covid and arts

Pulling back the curtain on Manzanita’s Wonder Garden

Described by its fans as a lifesaver during this year of isolation, the Hoff Online program celebrates Manzanita Day with a talk by Ketzel Levine

Ketzel Levine is returning to her home in Manzanita from a wholesale plant shopping trip when we connect by phone to talk about the Hoffman Center for the Arts’ Hoff Online program. 

It’s the nonprofit’s answer to COVID restrictions, and one Levine says has been described by its many fans — some as far away as New Zealand, Great Britain, and Spain — as a lifesaver during this year of isolation. The webinars and Zoom presentations have offered hundreds of participants instruction in everything from poetry to gardening to marketing their books. On March 31, Levine will headline Manzanita Day 2021, celebrating the art of horticulture and the town named for the shrub (arctostaphylos) that translates in Spanish to “little apple.”  

In pre-COVID days, Ketzel Levine (far right) leads a discussion in the Wonder Garden.  She says the garden has become the No. 1 gathering place in Manzanita for people who wanted to get together in masks. Photo courtesy: Ketzel Levine
In pre-COVID days, Ketzel Levine (far right) leads a discussion in the Wonder Garden. She says the garden has become the No. 1 gathering place in Manzanita for people who want to get together in masks. Photo courtesy: Ketzel Levine

Levine, who you might know as NPR’s “doyenne of dirt,” is the self-proclaimed director of the Center’s Wonder Garden and as such, directs the horticulture programs. The gardening guru moved to the North Coast about four years ago and says she was quickly “snatched up” by the center as a volunteer. 

“We are creating a small botanic garden that is showcasing all of the different plants from around the world that thrive on the northwest coast,” Levine said. “All of our plants are labeled with beautiful arboretum-quality labels. We give weekly talks and walks through the garden and we are constantly raising money, and people have been responsive. During COVID, the garden has become the No. 1 gathering place for people who wanted to get together with masks.”

Levine may have decades of broadcast journalism experience, but virtual gigs nonetheless have provided her some lessons.  The most memorable came when the Hoffman Center hosted Jeffrey Bale, native Oregonian and internationally known pebble-mosaic artist.

Continues…

Sandra Roumagoux: ‘I’ve stayed in art my entire life’

The oil painter and former Newport mayor, whose work is featured at the Newport Visual Arts Center, says she can't separate politics and art

When the Newport Visual Arts Center opens its virtual Pop Up Craft Show on Wednesday, Dec. 16, it will kick off the celebration of local artists with a live-streaming talk at 6 p.m. by Sandra Roumagoux. She will unveil her new exhibit catalog, Sandra Roumagoux: Retrospective, and discuss her featured paintings in the show.

Known for her love of nature and passion for politics, Roumagoux has described her art as an “interpretation of the ever-relevant paradoxes of faith, war, and nature. Much of what I do is predicated upon a personal, fundamental acceptance of the ‘divine absurdities’ of existence, and the dualities in our existence of love/hate, violence/peace, silent/sound, night/day.”

We caught up with Roumagoux by phone to talk about her life in art. Her comments have been edited for length and clarity.

You’ve been painting for what seems your entire life. Talk about your early inspiration to become an artist and how you’ve evolved.

Roumagoux: I grew up with sisters, all older. They were always interested in drawing. They’d be listening to the radio and drawing with charcoal and paper. As a child, I was fascinated how a two-dimensional drawing could look three dimensional. It’s using perspective space. That’s where the interest started. I also had girlfriends who liked to draw. We would get figurines and draw them. 

The other part was I was the only left-handed person in the family and that was encouraged. Even though I held the pen all wrong. That was allowed. It wasn’t even an issue. Because I’ve spent so many years training … I have become more ambidextrous now that I am old.

Sandra Roumagoux will discuss her paintings in the Pop Up Craft Show at the Newport Visual Arts Center during a live-streamed talk on Dec. 16. Photo courtesy: Newport Visual Arts Center
Sandra Roumagoux will discuss her oil paintings in the Pop Up Craft Show at the Newport Visual Arts Center during a live-streamed talk on Dec. 16. Photo courtesy: Newport Visual Arts Center

You’ve been quoted as saying you were raised in a family of avid environmentalists and gun lovers. How did that impact the artist you became?

For one thing, it was so much a part of the culture of the family for deer hunting season, pheasant season, duck season, hunting dogs. My dad had his own duck blind, he shot traps. He won several trophies in shooting traps. I remember as a child going with him on Sunday shoots. That was our church. I would go behind him and pick up shotgun shells and use them as castanets.

Continues…

Linfield Theatre thinks outside the pandemic box

Yamhill County calendar: A "season like no other" on campus, plus a watercolor show in Newberg and a preview of McMinnville Short Film Festival

The pandemic has forced artists in every discipline to think outside the box, so I’m guessing that’s the analogy Linfield University’s Theatre department had in mind when it plowed into its 101st season Friday with an evening of improvisational sketches titled Out of the Box.

Students performed the live sketch comedy not before a live audience in the auditorium, but before audience members watching the live show on Linfield’s YouTube channel from home, regardless of whether home was a dorm room on the McMinnville campus or not; the show broadcast free to anyone with an internet connection.

They’re calling it “A Season Like No Other,” which it obviously is.

Out of the Box amounted to just more than an hour’s worth of sketches very much bound up with the present political and cultural moment, written and performed by a troupe of student actors and writers on a giant tic-tac-toe-style checkerboard with only a few set pieces constructed with what appeared to be PVC pipe. Graffiti adorned the rear wall: BLACK LIVES MATTER. SAY HER NAME. AMERICA IS BURNING.

Linfield Theatre students (from left) Caroline Calvano, Avery Witty, Sam Hannagan, Brielle Kromer (on ladder in back), Sara Cerda (on floor), Jordan Tate, and Sarah Ornelas perform an improvisational sketch during rehearsal for “Out of the Box.” The show can be seen on Linfield Theatre’s YouTube channel. Photo courtesy: Linfield Theatre
Linfield Theatre students (from left) Caroline Calvano, Avery Witty, Sam Hannagan, Brielle Kromer (on ladder in back), Sara Cerda (on floor), Jordan Tate, and Sarah Ornelas perform an improvisational sketch during rehearsal for “Out of the Box.” Photo courtesy: Linfield Theatre

Pieces were titled Womb to Tomb, We Don’t Need No Distance Education, A La Carte, and BBM in a TLB. Students wore transparent face masks. Student directors Clementine Doresey and Hailee Foster were assisted in putting the evening together by theater professors Derek Lane and Janet Gupton. With no copyright issues involved, the shows remain archived on the channel, available to watch anytime.

Continues…