I’m not sure whether to chalk this up to naivete or the fact that Yamhill County’s arts and culture scene has been developing momentum in recent years, but there was a time not so long ago when I assumed things slowed down in the winter.
Perhaps it did once, but not anymore. Even when the skies turn gray and the trees are bare in Oregon’s wine country, our cultural calendar remains packed full. So follow along as we dive into 2020 with a peek at what’s in store over the next couple of months.
CURRENTS GALLERY IN DOWNTOWN McMINNVILLE is one of several businesses housed in the Elks Lodge building on Third Street. The top floor of the 1908 structure, once occupied by lodge space (including a ballroom), was renovated in 1993 by locals Matt and Marilyn Worrix into a sprawling 10,000-square-foot apartment. Having visited there over the years, I could wax poetic for some time about the place, but the point is the building is on the market, and the couple’s downsizing strategy includes selling much of the art collection that filled the apartment: paintings, etchings, ceramics, glass, and more.
Currents Gallery will host the affair, which kicks off with a reception from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, in the gallery. The show runs Jan. 7 through Feb. 16 during regular gallery hours. Artists whose work will be on display include Nils Lou, Marg Johansen, Chris Johnson, Glen Hashitani, and more. A second reception will be held for the monthly 3rd Friday on 3rd Street artwalk, from 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 17. For more information, call 503-435-1316.
THE CHEHALEM CULTURAL CENTER IN NEWBERG opens 2020 with three new shows in January. In the Parrish Gallery, look for a stunning glass installation, Hanging River, by Takahiro Yamamoto and Andy Paiko, beginning Jan. 7. Also opening that day is Intimate Conversations, a botanical photography exhibition by Fretta Cravens. Rich Bergeman’s The Land Remembers opens Jan. 14. The series of black-and-white infrared landscape photography, inspired by events during the Rogue River Wars of 1851-56, has been bouncing around the state and lands in Newberg for a show that runs through February. Visit the website for more information and details on receptions for all three shows.
TWO SHOWS HIGHLIGHTING art by local youth will be featured in The Gallery at Ten Oaks in McMinnville this month and next. The first runs Jan. 7 through Feb. 2 and showcases work by students from high schools around Yamhill County, including Yamhill-Carlton, Sheridan, Amity, and the Delphian School. An opening reception is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15. Then, work by students from high schools in McMinnville and Newberg will be unveiled Feb. 5, with a reception at 6 p.m. Feb. 12.
BACK TO NEWBERG for a moment, where locals will hold their 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on Jan. 20 with several events beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Chehalem Cultural Center, including speakers, music, dance and discussion groups run by the Oregon Humanities Conversation Project, for all ages. All events are free.
McMINNVILLE HAS JOINED the ranks of cities with a TEDx event — a locally organized speaker series that brings together a variety of folks to talk about a wide range of topics. This second annual affair will be from 1 to 6 p.m. Jan. 25 at Linfield College. The lineup includes 10 speakers who get 18 minutes each. Get your tickets here.
NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST Nicholas Kristof returns home in February with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, to promote their newest book: Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope. Kristof is a Yamhill County native who uses the area (and others around the nation) to examine the ways the American working class and working poor have been left behind. He’ll speak from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 7 in the McMinnville Community Center, 600 N.E. Evans St.
THE McMINNVILLE SHORT FILM Festival approaches, and this year’s event, expanded to three days, looks amazing. More than 80 films will be screened Feb. 21-23, and the blocks are mercifully organized by theme. So you can settle back comfortably to enjoy, for example, environmentally themed films without worrying you’re going to be subjected to something experimental and strange. The weekend will include two screening blocks just for narrative filmmaking that each include comedy and drama, along with separate blocks for student films, animation, documentaries, environmental, horror and suspense, Native American and, yes, experimental and a bit strange. A full-access pass is $85, most individual blocks are $10 and the student showcase is free. We’ll have more on the 9th annual festival closer to the event.
TWO APPEALING OPTIONS PRESENT THEMSELVES the final week of February at Linfield College, and while they are set for the same day, Feb. 27, scheduling makes it possible to attend both. From 5 to 6 p.m., you’ll find poet and Dartmouth College professor Joshua Bennett reading from his work in the Nicholson Library. Then grab a quick bite and head to the Vivian A. Bull Music Center for an evening with Linfield music instructor Abigail Sperling and her flute, from 7 to 9 p.m. I attended Sperling’s faculty recital last year; plan on a delightful performance by an extraordinarily talented musician.
ARTS JOURNAL: As much as I enjoy listening to music, it’s rare to find entire album where every track satisfies. I began 2020 with an exception to that rule: Sir András Schiff’s 2019 album, Franz Schubert: Sonatas & Impromptus, which runs for two hours. Perfect for a gray Oregon afternoon. Also dipped a toe into Benjamin Moser’s Sontag biography that came out last fall (one of several artist biographies I’ve resolved to tackle this year) and am currently meandering through Jason Aaron’s Thor run in Marvel Comics.
This story is supported in part by a grant from the Yamhill County Cultural Coalition, Oregon Cultural Trust, and Oregon Community Foundation.