FILM

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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Welcome to the Goon Docks, virtually

Astoria dials back the 35th-anniversary celebration of the cult classic because of COVID-19 restrictions, but fans will still find ways to fete the film

In June 1985, as Mikey Walsh and his young friends set out from their coastal Goon Docks neighborhood in Astoria in search of hidden treasure, I was living on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and knew nothing about his adventure. Of course, we had movie theaters there, but if The Goonies made the local big screen, I didn’t know about it.

In truth, it would be 20 years before I heard of the movie. That was 2005, the year of the first Goonies Day, hosted by the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce. For those who don’t know the story, Mikey’s family is about to lose their home to the expansion of the neighboring country club. Then Mikey stumbles on a treasure map and, with his friends, sets out to find the pirate’s treasure and save their neighborhood. First, however, they must elude an evil family whose restaurant sits above the entrance to the cavern where they believe the treasure is buried.

Corey Feldman (from left), Sean Astin,, Ke Huy Quan, and Jeff Cohen starred as the pirate-treasure-hunting heroes of “The Goonies,” filmed largely in Astoria and along the Oregon Coast.
Corey Feldman (from left), Sean Astin,, Ke Huy Quan, and Jeff Cohen starred as the pirate-treasure-hunting heroes of “The Goonies,” filmed largely in Astoria and along the Oregon Coast.

It’s a fun story by Steven Spielberg that takes many viewers back to their own childhoods. But it’s more than just a family-friendly flick; its devoted fans have elevated The Goonies to a worldwide cult classic.

Astoria annually celebrates June 7 as Goonies Day, with blowouts every five years since 2005, and, since 2011, smaller events during the years in between.

“It touches people from all over the world,” said Regina Willkie, marketing manager for the chamber. “Visitors come from all over: Australia, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil, and all over the U.S. The fans are always so excited. They seem to adopt Astoria as a second home.”

This summer was to be the 35th anniversary celebration. And it still will be – in the virtual world.

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‘I am still here.… It still is a time for singing’

Voices from the front: Five members of the coastal arts community talk about how the pandemic has changed them – and it’s not all bad news

I can’t think of another time in my life more unexpected or unpredictable. When will it end? Who will I be when it’s over? Certainly not the same, of that I’m sure. But the pandemic has not been without bright spots. Nearly every day I see evidence of something good. A rekindled relationship; an inspired new business; new friendships formed at virtual gatherings.

Thinking others must be experiencing the same, I reached out to members of the coastal arts world and asked three questions: What has been a pleasant surprise of the pandemic? What have you learned? Will your work be different as a result?  Here are their answers, edited for length and clarity.


OREGON IN SHUTDOWN: VOICES FROM THE FRONT


Betsy Altomare is co-owner with her husband, Keith, of the Bijou Theatre in Lincoln City. The theater is closed but offering virtual films through its website. And every day from 6 to 7 p.m., the Altomares sell their popular popcorn to go.

Betsy Altomare is co-owner of Bijou Theatre in Lincoln City.
Betsy Altomare says she has been surprised at the outpouring of love for the Bijou Theatre.

What has been a pleasant surprise of the pandemic?

Altomare: Probably the reminder that people really love the Bijou Theatre. We decided to do a GoFundMe with the goal to pay off our mortgage, which was only $2,984. We actually raised it in 10 hours.

What have you learned during the pandemic?

Altomare:  Patience, and that viruses don’t discriminate.

Will your work be different as a result of the pandemic?

Altomare: That’s the big one. Very different. We’ve been doing virtual cinema. That’s been fairly popular. Right now, we have nine movies on our website and they are things we would normally play. I think we’re going to continue doing a few titles even once we open our doors. Also, the popcorn.  

Alison Dennis has been the executive director at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology since October 2018. The nonprofit was fortunate to receive a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program that has allowed Sitka to keep its full staff working full hours.

“We’re working remotely from home, both making preparations for the summer, adapting as we learn what will be possible, and also hard at work planning the 2021 schedule now,” Dennis said. “Even before the pandemic, Sitka had been pursuing a number of innovative ways to expand our reach, and we’re excited to share more about what we’ve been working on in the months ahead.”

Alison Dennis is executive director for Sitka Center for Art and Ecology near Otis.
The Sitka Center’s Alison Dennis says she feels both more isolated and more connected than ever.

What has been a pleasant surprise of the pandemic?

Dennis: The generosity of the Oregon arts community is awe-inspiring. Whether generosity in spirits (well wishes) or financial support (donated money for spring workshops we’ve had to cancel). Instead of requesting full refunds, people are donating part or all of it. We’re really overwhelmed. One of our newest team members put it this way: “The people are reaching out to us to make sure the Sitka team is doing OK. I’ve never worked anywhere where people care so much.”

I was really moved by that reflection. One of the other biggest surprises is feeling isolated, but also more connected than ever at the same time.

What have you learned during the pandemic?

