Lori Tobias

 

Dualing & dueling at the easel

Landscape painters Michael Orwick and Anton Pavlkenko have a friendly showdown at Cannon Beach's Earth & Ocean Arts Festival

It all started five or so years ago with one of those “what if” conversations — the kind no one really expects to go anywhere. But in this case, it did. They call it “dualing easels,” or, if you’re painter Michael Orwick, “dueling easels”: “It is a little bit antagonistic in a way,” he notes, adding, “Playfully.”

 The showdown is part of this year’s Earth & Ocean Arts Festival, a new event in Cannon Beach aimed at blending art with environmental awareness. Fifty percent of the proceeds go to five ecology-focused nonprofits.

 It’s the best of the Plein Air & More Arts Festival, which ended in 2018 after a 10-year run, with some added twists, Orwick says. Along with Anton Pavlenko, he’ll lead the “Painting Coastal Color and Light 2019” plein air workshop leading up to the festival.

Orwick and Pavlenko, at work …

“I was part of the Plein Air Festival every single year,” says Orwick. “I think there is no better way to appreciate the Oregon Coast — the wind, the sun, the smells. To be out there and letting that affect you and your image. People can tell; there is a freshness and vitality that comes through. I love painting in my studio, but there is nothing like painting on location.” You can learn more about that here.

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Coast calendar: a little dancing, a little strumming

BodyVox visits the forest near Astoria, plein air painting in Cannon Beach, and Appalachian fiddle tunes in Manzanita are among upcoming offerings

Dance, music, art – there’s a bit of everything happening on the North Coast in coming weeks. 

In Astoria, Portland’s BodyVox will combine dance and theater on Saturday, Sept. 14, in a typically Oregon setting: the forest.  With the roaring Columbia River providing the backdrop, BodyVox@Big Creek performers will share their awarding-winning dance under the open skies. 

poster for BodyVox at Big Creek

In its 22nd season, the company founded by Emmy Award-winning choreographers Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland is known, according to its website, for its “visual virtuosity, distinctive wit and unique ability to combine dance, theater and film into breathtaking productions rich in imagery, athleticism and humor. … The company has a tradition of excellence with a unique voice that is equally influenced by its Northwest roots and world view.”

Bear in mind that the unique working-forest setting comes with conditions. Private vehicles are not permitted on the property, so shuttle buses will pick up ticket holders at the Knappa High School parking lot and deliver them to Hampton Lumber’s Big Creek Forest property about 13 miles east of Astoria. Best to arrive early for the 15-20 minute ride over logging roads. Shuttles will run about every 20 minutes from 4 to 5:30 p.m. You’ll be dropped off less than 100 feet from the performance area so “walking will be minimal, however, be advised that gravel roads and the natural characteristics of the landscape might present challenges for those with mobility issues,” organizers warn. 

Tickets are $20. You’ll find more details on tickets and what to and not to bring here.

ALSO IN ASTORIA, the 45th Parallel Universe chamber music collective joins with the historic Liberty Theatre in presenting a series of five musical performances, beginning Oct. 11 with Primordial Swamp. The performance features flutist Martha Conwell Long and cellist Marilyn de Oliveira performing Reza Vali’s vivid Folk Songs. 45th Parallel players complete the program with Dohnanyi’s Sextet and Martinu’s brilliant Nonet. For more on the 2019-20 lineup, and prices for individual or season tickets, go here.

CANNON BEACH DEBUTS its newest festival, the Earth & Ocean Arts Festival, Sept. 20-22. It takes the best of the former Plein Air & More Arts Festival, which ended a 10-year run in 2018, and adds a few environmentally themed twists.  Leading up to it, landscape oil painters Michael Orwick and Anton Pavlenko offer a five-day plein air workshop, beginning Sept. 16.

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40 years and 363 miles along the Oregon Coast

A show at the Newport Visual Arts Center celebrates the rambling stretch from Astoria to Brookings in a variety of media including painting, woodwork and film

Some 360-odd miles of the Oregon Coast are condensed this late summer into one modest building set just a hop above Nye Beach. Art 363: Representing the Oregon Coast, on display throughout the Newport Visual Arts Center’s galleries, features work depicting the rambling length of the Oregon Coast, from Brookings to Astoria. I talked with three of the artists involved for a look behind the pieces.

