Oregon Cultural Trust

Coast calendar: Holiday shows, music — and whale-watching

It seems dark and stormy at the end of December, but upcoming events promise a lot of merry and bright.


Things can get awfully quiet on the coast in late December. Black Friday has come and gone, the holiday visitors haven’t yet arrived, and dark and stormy nights are not the exception but something of a rule. Despite all that, there’s quite a bit going on. 

In Newport, Saturday is “The most wonderful night of the year…” as Red Octopus Theatre Company presents, one night only, The Christmas Show in the Performing Arts Center’s Alice Silverman Theatre.

This year’s performance features The Lutz Radio Theater Christmas Show (of 1947). The story line:  “It’s Christmas Eve 1947 and the final radio broadcast for station KMAS in Hollywood, California. After this, they’ll be converted to a television studio… and not everyone’s happy about it. When the writer throws a fit and the professional actors and musicians don’t arrive, the station workers must scramble to save the broadcast (after all, the show must go on!)” 

Hosted by the music-comedy duo The Tequila Mockingbirds, the Dec. 21 show is also a food drive for Food Share of Lincoln County. Attendees who donate two or more items of food receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win two tickets to Red Octopus Theatre Company’s four 2020 shows. The winner will be announced during the show and must be present to win. 

Get your tickets to the performance here.

DOWN THE STREET, THE NEWPORT VISUAL ARTS CENTER is hosting several shows, including Gourd Play, an exhibition by Newport-based artist Louise Hemphill, through Jan. 25 in the Coastal Oregon Visual Artists Showcase.

Nye Beach artist Louise Hemphill has a show of her gourds through Jan. 25 in the Newport Visual Arts Center.

“For me, gourds are a source of constant inspiration and artistic fulfillment,” Hemphill says in a press release. “The joyful play is in watching the gourd evolve and emerge in my hands from something plain to a beautiful work of art.”


Oregon Cultural Trust

Hemphill begins by washing, scrubbing, and cleaning the gourd. Once dry, its natural colors are exposed, and the artist prepares to work. 

“Sometimes the gourd calls me to weave threads into its already-interesting surface, adding beads or shells or precious stones for further ornamentation,” she continues. “Other times, I paint designs onto its surface — Indian motifs and tribal patterns in turquoise and other vibrant colors, or floral designs or flowing shapes. Sometimes the pulse of the ocean comes through, and wavelike designs emerge, or I cut into the gourd and change its shape, creating more contrast.”

A native Oregonian and long-time Nye Beach resident, Hemphill taught elementary school in Newport for more than 30 years. After retiring in 1997, she made time to explore her creative side. She apprenticed with potter Richard Cabral and studied watercolor with Joyce Gaffin. She experimented with wood-carving, then in 2016, discovered gourds.

The Coastal Oregon Visual Artist Showcase is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

In the Visual Arts Center’s Runyan Gallery, the PushPin Show encourages Lincoln County artists of all ages and stripes to participate by hanging their original art – with no more than four pushpins. 

“The original Pushpin Show was the brainchild of local artist and art activist Jimmy Frankfort,” according to the center’s press release. “And while it has grown over the years, the show still adheres to an inclusive, all county residents’ show that exemplifies Oregon Coast Council for the Arts’ mission to celebrate, promote and develop community arts.”

Exhibit attendees can vote for the People’s Choice Award. The 29th annual show runs through Dec. 27.


All Classical Radio James Depreist

MOVING NORTH, THE NORTH COUNTY RECREATION DISTRICT in Nehalem hosts Sugar & Spice: A Holiday Treat!, another one-night-only performance.

Julie Amici (left) and LaRhonda Smith perform a holiday show Dec. 21 in Nehalem to benefit the Musical Enrichment Program for the Neah-Kah-Nie School District.

Several of the Northwest’s most beloved musical artists will take the stage at 7 p.m. Saturday in a benefit for the Musical Enrichment Program for the Neah-Kah-Nie School District, a new project of the Mudd Nick Foundation. The 5th annual showcase is taking the show on the road after performing to sold-out audiences in the Portland area.

Sugar & Spice: A Holiday Treat! features the award-winning vocalist LaRhonda Steele, her husband Mark Steele on piano, Oregon Music Hall of Fame drummer Carlton Jackson, multi-award-winner Dean Mueller on bass, and Julie Amici on vocals. They will perform jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, and soul in the spirit of the holidays. Tickets at the door or online.

IN CANNON BEACH, MORE THAN A DOZEN RESTAURANTS present food and beverage specials highlighting cultures from around the globe, including France, India, Vietnam, and Sweden. The menu specials will be available Dec. 26-28, with several restaurants participating each night. 

Historical instrument experts Phil and Gayle Neuman and the rest of the Fireside Social Orchestra perform Dec. 26 in Cannon Beach.  

After an early dinner Dec. 26, consider the Haystack Holidays Winter Concert, A Fireside Christmas, featuring the Fireside Social Orchestra led by Phil and Gayle Neuman.  The performance begins at 7 p.m. in the Coaster Theatre Playhouse. The orchestra specializes in the music of the 19th century played on period instruments. Ticket information here.

AND FINALLY, IF YOU’RE ON THE COAST THE LAST WEEK OF DECEMBER, don’t forget it’s whale-watching time. Volunteers with Oregon Parks & Recreation staff 24 locations up and down the coast, easily identified by the “Whale Watching Spoken Here” signs.

“People come from all over the world to learn about the gray whales that travel along the Oregon coast each year,” according to the Parks & Rec website. Nearly 25,000 gray whales travel south from mid-December through mid-January to the lagoons of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. Last year, volunteers spoke with 52,000 whale watchers from around the world.


All Classical Radio James Depreist

Of course, you can watch from any oceanfront spot, but if you do want to learn more about the state’s 40-plus-year-old program, check out the website.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Lori Tobias is a journalist of many years, and was a staff writer for The Oregonian for more than a decade, and a columnist and features writer for the Rocky Mountain News. Her memoir “Storm Beat – A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast” was published in 2020 by Oregon State University press. She is also the author of the novel Wander, winner of the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award for literary fiction and a finalist for the 2017 International Book Awards for new fiction. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband Chan and rescue pup Gus.


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