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Yamhill County calendar: Pastel Artists of Oregon’s show scores on ‘wow’ factor

Coming months also see the return of the Walnut City Music Festival and Art Harvest Studio Tours, as well as Gallery Theater’s season and a Scottish festival.


Britt Block's "Finding Light" was named Best of Show at the Pastel Artists of Oregon show at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg.
Britt Block’s “Finding Light” was named Best of Show at the Pastel Artists of Oregon show at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg.

When artist Amanda Houston juries an exhibition, she takes into account criteria like originality and technical skills such as composition. But she also looks for what she calls the “Wow!” and “Ah-ha!” factor — the capacity of a piece of art to stop you in your tracks and take your breath away.

Houston’s medium of choice is pastel, and this year she juried the Pastel Artists of Oregon’s second biennial Open International Juried “Spirit of Pastel” exhibition, which can be seen through Sept. 30 in both the Parrish and Central galleries at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg.

“Wow” is the word that comes to mind as you take in the volume of work. The Pastel Artists  received more than 230 entries this year from 85 artists from around the world, and Houston created an exhibition that showcases 124 of them.

“I’ve juried shows before, and this one was really hard,” she said earlier this month at a reception at the center that was live-streamed on Facebook to more than 80 viewers. “There is such a breadth of different styles, different subject matter, from landscapes and abstracts to florals, still lifes. There was so much good work here.”

First place went to Kim Eshelman for her landscape Field of Wishes. Willo Balfrey took second place for the autumnal landscape In the Ravine, and Julia Lesnichy’s floral piece Morning Roses took third. Honorable mentions included Bithia Bjurman’s Morning Devotion, Connie Noah’s Fading Summer, Christine Knowles’ abstract Mosaic, and Janice Carlton’s Nisqually Wetlands. The PAO Award went to William Schneider for the portrait Waiting for the Sundance Kid. Finally, Best in Show went to Finding Light, a floral piece by local artist Britt Block, whose work was featured in a Chehalem Cultural Center exhibition a couple of years ago.

Kim Eshelman's "Field of Wishes" won first place in the Pastel Artists of Oregon show at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg.
Kim Eshelman’s “Field of Wishes” won first place in the Pastel Artists of Oregon show.

Yamhill County’s cultural calendar for the balance of 2022 is, in a word, full. Here’s a snapshot of the next few months:

Walnut City Music Festival: After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the indie music festival launched nearly a decade ago by Ossie Bladine returns to close out summer and usher in the fall with two days of live music Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3-4, in McMinnville. 

Gallery Theater’s two stages will be popping this fall, starting with four weekends of popular ABBA music in Mamma Mia!, which runs Sept 9-Oct. 2. Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None plays three weekends in the black box theater, Oct. 21-Nov. 6, and finally, an original adaptation by John Hamilton of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will usher in the holidays, Nov. 25-Dec. 18. Check the website for full details and tickets.

Art Harvest Studio Tour: It’s billed as “the artful way to explore Oregon’s wine country.” Yes, the Art Harvest Studio Tour is, finally, back, with two weekends of self-guided tours. You’ll have 50 artists to choose from in McMinnville, Newberg, Amity, Dundee, and Carlton. Mark your calendars for Sept. 30, Oct. 1-2 and Oct. 7-9. If you’d like to sample the work before mapping out your route, it will be on display at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg starting Sept. 30.

Scottish Festival: One of the newest and popular cultural events in these parts is the McMinnville Scottish Festival, sponsored by the Celtic Heritage Alliance. You’ll find it Oct. 1-2 at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds, with plenty of food, sports, whisky tastings, Celtic dance, vendors, and more.

Willamina Coast Hills Art Tour: Details are scarce, but I’m told that the Willamina Coast Hills Art Tour will return this year. It’s set for Saturday, Nov. 12. Your best bet for more information is either the West Valley Community Campus or the tour’s Facebook page.

David Bates is an award-winning Oregon journalist with more than 20 years as a newspaper editor and reporter in the Willamette Valley, covering virtually every topic imaginable and with a strong background in arts/culture journalism. He has lived in Yamhill County since 1996 and is currently a freelance writer whose clients have included the McMinnville News-RegisterOregon Wine Press, and Indulge, a food-oriented publication. He has a B.S. degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a long history of involvement in the theater arts, acting and on occasion directing for Gallery Players of Oregon and other theaters in Oregon.

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