lincoln city cultural center

Lincoln City’s small-town celebration gets a little smaller

COVID has put the kibosh on ornament crafts and the popular reindeer room, but the community still has plans to mark the holidays

Niki Price and the crew at the Lincoln City Cultural Center were all ready for this year’s ninth annual Christmas tree lighting. It would be different, of course, social distancing and all, but it was doable. Then last week, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called for the two-week freeze aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, and for a time it wasn’t clear if there would be even be a tree lighting.

The tradition began in 2012, one year after Price became executive director of the center. There had been other tree lightings in other neighborhoods, but they weren’t consistent. Price noted the center had everything necessary — a location in the middle of town, a lawn, the facilities — to create a tradition. Off she went into the community to seek some help, and she found it.

Belle Kea has a heart-to-heart with Santa during last year’s holiday celebration at the Lincoln City Cultural Center. Photo courtesy: Lincoln City Cultural Center
Belle Kea has a heart-to-heart with Santa during last year’s holiday celebration at the Lincoln City Cultural Center. This year, the center will collect letters to Santa instead of hosting visits with the jolly old elf. Photo courtesy: Lincoln City Cultural Center

Price said the Delake School, home of the cultural center, has been part of the community since 1929, before U.S. 101 was built. “It’s always been a place where people gather, and we wanted to continue with that tradition. I talked with friends at the fire department, Kenny’s IGA, etc., hoping to get it accomplished inexpensively. The key is always Pacific Power — without them, we wouldn’t have the equipment to erect a big tree.”

This is not the first time fate delivered the cultural center a bucket of coal. Nor the first time Price was called on to improvise at the last minute.

There was the fire-not-fire of 2015.

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Music to see otters by

Coast calendar: Cellists perform for Oregon Coast Aquarium residents; online talk about Rick Bartow; Andean music; fiber arts; and pairing words and images

If 2020 has revealed anything, it’s that strange times call for creative minds, and sea otters and the symphony are certainly that. It’s a bright spot once again born out of disappointment.

Melody Lavrakas was making final plans for a youth concert with Newport elementary school students when she learned the concert, like so much else, was canceled. A day later, Lavrakas, a volunteer at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and a member of the Newport Symphony Orchestra board, began pondering how the two nonprofits might help each other. Her idea: video a pair of musicians performing at the aquarium.

It took some time to put together, but two videos of cellists Adrienne Welsh and Vicki Strauss playing Handel’s Variations on Water Music Themes outside the sea otter pool are now available: a short one (below) and a longer version here.

Hard to tell by watching what the sea otters think of the free entertainment, but aquarium marketing director Julie Woodward assures me they soaked it up.

“The sea otters really did enjoy it,” she said. “They came up and were very curious. Our curator of marine mammals was standing right next to me when they recorded it. She could tell they were very interested.”

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Finding freedom in adversity

A pandemic, a wildfire – while the hits keep coming, the Lincoln City Cultural Center responds with an online fundraiser and a transition to arts incubator

Some people just can’t catch a break.

Yes, it’s a cliché, but clichés exist for a reason, and at the Lincoln City Cultural Center this one may seem doubly true. And still they rise.

Last spring, after the pandemic changed our world, the center made the difficult decision to cancel its annual Culture, Of Course! fundraiser. The 6-year-old event typically brings in $20,000 to $30,000, unrestricted operating funds the center uses for necessities.

Niki Price, co-chair of the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition and vice chair of the Oregon Cultural Trust, says of donating to the trust, “Once we convince a donor to do it once, we rarely have to resell that donor. Once you try it, you’re in.”
Niki Price, executive director of the Lincoln City Cultural Center, says with travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the center decided to focus its auction on adventure, “interesting things we could go and do and dream about, something great to look forward to.”

Then, after months of finding innovative ways of operating safely — streaming concerts, virtual workshops, drive-in movies, take-out art supplies — center leaders knew they were ready to bring Culture, Of Course! back in a new way. There would a drive-in movie screen, food provided and prepared by Kyllo’s and delivered to tables set up alongside cars, entertainment by the surf/punk band Retroactive Gamma Rays, an arcade, and auction.

Then the Echo Mountain fire blew up. Parts of Lincoln City were evacuated and Pacific Power crews took over the center parking lot as a staging zone.

Canceling the Sept. 19 in-person event wasn’t a hard choice — they had no choice. But they did have options and, of course, they grabbed one — an online auction.

“We focused on adventure,” said Executive Director Niki Price. “Given all the travel restrictions and the way we have been kept at home, we focused on interesting things we could go and do and dream about, something great to look forward to.”

The list of items continues to grow, and so far includes a biplane ride, a mushrooming camp at Camp Westwind, an art class and retreat at Sitka Center, and a plein air artist getaway in Baker City, including accommodations, a tour of downtown, a gift card for lunch, and an artist-guided day-long high desert plein air workshop.

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The arts: After the deluge, what?

ArtsWatch Weekly: Planning for a post-Covid Oregon cultural scene; pancakes and the art of dissent; good things come in multiples

AS OREGON HESITANTLY REEMERGES FROM ITS LONG COCOONING – baby steps, everyone: take it cautiously, and wear your masks – it’s not too early to think about what the “new normal” might look like for the state’s arts and cultural organizations. A couple of highly respected onlookers have been considering the changed landscape long and deep, and while they disagree on some fundamental issues, on one thing they’re in accord: It’s highly unlikely that enough money will be available to support everyone in the manner to which they’d like to be accustomed.