Erik Sandgren (left) and his father, Nelson Sandgren, paint at Bandon in 2004, two years before the elder Sandgren’s death. The Sandgren Coast PaintOut began in 1978 as an OSU summer watercolor course taught by Nelson Sandgren. Photo by: Kathryn Cotnoir
Erik Sandgren (left) and his father, Nelson Sandgren, paint at Bandon in 2004, two years before the elder Sandgren’s death. The Sandgren Coast PaintOut began in 1978 as an OSU summer watercolor course taught by Nelson Sandgren. Photo by: Kathryn Cotnoir

The Sandgren Coast PaintOut Project celebrated 40 years this summer. More than 40 artists who have taken part in the plein air paintout over that time share an exhibit in the Runyon Gallery.

Artist Nelson Sandgren (1917-2006) started PaintOut as an extension class through Oregon State University, where he taught for 38 years. It has evolved under his son, Erik Sandgren, into a two-week, informal summer gathering where subject matter varies from sea to forest, headlands to harbors, streams and rivers, beaches and boats, wave-swept rocks, seabirds, and lighthouses.

"Newport Bridge," by Bets Cole, is one of the paintings produced during the Sandgren Coast PaintOut.
“Newport Bridge,” by Bets Cole, is a product of the Sandgren Coast PaintOut.

“It’s a select group of people who are interested in learning,” Erik Sandgren said. “We welcome people who are serious about painting and of all levels of experience. We have professional painters and artists, skilled amateurs, newbies. They offer camaraderie, critique, and opportunities to see how other serious painters handle their gear and painting problems on site, sometimes in adverse conditions created by sun, rain, or wind. I would describe them all as intrepid.”

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Art as ‘telling your own story’

Artist Samyak Yamauchi, whose work is displayed in Manzanita's Hoffman Gallery, says painting can be as simple as playing with paint on a surface

I’ve been saying for years that I’m going to take a painting class, but no sooner do I check out my options than I am reminded of the litany of doubts. And, of course, I never do enroll in a class.

So when I read the description of Samyak Yamauchi’s upcoming class at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita, it was like someone calling my name. She got it. Lack of experience, of formal education, of thinking there was a right way – none of it mattered.

Yamauchi’s workshop is full, but her paintings are on display in the Hoffman Gallery through Sept. 1. The Portland artist has a second home on the Nehalem River, so don’t be surprised if she offers the workshop on the Coast again.

I talked with Yamauchi about her process and those things that hold us back. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Neahkahnie Mountain is the backdrop for “Meet Me at the Beach in Manzanita,” by Samyak Yamauchi (acrylic on wood, 24 by 24 inches), on display at the Hoffman Gallery in Manzanita.
“Meet Me at the Beach in Manzanita,” by Samyak Yamauchi (acrylic on wood, 24 x 24 inches), is part of a show in Manzanita’s Hoffman Gallery. Yamauchi’s advice to aspiring painters: Just do it.

What is your medium?

Yamauchi:  Acrylic and mixed-media painting. I started painting in 2013. I’d been a glass-mosaic artist; I’d always wanted to paint, but I was always afraid, because I wouldn’t know how to do it. So I went to a Portland Open Studios tour and saw what Jesse Reno was doing, and I was like, oh my gosh, this all you need to do. I realized that painting could be about telling your own story.

What exactly was he doing?

He was painting these really big, kind of narrative, sort of symbolic, dream-like paintings. He showed how he keeps transforming his painting. He changes them. What I saw was, there was just this real intuitive way of painting that didn’t depend on having a formal background in technique. A light went on. I was like, I could do this.

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Coast calendar: Cool diversions for summer’s dog days

Late August is the time to apply to teach a workshop, audition for a play, or just beat the heat by visiting a gallery

It’s been a hot, muggy summer here on the Coast, which for those of us fond of the more moderate, 60-ish temperatures makes a visit indoors to a gallery or theater all the more inviting.  Luckily, there’s something cool going on pretty much all up and down the Coast.

A new exhibition of linocut printmaking by Marit Berg is up in the Imprint Gallery in Cannon Beach. Berg’s work frequently features animals with “a subtext that expresses the delicate balance of life within the natural world and how animals develop particular traits to thrive in their habitats,” said gallery co-owner Jane Brumfield. The artist has been drawn to portraying hares, which are included in this show, and has also turned her attention to foxes.