Dennis: On a practical level, the Oregon Coast is an art and nature destination. It’s important for all of us who are part of coastal tourism and government to collaborate across county lines to determine when and how we welcome people back to the coast. On an art and ecology level, now is the time to listen to nature. Altea Narici, a cellist and vocal artist from Rome, participated in a residence here. Reflecting on her time here the first week of the pandemic, she wrote, “The world is saying I am still here, life is still here, spring is happening now. It still is a time for singing.”

Will your work be different as a result of the pandemic?

Dennis: I bet it will. At one level, Sitka is very much a place-based organization. We’re a place people come to get off the grid, connect with nature, reflect, and create. At another level, Sitka’s real work is the inspiration people take with them into their lives after spending time in this place. The pandemic is bringing communities together across geography in new ways. I’m excited to see how Sitka’s community of art- and nature-inspired people will connect, share, find inspiration in one another’s work through the pandemic, but also beyond.

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Virtual art show goes viral

An online exhibition at Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg explores artistic responses to COVID-19

The Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg, like every other gallery and cultural venue in Oregon, is closed to the public, but the nonprofit’s resolve to stay on task with showcasing art, bringing artists together, and building a cultural community is unbroken.

Last week, the center unveiled an extraordinary and ambitious online exhibition brilliantly curated (presumably from her home) by Carissa Burkett, who keeps the center’s multiple galleries full year-round. It answers, at least in a preliminary way, a question that’s been on my mind since mid-March when COVID-19 shut everything down: How will artists respond to a pandemic?

“A dream of flying,” by Stan Peterson of Portland (carved and painted basswood on birch panel, 11 by 14 by 4 inches, April 2020). Peterson says of his piece: “The reclining figure emanating the yellow light of sky rests in a boat adrift. There is a sort of reverie to sheltering in place. I’m also feeling adrift, waiting to fly again.”
“A dream of flying,” by Stan Peterson of Portland (carved and painted basswood on birch panel, 11 by 14 by 4 inches, April 2020). Peterson says of his piece: “The reclining figure emanating the yellow light of sky rests in a boat adrift. There is a sort of reverie to sheltering in place. I’m also feeling adrift, waiting to fly again.”

A global trauma like COVID-19 will surely reverberate through the art world in coming years and even decades in ways we can’t predict. But Our Changing Context: Initial Artistic Response to COVID-19 at least provides an expansive snapshot of what artists are up to right now.

The show’s emotional resonance is all the more powerful thanks to two personal notes Burkett includes in the program’s description. She credits her father, Phil Burkett, for “planting the idea for this exhibit in my mind and for continually nurturing my creative spirit.” Also: “My work on this exhibit is in loving memory of my grandmother, Arlene Sue Conner, who passed away this past weekend on 4/18/2020.” 

“Curating this online exhibit has been a unique experience,” she writes. “Arranging images and text on a screen instead of lugging around my hammer and nails has allowed me to spend more time looking at, thinking about, and arranging these artworks than any physical exhibition I have ever put together. This allowed me the opportunity to bring together artists from across the country who work in widely different mediums but share the common experience of a pandemic that leaves every life continually grieving a new context, one in which needs cannot be met.  However each person chooses to make it through each day during this crisis is unique and how each of these artists have created is a testament to humanity.”

The exhibition features work by more than 20 artists, from Oregon and around the country, and includes digital photography, collage, drawing, poetry, painting, and video.

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Lincoln City theater owner aces celebrity name game

Bijou Theatre’s Betsy Altomare met plenty of musicians when she worked for Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard

In these strange days, I’m game for pretty much anything that might inspire a few grins, and lately that’s coming, often as not, from Facebook, where I spend entirely too much time.

One recent “game” going around asks for the names of five (or sometimes 10) celebrities you’ve met, including one that’s a lie. Then it’s up to your friends to guess which one that is.

I listed Joe Cocker, Wally Lamb, Ty Burrell, David Ogden Stiers, and Tippi Hedren.

I met Cocker when I interviewed him at his wife’s café in Crawford, Colo., a little town about 70 miles southeast of Grand Junction. He was shy, friendly, and constantly in motion. I had lunch with Stiers as the guest of a friend who bid on the meal for a fundraiser. Wally Lamb — just as nice as you might imagine — read from one of his novels at the Denver Woman’s Press Club, and I met Hedren when I interviewed her for a story for The Oregonian. She was friendly but disturbed that I wasn’t taping our conversation. She said she had canceled interviews over a lack of recording. But she let me go ahead and later thanked me for getting it right. You can guess from the above whom I never actually met — I’ve always loved that he was raised in the Rogue Valley, where I also lived for a couple of years.

My list, however, pales next to Betsy Altomare’s. Betsy and her husband, Keith, own and operate the Bijou Theatre in Lincoln City. Although the Bijou is closed for now, you can still get their famous popcorn and stream movies from their virtual theater.

Betsy Altomare remembers meeting Paul Newman when she was 16 years old. He did not give her an autograph.

But about that list. Altomare named nine celebrities she met and one she didn’t.  They are: Elton John, David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz, Tina Turner, Neil Young, Sarah McLachlan, Cameron Crowe, Paul Newman, John Entwistle, and Bruce Springsteen. How did she meet all those famous people? Turns out she worked at Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, and also did marketing for music trade publication HITS Magazine.

