It’s one of those weeks that illustrates the rich artistic and cultural opportunities that abound even in small Oregon towns — a reminder that one need not live in Portland to see good shows and films or hear authors speak. Let’s get to it, in more or less chronological order:
CURRENTS GALLERY IN DOWNTOWN McMINNVILLE just closed a show displaying the work of many fiber artists, only to follow it with another featuring the work of a single artist. Marlene Eichner, one of the gallery’s many owners, unveiled Just Say Sew on Monday, featuring one-of-a-kind wall hangings, pillows, purses, and screens. Stylistically, the collection is all over the map, ranging from the extremes of abstract and realism, and made using an equally diverse range of techniques. I popped in briefly during the installation and was struck by the painterly look of the pieces. The show runs through Nov. 10. A reception is scheduled during McMinnville’s 3rd on 3rd art and wine walk.
Eichner has been working with fabrics most of her life. Her mother made all her clothes through high school, and she made her own clothes and dolls in junior high home-economics classes. She has a degree in English literature and worked in California’s public sector after her daughter was born, while continuing to dabble in various artistic forms.
“When I retired at 54, I returned to my sewing roots and started a serious cottage industry, merging art and fabric,” she said. “I have made everything conceivable with fabric, including purses, pillows, banners, room screens, etc., starting with traditional projects and styles and gradually gaining confidence to evolve into serious fine art.”
She focuses on wall pieces using not only traditional quilting/piecing techniques, applique, and mosaic, but also incorporating free-style, free-motion machine thread-painting, and embroidery. “My interest is in the interplay of light and color when using disparate fabrics to form a cohesive finished product,” she said. “So I play with many genres, from very abstract pieces, to both stylized and detailed representational pieces.”
Eichner said she uses either the highest quality fabric she can find, or she makes it herself in one of three ways: She’ll photocopy items such as textured paper and plant material, scan, and even manipulate them digitally, and then print on treated fabric.
She’ll also use fabrics that are cut and combined into random shapes, then joined in blocks that she embroiders free-style. She also collaborates with her daughter and a friend to design watercolor paintings on fabric, which are then used in her projects.
The show features a lovely triptych that was inspired by a trip she and her husband made to Southern Oregon only weeks ago.
“We just visited Ashland earlier this month,” She said. “We have been meeting dear friends from Sacramento every year for 13 years now, where we see two plays. It’s a tremendous highlight for me because of the inspiration I get from the beautiful surroundings, the amazing friends, the luscious art galleries, and the emotionally charged plays we’ve been lucky to pick each year.”
She began work on her Ashland Inspiration I, II & III as soon as she arrived home. The third piece was finished over the weekend and was up when I arrived.
Currents Gallery is at 532 N.E. Third St. The reception will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18. (If you’re doing the wine walk, by the way, start at McMenamins Hotel Oregon, half a block west, where you get a map, tokens, etc.) Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 503-435-1316.
BEFORE WE GET TO THE REST OF THIS WEEK, the McMinnville Short Film Festival is ramping up for next year’s event with a first-ever sneak preview fundraiser that will showcase the festival’s new partnership with Linfield College; introduce the new director, Portland filmmaker Justin Zimmerman; and screen eight films. I spent some time earlier this month talking with Zimmerman and will have a full interview with him in a few weeks. Very engaging fellow. Also, Zimmerman’s award-winning documentary, The Other Border, will be screened along with North & Nowhere, created by the festival’s 2020 keynote speaker Scott Ballard. The point is, tickets are on sale now. The event itself runs 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, in the Richard and Lucille Ice Auditorium on campus, with complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres in Melrose Hall afterward. Half the proceeds go to scholarships for immigrant students in Yamhill County.
LINFIELD COLLEGE KICKS OFF ITS MONTHLY FACULTY LECTURE SERIES with political science professor Nicholas Buccola, who will give a talk Wednesday sharing the name of his new book, The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate Over Race in America.
Buccola’s first book, The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass, was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and he’s also the author of Abraham Lincoln and Liberal Democracy and editor of The Essential Douglass. His new book is a deep dive into one of the Civil Rights era’s many explosive moments: The February 1965 debate between Baldwin and Buckley. He calls it an “intellectual biography” of the two men that springs off their legendary debate and the subsequent fallout. His talk is at 7 p.m. Oct. 16, in Linfield’s Riley Hall. The event is free.