“Waiting Fox,” by Marit Berg (linocut print, 26 x 34 inches) is one of the fox and hare series on display in Cannon Beach’s Imprint Gallery.
“Waiting Fox,” by Marit Berg (linocut print, 26 x 34 inches) is part of Berg’s fox and hare series on display in Cannon Beach’s Imprint Gallery.

“Natural selection rewards survival through adaptation,” Berg writes. “These adaptations reveal themselves in interesting and varied forms, particularly in animals. They may evolve as competitive display; to warn off a predator; or as camouflage in the surroundings. These traits have also informed myth and symbolism in many cultures. I investigate these traits and contrast them to exemplify the diversity and specialization of the species, in separate works.”

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Exploring the epistolary art

Participants in a Sitka Center workshop may discover how letter-writing can survive the digital age, keep people connected, and restore deep focus

Tucked in the back of my closet is a small, blue suitcase I’ve hauled around with me since I was 18. Inside are bundles of letters, handwritten to me in the first years after I moved from Pennsylvania to Alaska.

Letters from my mom address my plans to move to France (“I don’t think France cares for us right now,” she wrote in 1979 on lined legal-pad paper) and eventually to study for my real-estate license. Letters from the musician I’d agreed to marry seem aimed at inspiring guilt, as in “I thought you were coming back.” Letters from my older sister detail, in her near-perfect penmanship, the mundanity of our small town – whom she ran into, where she applied for a job, how her daughter was (or was not) behaving.

Back then, unless you could afford the long-distance bills (my phone was frequently disconnected, thanks to my inability to keep-it-short), letters were how you kept in touch.

Laura Moulton will teach a workshop Aug. 17 and 18 on "The Art of the Letter" that will include making collage envelopes to deliver students' missives into the world.
Laura Moulton will teach a workshop Aug. 17 and 18 on “The Art of the Letter” that will include making collage envelopes to deliver students’ missives into the world. Photo courtesy: Laura Moulton

In recent years, I realized how much I missed writing – and receiving – personal letters, and I decided I was going to start writing them again. I even bought “fine parchment paper” and matching envelopes found on a clearance rack.

But after years of hurriedly filling reporters’ notebooks day after day after day after month after year, my  handwriting is illegible. It takes huge concentration for me to form an “ing” — the three letters have morphed into a hump with a loop. Likewise, the word “every” looks like an e with a wave and a loop. So while I was drawn to the idea of handwriting letters, I never quite got there. Sure, I could probably sit myself down and write a bit more nicely, but frankly, I’m not sure I have the patience.

Then, I saw the description for the upcoming class on The Art of the Letter: Writing, Collage & Mail Art at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology:

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Ed Asner: On politics and performing

The actor, who will perform in Newport next month, talks about the political environment, favorite roles and what it's like to be working at 89 years old

In about 10 days, Ed Asner will take the stage at the Newport Performing Arts Center in the play God Help Us!  The 90-minute show is described as “a political comedy for our times, and centers on two opposite-leaning pundits who are transported to purgatory by the Supreme Being himself for the purpose of debating today’s political and social issues.”

Asner, as God, will be joined on stage by four local actors for the two-night run, Aug. 10-11. Performances will benefit the performing arts center’s capital campaign. Tickets are available here.

Ed Asner, who says a real Democrat is a euphemism for socialist, characterizes the current political environment as “like the monkeys escaped the zoo.” Photo by: Tim Leyes
Ed Asner, who says a real Democrat is a euphemism for socialist, characterizes the current political environment as “like the monkeys escaped the zoo.” Photo by: Tim Leyes

I spoke with the seven-time Emmy-award winner by phone from his California home.  We talked about the play, politics, favorite roles and what it’s like to be working at 89 years old.

I’ve heard you described as the last real Democrat. How did you earn that title and can you talk about how God Help Us! relates to the current political scene?

Asner: I was born in 1929, so it was good year to be christened a Democrat. I come from Kansas City, Kansas, so we were vastly outnumbered. You had to learn to fight dirty and fight hard. I felt like the last living Democrat. A real Democrat is a euphemism for socialist. I like it. I think Americans were shucked into equating socialism with communism. People have been placed badly by that equation. They’ve screwed themselves. Until they get over that prejudice, our social progress will be slow.

How do you feel about the current political environment?

It’s like the monkeys escaped the zoo.

Can you share your thoughts on art/theater as a medium for resistance?

I’m delighted that artists have played a prominent role in creating resistance and continue to do so.

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