LANGUAGE ARTS

Remembering the Big Blow

Book author John Dodge will speak in Cannon Beach about the 1962 Columbus Day Storm and its effect on Oregon and its wine and timber industries

On Oct. 12, 1962, the strongest windstorm in the recorded history of the West Coast battered the Pacific Northwest, claiming lives, destroying homes and businesses, and decimating farmland and forest — the latter resulting in an unexpected silver lining of sorts. John Dodge was 14 at the time, living in the Olympia area with his family. He would go on to a 40-year, award-winning career in journalism, serving as columnist, editorial page writer, and investigative reporter for The Olympian before retiring in 2015.

John Dodge says many people who attend his talks about the Columbus Day Storm are seeking closure for the event they lived through 58 years ago. Dodge was a teenager living in Olympia when the storm hit in 1962.

In 2018, Oregon State University Press published his book, A Deadly Wind: The 1962 Columbus Day Storm.  Dodge will kick off the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum’s lecture series on Jan. 16 with a presentation about that deadly day.

The free talk will be from 4 to 5 p.m.  Plan to arrive early, as no one will be admitted after 4:15.

We talked with Dodge about his memories and his research. His comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Where were you when the storm hit?

I was at a football game and right before kickoff, a state trooper came out and told everyone to go home — a big storm is coming. Right about then, the lights went out and the winds kicked up. We lived in the woods in a very rural area on property with a lot of Douglas firs. Our fear was our house was really vulnerable and we didn’t think it would be safe there. So our family went to a friend’s house in a suburban development. Then a tree came down. We were lucky not to be in the room where the tree fell. Later, after the storm had passed, Dad and I got in our truck and drove back to the house. Lo and behold, there were trees all over, but nothing hit the house. It was one of those ironies, we went to a house to get safe from the trees only to be struck by a tree.

Among the casualties of the 1962 Columbus Day storm was the Campbell Hall bell tower at the Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon University) in Monmouth. The iconic photo shot by college student Wes Luchau illustrates the cover of John Dodge’s book, “A Deadly Wind.”

What is notable for you about the storm?

Most notable is that it seems the number of fatalities and injuries could have been much greater. There were a lot of “there but for the grace of God go I” type of experiences. I tallied 63 direct and indirect deaths. Indirect would be folks who died of, say, a heart attack the next day cleaning up debris or someone who fell off their roof trying to attach a TV antenna. Direct deaths — people who died in the storm — are closer to 46. There were 300 serious injuries requiring someone to be hospitalized.

We’re used to some big wind here on the Coast. How big was this?

The highest peak winds were probably at Cape Blanco (four miles north of Port Orford) on the headland. There was a Coast Guard station there. Their wind gauge blew out before the worst of the winds arrived. When it blew out, they had already recorded a 145 mph gust. Most of those at the station thought the winds hit 175 to 185 mph gusts. There were sustained winds of over 110 mph. That would be the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane. Ground zero of the storm was the Willamette Valley. You’ll find the most harrowing stories coming from Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, and Portland. People succumbed to the wind all the way to Vancouver, B.C.

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Yamhill County calendar: Winter warmers

The new year rolls in with a little of everything: gallery exhibitions, TEDx talks, readings, and music

I’m not sure whether to chalk this up to naivete or the fact that Yamhill County’s arts and culture scene has been developing momentum in recent years, but there was a time not so long ago when I assumed things slowed down in the winter. 

Perhaps it did once, but not anymore. Even when the skies turn gray and the trees are bare in Oregon’s wine country, our cultural calendar remains packed full. So follow along as we dive into 2020 with a peek at what’s in store over the next couple of months.

CURRENTS GALLERY IN DOWNTOWN McMINNVILLE is one of several businesses housed in the Elks Lodge building on Third Street. The top floor of the 1908 structure, once occupied by lodge space (including a ballroom), was renovated in 1993 by locals Matt and Marilyn Worrix into a sprawling 10,000-square-foot apartment. Having visited there over the years, I could wax poetic for some time about the place, but the point is the building is on the market, and the couple’s downsizing strategy includes selling much of the art collection that filled the apartment: paintings, etchings, ceramics, glass, and more.

Matt and Marilyn Worrix are downsizing and selling much of their art collection, such as this acrylic painting by Matt Worrix, through Currents Gallery in McMinnville.  

