Autumn is nearly upon us, and arts and culture are alive, if not exactly well, in Yamhill County. We lost most of Gallery Theater’s 2020 season in McMinnville, along with the Aquilon Music Festival, the UFO Festival, and Walnut City Music Festival. In Newberg, the Camellia Festival and Tunes on Tuesday also fell to COVID-19, along with virtually every small-town summer festival in the county. Linfield College, meanwhile, has welcomed new and returning students, but the public recitals, concerts, guest speakers, and author readings that made the campus a beacon of cultural enrichment in the community… Those are gone.
But as illustrated by the September calendar, art continues to find a way. Here’s what’s happening in Yamhill County, currently and coming soon:
CHEHALEM CULTURAL CENTER: Two exhibits are continuing through Sept. 19 in the Newberg center. They are Cache Nine: The Hope Material (How to Feel Not Scared in a Pandemic) by Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos) and Selections From Art Studios of Yamhill County (in lieu of this year’s Art Harvest of Yamhill County Studio Tours). Plus, the Central Gallery contains a nifty surprise in a 2-week pop-up exhibit featuring art posters by Converge 45, nonprofit arts coalition founded in 2016 by influential gallery owner Elizabeth Leach. It opened Tuesday, so the clock’s running.
THE RETURN OF POETRY NIGHT: The McMinnville Public Library will resume poetry readings and open mic events this week with poet Joann Boswell, a Washington resident with deep Oregon roots. She grew up in Roseburg and attended George Fox University, where she studied music, theater, writing, and literature, graduating in 2010 with a master’s degree in teaching. Along the way, she started doing natural-light photography and writing poetry, and in June she became the poetry editor for Untold Volumes at Christian Feminism Today. Boswell will read her poetry in McMinnville’s Lower City Park west of the library at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3. Bring chairs or blankets, wear your mask, and bring a poem to share if you like. Sign up for open mic by calling 503-435-5554.
ELIZABETH CHAMBERS CELLAR: With a slew of COVID-19 protocols in place, McMinnville’s storied winery and tasting room on the south end of the Granary District, settled in brick digs that originally housed the local power company, is hosting live music. Friday Fandango events are open to the public (with reservations you can make here) after wine club members pre-reserve tables. Shows, held in a beautiful garden courtyard, start at either 5:30 or 7:30 p.m., so keep that detail in mind when planning. Starting Friday, this month features Jacob Westfall, JoAnna Lee, Ronni Kay, and Britnee Kellog.
NIGHT OF THE MOON: The Chehalem Cultural Center is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a social-distancing-friendly party. An open-air art market fundraiser will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, in the sprawling courtyard in front of the building. The main program, a ticketed event requiring reservations, will be at 7 p.m. See the website for more info.
GORDON McCANN AND SHARI ERICKSON: McCann, who works with pastels, graphite and acrylics, and Erickson, who works in acrylics, will be the featured artists at The Gallery at Ten Oaks in McMinnville through November. Following all state-mandated COVID-19 guidelines, the gallery will host a virtual reception for McCann from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, and for Erickson from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19.
ON THE EDGE: LIVING THE ANTHROPOCENE: We will have much more on this later, but for now mark your calendar for Sept. 15. That’s when a major exhibit by Natalie Niblack and Ann Chadwick Reid exploring the effect of climate change on marine and forest ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest touches down at the Chehalem Cultural Center. From the program notes: “Using traditional media of painting, prints, and cut paper, both artists create work that celebrates the complexity of these landscapes while questioning their survivability as climate change inevitably, and perhaps irrevocably, alters the world around us.” Curated by Carissa Burkett, the show runs through Oct. 30. Not to be missed.
CURRENTS GALLERY FIBER SHOW: McMinnville’s artist-owned gallery downtown will hold its 11th annual Fiber Arts Show from Sept. 16 through Oct. 10, with a grand opening from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at 532 N.E. Third St. Look for wall pieces, 3-D items, wearable art, and more that’s been sewn, knitted, felted, painted, or printed, using materials including wool, silk, cotton, synthetic fibers, or natural embellishments. Wear your mask, or buy one from the gallery. A limited number will be allowed in the space at once, and private showings may be arranged. For more information, call 503-435-1316.
MT. HOOD JAZZ LIVE STREAM: The Mt. Hood Jazz Festival was not able to do what they originally planned this year, but then — who was? That said, there will be limited seating for a live, live-streamed evening performance Sept. 18 on the back patio at the Chehalem Cultural Center. This is one of several small venue performances the festival is doing around Oregon.
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH: The Chehalem Cultural Center is partnering with the Instituto de Cultura Oregoniana, a nonprofit that works to promote Hispanic culture and multilingualism in Oregon, and this year’s lineup begins Sept. 19 with an online celebration of Hispanidad, from 6 to 7 p.m. You can register and learn about additional events in October here.
COMING IN OCTOBER: Stay tuned to this space for more information as it becomes available about the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s annual juried exhibit (and conference) at the Chehalem Cultural Center, and a virtual fundraiser for the McMinnville Short Film Festival Oct. 16-18, which will feature some of the best of the best from past years’ events.
CULTURE NOTES: With a pandemic spreading, Me Too and Black Lives Matter rising, and a presidential election looming, it was clear by spring that 2020 was going to be one for the history books. Yamhill County got into the act, too, with a glorious beginning that is likely to get only bigger when we finally lose our masks: the first Wine Country Pride celebration. Given the circumstances, it was a spectacular liftoff. Organized by Remy Drabkin of Remy Wines, Pollinate Farms, and Chehalem Valley Dance Academy’s Kristen Stoller, the social-distancing-friendly event straddled June and July. It kicked off with a parade organized by PFLAG Newberg in that city’s downtown and concluding with a well-attended party at Drabkin’s tasting room outside McMinnville. The celebration was in the works prior to COVID, but organizers, to their credit, refused to let that stop them. Winemaker Drabkin, by the way, is a member of the McMinnville City Council and is featured in a film I’ve reported on previously, Red, White & Black, a documentary created by African-American winemaker Bertony Faustin of Abbey Creek Vineyard in Forest Grove. The film spotlights some of Oregon’s minority winemakers.
This story is supported in part by a grant from the Yamhill County Cultural Coalition, Oregon Cultural Trust, and Oregon Community Foundation.