inspired by a tale about Lehrman’s birth, when she was treated like a freak.

That was 2009, the kick-off of a project that this month is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a show commemorating its most prolific artists, as well as its annual auction this weekend.

The Nye Beach banners were envisioned as a way to help the little oceanside neighborhood with its perceived identity problem. It was a time of change — both welcome and not. Once known for its blocks of tumbledown cottages and boho spirit, Newport’s Nye Beach was transitioning into a place of multi-level condos, upscale gift shops, and newcomers, some of whom seemed intent on changing Nye Beach into whatever town they’d left behind. It went from being a place once described as not feeling very safe at night, to one touted as having the economic potential to become the next Carmel, which few residents would have considered a good thing.

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