Currents Gallery will host the affair, which kicks off with a reception from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, in the gallery. The show runs Jan. 7 through Feb. 16 during regular gallery hours. Artists whose work will be on display include Nils Lou, Marg Johansen, Chris Johnson, Glen Hashitani, and more. A second reception will be held for the monthly 3rd Friday on 3rd Street artwalk, from 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 17. For more information, call 503-435-1316.

THE CHEHALEM CULTURAL CENTER IN NEWBERG opens 2020 with three new shows in January. In the Parrish Gallery, look for a stunning glass installation, Hanging River, by Takahiro Yamamoto and Andy Paiko, beginning Jan. 7. Also opening that day is Intimate Conversations, a botanical photography exhibition by Fretta Cravens. Rich Bergeman’s The Land Remembers opens Jan. 14. The series of black-and-white infrared landscape photography, inspired by events during the Rogue River Wars of 1851-56, has been bouncing around the state and lands in Newberg for a show that runs through February. Visit the website for more information and details on receptions for all three shows.

The “Hanging River” show by Takahiro Yamamoto and Andy Paiko at the Chehalem Cultural Center includes multiple transparent objects, including a large glass sculpture resembling a stringed instrument.

While you’re there, check out the staged reading series that begins Feb. 1 (tickets are on sale now) courtesy of Newberg-based Penguin Productions. More? The 2020 Boxed Show Series begins Feb. 21.

TWO SHOWS HIGHLIGHTING art by local youth will be featured in The Gallery at Ten Oaks in McMinnville this month and next. The first runs Jan. 7 through Feb. 2 and showcases work by students from high schools around Yamhill County, including Yamhill-Carlton, Sheridan, Amity, and the Delphian School. An opening reception is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15. Then, work by students from high schools in McMinnville and Newberg will be unveiled Feb. 5, with a reception at 6 p.m. Feb. 12.

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Vision 2020: Darcy Dolge, Sarah West, and Nancy Knowles

Leaders of Art Center East in La Grande say funding cuts could have been dire in their rural area, but the community stepped up to keep arts thriving

Since 1977, Art Center East in La Grande has coordinated arts programs in a 10-county area that includes Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler counties. The nonprofit community art center houses two exhibit galleries, a gift gallery, and three educational studios in a former Carnegie Library owned by the city. At the center alone, classes, concerts, exhibits, and workshops are offered year-round. Organizers recently estimated that roughly 25,000 people visited the center every year.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


Given the far-flung reach of the center’s programs, we ran our questions by not one, but three women who play key roles. Darcy Dolge is executive director at Art Center East (ACE) and an entrepreneur and owner of Blackberry Moon SoundNancy Knowles, a poet and professor of English at Eastern Oregon University, serves as the nonprofit board’s president. Sarah West, also a local entrepreneur and owner of Teahouse La Grande, is the center’s community outreach coordinator. She also sits on the board for the La Grande Farmers’ Market. Their comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Leaders at Art Center East (from left) Darcy Dolge, Sarah West, and Nancy Knowles oversee arts and culture programs serving 10 counties in Eastern Oregon.

Who comes to the Arts Center? What do they use it for? Basically, what goes on there, year-round? Can you give us a general sense of it?

Dolge: Ours is the only art gallery in Union County open to the public six days a week, and we see a wide range of visitors, both locals and out-of-towners. We’re often surprised at how many visitors wander through our doors to have a look at our exhibit or inquire about the local art scene.

We offer a lot of programming, including an average of 150 classes each quarter, nine-plus exhibits each year, a monthly author reading series, a community music program, monthly dance nights hosted by a partnering organization, along with several free community events and cultural performances all year long. We also serve local artists in the form of retail sales in our gift gallery and an annual maker’s market around the holidays, exposure and notoriety via gallery exhibits, as well as giving those who are interested a place to earn income by teaching their craft.

We have several local partnerships to bring art instruction to underserved populations, including the Union County Juvenile Department, Union County District Attorney Parole Restitution Program, Shelter From the Storm Victim Rehabilitation Program for victims of domestic abuse, and the Center for Human Development. Lastly, our Artists in Rural Schools program places professional art educators in rural schools in 10 counties of Eastern Oregon.

How would you characterize the general state of artistic and cultural life in your area?

