The pandemic’s grip on Yamhill County’s cultural life has loosened sufficiently to afford us a clearer picture of the scene, and it is by most counts positive. Things are happening, musical and theatrical productions are in the works, and we have a sense of who survived, who stumbled, and who fell.
In the latter category, we’ve sadly had a third year without the Terroir Creative Writing Festival, which prior to the pandemic had staked out a Saturday in April to draw writers and poets from around the state to talk shop and network. From what little I’ve picked up, it sounds like an infusion of new energy and a lot of work will be required to bring it back in 2023, if at all. I suspect that will happen, although if the pandemic has taught the arts community anything since 2020, it’s to not take anything for granted.
Salem’s Pentacle Theatre, which just closed out a run of Twelfth Night, is back on the boards, as is Gallery Theater in McMinnville, which is cruising into its final weekend of The Sound of Music. The Verona Studio in Salem is gone, as is Willamette Shakespeare. But those looking for a taste of the bard this summer can take heart in another survivor: Newberg-based Penguin Productions. Gallery Theater manager Seth Renne is on board to direct A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which kicks off a three-weekend run at Penguin on July 8. Before that at Penguin, Brelby Productions from Arizona will give a guest performance on June 4 and 5 of Luna & Solis, a fairy tale by Brian Maticic.
I’m told that the Walnut City Music Festival is planning to return, probably Labor Day weekend, though no details yet. Much more is known about the Aquilon Music Festival, which will return to a full schedule of live, in-person events this summer after a two-year hiatus. Though largely centered at Linfield University in McMinnville, the festival will also hold concerts and recitals at area wineries. A highlight will be the “pre-premiere” of a new opera, OURLAND by Paul Davies and Daniel Helfgot. Lectures and master classes will fill out the schedule. Keep an eye on this space for much more about Aquilon as we get closer.
While we’re at Linfield University, consider paying a visit to the Miller Fine Arts Center to check out what the school’s art students have been up to. Senior Portfolio: Exodus showcases student work through May 30. It includes painting, installations, fabric work, mixed media, and more. For fewer than a dozen students, it’s a delightfully eclectic collection of work.
Meanwhile, across the lawn, Linfield Theatre rolls out another production this week, a double bill of two one-act plays directed by students, Frankenstein and First on the Rope. It shows two nights only, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 18 and 19, and admission is free.
Also in McMinnville, the artist-owned cooperative Currents Gallery opens a new show June 14, Art Happening, featuring watercolor and acrylic work by Kathleen Buck and Claudia Herber, two of the gallery’s seven partners. An opening reception is set for June 18 and the show runs through July 10.
Finally, at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg, the nonprofit this month will kick off Including You: A Conversation Series to “explore diversity, equity and inclusion” through the arts. Every month, a different artist will make a presentation, with the big-picture goal of building an ongoing volunteer base to work on those issues in the Newberg area. Poet Desmond Spann gets things started at 6 p.m. May 26. The events are free, but pre-registration is required. Visit the website for more information.
While you’re waiting for that, you’ve got two more weeks to check out the visual arts shows that fill the Parrish and Central gallery spaces. Habitat, which greets visitors to the center as you enter from the south side, features the work of nearly 30 artists from the Studio Art Quilt Associates, juried by Michael Fisher, executive director at the Maude Kerns Art Center.
The Art of Hampton Rodríguez lines the walls of the Central Gallery down the hall. The Portland artist grew up in the Dominican Republic, where he was influenced by the “intellectual pursuits of the contemporary abstract art movement in his country,” according to the program notes. He exhibited his work in Spain and Belgium and landed in Oregon 20 years ago. The 17 pieces include both color and black-and-white collages (get up close and just imagine how long that must have taken!) and a couple of ink pieces.