Saturday in Newport: One site, four shows, five artists speak

Opening receptions March 14 at the Visual Arts Center include subjects ranging from high-country landscapes and Dutch whalers to glass jewelry and wet crows

This Saturday would be an excellent day to visit the Newport Visual Arts Center, as four new exhibitions host opening receptions from 2 to 5 p.m. Featured artists will be present to talk about their work, with times staggered so viewers can hear all presentations.

In the Runyan Gallery, the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts presents A Sense of Place in the Pacific Northwest by Corvallis artist Greg Pfarr. The exhibit features large-scale paintings, prints, and drawings “reflecting on the high-country drama of the Cascades mountain range and Alaska.” The show runs through March 29. Pfarr will talk about his work at 3 p.m. March 14.

“South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm, Alaska,” by Greg Pfarr (etching and woodcut, 24 by 36 inches)
“South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm, Alaska,” by Greg Pfarr (etching and woodcut, 24 by 36 inches)

“I like to witness severe climate and landscapes, around 6,000 to 8,000 feet,” Pfarr said on a recent KLCC radio podcast. “It’s almost a spiritual exploration. The forms of nature at that level can be quite varied, and they can be both abstract and realistic. I like to play off that tension.”

Pfarr’s work recently was honored by the Oregon Arts Commission with an exhibit in the Oregon Governor’s Office, and the Newport show includes some of that work.

In the Upstairs Gallery, an exhibit of photomontages, Postcards from Nineveh, by Portland artist Friderike Heuer continues through April 25. Heuer speaks at 4 p.m.

The 14-by-17-inch montages combine photographed bits of 17th-century Dutch paintings of whaling expeditions with contemporary environments in the United States and Europe. Heuer, who is a frequent contributor to ArtsWatch, writes that the show’s title references the Biblical story of Jonah, “a reluctant prophet, ignored by the people of Nineveh. We, on the other hand, should listen to clarion calls about the need to protect our oceans and fish populations.”

Heuer’s photography has been exhibited in numerous galleries. She has provided production photography for documentary films and been a guest lecturer at the Portland Art Museum on Carrie Mae Weems and Mark Rothko.

“Reminiscence,” by Friderike Heuer (photomontage, 14 by 17 inches, printed with archival ink jet on German Etching paper)
“Reminiscence,” by Friderike Heuer (photomontage, 14 by 17 inches, printed with archival ink jet on German Etching paper)

Florence-based Claudia Brown is the featured artist in the Coastal Oregon Visual Artist Showcase with an exhibition of handmade jewelry called Painting with Beads. The earrings, pendants, and bracelets reflect the colors of gardens, the ocean, and wine country. The Showcase features the work of mid-career artists living on the Oregon Coast; Brown’s show represents coastal Lane County. The artist speaks at 4:15 p.m., and the show continues through April 25.

Brown said her jewelry-making stems from picking up sea glass during walks 30 years ago at low tide at Marina Bay in California. The pieces evolved into different styles, which she sold at Marina Bay and in San Francisco and Berkeley.

Brown moved to Oregon in 2005 and is represented by The River Gallery in Old Town Florence and Tsunami Gallery in Gardiner. She works exclusively with Czech glass stone or gem cabochons in necklaces and uses Japanese and international braiding and cording techniques including Viking knit, kumihimo and soutache.

Lastly, in the Media Room is The Kiss of Life: The Love of Water. The installation includes visual imagery by photographer Graece Gabriel and instrumental audio by Walking Bird/Mark Beckwith. The artists will talk about their work at 4:30 p.m.

“I’ve added a subtitle to the installation,” Gabriel, who lives in Newport, writes. “I think of it as ‘peering through liquid to the soul of the natural world, one droplet at a time.’” Many of the images in the 15-minute installation are from Gabriel’s collection of macro photographs capturing water in stop motion.

“Secret,” by Graece Gabriel
“Secret,” by Graece Gabriel

Raised in the Pacific Northwest in a family of artists and naturalists, Gabriel translates her eye and talent for composition into nature shots that range from abstract macros, to playful crow portraits, to waves exploding against the rocks. 

Beckwith, who plays and composes music for the Native American-style flute, has recorded albums under the name Walking Bird/Mark Beckwith. He lives in Newport and as a certified music practitioner often plays in the homes of hospice patients.  

“For me, playing music is a meditation. For others it is a calming experience,” he writes, noting that his music has been described as organic, earthy, healing and soulful. “I play what the muses of the universe dictate.”

The Kiss of Life: For the Love of Water will be projected on a loop during the Media Room’s regular hours through April 24.

The Runyan Gallery is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; other galleries are open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission to all galleries is free.

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This story is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, investing in Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage, and the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition.

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