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Coast calendar: Here’s to an arty new year

Art exhibits and author readings are among events getting 2020 off to an inspiring start

The first Saturday of 2020 starts with several events in Lincoln County, including two openings at the Newport Visual Arts Center. At 2 p.m., the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts hosts a First Saturday opening reception for the 11 artists chosen from the recent 2019 PushPin Show for the 2020 Mayors’ Show. There’ll be comments at 3 p.m. and the opportunity to schmooze until 5 p.m.

Winning artists include Linda Aguirre (miniature dioramas), Haley Dean (watercolor still lifes), Denise DeMarie (fiber wall sculptures), Graece Gabriel (photography), Sallie Inman (acrylic on wood panels), Susan Jones (woven reed sculptures), Herb Kateley (photography), Bill Posner (photography), Ben Soeby (mixed media on wood), Emy Syrop (gouache and acrylic on paper and canvas), and Jeff Syrop (watercolor and gouache on paper).

Art by Ben Soeby is among the work included in the Mayors’ Show opening Saturday in the Newport Visual Arts Center.

“Being selected for the Mayors’ Show highlights the VAC’s ability to inspire artists,” Jeff Syrop said in a press release. “The inclusiveness of the PushPin Show really jumpstarts artists’ creativity and the Mayors’ Show is an extension of that energy. It’s definitely an honor to be included.”

The Mayors’ Show was started in 2016 by former Newport Mayor — and painter — Sandra Roumagoux and the Oregon Council for the Arts to give more exposure to PushPin Show artists and to build connections between the arts community and city employees and elected officials.

“I happened upon the Mayors’ Show last winter and considered the possibility of being selected for a future year,” participating artist Susan Jones said in a press release. “That singular thought strengthened my commitment to art and inspired the choices I made while weaving my sculptures over the past year. I am excited and encouraged to be honored in this way by my community. We are fortunate to have this kind of support.”

The show will be up in the Runyan Gallery through Jan. 26.

Seal Rock artist Helen Nighthawk’s work in on display in the Upstairs Gallery of the Newport Visual Arts Center.

Also at the center, an exhibit by Seal Rock Artist Helen Nighthawk opens Saturday in the Upstairs Gallery with a public reception from 2 to 5 p.m.

Turning features acrylic and ink paintings on paper and plywood, and wood sculptures. A visual artist and poet, Nighthawk has been painting for more than 50 years. She has been involved with the Nye Beach Banner Project and been a featured artist at libraries around the county. She also worked as a scenic artist for films, television shows, and public and private productions throughout Seattle. Her credits include collaborating with directors David Lynch and Robert Altman. Her show will be on display through Feb. 1.  

AT THE SITKA CENTER FOR ART and Ecology, Saturday is the Resident Show & Tell. Visual artists Lanny DeVuono and Genevieve Robertson and writers-in-residence Maxim Loskutoff and Lydia Conklin will present what they’ve been working on since their arrival in October. Doors open at 12:30 p.m, with presentations starting at 1 p.m. in the Boyden Studio. The event is free and open to the public.

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A writer’s journey

In which our coast correspondent learns that the secret to publishing a novel is to never, never, never give up

Next fall will mark 20 years since we moved to the Oregon Coast. The years were some of the hardest of my life, but also the most gratifying. We came to the coast because we loved it. We’d discovered it while living in a small town in Southern Oregon that we abandoned nearly every weekend to camp by the beach. And even though we eventually moved on to Colorado, it was here that we wanted to one day land.

When the hubs got a job offer here, I didn’t see how we could say no. I was pretty sure a similar offer wouldn’t come anytime soon. But faced with leaving my job at the Rocky Mountain News, leaving my Denver friends, leaving all that a thriving city offers, this rugged landscape on the Pacific no longer seemed so enticing. Still, I believed if I wanted to focus on the writing that was important to me — fiction, creative nonfiction — I needed to go someplace where I could be quiet. I needed to take myself out of the race. As it turned out, I actually really liked that race.

Lori Tobias (right) is joined by Denver writer Sherry Spitsnaugle at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver. Tobias’s novel, “Wander,” won the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award for literary fiction.

Nonetheless, here I was. Every morning, I’d rise at 5 and go to the office to write. But the words didn’t come. It seemed everything I’d learned in many writing workshops and classes had evaporated, simply disappeared from my brain. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. Still, whether the words came or not, the rule I’d made for myself was that I had to spend time in the chair.  

