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Exquisite Gorge 10: The Truth-Teller

As Saturday's finale of Maryhill Museum's Columbia Gorge print project approaches, artist and veteran Drew Cameron talks about art and war.


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


“Truth-telling is often very unpleasant when it contradicts the opinion of the majority. Telling the truth can easily lead to a minority position and exposes the truth-teller to the pressure of the majority. To resist this pressure demands courage. Therefore, courage is not only the virtue of political action par excellence, but also quite evidently the virtue of truth-telling. To tell an inconvenient truth is not only a statement, but also an action.”

From: When Telling the Truth Demands Courage Volume 1 of HA: The Journal of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities at Bard College. (2018)

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Courage was visible all around me during my recent visit to the Columbia Gorge Veterans Museum in The Dalles, right next to American Legion Post 19. It was documented in displays about those who have served our country, both on active duty and back home supporting the soldiers during the many wars in recent history, displays that recalled stories of loyalty and sacrifice.

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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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‘Art Cubed’ evolves from squares to another dimension

Sculptural work is the focus of this year's art-auction fundraiser for the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg

The title of the latest exhibit at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg is misleading, but there’s an explanation why Art Cubed contains little resembling so much as a single square other than the stands displaying the art itself.

For the past eight years, the center’s annual art-auction fundraiser has offered a collection of 12-by-12-inch paintings donated by area artists. This year, the center is shaking things up.

The three-dimensional art works in the "Art Cubed" show at the Chehalem Cultural Center will be auctioned off Sept. 7.
The three-dimensional art works in the “Art Cubed” show at the Chehalem Cultural Center will be auctioned off Sept. 7 in an invitation-only fundraiser for the center. Photo by: David Bates

“I decided we should take the art into the third dimension and focus on sculptural pieces instead of flat work,” said Carissa Smith-Burkett, the center’s curator and arts program manager. “This is to diversify the type of work that is being auctioned off, but also to reach different artists who have not had an opportunity to donate in the past.”

Hence, Art Squared became Art Cubed.

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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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Local literary talent blooms in ‘Paper Gardens 2019’

More than 50 Yamhill County writers of poetry and prose are featured in the collection that recently hit bookstore and library shelves

Over the past couple of decades, Yamhill County writers and arts advocates have developed an infrastructure to assist their own, and the most visible of those efforts — a published volume of local prose and poetry — recently hit the shelves in libraries and bookstores.

Paper Gardens 2019 is a 116-page collection featuring work by more than 50 writers of all ages. They were among hundreds who submitted work in the categories of traditional poetry, free verse, haiku, fiction, and nonfiction. Two professional judges (one for poetry, one for prose) narrowed the field, and the book featuring their selections was released at a ceremony at the Chehalem Cultural Center earlier this year.

More so than live theater, music, or visual art, a region’s literary scene can be tough to track. The work is produced largely in isolation, often by those who are disinclined to call attention to themselves, and only a few of whom reach a level where the resources of a major publisher or magazine are brought to bear in nudging an author’s work into full public view.

The Arts Alliance of Yamhill County has published Paper Gardens 2019, featuring the prose and verse of more than 50 Yamhill County residents. The cover art is by Jeanne Cuddeford.
The Arts Alliance of Yamhill County has published “Paper Gardens 2019,” featuring the prose and verse of more than 50 Yamhill County residents. The cover art is by Jeanne Cuddeford. Photo by: David Bates

Paper Gardens, sponsored by the Arts Alliance of Yamhill County and made possible with sponsorships by McMinnville Kiwanis and McMinnville Noon Rotary, has (with other events) helped raise the visibility of such writers.

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Beloved Festival: decolonizing music

Oregon music festival includes music from many cultures, addresses issues ranging from terminology to privilege

For eleven years, Oregon’s Beloved Festival has embraced multicultural musical diversity, environmental sustainability, a peace-and-love vibe. In a sylvan setting on private forestland in the Coast Range, about 3,000 attendees could dance, meditate, practice yoga, eat vegan, and celebrate secular spirituality in a “spontaneous village.” But while many of its invited performers were musicians of color, its audiences were overwhelmingly white.

It’s an issue common to blues, jazz concerts and so-called “world music” concerts. (Oregon has other events that feature music from many cultures, most notably the Salem World Beat Festival.) Beloved founder/director Elliott Rasenick decided to do something about it — “to really ask why is it mostly white people here? And to take responsibility. The lazy way is to say ‘we’re in Oregon.’” Last year, he led a discussion from the main stage and promised changes. This year’s festival, which runs August 9-12, shows the festival beginning to respond. 

The reform effort got off to a rough start. “Last year I really wanted to start to talk about racism and white supremacy,” Rasenick recalled, envisioning an on-stage discussion between him and an activist of color. “I started asking black women who did anti racist work and kept getting these subtle ‘I’m not comfortable with that’ vibes.” Finally, Portland activist Teressa Raiford “made me understand how difficult that is — to ask a black person to teach white people about white supremacy, and to ask someone I haven’t worked with to build trust to work with me. That showed me that I need to show up and demonstrate I’m worthy of trust before I ask for things that require trust.”

Photo by Jess Stewart Maize.
Trust demonstrated at Beloved Festival 2018. Photo by Jess Stewart Maize.

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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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