Who was your first?

Altomare: Paul Newman. When I was 16, a bunch of actors — Newman, Joanne Woodward, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and Jacqueline Bisset — came to sign a petition at a Santa Monica Beach parking lot to stop off-shore drilling. Me, my best friend, and my dad went to see all the Hollywood stars. I caught Paul Newman going into his bus and I asked for an autograph. He said, “No, I don’t believe in that sort of thing.”

What was the most surprising encounter?

I guess maybe Elton John. I was a huge Elton John fan when I was a teenage girl. When I was 25, he came into Tower and I was too shy to talk to him. He went across the street to a video store after the record store. I followed him. That’s when I finally went up to him and told him I loved his music and got his autograph.

Elton John, however, did give Altomare an autograph.

Was he friendly?

He was polite. He had bodyguards with him. It was the biggest record store on the West Coast. Elton John was known to just close down the record store and do his shopping. His song writer, Bernie Taupin, used to come in regularly, and I would help him. He would bring a list and we would help him find the records.

Neil Young?

He was a character in the movie, Human Highway.  It was pretty silly. My boyfriend and I got tickets to the premiere and premiere party and he was there. It was in a big warehouse and they had these games related to the movie. He was very, very polite. I asked for his autograph and he said, “You know, let’s wait a second.” There were a couple of guys across the room and there was something going on, and he walked over to them, then he came back and signed it.

What was the most memorable?

Probably having dinner and riding in a car with R.E.M. My boyfriend, now my husband, worked for the record company that represented R.E.M and the Go-Go’s. I was invited to go to a dinner with R.E.M. members Peter Buck and Mike Mills.

Wait, that’s not on your list.

I know, but I only had room for 10.

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An invitation to ‘unleash the artist’

Manzanita's Hoffman Center for the Arts responds to the coronavirus shutdown by encouraging artists in all media to participate in a virtual show

Like so many others, artist Christine Wichers is feeling a bit out of sorts these days. She and her husband are 72; her mother, 94, lives with them.

“We’re in that high target range” for susceptibility to the novel coronavirus, said Wichers, who lives in Washougal, Wash. “I worry every single day that I am going to make some kind of mistake and cause us harm. I could do something wrong and bring that home or make one trip to the grocery store too many.”

When Christine Wichers saw how her painting, “At Home Day 9,” turned out, she thought, “Dang, that’s how I feel.”  The painting is part of the Hoffman Center for the Arts’ “Creating in Place” virtual show.  Photo courtesy: Hoffman Center for the Arts

But she does take comfort in her afternoon painting routine and recently found herself channeling the anxiety and uncertainty into her art. She’d been working on a series of sea creatures, with a focus on the eyes.

“I just started putting paint on the canvas,” she said. And as the work she has since dubbed At Home Day 9 evolved, she knew she’d captured her stormy spirit. “I said, ‘Dang, that’s how I feel.’”

Then came that moment of serendipity, the place every artist hopes to land – a gallery to share her work.

The Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita is hosting Creating in Place: Connecting in a Time of Uncertainty. The project was Hoffman Center board member David Dillon’s idea.

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Voices from the front: ‘We’re in it for the long haul’

The longtime owner of a Cannon Beach art gallery predicts her business and others will survive the COVID-19 shutdown, with a little help from the community

Joyce Lincoln remembers vowing to herself at the age of 9 that one day she would live in Cannon Beach. Even as a child, she appreciated the natural beauty, the fresh air, and the community spirit. The Northwest native saw her wish come true in 1987, when she and her husband, Robert Necker, opened Northwest by Northwest Gallery in downtown Cannon Beach Thirty-three years later, they’re representing some of the biggest names in regional art.

Joyce Lincoln, owner of Northwest by Northwest Gallery in Cannon Beach
Joyce Lincoln says she’s seen hard times before in her 33 years as owner of Northwest by Northwest Gallery.

But now, she said, the place National Geographic named one of the most beautiful places on Earth has posted a closed sign.

The COVID-19 virus has ground life to a halt. Lincoln had to close her gallery during what would normally be a busy week – spring break — after tourists swamped the coast last weekend and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued a statewide order closing nonessential businesses and telling people to stay home.


OREGON IN SHUTDOWN: VOICES FROM THE FRONT


“You can walk down Main Street and maybe see six other people,” Lincoln said this week. “Nothing is happening; it’s total devastation. Everyone is frightened out of their wits and frightened for themselves and their families. We’re all losing money every day. People are distracted by fear.”

Nonetheless, Lincoln said she completely understands why businesses have been shut down and tourists asked not to visit. But while health concerns top everyone’s list, Lincoln also worries about the local families who make their living in the restaurant and hotel businesses.

Last year, the local food bank served 9,000 people, she said. “And that was in good times.”

Lincoln’s been through this a time or two. There were the dark days following 9/11 and the drawn-out recession following the 2008 housing market collapse. The gallery pulled through, largely thanks to regular clients and local friends and, Lincoln said, “We learned to live a conservative lifestyle.”

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