Oregon Coast art galleries

Home is where the art is

When the pandemic forced the owners of Brumfield Gallery to pick between two locations, they chose their hometown of Astoria

Three years ago, when Jane and Mike Brumfield decided to open an art gallery, they found their loyalties divided. Cannon Beach, where Jane Brumfield worked for the Cannon Beach Arts Association, is known for its art scene and seemed the obvious choice. But the pair had called Astoria home since 2015 and were drawn by its authentic feel. Cannon Beach won the coin toss, but the Brumfields couldn’t help noticing the growing energy in Oregon’s oldest city.  

Jane and Mike Brumfield closed thier gallery in Cannon Beach to concentrate on their gallery in their home town of Astoria
Jane and Mike Brumfield closed their gallery in Cannon Beach to concentrate on their gallery in their hometown of Astoria. Photo courtesy: Brumfield Gallery

“It was really tricky for us,” Jane Brumfield recalled. “Astoria has a slightly grittier edge, a more youthful vibe. Cannon Beach had such established galleries. We chose Cannon Beach over Astoria on that occasion. But there was always a bit of thought that we should have invested here in Astoria, where we live. The art scene is up and coming here.”

She added that Cannon Beach feels like a town based around tourism – although she does admire that. Astoria, on the other hand, has other industry. “It feels more like real life.”

So, they decided to open a second gallery in Astoria, where ships motor along the Columbia River and old Victorians color the hillside. It seemed the best of both worlds. Then came the pandemic and the shutdown of most businesses. And two galleries no longer seemed like such a smart idea.

The Brumfields closed the Cannon Beach shop, Image Gallery, but went ahead with plans for Astoria. Now the pair must navigate the world of social distancing and masking up. It’s no easy feat.

Brumfield Gallery opened in Astoria’s historic Occident Building just shy of a month ago, but every day seems to bring new questions, decisions, concerns.

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Art gallery reopens at Salishan Resort

The gallery director says she hopes to oversee restoration of John and Betty Gray's art collection to the coastal landmark, as well as support new artists

After decades of decline, the Salishan Resort in Gleneden Beach may be looking at a brighter future. New owners, Alpha Wave Investors, took over the property a little more than a year ago and are promising to restore the resort to its glory days. That includes a commitment to showcasing Oregon artists, which has already seen the Gallery at Salishan reopened, once again under the direction of Patricia Williams, a close friend of the original developers.

Gallery at Salishan’s current show includes paintings by Allen Cox, including “Materia Medica,” 48” x 36”, oil and wax on linen (2016).

The resort was built by John Gray of Portland, whose other landmark Northwest projects include Sunriver and Skamania Lodge. “When John and Betty Gray opened the Salishan Lodge in 1965,” Williams said, “their mutual love of art became an important component of the lodge’s aesthetic. They had already started an impressive collection of Northwest art, and worked closely with well-known art professors from Oregon State University.”

When the Marketplace at Salishan shopping area opened in the mid-1970s, Gary Lawrence opened a gallery, partnering with art collectors Patrick and Darle Maveety. Patrick Maveety was director and curator of Asian art at Stanford University.

New owners took over Salishan in 1996 with an eye toward turning it into a corporate retreat. Valued art was lost, rumored to have been given away, stolen, and even found in dumpsters, and the gallery closed.

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Gearhart’s secret little jewel for artists

Since 1950, the Trail's End Art Association -- the oldest of its kind on the north coast -- has offered artists a place for camaraderie and confidence

Susan Bish remembers well the first time she set foot in Gearhart’s Trail’s End Art Association gallery.

Painter Susan Bish says she was not much of a joiner when she first heard about the Trail’s End Art Association more than 30 years ago, but today, the former association president says she’s glad she took the plunge. “In the Dunes,” by Susan Bish

It was the mid ‘80s. Bish had learned of the gallery and studio from association members she met at the Astoria swimming pool. In her high school and college years, Bish, now 82, was an avid painter, but over the years, she had left the medium as she became more involved in the theater, married, and raised a family. She was intrigued about the association, but as she told her friend, “I’m not much of a joiner.”

So her friend offered to pay half of Bish’s membership — $20 at the time — and Bish signed on. She was excited about the idea of getting back into painting and sharing the camaraderie of other artists. But she would soon second-guess herself.

“I remember the first time I walked into the building,” she said. “I was a little turned off. It was all these little old ladies who painted rocks. I thought, oh my god, this is pretty bad.”

The association’s studio and gallery, at 656 A St., is in a former school built around 1905. Photo by: Lori Tobias

She stuck around anyway, eventually becoming association president.

“It’s changed greatly over the years and it’s all for the good,” Bish said. “It’s a fantastic organization and I’m glad I joined when I did.”

This month, as the 68-year-old association prepares for its annual Holiday Fest, it also celebrates its status as the oldest art association/co-op of its kind on the north coast. Besides providing studio and gallery space for members, it offers classes and workshops open to the public.

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Forecast: Rain likely with a strong chance of fine art

This weekend's 31st Stormy Weather Arts Festival draws visitors to Cannon Beach to tour galleries, hear music and shop, no matter the weather

I first attended the Stormy Weather Arts Festival in 2002, and from the start, the name amused me. Stormy Weather. Who called attention to the one variable that might well keep people away?

As a travel writer, I was more accustomed to festival organizers exaggerating everything good and downplaying the rest. I quickly came to see, however, that the name actually was very clever. It got your attention. And it celebrated what the Oregon Coast winter (as well as spring, fall, and sometimes, summer) is known for. It also lent itself to some great poster art: mermaids with umbrellas, painters in wellies, wind-whipped waves, and yes, the ray of light through the darkest of clouds.

Brian Blackham’s minimalistic still lifes, such as “Water in Glass” (oil on panel) are at White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach.

“We’re telling you up front this is a stormy weather season, so expect it,” said Jim Paino, executive director of the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce. “If it does rain — of course in Oregon, it rains quite often — it’s right in the title, so you should expect it. Rain or shine, it is a great event. We have indoor backup, so even if it is raining horribly, you can still get out and enjoy it.”

This year marks the 31st anniversary of the festival that began as a fundraiser for the Cannon Beach Chamber, a celebration of the arts, and a way to draw people to the north coast during months that can be pretty quiet. The festival runs Friday through Sunday, Nov. 2-4.

Artist and gallery owner Jeff Hull recalls the first time he heard about the festival idea. “What I remember is the director of the chamber, Nancy Littell, walked through our gallery door and said, ‘We are thinking about what we can do to have some off-season thing visitors will enjoy. What do you think?’”

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