Lori Tobias

 

From ashes of the Echo Mountain fire, art

The Lincoln City Cultural Center gathers photography and items culled from the rubble of last fall's wildfire near Otis

Photographer Bruce MacGregor waited out wildfire evacuation warnings near his home in Clackamas County for weeks last fall before it felt safe to head to Otis. There, in the tiny town on Oregon 18, he met survivors of the devastating Labor Day wildfire. He didn’t expect anyone to agree to his request for photos, but their responses were a surprise.

Those photos are part of the new Up from the Ashes exhibit in the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s PJ Chessman Gallery. An opening reception, with a live video tour, is planned for 4 p.m. Friday, April 9. The exhibit will run through May 9.

“It’s a pretty special show,” said Krista Eddy, gallery director. “We are trying to share people’s stories and also show that there is this amazing spark of hope and resilience in people. They’ve struggled and there are good things at the end.”

Bruce MacGregor photographed Larry on Sept. 20, after his Otis home was destroyed in the Echo Mountain fire, then looted. Photo by: Bruce MacGregor
Bruce MacGregor photographed Larry, above, on Sept. 20, after his Otis home was destroyed in the Echo Mountain fire, then looted. Below, on March 16, MacGregor met up with Larry (left) at the same site, where he was waiting for a cement truck to lay a sidewalk to go with his new mobile home. Photos by: Bruce MacGregor
On March 16, Bruce MacGregor met up with Larry in Otis. Larry (left) was waiting for a cement truck and crew to lay a sidewalk to go with his new mobile home. Photo by: Bruce MacGregor

The exhibit includes objects pulled from the rubble following the Echo Mountain Complex Fire, which burned 2,500 acres and destroyed about half of the town’s 1,200 buildings, as well as artwork created by community members, and MacGregor’s photos, which were made before he knew of the planned exhibit, and found a home in it after.

“I had become interested in the project and had put out to relatives and friends that if they knew anyone, I would be happy to do some photography, if it would be useful,” MacGregor said. “I got back one request for a GoFundMe site. He was trying to raise money and wanted photography of himself and his wife. That was the first and most poignant.”

In Otis, a town of about 3,500 a few miles in from the coast, MacGregor met Saki and Guy (Eddy has requested last names not be used, out of respect for fire victims’ privacy), the couple who started the GoFundMe site, and their neighbors, including Larry.

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Riverbend Players goes to the dogs

After a quiet year, the Nehalem theater company is back with a fundraising play in which all the characters are canine

When Marilyn Karr first read the script for the upcoming Riverbend Players performance, she could barely finish it. The language was coarse, the males aggressive, and her character, Maggie, found them “disgusting.” 

But then, said Karr, “I thought, it’s just dog language.” Not woof-woof, of course, but the way a dog would talk were he one of us.

In the end, Karr signed on for two roles in the upcoming The Dog Logs. She’ll play Maggie, a golden retriever, and Savoir Faire, a greyhound.

Marilyn Karr, here with her border collie Journey, plays two roles in “The Dog Logs”: Savoir Faire, a single-minded greyhound, and Maddie, a golden retriever, who finds life, especially boy dogs, strange. Photo courtesy: Riverbend Players
Marilyn Karr, here with her border collie, Journey, plays two roles in “The Dog Logs”: Savoir Faire, a single-minded greyhound, and Maddie, a golden retriever who finds life, especially boy dogs, strange. Photo courtesy: Riverbend Players

After a year of mostly quiet, Nehalem-based Riverbend is putting on a live, virtual performance of the play by CJ Johnson in which all of the characters are canine, but with a take on life that is “touching and surprisingly human.” The performance is free, but donations are gladly accepted. All proceeds go toward relieving hunger through local North Coast organizations including the Little Apple Fund, which donates to several other nonprofits around the area.

“A lot of people are really hurting,” said Jeff Slamal, president of the Riverbend Players. “There are people that need to be fed, but some are reluctant to come forth and say, ‘I need help.’ We wanted to make it a local, direct situation where any donations we get go to these organizations and all money is put toward feeding people.”

Through their efforts, the theater group is hoping to draw attention to the fact that the programs exist and are available to anyone, as well as reaching out to the Hispanic community to let them know the same.

Selecting a play wasn’t easy. Virtual performances don’t allow for interaction with the audience or within the cast, and producing a play in which the cast will be live on stage at the North Coast Recreation District, but performing separately, is challenging, said Linda Makohon, producer and director.  

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Pulling back the curtain on Manzanita’s Wonder Garden

Described by its fans as a lifesaver during this year of isolation, the Hoff Online program celebrates Manzanita Day with a talk by Ketzel Levine

Ketzel Levine is returning to her home in Manzanita from a wholesale plant shopping trip when we connect by phone to talk about the Hoffman Center for the Arts’ Hoff Online program. 

It’s the nonprofit’s answer to COVID restrictions, and one Levine says has been described by its many fans — some as far away as New Zealand, Great Britain, and Spain — as a lifesaver during this year of isolation. The webinars and Zoom presentations have offered hundreds of participants instruction in everything from poetry to gardening to marketing their books. On March 31, Levine will headline Manzanita Day 2021, celebrating the art of horticulture and the town named for the shrub (arctostaphylos) that translates in Spanish to “little apple.”  

