Lori Tobias

 

Arts advocate steps down

Catherine Rickbone, executive director of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, says cutbacks caused by the pandemic make this a good time for her to retire

Catherine Rickbone had grown accustomed to people asking when she was going to retire and enjoy life. Rickbone, executive director of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, frequently responded, “I enjoy myself now.” She planned to see to the end the final phase of the Newport Performing Arts Center’s $4.3 million capital campaign, to be completed in 2020.

Then came COVID-19. The deadline for the “Entertain the Future” campaign was pushed out to at least 2021. Rickbone, 74, knew it was time to go. She retired July 2 after 13 years at the helm of the council, where she oversaw management of the Newport Performing Arts Center and Newport Visual Arts Center. The council is also the local arts council for Lincoln County and the regional arts council for Clatsop, Tillamook, Coos, and Curry counties, as well as coastal towns in Lane and Douglas counties.

“Catherine will be really missed,” said Akia Woods, president of the council’s board of directors. “We’ll especially miss her earnestness and her love of the arts and her ready smile. Catherine was a tremendous advocate for the arts. Her advocacy hasn’t just been local, she’s been a great advocate at the state level.”

In announcing her retirement from the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, Catherine Rickbone told the board of directors that her tenure with the council “was made up of billions of moments, millions of interactions, thousands of programs, hundreds of decisions, and uncountable challenges and joys.” Photo courtesy: Oregon Coast Council for the Arts
In announcing her retirement from the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, Catherine Rickbone told the board of directors that her tenure with the council “was made up of billions of moments, millions of interactions, thousands of programs, hundreds of decisions, and uncountable challenges and joys.” Photo courtesy: Oregon Coast Council for the Arts

A search for a new executive director has begun, Woods said.

With a life rooted in the arts, Rickbone seemed destined for the leadership role.

She was raised by her grandmother in Emporia, Kansas, in a three-story home that also served as a rooming house. Rickbone was hooked on the arts from the day she found a book on her grandmother’s bookshelf titled Picture Studies. Dedicated to children and lovers of art, it was a study guide from 1928 with details of each piece pictured, followed by questions. The book fueled a hunger in the young girl for more.

“As I got a little older, I did chores for my grandmother,” Rickbone recalled. “Instead of money, I parlayed for magazine subscriptions, such as Saturday Review. Also, the Metropolitan Museum of Art put out 12 books. Inside were color plates of artwork. The books talked about great works of art. I cut my teeth on that when I did summer reading on the hanging swing or glider on my grandmother’s big Midwestern-style porch.”

Her grandmother’s home was half a block from what was then known as the Kansas State Teachers’ College.  “There was always summer theater — it was one of the longest running in the nation,” she said. “My grandmother and I would walk across the street and get on the campus and we’d go to plays.”

As host of the “Arts Talk” radio show, Catherine Rickbone (left) talked with Teresa Simmons, vice chair of the Siletz Tribal Arts and Heritage Society, about the group and its dream for a new building. Photo courtesy: Oregon Coast Council for the Arts
As host of the “Arts Talk” radio show, Catherine Rickbone (left) talked with Teresa Simmons, vice chair of the Siletz Tribal Arts and Heritage Society, about the group and its dream for a new building. Photo courtesy: Oregon Coast Council for the Arts

Rickbone also took advantage of the William Allen White Library across the street from her home, named for the founder of the Emporia Gazette and featuring a huge room of children’s books, where the girl would hang out for hours. Within walking distance was a Carnegie library. “I’d go to that library and read and look at things, so I had a lot of nurturing.”  

Rickbone, a poet and singer, eventually completed two bachelor’s and two master’s degrees. She married a Navy lieutenant, following him during their nearly 10-year marriage to towns along the East Coast.

She taught English, started her own mail-order business, and held positions in public relations and marketing. Eventually, the road led to Ashland, where she was an independent art consultant. The self-described “prairie woman … used to wind, wide open spaces, lightning and hail, storms and tornados,” found the town nice enough, but with mountains on both sides, a bit claustrophobic.

