Yamhill County gallery calendar: From contemplative landscapes to the hard work of agriculture

Chehalem Cultural Center showcases local artists, and new owners plan to bring the long-shuttered Mack Theater back to life.

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Yamhill County’s visual art scene continues to pop, and while supply-line and worker shortage woes seem to have touched every industry from food and automotive to high-tech and toys, art galleries appear to be immune. Last week, I was talking with Carissa Burkett at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg, and she’s got exhibitions lined up for the center’s multiple gallery spaces well into 2023.

Possibly that’s a product of pent-up supply. With shows shut down across the country in March 2020 and the rest of the year a train wreck for scheduling new ones, there appears to be plenty of artists out there with finished work they’re ready to put in front of the public.

Based on the unusually high number of red sticky dots designating a sale on many of the pieces at the Chehalem center, it seems people are also buying art. So, what is there to see? Here are several Yamhill County shows you can see right now.

Romona Youngquist's work, including "Baker Road in Winter" (oil on canvas, 24 by 30 inches), is at Art Elements Gallery in Newberg.
Romona Youngquist’s work, including “Baker Road in Winter” (oil on canvas, 24 by 30 inches), is at Art Elements Gallery in Newberg.

QUIET DISCOVERIES: Romona Youngquist’s bio at the American Women’s Artists website describes her dreamy, ethereal style perfectly. “Romona likes to trick the eye, using muted colors and blurred contours painted softly as a whisper.” The Dundee artist’s latest collection may be found at Art Elements Gallery in Newberg in a show that runs through Nov. 13. “In each piece, Romona Youngquist shares aspects of her own experience of contemplative experimentation within her artwork,” the show notes state. “We hope that through this thoughtful exhibition you will discover places of simplicity and rest for your mind and being.” 

THE ART OF PRINTMAKING: Phyllice Bradner’s artistry is deep — she writes, paints, and does printmaking. You’ll find the latter on display through Nov. 14 at Currents Gallery in downtown McMinnville, where she is one of the founding partners of the artist-owned co-op.

ART AS SOCIAL PRAXIS: The most overtly political show in Yamhill County may be found at the Linfield University art gallery, featuring multi-media work by Theodore A. Harris, dedicated to the late art historian David Craven. Friderike Heuer has an absorbing deep dive into the show and its complex themes here. The show runs through Nov. 20.

Noelle Evans' textile art, "Blue Fern" (48 by 48 inches) was named Best of Show in the Yamhill County Artists Showcase.
Noelle Evans’ textile art “Blue Fern” (48 by 48 inches) was named Best of Show in the Yamhill County Artist Showcase.

YAMHILL COUNTY ARTIST SHOWCASE: The Parrish Gallery at the Chehalem Cultural Center features a smorgasbord of painting, sculpture, photography, textile arts, and more — nearly 60 individual pieces produced by Yamhill County artists. The first biennial event (hopefully, in addition to and not permanently in lieu of the Art Harvest Studio Tour, canceled for the second year in a row because of COVID) was juried by Erik Sandgren. The top four prize-winners are Noelle Evans, whose textile/quilt won Best in Show; Jon Conchuratt, whose porcelain sculpture won first place; Steve Tyree, whose deep fabricated bronze won second place; and Kathy Cupp, whose acrylic, Grandma’s Quilt, took third place. It says something about the all-round high quality of the work that a first-, second- or third-place ribbon would have seemed entirely appropriate for any of the nearly dozen honorable mention winners, including ethereal photography by Adrian Chitty, whose work has previously been showcased at the gallery.

GRÁFICA DEL CAMPO: CULTIVANDO EL VALLE DE YAKIMA/CULTIVATING THE YAKIMA VALLEY: Down the hall from the Parrish in the Central Gallery, you’ll find yet another instance of one show at Chehalem naturally flowing into the next. Last month, the Parrish was filled with OSU’s annual Art About Agriculture exhibit while the Central Gallery hosted Yolanda Valdés-Rementería’s Exploring Our Humanity, featuring many images of people working in the fields. Now comes Christie Tirado’s exhibition of prints that explore the hard work of agriculture. As she states in the show notes:

"Training II" by Christie Tirado (linoleum block print, 15 by 20 inches), is part of her show celebrating agriculture workers, at the Chehalem Cultural Center.
“Training II” by Christie Tirado (linoleum block print, 15 by 20 inches), is part of her show celebrating agricultural workers, at the Chehalem Cultural Center.

“Over the past couple of years, my artistic creations have conceptually, ethically, and aesthetically focused on illustrating different perspectives of work conducted by Mexican migrant farmworkers — whose arduous labor and work pride supports the thriving agricultural industry of Central Washington. The purpose of my art is to shed light on a demographic of people whose hard work often goes under-recognized and underappreciated. I want my prints not only to unveil narratives of this diaspora in the valley, but also spark conversations about the realities of the labor carried out by America’s essential workers, as well as highlight their value and contribution to this region and our nation’s overall economy.”

The show runs through Dec. 4.

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IN OTHER NEWS, there was a major development  in McMinnville’s cultural scene this week that will be exciting to watch play out in coming years. The historic Mack Theater (and adjoining hotel), which has been dark for the past 15 years, has been purchased by a group of local businesspeople who were behind the construction of the Atticus Hotel a block away.

New owners plan to reopen McMinnville’s Mack Theater, closed since 2006, as an entertainment venue. Photo by: David Bates

The hotel attached to the structure housing the Mack Theater lobby was built in 1886 by L.H. Cook and appears on the National Register of Historic Places. The McMinnville News-Register reported Friday that “Screening films will no longer be the main attraction inside the theater,” but one can be sure, given the players involved, they’ll be investing a lot of money in the place and restoring its former glory.

The theater was reopened several years after I arrived in McMinnville in the mid-1990s and had a good run showing American classics: Some Like it Hot, North by Northwest, Apocalypse Now, and a digitally restored 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey, along with indie fare like  Kelly Reichardt’s shot-in-Oregon Old Joy. The Mack closed in 2006.

The new owners say they’ll operate the theater as “an entertainment venue.” Live entertainment, to be sure, but many in the community are rooting for the silver screen to light up again. When it reopened in 2001, the first film the Mack screened was Alfred Hitchcock’s comic thriller North by Northwest and all 516 seats were sold. The line literally went around the corner and down the street; it was like Star Wars in 1977 all over again. Have times changed so much that you’d never have a scene like that again? I hope not. Stay tuned.

About the author

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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