In pre-COVID days, Ketzel Levine (far right) leads a discussion in the Wonder Garden.  She says the garden has become the No. 1 gathering place in Manzanita for people who wanted to get together in masks. Photo courtesy: Ketzel Levine
In pre-COVID days, Ketzel Levine (far right) leads a discussion in the Wonder Garden. She says the garden has become the No. 1 gathering place in Manzanita for people who want to get together in masks. Photo courtesy: Ketzel Levine

Levine, who you might know as NPR’s “doyenne of dirt,” is the self-proclaimed director of the Center’s Wonder Garden and as such, directs the horticulture programs. The gardening guru moved to the North Coast about four years ago and says she was quickly “snatched up” by the center as a volunteer. 

“We are creating a small botanic garden that is showcasing all of the different plants from around the world that thrive on the northwest coast,” Levine said. “All of our plants are labeled with beautiful arboretum-quality labels. We give weekly talks and walks through the garden and we are constantly raising money, and people have been responsive. During COVID, the garden has become the No. 1 gathering place for people who wanted to get together with masks.”

Levine may have decades of broadcast journalism experience, but virtual gigs nonetheless have provided her some lessons.  The most memorable came when the Hoffman Center hosted Jeffrey Bale, native Oregonian and internationally known pebble-mosaic artist.

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Seeing the self through the gray rectangle of Zoom

Lincoln City students blend art with technology to create self-portraits using concrete, foam, and wood during a year of virtual learning

For most of the past year, Taft High School teacher Noah Lambie has worked largely with his junior and senior high students tuning in from their computers at home. It can be a trying means of teaching, but also one with surprisingly positive reactions. 

“It’s funny, there’s always hesitation with a new project,” said Lambie, an art design/physics instructor. “At first, when I come up with some of these kind of wild ideas, they are bobbing their heads in video land.”

Yuritzi Cuellar-Pacheco, Taft High School senior, self-portrait
Yuritzi Cuellar-Pacheco, Taft High School senior, used concrete, Baltic birch wood and black acrylic to create her self-portrait.

It’s a look he describes as, “OK, don’t really know what is going on yet.”  Then he answers some questions, helps however he can, and eventually students get on board.

“But by the end of this one, they were saying, ‘Whoa, those are rad.’ They were feeling good about this.”

“This” would be portraits created from various materials, including concrete, foam, wood, and acrylic. The finished pieces, along with traditional art created by other Taft students, are the latest exhibit in the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s PJ Chessman Gallery, opening Friday and running through April 5. The live virtual gallery opening will be at 4 p.m. March 12, hosted by gallery director Krista Eddy on Facebook.


THE ART OF LEARNING: An Occasional Series


The assignment is one of the ways Lambie attempts to prepare his students for life beyond high school by blending art with technology. Now in his 11th year of teaching at the Lincoln City School, Lambie began his career teaching art and physics.

Lambie said he learned early in his career about Career and Technical Education, which lets instructors focus on a profession, and by doing so, gives them access to funds earmarked to develop academic, career, and technical programs. “That allows you to build a program to try to prepare students for jobs and careers,” he said. “That’s what my art led to.”

Lambie comes up with the ideas, bringing to the project a mix of art and digital design. While critics say work produced digitally or with some other “machine” takes away from creativity, Lambie said it calls for at least as much creativity. Graphic design offers tools that might come in handy for magazine art, while digital technology relies more on computers, software, and printers.

“When you get to know the process, you see how much goes into it and all the options available in that digital world,” he said. “It gives them an experience with a process that can be applied all across our world now.”

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Hitting the coastal arts trail

Lincoln City Cultural Center’s Niki Price plans to create a series of web-based itineraries for people who like to hike and “to tour art and see beautiful things”

When Niki Price sets out to explore art on the Oregon Coast, she’ll need to pack hiking boots, a tide book, and, of course, rain gear, but exhibit hours, ticket costs, and museum reservations — not necessary.

Price, executive director of the Lincoln City Cultural Center, is about to embark on an adventure with a dual mission — a hike on along the Oregon Coast Trail while visiting some of the more than 800 pieces on the Oregon Coast Public Art Trail.

Her hike, dubbed “On the Path of Public Art,” is sponsored by the cultural center and the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, developer of the art trail. She plans to break it up into 10 segments, which will become, in turn, itineraries for public use. A website and blog following Price’s progress and her thoughts about the trek is in the works. The hope is that the project will not only raise awareness for public art, but also raise money for it.    

With her series of hikes, Niki Price hopes to raise awareness both of the Oregon Coast Public Art Trail and the fundraising campaign for the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s plaza.
With her series of hikes, Niki Price hopes to raise awareness both of the Oregon Coast Public Art Trail and the fundraising campaign for the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s plaza. Photo courtesy: Niki Price

The innovation, Price said, is that the coordinates of each piece will be available on a Google map. “For the most part, they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s a really good complement to be walking down the Oregon Coast Trail and then take side excursions and check out the art. You don’t need to worry about the museum being open or arriving too late or having someone let you in. These are things you can enjoy any time.”

