Coos Art Museum

A new round of shutdowns

As coronavirus cases spike in Oregon and the governor orders new restrictions, museums and other art centers are closing down again

In line with Gov. Kate Brown’s new restrictions on public gatherings because of spiking coronavirus cases, several Oregon museums and arts spaces have announced temporary closures.

The shutdowns will last at least two weeks statewide, beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and running through Dec. 2. The restriction is four weeks in Multnomah County, which has seen a large surge in reported cases. And depending on how successful the restrictions are in curbing the effects of the pandemic, the shutdowns could be extended. As of Friday, Oregon has had almost 55,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and more than 750 deaths. “I want to be honest,” Brown said at a press conference on Friday, as reported in The Oregonian. “We are trying to stop this ferocious virus from spreading even more quickly and far and wide, and to save lives.”

Most cultural and gathering spots are affected by the freeze, from the Oregon Zoo to the Portland Japanese Garden to Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden and more. Metropolitan area public libraries are affected, too, as The Oregonian reports: For the Multnomah County system the freeze extends to sidewalk-holds pickup service and wireless printing – and don’t return the books you’ve checked out. Clackamas and Washington County systems are slightly different; check the link for details.

The best advice is, before you go anywhere, check to see if it’s open: If it’s public and it ordinarily draws a fair number of people, it’s probably shut down for now. Most museums have virtual exhibitions online that can be viewed during physical shutdowns. Check their web pages for details. Meanwhile, many private art galleries remain open by appointment. Again, check before you go.

What we know so far:

OREGON HISTORICAL SOCIETY: The museum, history center, and research library in downtown Portland’s Cultural District are closed “until further notice.” Several virtual exhibitions remain available.

OREGON MUSEUM OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY: The popular attraction on the riverfront in Southeast Portland is closed beginning Sunday, Nov. 15, “through the end of the Governor’s orders for Multnomah County.” Virtual programs continue.

Adam McKinney’s installation “Shelter in Space” continues to be viewable through Nov. 20 from the sidewalk outside the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education. It was installed on the eve of the Jewish holiday Sukkot, and expands on the idea of temporary dwelling places. Photo: Mario Gallucci, Oct. 8, 2020.

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State of the art, art of the state

2018 in Review, Part 2: From Ashland to Astoria to Bend and beyond, twenty terrific tales about art and culture around Oregon

In 2018 ArtsWatch writers spent a lot of time out and about the state, putting the “Oregon” into “Oregon ArtsWatch.” Theater in Ashland and Salem. Green spaces and Maori clay artists in Astoria. A carousel in Albany. Aztec dancing in Newberg. Music in Eugene, Springfield, Bend, the Rogue Valley, McMinnville, Lincoln City, Florence, Willamette Valley wine country. Museum and cultural center art exhibits in Coos Bay and Newberg and Newport and Salem. Art banners in Nye Beach. A 363-mile art trail along the coast.

In 2018 we added to our team of writers in Eugene and elsewhere weekly columnists David Bates in Yamhill County and Lori Tobias on the Oregon Coast, plus regional editor Karen Pate. We expect to have even more from around Oregon in 2019.

Twenty terrific tales from around the state in 2018:

 



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The Original Tesla

“Tesla”: The wireless joint is jumpin’.

Jan. 11: “Clean energy. Wireless charging. A world connected by invisible communication technology. For many,” Brett Campbell writes,” they’re today’s reality, tomorrow’s hope — but they were first realistically envisioned more than a century ago by a a Serbian-American immigrant whose name most of us only know because a new car is named after him. … ‘He’s an unsung hero,” Brad Garner, who choreographed and directs Tesla: Light, Sound, Color, a multidisciplinary show about the technological genius Nikola Tesla that played in Eugene, Bend, and Portland, tells Campbell. ‘We wouldn’t have cell phones and power in our homes without his work. He was an immigrant with an American dream who changed the world.”

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Coos Bay’s Everybody Biennial

The Coos Art Museum's big biennial of Oregon art is a come-one come-all affair, with no gatekeepers. How's that work? You'd be surprised.

COOS BAY – What if they gave a Biennial and invited everyone to join in?

That’s not, of course, the way biennial art shows ordinarily work. From Venice to São Paulo to Shanghai to Sydney to Istanbul to Havana to Berlin to the Whitney in New York, biennials tend to be ambitious, careerist, elbow-throwing affairs, intent on one-upping the art world with the biggest names, the newest trends, the deepest scent of money, and the even deeper desire to shape the next chapter in the shifting story of global contemporary art. Competition is fierce, and acceptance into one of the big-name biennials can make an artist’s career.

Coos Art Museum’s Biennial 2018. In the center: Alan Bartl’s funkified bike trailer “Pork Slider.” Photo: Laura Grimes

Or you could just invite any and all artists in the state of Oregon to drop by with up to three works, and then fit them all onto your museum’s walls. That’s the way it works at the Coos Art Museum on the southern Oregon coast, where since the 1990s a “come one, come all” approach to its biennial has prevailed and, perhaps astonishingly, largely succeeded. In a way, it can’t get more daring. The show has no gatekeepers. Museum officials don’t know who or what’s going to walk in the door. You trust that it’ll be good, or at least not embarrassing. And what you get, you show. If ever there was a People’s Biennial, a purely democratic approach to the state of the art, this is it.

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