“There was no room to breathe, to stretch out, to vision,” she said. “Not that mountains aren’t inspiring, from a distance, just not up close and hovering.”

Searching for a new opportunity, Rickbone learned of a job opening in Newport, a town she hadn’t even known existed. Driving to the coastal town for her first interview, she recalls seeing the Performing Arts Center on her left and the glittering ocean before her. “That did it. I could vision again, breathe again, check the weather, and see it coming.”

The weather, however, did take some adjusting to — no four seasons; dreary, dark, damp, and depressing during fall, winter, and spring. She made it through to summer, coming out on the other side with the new knowledge that “drippy weather breeds creativity.”

During her time with the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, Rickbone was instrumental in establishing the Coastal Oregon Visual Artist Showcase (COVAS) in the Visual Arts Center, which highlights midcareer Oregon visual artists while making a statement on visual arts ecology. She helped save the former Jazz at Newport festival, later renamed the Oregon Coast Jazz Party, and signed the first Metropolitan Opera Live in HD contract for the Performing Arts Center, second in popularity, she notes, only to the Jazz Party. She also helped establish a public arts policy for Newport. She remains a member of that city committee and continues to serve on the board for the Oregon Cultural Advocacy Coalition.

Lincoln County Counsel Wayne Belmont, who worked with Rickbone on numerous projects and committees, recalled the enthusiasm and energy she brought to every task.

Catherine Rickbone (left) joins sculptor Mary Lewis at her piece “Mother and Child,” which was a gift to the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts in 2014. Photo courtesy: Oregon Coast Council for the Arts
Catherine Rickbone (left) joins sculptor Mary Lewis at her piece “Mother and Child,” which was a gift to the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts in 2014. Photo courtesy: Oregon Coast Council for the Arts

“The term I’ve used is boundless energy,” he said. “Exuberance. It can be very contagious. She’s not going to be quietly sitting on the sidelines. I know she will continue to be a super volunteer.”

In announcing her retirement, Rickbone said budget retraints caused by the the COVID-19 shutdown make this an “excellent opportunity and the appropriate time” for her to step down. She added she is “contemplating my next opportunities in life, where I can use my skills of leadership to further other interests and causes important to me.” She said she believes the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, which has laid off most of its staff because of COVID-19 budget constraints, will survive the pandemic, but it won’t be the same.

“When the time is right, I think our supporters will return,” she said. “Things may look different, but let’s face it, nothing takes the place of a live performance. The synergy and energy between stage and audience is magical. There are a lot of virtual tours and they are great… but there is nothing like an up close and personal look in real time at a work of art.

“I say the same thing about performing, you don’t get the buzz from online streaming … as you do when you are in that seat in the Alice Silverman Theatre. The stage has living people on it and something starts to happen. I’ve experienced it time and time again. I think those times will come back.”

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This story is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, investing in Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage, and the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition.

And the band plays on

The Newport Symphony Orchestra has to forgo its traditional July Fourth concert but will keep the patriotic spirit alive with an encore broadcast from 2017

Along with fireworks and gatherings of family and friends, the Fourth of July in Newport means the traditional free concert by the Newport Symphony Orchestra. This year, there will no community-hosted fireworks and private gatherings are limited to 10, but the concert will go on — just a little differently.

Instead of a live performance, the concert will be an encore broadcast of the orchestra’s 2017 concert. It will air at 4 p.m. on KNPT AM 1310 and KYTE FM 102.7. That evening, from 7 to 10 p.m., the concert, along with a photo montage of previous July Fourth concerts, will be available for streaming at NewportSymphony.org.