What to do, then, when financial push comes to shove?

Fear No Music playing music by Middle Eastern and emigrant-diaspora composers at The Old Church Concert Hall: Will the future of arts in Oregon by small and adaptable? Photo © John Rudoff/2017

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Lincoln City Cultural Center’s plaza project reaches its goal

The "Invest in Inspiration" campaign will add greenery, accessible paths, and patios around the Delake School, which houses the center.

It must have seemed a curious sight Monday for passers-by in Lincoln City as masked men and women took turns mounting a stepladder on the front lawn of the Lincoln City Cultural Center. They did so to raise the temperature on the fundraising thermometer one red bar at a time, to celebrate the center’s achieving its $250,000 goal in “Invest in Inspiration,” the Cultural Plaza Project.

The effort began 12 months ago with funds coming from private donations and the sale of commemorative bricks. The center also will receive $1.5 million in state lottery funds. The plaza project will feature a pedestrian-friendly area around the historic Delake School, completed in 1929, which houses the center, as well as a path compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, new patios, an outdoor classroom for activities such as raku kiln firing, dedicated spaces for public art installations, gathering places, and new lighting.

The Lincoln City Cultural Center’s “Invest in Inspiration” campaign will turn the yard around the historic Delake School, which houses the center, into a plaza, park, paths, and parking. Photo courtesy: Lincoln City Cultural Center
The Lincoln City Cultural Center’s “Invest in Inspiration” campaign will replace crumbling sidewalks and rusty fencing around the historic Delake School with a plaza, paths, and park area. Photo courtesy: Lincoln City Cultural Center

“In the year since we launched the Invest in Inspiration capital campaign, so much has happened,” said the center’s executive director, Niki Price. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it’s been a real roller coaster. From the thrill of the $1.5 million state pledge to the social isolation of the pandemic, we’ve seen it all. What has been most amazing of all has been the constant support from our donors: check by check, brick by brick, we’ve been filling up that thermometer. Our heartfelt thanks to the community, for your continued faith in this great idea.”

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Art on the move: responding to crises

ArtsWatch Weekly: The Black Lives Matter movement and the continuing coronavirus challenge are reshaping the arts world

WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF LIFE-CHANGING TIMES, and in the face of multiple crises remarkable work is being done. How do artists fit in? Sometimes, smack in the middle of things. Many news organizations have been doing excellent work of discovering the artists speaking to the moment and bringing their work to a broad audience. Oregon Public Broadcasting, for instance, has been publishing some sterling stories – including the feature The Faces of Protest: The Memorial Portraits of Artist Ameya Marie Okamoto, by Claudia Meza and John Nottariani. Okamoto, a young social practice artist who grew up in Portland, has made it her work not just to document the events of racial violence in Portland and across the United States: She’s also, as OPB notes, “crafted dozens of portraits for victims of violence and injustice.” 


Ameya Okamoto, “In Support of Protest.” Photo courtesy Ameya Okamoto

“People get so attached to the hashtag and the movement of George Floyd or Quanice Hayes,” Okamota tells OPB, “they forget that George Floyd was a trucker who moved to Minneapolis for a better life, or that Quanice Hayes was actually called ‘Moose’ by his friends and family. When individuals become catalysts for Black Lives Matter and catalysts for social change … there is a level of complex personhood that is stripped away from them.” In her work she strives to give that back.

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Fire birds: Sweet!

Cynthia Longhat-Adams, whose avian art will be featured at the Lincoln City Cultural Center, says she was drawn to pyrography because she loves problem-solving

The Lincoln City Cultural Center takes wing Friday when its annual bird-themed show, …a thing with feathers, opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. in the PJ Chessman Gallery. Visitors – wearing masks and practicing social distancing – can visit the gallery from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Tuesday.

Featured artists in the show are sculptor and painter Robert Schlegel; painter, sculptor and printmaker Marilyn Burkhardt; multimedia artist Cheri Aldrich; and, working in a medium many may not be familiar with, pyrographer — or fire painter — Cynthia Longhat-Adams. Pyrographers use heat and tools to create art on a variety of surfaces, including wood, paper, and glass.

We talked with the Depoe Bay artist about the ancient art and her passion for it. Her comments have been edited for length and clarity.

“Brown Pelican” is among Cynthia Longhat-Adams’ pyrography birds.

Let’s start with the basics. What is pyrography?

Longhat-Adams: It’s very, very ancient. It started in Turkey and Germany. They would take a hot poker out of the fire and draw on wood with it. It’s taken on a new emergence in the 21st century. I’ve been doing it for 15 years.

How did it become your medium of choice?

I’ve been a creator all of my life in many, many mediums. There are new burning tools, basically a pen, that allow a consistent temperature. You couldn’t do the work I do with the old clunky wood-burning tools. I was introduced to these new tools about 15 years ago. The new tools are so much easier to handle; you don’t burn your hand off. It just took my heart. I love everything about it.

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