Vision 2020: Kristin Shauck

The Clatsop Community College teacher and artist loves Astoria’s grittiness and diverse arts scene, but sees gentrification putting the squeeze on her students

Kristin Shauck teaches drawing, painting, design, watercolor, and art history at Clatsop Community College, where she also oversees the Royal Nebeker Art Gallery. Originally from Texas, Shauck grew up expecting to pursue a career in music, but while studying at Baylor University, she shifted gears and instead received her bachelor’s degree in fine art.

Early influences include an artist mother, who made sure Shauck always had art supplies available, and a mathematician father, who made history as the first pilot to make a transatlantic flight using ethanol fuel. He followed Charles Lindberg’s original flight.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


“I have always been very proud of my dad,” Shauck said. “He is brilliant and charismatic, and I admire him so much for all he has achieved throughout his lifetime.  I developed passionate love of learning from his example, and particularly of cross-disciplinary learning. He taught me that math and science are connected to everything in life, including visual art and music. ”

Kristin Schauk, shown here with self-portrait, says she cannot  imagine being an educator without being an artist, and vice versa. Photo courtesy: Clatsop Community College
Kristin Schauck, shown here with self-portrait, says she cannot imagine being an educator without being an artist, and vice versa. Photo courtesy: Clatsop Community College

After college, Shauck taught in several arts programs before answering an ad for a teacher at Clatsop Community College in 2004.  “I got to Astoria and I fell in love with the community. The campus and the faculty here are amazing.”

What, good or bad, has had the biggest impact on arts and culture in your area in the past few years?

The fact that we have such a vibrant arts community is really attracting people to this area, and that’s a mixed bag. It does kind of price out local artists and locals in terms of living spaces and studio spaces, because we see that kind of gentrification happening. I’ve seen a lot of that since I first came in 2004. What I love about Astoria is it’s never lost its grittiness. It’s not too slick and too cool. Everyone here respects everyone else’s eccentricities. Especially, coming from Texas — it’s not like that. People conform. They don’t accept the individualities of people. People are much more open-minded here.

The arts community is attracting more creative people to move here. The art scene is becoming more and more diverse. When I came in 2004, the college was pretty ramshackle. We’ve had beautiful renovations. We have stunning views. The buildings are just beautiful now. It’s a spectacular campus. We do a lot of outreach to connect. We have a lot of connections to the community. The arts scene attracts people to visit the galleries; in turn, these people are spending money in the restaurants and  hotels, and it really is a huge boost to the economy. We have creative people of all kinds: performers, musicians, writers. We have theater. I really feel like we have the best of all worlds. It’s a small community, so we have those personal interactions; everybody knows everybody. We have nature all around us, but Astoria also has an urban feel because of all the culture.

What are your goals and expectations for the coming year in the arts, professionally and personally?

I’ve been teaching for 25 years and I feel like I haven’t been able to focus as much time and energy on my own creativity. It is going to be a priority to create more of my personal work. It’s a good example for my students, too. I feel my dual role as artist and educator has really enriched my own creativity. I can’t imagine being an educator without being an artist and vice versa.

Henk Pender visits the 2019 “Au Naturel: The Nude in the 21st Century” exhibit at the  Royal Nebeker Art Gallery. His painting, “The Photographer,” is center, with Judith Perry’s “Delicate” at left. Kristin Shauck founded the international competition in 2006. The 2020 “Au Naturel” show opens Jan. 23. Photo by: Friderike Heuer for Oregon ArtsWatch

Professionally, one of the things I feel I bring to my teaching practice, I was brought here primarily because of my expertise in the figure. I founded Au Naturel: The Nude in the 21st Century. That’s an international competition, now in our 14th year. Our gallery is named after Royal Nebeker, an artist and teacher. He was definitely a huge support for getting the show off the ground, and continued to give his support right up until the end. We really are all committed to continuing Royal’s legacy.

Not every community college has a gallery like this. It’s like the hub of our building. All of our classrooms surround the gallery. We use it as a teaching tool. We bring in various disciplines. Last fall, we had a photography exhibit of over 100 photographs of  workspaces in Astoria and in the surrounding area. A lot of people in town were represented. It was such a huge success.

Do you see yourself staying in Astoria?

Oh, absolutely.

What issue or issues in your community would you most like outsiders to understand?