Under the growling gaze of the Newport Middle School mascot, Conductor Adam Flatt leads the Newport Symphony Orchesstra during the 2017 Fourth of July concert. The performance will be broadcast Saturday in lieu of a live event. Photo courtesy: Newport Symphony Orchestra
Under the growling gaze of the Newport Middle School mascot, Conductor Adam Flatt leads the Newport Symphony Orchesstra during the 2017 Fourth of July concert. The performance will be broadcast Saturday in lieu of a live event. Photo courtesy: Newport Symphony Orchestra

Don Nelson, executive director of the orchestra, described the music as all-American, “a rousing concert” including popular annual salutes to the Armed Forces and members of the Newport fishing fleet.

“It’s great, happy, upbeat music that keeps your soul going and enhances everybody’s positiveness,” said Nelson, who moved to Newport in October from Stockton, Calif. “People have said they are excited they will be able to hear it. Many are sad that we can’t have the actual concert, but they are very pleased that they can listen to this incredible orchestra. The quality of the musicians in a small area like this is unbelievable.”

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A virtual take on a total art form

Kids in Newport’s Online Summer Drama Club will learn everything from props to acting to accountability – culminating in a play – via computer

Two years ago, Jennifer Hamilton began providing after-school theater classes to kids at the Newport Performing Arts Center. She even persuaded the bus company to create a new stop for the pint-sized performers. She also started School’s Out, Theatre’s In for days when schools are not in session, and this year had planned a two-week summer camp. That, of course, had to be canceled because of COVID-19.


THE ART OF LEARNING: An Occasional Series


Jennifer Hamilton says teaching theater to children “creates cooperation, support, just like a team sport.”

Instead, Hamilton is hosting the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts’ Online Summer Drama Club. Beginning July 6, students entering third through eighth grade will meet twice weekly for eight weeks in virtual classes, culminating Aug. 28 with a day of performances. Registration is still open, with a fee of $80.

Hamilton has a BA in theater from Sterling College in Kansas and a master’s in theater from the University of Kansas. She serves on the board for the American Association of Community Theatre and has been instrumental in developing and running the group’s national Youth Theatre conferences. We talked with her about what both she and kids get out of theater and how a virtual theater class is going to work.

What inspired you to go into children’s theater?

Hamilton:  I’d gone to college and studied theater and speech. Eight or nine years later, I decided to go back to grad school. Halfway through, a job opened up for the education director at the Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy, which has a children’s theater department. I thought, these jobs are far and few between; I need to take this. I fell in love. It’s such a reward to see kids put on a show, having a blast at camp. When I started, the camp had 30 kids. When I left 12 years later, we had over 300 students enrolling.

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An art-felt thank you

When Manzanita's Hoffman Center had to cancel its fundraising garden party, organizers came up with a creative way to express appreciation to donors

When board members at Manzanita’s Hoffman Center for the Arts realized their biggest fundraiser of the year was a no-go, they did what you might expect an arts center to do — got creative.

In past years, Hoffman Center for the Arts hosted a crowd at a fundraising summer garden party. Social distancing and COVID-19 put the kibosh on this year’s event. Photo courtesy: Hoffman Center for the Arts
In past years, Hoffman Center for the Arts hosted a crowd at a fundraising summer garden party. Social distancing and COVID-19 put the kibosh on this year’s event. Photo courtesy: Hoffman Center for the Arts

Every year, the center hosts a summer party in the block-sized garden — designed by the “doyenne of dirt,” Ketzel Levine, no less — across the street from the center. The party typically raises $55,000, but with COVID-19 still raging, this year’s event had to be canceled. To make matters worse, the center’s usual programs, which raise 50 percent of its income, also had to be canceled. But there was still the mortgage to pay. Center officials reluctantly let contractors and some staff go and cut costs where they could, but the center still anticipated a budget shortfall of $50,000. What to do?

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Lincoln City Cultural Center’s plaza project reaches its goal

The "Invest in Inspiration" campaign will add greenery, accessible paths, and patios around the Delake School, which houses the center.

It must have seemed a curious sight Monday for passers-by in Lincoln City as masked men and women took turns mounting a stepladder on the front lawn of the Lincoln City Cultural Center. They did so to raise the temperature on the fundraising thermometer one red bar at a time, to celebrate the center’s achieving its $250,000 goal in “Invest in Inspiration,” the Cultural Plaza Project.

