There’s a buzz in McMinnville concerning an 84-year-old house on the corner of Baker and Northeast Seventh Streets, which marks almost the exact center of town. In the last decade or so, it’s functioned as a florist, a salon and a home-goods store. Now, there’s great news for art fans. Come spring, it will reopen as the McMinnville Event Center for the Arts.
MECA is owned by Holli and Mick Wagner, who also run nearby vacation rentals. They will open the gallery at 636 N.E. Baker St., a few blocks north of the city’s downtown district, as a home for visual art, as well as readings, live music, and classes. I got a sneak peek behind the papered-over windows last week as they prepare 2,500 square feet of space for a stage and works from more than two dozen artists.
“The mission here is really to create a destination space for people to come and immerse themselves in the arts,” Holli Wagner told me. In recent years, Yamhill County’s wine industry has exploded, with one result being a downtown district that is thick with restaurants and tasting rooms. Wagner sees a future with an equally active gallery scene. Already, more than a dozen can be found just in McMinnville.
“Not only are we a destination for agriculture and wine,” she said, “but now we have an opportunity to set ourselves another goal and become a destination for art.”
They’ve set a March 9 opening date, and they’re dishing out teasers on the usual social media. Check them out here.
FILM BUFFS OF YAMHILL COUNTY, UNITE! I’ll have more to say about this later, but for now know that the 8th Annual McMinnville Short Film Festival is ready for launch Feb. 9 and 10, and thanks in part to a large number of good films, there are four screenings, each followed by a Q&A session with filmmakers. This year’s crop includes some terrific movies, with impressive levels of both technical skill and sheer artistry — the writing, the acting, and the cinematography; all of it. There’s something for everyone: Comedies, drama, suspense, crime, and some compelling, serious documentaries.
Films will be screened at McMinnville’s Cinema 10, with receptions and awards dinner events only a 2-minute walk away at the Chemeketa Community College campus. The keynote speaker is filmmaker James Westby, who took a break from his editing bay last week for an interview that will be posted next week. You don’t want to miss this one. Can’t make every screening? Fine. Go to one. Tickets are $10 per screening, or $50 for an all-access pass, available here.
GROUND ZERO FOR VISUAL ART IN YAMHILL COUNTY this weekend will be at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg. First Friday ARTWalk will be held 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 1 and will also serve as a reception for the artists whose work recently went on display in the Chehalem Cultural Center. Tim Timmerman and Stan Peterson, whose A Catalyst of Empathy fills the Parrish Gallery, will be there, along with Abi Joyce-Shaw, whose show 35th & Harrison is in the Founder Lobby, and Lisa Zahler, whose digital work Abstractions in Pixels fills the Community Gallery.
A few days later on Feb. 4, look for an ongoing series of free discussions featuring area artists, Monday Art Talk, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Chehalem Cultural Center’s ballroom. Artists’ presentations are followed by a Q&A session. Next week it’s Portland’s Keetra Dean Dixon who works in graphics and 3D. Here’s the complete schedule.
THE POP-UP EXHIBITION in Chehalem’s Central Gallery of work by George Fox University art students will vanish soon and be replaced by Photographic Intentions by Angela Holm & Photo Club PDX. The show opens Tuesday and runs through March 30. Holm created the club in January 2018, and a year later, they’re showing us their photographic successes. Look for more on this show later.
WE’RE SUPPOSEDLY IN A “GOLDEN AGE” OF TELEVISION, but given the ability to stream anything from anywhere, the term also arguably applies to radio, making it possible for listeners to curate an extraordinarily rich and diverse audio diet. One Oregon show you might add to your list is Steve Slemenda’s twice-monthly Poetry on the Air, which you can hear on Turner’s KMUZ.
The show began last October, with help from the Mid-Valley Poetry Society, which is affiliated with the Oregon Poetry Association. Slemenda is a retired English and film arts professor from Chemeketa Community College and a founding member of the Silverton Poetry Association. The 30-minute show is broadcast at 10 a.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month.
Last week he had on Dallas poet Clemens Starck, and what a wonderful break that was from the flood of national news. Excellent, penetrating questions by the host, and thoughtful answers from Starck, who also read a few of his poems, including one he hadn’t yet read in public. Starck is unusual among poets in that he composes orally, repeating the lines hundreds of times before finally putting them to paper, which he calls a “crutch.” Fantastic stuff. Just perusing KMUZ’s schedule, the station looks a bit like a smaller, rural version of KBOO. You can listen on the radio, 100.7 or 88.5 FM, stream it from the website, or on a smartphone or tablet with a TuneIn app.
A MAJOR NEW show has opened in Willamette University’s Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem. Oregon ArtsWatch will circle back to this more in-depth later, but for now know that celebrated Portland painter Lucinda Parker has a show at the museum’s Melvin Henderson-Rubio Gallery. Lucinda Parker: Force Fields will be exhibited through March 31, and there’s plenty of events to go along with the painting. Next up is Feb. 17, when the film Lucinda Parker on Screen will be shown at 2 p.m. in Roger Hull Lecture Hall in the museum. It’s free and open to the public.
IT IS NOT UNCOMMON for Yamhill County writers to show up on Oregon Book Awards lists, and this month was no different. Literary Arts announced McMinnville’s José Angel Araguz as a finalist for the Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry for his Until We Are Level Again, published by Mongrel Empire Press. The awards will be announced in April, and we’ll be watching.
ARTS JOURNAL: The gray days of January put me in an Ingmar Bergman mood, so I got things started with a viewing of Swedish journalist Marie Nyreröd’s Bergman Island, released by the Criterion Collection in 2004. It’s actually a compilation of several documentaries Nyreröd made for television that were re-edited into this crisp, 83-minute look at the legendary filmmaker. Bergman by that time was retired and determined never again to leave Fårö Island, where he shot several of his films, including Through a Glass Darkly. It’s quintessential “slow cinema” (as any film about Bergman would have to be) but absorbing all the same. The interviews are astonishingly candid; Bergman obviously was comfortable with Nyreröd and wanted to talk. After it was over, I realized it’s been too long since I’ve seen his seminal works, so I’m adding a few to my watchlist this year.
This story is supported in part by a grant from the Yamhill County Cultural Coalition, Oregon Cultural Trust, and Oregon Community Foundation.