We have a huge amount of poverty. As an instructor at the college, I see it. Our students are struggling. Housing is so difficult. We have students who are homeless. They can’t afford the basic things in life. With the art students, more and more, I have to provide as much as I can. Budgets are stretched. It’s a very difficult environment to survive in. That is an impact of gentrification, where prices are going up and there’s not enough money to go around, not enough jobs. We’re lucky in that we’re one of the small towns that still has a vibrant downtown.

Kristin Shauck (first row, far right) and her winter 2019 painting class produced portraits of shelter animals.  All proceeds from the sale of student artwork displayed at Old Town Framing in Astoria were donated to the local shelter, raising almost $1,000.

If you could make one thing happen in the 2020s, what would it be?

I would make education free for all, not just students fresh out of high school, all students. I have students of all ages. I have seniors, people in between and I think it should be free for everybody, especially at the community college level. That’s what I would make happen. Number one.

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This is the eighteenth in a series of twenty interviews in twenty days with arts and cultural figures around Oregon, creating a group portrait of the state of the arts in the state. It looks at where we’ve been, where we are, and what might or should happen culturally in the 2020s.

Previously:

  • Rachel Barreras-Kleemann. The “small” goals of the Newport dance teacher, who learned African-Brazilian dance forms in Brazil and performed with the marching samba band Lions of Batucuda: keep kids motivated to dance, give low-income kids a place to go.
     
  • Niel DePonte. The Portland percussionist, composer, and conductor for more than 40 years thinks about thorny issues ahead, and how to tackle them.
     
  • Darcy Dolge, Sarah West, and Nancy Knowles. Three leaders of La Grande’s Art Center East, which helps serve a sprawling ten-county stretch of Eastern Oregon, say funding cuts could have been dire in their rural area, but the community stepped up to keep arts thriving.
     
  • Maya Vivas and Leila Haile. The founders of North Mississippi Avenue’s Ori Gallery “often joke about how we would love to not be the only Queer, Black-run art space in town.”
     
  • Christopher Acebo. The longtime key figure at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and recent chair of the Oregon Arts Commission talks about diversity, funding, and who controls the gate to the castle.
     
  • Yulia Arakelyan and Erik Ferguson. Beyond the arts bubble, the Wobbly duo see a dangerous world: “Hate based crime directed against people with disabilities has gone up.”
     
  • John Olbrantz. The director of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art talks about the museum, Salem’s lively arts community, and its “blessing and curse” of being near Portland.
     
  • Joamette Gil. The lowdown on the Power & Magic of creating an indie comics universe that tells tales of life, love, and adventure in a nonbinary culture of color.
     
  • Rachael Carnes. The Eugene playwright, who’s written more than 80 plays in three years, praises her city’s bubbling arts community but fears it’s getting harder to break in: “Access is the foundation for a vibrant arts scene.”

  • Molly Alloy and Nathanael Andreini. “There’s a notion in Portland that anyone living outside Portland is a Klan member. … in fact the small towns and rural communities here are incredibly vibrant and resilient.” A new generation of leaders takes Washington County’s renamed Five Oaks Museum deeper into the arts and into the diversity of culture around it.

  • Ella Ray. “There is this level of resistance coming from formerly colonized people who are marginalized, and I feel something bubbling under the surface,” the art historian and museum activist declares.

  • Martin Majkut. “The current generation of concert-goers is the last one with solid music education in schools.” Rogue Symphony Orchestra’s conductor talks about audiences, money, and music for troubled times.

  • Ka’ila Farrell-Smith. The Southern Oregon artist, mentor, and anti-fracking activist creates visual art “rooted in Indigenous aesthetics and abstract formalism.”

  • Sean Andries and Carissa Burkett. The leaders of Newberg’s Chehalem Cultural Center provide “a fertile ground for people of all walks of life to cross paths and connect,” from performances to visual and culinary arts.

  • Yaelle Amir. A promising curator makes her mark and then her job disappears. She rolls up her sleeves and makes her mark again.

  • Connie Carley and Jerry Foster. Almost four decades in, the leaders of PassinArt: A Theatre Company continue to set a strong stage for Black theater in Portland.

  • Brenna Crotty. Women have read male-centered stories their whole lives, the CALYX editor says: “Men would benefit a lot from reading female-centered narratives as well.”

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