Ann Chadwick Reid

Balancing the beautiful and the horrific

Artists Natalie Niblack and Ann Chadwick Reid explore the Anthropocene and climate change in a show at Newberg’s Chehalem Cultural Center

The morning of Sept. 13, Natalie Niblack and Ann Chadwick Reid set out from their home in Skagit Valley about 60 miles north of Seattle for Oregon in a white Mercedes Sprinter van loaded with their artwork.

It was smoky where Reid makes her home on Samish Island, and Niblack lives along the Skagit River, and as they drove south the haze worsened. The two artists headed to Newberg, where, beneath brown skies and a few miles from one of two mercifully small fires in Yamhill County, they would oversee the installation of On the Edge: Living the Anthropocene. The newest exhibit to open at the Chehalem Cultural Center features, among other images, spectacular visions of fire.

The women regard the drive down I-5 through Seattle and Tacoma as among their least favorite because of the traffic and never-ending road construction. But on this Sunday, there were few travelers, allowing them to contemplate the surreal view.

Artists Natalie Niblack (left) and Ann Chadwick Reid share environmental interests that include monthly monitoring of beach debris for the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team Program (COASST), here at Bowman Bay in Washington’s Deception Pass. Photo courtesy: Ann Chadwick Reid
Artists Natalie Niblack (left) and Ann Chadwick Reid share environmental interests that include monthly monitoring of beach debris for the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) program at Bowman Bay in Washington’s Deception Pass. Photo courtesy: Ann Chadwick Reid

“What little landscape there was disappeared until we could see only about a quarter of a mile or so in front of the van,” Reid said. “By the time we got to Portland, we couldn’t see downtown from the freeway. The passing landscape became silhouettes of trees and buildings that faded from a dark smoky gray into the curtain of brown that enveloped everything. It was like experiencing the end time.”

“My overall sense was one of mourning,” Niblack added. “Mourning for the trees, ecosystems, and all the species that will be greatly diminished or become extinct, and guilt because it is our fault.”

“Anthropocene” is an unofficial unit of geologic time, describing the current period in Earth’s history when human activity has significantly affected climate and ecosystems. On the Edge: Living the Anthropocene, which opened last week and runs through Oct. 30, has been in the works for more than a year, and as curator Carissa Burkett observes in the program notes, the timing of the opening “is both triggering and prophetic.”

“Artists are always at the forefront of important issues and the predictors who bring a visual voice to things that cannot speak with words that others can hear,” Burkett writes. “To look at these works you see such beauty and softness that only makes the viewer feel heavy conflict as they try to hold the content.  You want to look, but you also want to look away.”

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As autumn approaches, art finds a way

COVID-19 canceled much of the summer season, but with fall around the corner, arts and culture events are creeping back onto the Yamhill County calendar

Autumn is nearly upon us, and arts and culture are alive, if not exactly well, in Yamhill County. We lost most of Gallery Theater’s 2020 season in McMinnville, along with the Aquilon Music Festival, the UFO Festival, and Walnut City Music Festival. In Newberg, the Camellia Festival and Tunes on Tuesday also fell to COVID-19, along with virtually every small-town summer festival in the county. Linfield College, meanwhile, has welcomed new and returning students, but the public recitals, concerts, guest speakers, and author readings that made the campus a beacon of cultural enrichment in the community… Those are gone.

But as illustrated by the September calendar, art continues to find a way. Here’s what’s happening in Yamhill County, currently and coming soon:

CHEHALEM CULTURAL CENTER: Two exhibits are continuing through Sept. 19 in the Newberg center. They are Cache Nine: The Hope Material (How to Feel Not Scared in a Pandemic) by Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos) and Selections From Art Studios of Yamhill County (in lieu of this year’s Art Harvest of Yamhill County Studio Tours). Plus, the Central Gallery contains a nifty surprise in a 2-week pop-up exhibit featuring art posters by Converge 45, nonprofit arts coalition founded in 2016 by influential gallery owner Elizabeth Leach. It opened Tuesday, so the clock’s running. 

George Fox University graduate Joann Boswell of Camas, Wash., will return to Yamhill County on Thursday when the McMinnville Public Library resumes poetry readings and open mic night. Photo by: MPR Photography. Courtesy of Joann Boswell
Joann Boswell will read her poetry Thursday in McMinnville. Photo by: MPR Photography. Courtesy of Joann Boswell

THE RETURN OF POETRY NIGHT: The McMinnville Public Library will resume poetry readings and open mic events this week with poet Joann Boswell, a Washington resident with deep Oregon roots. She grew up in Roseburg and attended George Fox University, where she studied music, theater, writing, and literature, graduating in 2010 with a master’s degree in teaching. Along the way, she started doing natural-light photography and writing poetry, and in June she became the poetry editor for Untold Volumes at Christian Feminism Today. Boswell will read her poetry in McMinnville’s Lower City Park west of the library at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3. Bring chairs or blankets, wear your mask, and bring a poem to share if you like. Sign up for open mic by calling 503-435-5554.

ELIZABETH CHAMBERS CELLAR: With a slew of COVID-19 protocols in place, McMinnville’s storied winery and tasting room on the south end of the Granary District, settled in brick digs that originally housed the local power company, is hosting live music. Friday Fandango events are open to the public (with reservations you can make here) after wine club members pre-reserve tables. Shows, held in a beautiful garden courtyard, start at either 5:30 or 7:30 p.m., so keep that detail in mind when planning. Starting Friday, this month features Jacob Westfall, JoAnna Lee, Ronni Kay, and Britnee Kellog.

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