A little more than a year after moving to the coast, my brave new venture seemed doomed. Despite clinging to every bit of pithy advice and encouragement — including a ceramic piece from a friend that paraphrased Churchill: “Never, never, never give up” — I seemed to be getting nowhere. Reluctantly, I decided I wasn’t meant to write fiction. It was time to give up. I made the decision with a mix of sorrow and relief. It had been my dream from a very young age. But now at least I could move on, focus on the career I was building as a travel writer.

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The Artists Series: Writers, Part 2

Ten portraits in black and white by K.B. Dixon of Oregon writers who are making a mark in the world, with excerpts from their work


TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY K.B. DIXON


This is the second installment of portraits in The Artist Series. Like the first, it focuses on Oregon writers—the unusually gifted people who make up this state’s diverse and dynamic literary culture. 

The visual approach remains the same. It relies on an economy of means, on a simple alchemic mix of raw materials: time, light, and character.

My hope is to call attention to the uniquely rewarding work of these talented people, and, as always, to produce a good photograph—one that presents a feeling as well as a form, one that preserves for myself and others a faithful representation of the subject. 


FLOYD SKLOOT


Poet, novelist, memoirist, and science writer. Far West is his latest book of poetry.

“My brain is a jukebox stuffed with old songs

playing a phrase or two at random over

and over. I keep the volume turned low

but you can sometimes see my lips move

as I sing along, eyebrows rising as I reach

for a silent high note.”

Excerpt from the poem “Over and Over” in the collection Far West

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Calendar: Coasting through the slow season

It's quiet at the beach, but there's still plays to watch, photos to see, poetry to hear, and banners to bid on

It’s the slow season on the Oregon Coast, that time between summer crowds and holiday madness, but enough is happening to provide an excuse to get out of the house.

In Newport, it’s time for the Nye Beach Banner Auction. Many of the 43 artists involved in creating this year’s banners chose to honor Newport’s sister city, Mombetsu, Japan.

Rowan Lehrman, who contributed this banner to last year’s Nye Beach Banner Project, is one of 43 artists participating in this year’s auction.

“It is an honor to create a banner for your enjoyment,” writes Rhona Chase in her catalog statement. “This year’s Sister City theme inspired me to discover the similarities between Newport, Oregon, and Mombetsu, Japan — both port towns that pride themselves on a crab-based economy.”

For the first time, pre-auction bidding will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 9 and 10. The auction, with musical entertainment, happens 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Newport Visual Arts Center; bidding closes at 7 p.m.

The 11-year-old Nye Beach Banner Project celebrates local artists, beautifies the community, and raises money to support youth arts education and public art through the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.

“Walking around the narrow streets of Nye Beach in Newport, it’s hard not to notice the creativity of area residents — banners hang from light posts like beckoning sentries, inviting residents and tourists alike to watch for the next piece of original artwork at the next street corner,” Tom Webb, director of the Visual Arts Center, said in a press release. “We encourage the community to attend the banner auction and support their efforts.”

The auction is free and open to the public.

ALSO AT THE VISUAL ARTS CENTER, the  Oregon Coast Council for the Arts presents Drawing in the Northern Light, an exhibition of photographs and poems by Joseph Ohmann-Krause, in the Upstairs Gallery through Dec. 28. An opening reception will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 7, with an artist talk at 3:30 p.m.

The traveling exhibition comes from The Little Gallery at Oregon State University. According to the exhibit catalog, the images and poems are inspired by Vilhelm Hammershøi  (1864-1916), a Danish Symbolist painter who painted in the northern light.

Joseph Ohmann-Krause's photographs and poetry, inspired by Danish Symbolist painter Vilhelm Hammershøi, are in the Upstairs Gallery of the Newport Visual Arts Center.
Joseph Ohmann-Krause’s photographs and poetry, inspired by Danish Symbolist painter Vilhelm Hammershøi, are in the Upstairs Gallery of the Newport Visual Arts Center.

Ohmann-Krause, professor of French at OSU, first came upon Hammershøi’s work in 2015 through a catalog of the artist’s paintings. “The term northern light is used here less in geographic or cartographic terms, and more as an aesthetic or visual compass needle,” writes Ohmann-Krause. “The north is less a reference to the polar star than it is to a protection against the direct sun, le plein sud in French, a warm attractive light much favored by Matisse or D.H. Lawrence, or several generations of painters and writers who, in the early 20th century, were drawn southward to the Mediterranean, to colonial Africa or to Mexico in search of more radiance. The northern mists of romantic nationalism had long hidden the industrial squalor that it contained.”

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