The effort began 12 months ago with funds coming from private donations and the sale of commemorative bricks. The center also will receive $1.5 million in state lottery funds. The plaza project will feature a pedestrian-friendly area around the historic Delake School, completed in 1929, which houses the center, as well as a path compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, new patios, an outdoor classroom for activities such as raku kiln firing, dedicated spaces for public art installations, gathering places, and new lighting.

The Lincoln City Cultural Center’s “Invest in Inspiration” campaign will turn the yard around the historic Delake School, which houses the center, into a plaza, park, paths, and parking. Photo courtesy: Lincoln City Cultural Center
The Lincoln City Cultural Center’s “Invest in Inspiration” campaign will replace crumbling sidewalks and rusty fencing around the historic Delake School with a plaza, paths, and park area. Photo courtesy: Lincoln City Cultural Center

“In the year since we launched the Invest in Inspiration capital campaign, so much has happened,” said the center’s executive director, Niki Price. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it’s been a real roller coaster. From the thrill of the $1.5 million state pledge to the social isolation of the pandemic, we’ve seen it all. What has been most amazing of all has been the constant support from our donors: check by check, brick by brick, we’ve been filling up that thermometer. Our heartfelt thanks to the community, for your continued faith in this great idea.”

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Fire birds: Sweet!

Cynthia Longhat-Adams, whose avian art will be featured at the Lincoln City Cultural Center, says she was drawn to pyrography because she loves problem-solving

The Lincoln City Cultural Center takes wing Friday when its annual bird-themed show, …a thing with feathers, opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. in the PJ Chessman Gallery. Visitors – wearing masks and practicing social distancing – can visit the gallery from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Tuesday.

Featured artists in the show are sculptor and painter Robert Schlegel; painter, sculptor and printmaker Marilyn Burkhardt; multimedia artist Cheri Aldrich; and, working in a medium many may not be familiar with, pyrographer — or fire painter — Cynthia Longhat-Adams. Pyrographers use heat and tools to create art on a variety of surfaces, including wood, paper, and glass.

We talked with the Depoe Bay artist about the ancient art and her passion for it. Her comments have been edited for length and clarity.

“Brown Pelican” is among Cynthia Longhat-Adams’ pyrography birds.

Let’s start with the basics. What is pyrography?

Longhat-Adams: It’s very, very ancient. It started in Turkey and Germany. They would take a hot poker out of the fire and draw on wood with it. It’s taken on a new emergence in the 21st century. I’ve been doing it for 15 years.

How did it become your medium of choice?

I’ve been a creator all of my life in many, many mediums. There are new burning tools, basically a pen, that allow a consistent temperature. You couldn’t do the work I do with the old clunky wood-burning tools. I was introduced to these new tools about 15 years ago. The new tools are so much easier to handle; you don’t burn your hand off. It just took my heart. I love everything about it.

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Things begin to stir at the Coast

In Newport, films will be shown outdoors and symphony members play online, while the Lincoln City Cultural Center has reopened to the public

The Newport Performing Arts Center remains dark, but that doesn’t mean nothing is going on.

Friday, June 5, marks the start of the PAC Picture Show. Due to licensing restrictions that I don’t quite understand, the Performing Arts Center cannot reveal what the coming films are, beyond describing them as nostalgic, but you can find the titles by going to the website.

The films will be shown outdoors in socially distanced “Parking Lot Theatre style” at the Performing Arts Center on Friday and Saturday nights. The sound is broadcast via FM radio, so you’ll need a working FM radio if you want to hear the film. A $15 donation is requested for admission, which guarantees a parking spot. Space for SUVs, trucks, vans, and minivans is very limited, organizers say, so best if you can drive a smaller vehicle.

The picture show is sponsored by the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, which is also sponsoring the ongoing online art show at the Visual Arts Center.  

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