THAT SAME NIGHT ACROSS CAMPUS IN THE ART GALLERY, an artist talk and reception will be held for a new show by Marianne Copene: A reason to lean into Vastness. Not much advance info about this one, but the talk and reception will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The exhibit runs through Nov. 9 and you can read a little more about it here.
ON THURSDAY, ALSO AT LINFIELD, THE TELEGRAPH QUARTET will kick off the college’s Lively Arts Series at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 in the Richard and Lucille Ice Auditorium in Melrose Hall. Formed in 2013, the quartet is made up of Eric Chin and Joseph Maile, violins; Pei-Ling Lin, viola; and Jeremiah Shaw, cello. Tickets are $10 at the door, but it’s free for students K-12. For more information, call 503-883-2275 or visit the website.
AT GEORGE FOX UNIVERSITY IN NEWBERG, the private school’s theater department opens a two-weekend run of its fall musical, The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Shows are scheduled for Oct. 17-20 and Oct. 24-27 in the Wood-Mar Auditorium. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. with the exception of the Sunday performances, scheduled as 2 p.m. matinees. Tickets may be purchased online or in the lobby box office on hour prior to each performance.
THE CHEHALEM CULTURAL CENTER IN NEWBERG HAS A LOT GOING ON for Hispanic Heritage Month, including two terrific opportunities for live music. Son de Cuba, rooted in Latin, African, and jazz rhythms blended with modern and classic Latin songs, will return to the center at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18. Next week, look for guitar masters María Olaya y Mario Díaz in concert at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24. Ticket information and other details available here.
GALLERY THEATER IN McMINNVILLE OPENS A NEW SHOW on Friday in the arena theater. Swimming in the Shallows, by Adam Bock, will run three weekends through Nov. 3. The theater describes it as “a delightfully offbeat romantic comedy that revolves around a group of close-knit friends who are all dealing with emotional changes in their lives.” Get your tickets at the box office or right here.
“WHIMSICAL” CELLO MUSIC may be heard Saturday at Linfield College, where cellist Diane Chaplin, who teaches there, will perform Il Violoncello Capriccioso: A Concert for Solo Cello in the Delkin Recital Hall of the Vivian A. Bull Music Center. Chaplin is familiar to Portland classical music fans, having toured the U.S. as a featured member of the Portland Cello Project. She has performed in more than 20 countries and produced a variety of critically acclaimed albums. You can hear her in McMinnville at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. Admission is free and open to the public.
FINALLY, WE RETURN TO GEORGE FOX FOR A VISUAL ART SHOW that opens Monday featuring the work of Japanese artist Mika Aono titled Over and Over. Aono will give a talk at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21, in the Chehalem Cultural Center a few blocks from the campus, where you’ll find her work in the Lindgren Gallery, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. A reception in the gallery follows the talk from 7 to 8 p.m.
According to the promotional material, her images “explore the humanness of absurdity and futility through laborious processes, finding value in unfulfilled wishes.”
“This particular installation was inspired by the recent death of my parents and the environmental crisis we are facing,” Aono said. “I am fascinated with biological and historical repetitions in life. We repeat over and over while standing upon unimaginable layers of narratives.”
The show runs through Dec. 5.
ARTS JOURNAL: The literary critic Harold Bloom, who died earlier this week, was an intriguing figure. I have his Shakespeare opus on my shelf, which I consult frequently. A few times a year, I’ll borrow some of his other books from the library. I realize his literary conservatism has fallen out of fashion, and to be sure one can justifiably take issue with many of his views. But there was brilliance there, too. For those who watch, read, or perform Shakespeare, he’s essential. My take is pretty simple: He was right on some issues and wrong on others. Yes, he may be known for championing “dead white male” writers, but he also argued that parts of the New Testament’s first five books were written by a woman. I like reading Bloom on Shakespeare, but I also delight in watching Ron Rosenbaum knock him off his pedestal in The Shakespeare Wars. So let us continue to read the late, great Harold Bloom, take what we need, discard the rest, and move on.
This story is supported in part by a grant from the Yamhill County Cultural Coalition, Oregon Cultural Trust, and Oregon Community Foundation.