We begin this week’s column with a quick run through the essential news-you-can-use for the McMinnville Short Film Festival, set for Feb. 21-23. In recent years, it’s emerged as yet another tent-pole cultural event in Yamhill County. Next week I’ll have a deep dive into some of the films that will be screened.
By every measure, the event — founded by Dan and Nancy Morrow of McMinnville in 2011 — has grown considerably from very humble beginnings. The festival next week expands to three days to accommodate a whopping 85 films from the United States, Canada, and the international film community. A second venue has been added: Along with booking the largest auditorium at McMinnville Cinema 10, organizers have arranged for an opening-night screening in Linfield College’s Ice Auditorium.
The festival is for everybody, even those who don’t think of themselves as cinephiles or who watch movies infrequently. Nine categories are arranged by genre and include two narrative viewing blocks. Besides offering documentaries and environmental films, horror and “experimental” works, the festival has two new categories this year. It is partnering with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde on a Native American block, and with McMinnville Kiwanis and Sunrise Rotary on a Student Showcase block that will feature work by students in grades 6-12 and college.
The awards dinner is Feb. 23 on the Chemeketa Community College campus in McMinnville, next to the theater. Portland filmmaker Scott Ballard is the keynote speaker.
Check out the website, peruse the titles and screening blocks, and plan on a weekend of interesting, thoughtful work that’s as good as or better than anything Hollywood spits up these days. Purchase tickets here for as few or as many screenings as you like.
YAMHILL COUNTY’S GALLERY scene has three new shows open or coming up fast. Two are in McMinnville: Currents Gallery downtown offers More Glorious Gourds and Powerful Paintings, by local artists Claudia Herber and Kathleen Buck. Both artists are award-winners in their fields. Herber has won in the annual Wertz Gourd Festival; Buck has long been active with the Watercolor Society of Oregon and has won her share of awards. Both will present abstract work in the show, which runs Feb. 17 through March 15. An opening reception will be held Friday, Feb. 21, during the 3rd Friday on 3rd Street Art & Wine Walk.
Meanwhile, at Linfield College, look for sculpture by Totem Shriver. PATH SKY DREAM opens Wednesday with a reception and runs through March 21 in the James F. Miller Fine Arts Center on the McMinnville campus.
FINALLY, IF YOU — LIKE ME — WERE UNAWARE that the Christopher Brown Quartet played last week in the Methven Family Vineyards Tasting Room in Dundee, fear not. They return to wine country Feb. 21 in the Chehalem Cultural Center’s Black Box Theatre as part of the ongoing Spring Boxed Show Series. It’s live jazz, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets available here.
ARTS JOURNAL: I’ve spent some late nights recently immersed in a stunning new edition of H.P. Lovecraft’s horror classic The Call of Cthulhu. The story is beautifully illustrated by Francois Baranger with a series of remarkable, linger-worthy paintings. I don’t usually do late nights, but I have good reason: This month I’m playing Lloyd Dallas in Michael Frayn’s Noises Off at Gallery Theater in McMinnville, where I’ve done shows on and off since 1997. I come home both exhausted and ramped up to 11 and in need of decompression time. Lovecraft does the trick, though I’m also still burrowing my way through Benjamin Moser’s absorbing (Susan) Sontag biography.