The visitors association signed on to the project with an eye toward helping people find the art along the 360-odd mile trail. Some of it has been on display for years, some is newer, and all has been placed by a variety of sponsors, including businesses, cities, and community colleges, said Arica Sears, spokeswoman for the association. The art might be in any number of forms — a mural, a statue, an abstract, or a big painting — but it has to be public, accessible 24/7, and at a spot where it can be viewed safely.

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Pandemic prose and poetry

The Cannon Beach Library hosts a virtual reading Saturday of pieces inspired by life during COVID

Lisa Mayfield’s relationship with her partner was not an easy one. He was a Vietnam vet, a hoarder, an artist. And she loved him. She was reminded of that six months after his death, as the world was adapting to the new normal dictated by COVID-19.

Mayfield is one of 37 writers who responded to a call from the Cannon Beach Library to write about what the pandemic means to them.

Among the things Lisa Mayfield’s boyfriend left her after his death were masks he carved from stone. The story she will read in the Cannon Beach Library’s Writers Read Celebration explores the gifts she gained from that difficult relationship. Photo Courtesy: Lisa Mayfield
Among the things Lisa Mayfield’s boyfriend left her after his death were masks he carved from stone. The story she will read in the Cannon Beach Library’s Writers Read Celebration explores the gifts she gained from that difficult relationship. Photo Courtesy: Lisa Mayfield

She called her submission to the Writers Read Celebration On Toilet Paper.

“It actually has to do with toilet paper, but it’s not really on toilet paper,” said Mayfield, talking by phone in the midst of an ice- and snowstorm as trees crashed around her Salem home.

“I gave it that title because when the pandemic came and people were hoarding toilet paper, I had found myself with a 48-roll package of toilet paper … because my boyfriend hoarded things.”  The piece, she said, “is really about him and about some of the gifts of that very difficult relationship.”

This is the third year the library’s NW Authors Series committee has put out a call for manuscripts for the contest. The goal, said Nancy McCarthy, library volunteer, is to reach out to the community and “let people know, yes, libraries do exist and we really want to be part of the community.”  Ten writers will participate in the virtual reading at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20. For information on how to access the reading, go to the library website and click the banner at the top of the page, or check out the library’s Facebook page.

Five judges — four library volunteers and a staffer for the Cannon Beach Book Company — selected the 13 submissions to be read; three authors each had two pieces chosen. Judges picked from the 51 submissions, which included stories, essays, and poetry, based on language, interest, theme, and emotions the piece evoked.

The library received more submissions this year, McCarthy said, “probably because people had more time to write, also because of that universal theme. Everyone is going through it. I was interested to see people’s different perspectives how they are handling that. One person wrote a poem, and you realized it wasn’t about this pandemic, but the polio pandemic in the early ‘50s. It was very interesting how she wove it.”

Several of the selected submissions address mourning, though who, what, how, and why are vastly different.

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String trio offers a virtual valentine

Newport Symphony musicians bring a concert to your living room, and the Coaster Theatre does the same later this month with scenes from Shakespeare

Normally, if you’re going to see the Newport Symphony Orchestra, it would be at the Performing Center Arts with as many as 72 players on stage. And normally, you wouldn’t catch them on Valentine’s Day, because the schedule usually calls for January and March concerts. Normally, too, you wouldn’t expect one-price-fits-all or the intimacy of a living room chat.

But then, of course, these aren’t normal times.

And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Violinist Alistair Kok will host Newport Symphony Orchestra musicians in his home for a virtual Valentine's Day concert.
Violinist Alistair Kok will host Newport Symphony Orchestra musicians in his home for a virtual Valentine’s Day concert.

This Valentine’s Day, the orchestra is hosting an intimate evening performance by the string trio of Alistair Kok, Julie Asparro, and Erik Nils Velasquez, along with conductor Adam Flatt. The concert will be recorded live and followed by a conversation with the audience, Flatt, and musicians.

The idea behind the performance is to enhance people’s lives despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19, which has seen the Newport Performing Arts Center closed, said Don Nelson, the orchestra’s executive director.

“There are a lot of videos on YouTube where people can watch, but they are not participating,” Nelson said. “They are seeing people they may usually see at concerts or even online. It’s a way for people to get together at this individual time, both in keeping with the symphony’s mission to enhance quality of life on the Oregon Coast, and to help each individual person who is attending.”

The 7 p.m. concert will include the Adagio from J.S. Bach’s Viola da Gamba Sonata in G Major, Beethoven’s String Trio in G Major, Op. 9 No. 1, and Serenade in C Major for String Trio by Dohnányi. The performance will be recorded in violinist Kok’s living room in Portland, where ceilings are vaulted and the ambiance airy and light, Flatt said. The live, in-house recording also eliminates the need to find accommodations for the musicians who normally stay with local homeowners when visiting the coast. Those welcome mats aren’t quite as abundant during a pandemic.

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