“Primal Op” at Hallie Ford

When given the opportunity to preview an exhibit at Hallie Ford Museum of Art, I always feel giddy – I’m seven years old again, peeking at presents on Christmas Eve instead of waiting for Christmas day – an untiring excitement that I experience every time the invitation is extended.  When Andrea Foust, Public Relations Manager for Hallie Ford, called to coordinate the tour and interview for their newest exhibit, “Richard C. Elliott: Primal Op,” I knew there was nothing ordinary about what I was going to view.  Andrea explained that the 30-year retrospective of Elliott’s work is interactive with the viewer and museum-goers use a flashlight.   A flashlight in the museum – what magic is this?

Walking into this exhibit, you’ll see enormous works, all with the common thread of geometric and tribal patterns that is carried throughout Elliott’s 30 year body of work on display.  Bringing the flashlight up to your forehead (forget about looking silly because everyone is doing it), pointing it at one of the enormous reflector paintings, and it is transformed into a carnival of light.  Color and dimension change, blend, and each piece recreated.

The magic is that this exhibit is accessible to every viewer, it’s fun and unpretentious.  Typically, we view a painting with one perspective – which is chosen by the artist.  Elliott’s reflector paintings, in red, amber, blue, green, and white – the limited color selection of safety reflectors – offer thousands of perspectives.  Each one dependent on the viewer and is a necessary component for each piece.  The exhibit is playful and whimsical – regardless of age or education in art theory.

The show runs through August 24, 2014.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located at 700 State St. in Salem. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Monday. General admission is $6, $4 for seniors and $3 for students 18 and older. Students 17 and under and children are admitted free. Admission is free for everyone on Tuesdays. For more information call 503-370-6855 or visit willamette.edu/arts/hfma.

Mid-Valley Makers explores the long history of Latino culture in Salem

Artist and poet Efrain Diaz-Horna will exhibit drawings and paintings throughout May at Pop Up art gallery, 260 Liberty NE

Mid-Valley Makers is a local organization that works to connect people to small businesses through heritage events and product sampling in downtown Salem. One such event, called Mid-Valley Makers on First Wednesday, features tours based on important economic influences in Salem’s history. On May 7, Mid-Valley Makers will host an event called Conexiones Latinas: Latino History in Salem.

The program begins with “Stories about Love, Vaqueros and the Birth of Oregon,” presented by Kylie Pine, curator at Willamette Heritage Center. The presentation by Pine will provide an orientation for the self-guided walking tour. Then participants will be free to explore local sites of historical interest, including a watering hole for traveling livestock, coffee and oyster saloons, and the La Corona Cuban cigar factory. Local wines produced from Spanish grapes tempranillo and grenache will be offered at locations along the route, and tequila tastings will be available. Several downtown businesses will be participating in this event.

Salem’s Latino roots run deep. According to salemhistory.net, Salem Public Library’s history blog, Latinos worked in Oregon as miners, mule packers and vaqueros, or cowboys, throughout the 19th century. During World War II, the Bracero (“worker”) Program brought additional thousands of Latinos to Oregon. In Salem, the braceros lived at a labor camp on the Oregon State Fairgrounds, and they were praised for their invaluable contribution during a time of war. Since that time, Latinos have formed the backbone of the area’s agricultural economy.

On June 4, Mid-Valley Makers will present Wurzeln: German Heritage in Salem.

Willamette Heritage Center develops the orientation for these events, and downtown businesses host local producers along the tour route, offering hospitality and samples to visitors. The event is coordinated by Salem Creative Network.

A multi-cache created for the event will be posted on geocache.com. It includes eight tour destinations and a puzzle revealing the GPS coordinates of the hidden geocache.

For more information, visit salemdowntown.net 

Sprawled Tenacious trees

About two years ago I began to take walks with my camera in hand to look closely at urban and suburban landscapes that I’ve been driving on and by for years.  I created a blog to share my forays into this everyday wilderness, entitled “Hiking Salem National Forest.”

Instead of venturing to majestic parks where nature is preserved, I’m searching for nature’s leftovers and transplants hanging on.  I’m always on the lookout for tenacious trees that survive against the odds, in parking lots, on median strips, in vacant parcels not yet consumed by residential or commercial development.

These tenacious trees are far from their families in the forest.  I imagine them as forlorn, yet at the same time triumphant, holding vigil or a “stand-in”protest against the eradication of the forest in our urban/suburban sprawl.   Plus, I see these tenacious trees as symbolic for many of us, as diverse transplants to the Willamette Valley, often far from our places of origins, adapting to a changing environment.   It’s amazing how we (and they) can thrive in such foreign habitats.

I look forward to finding more tenacious trees along future hikes in the “Salem National Forest”.   If you know of a tenacious tree who deserves having its portrait taken, please be in touch (phildecker6@gmail.com).


Phil Decker is a documentary photographer who studied at the International Center of Photography in New York City.  You can view more of Phil’s photo essays at phildeckerphotos.com.  His blog “Hiking Salem National Forest is at salemnationalforest.blogspot.com

Gatsby Style -Salem Art Association Clay Ball

A nod to the Roaring Twenties with jazz music, speakeasies, flappers, and Art Deco – Salem Art Association goes Gatsby for the 15th annual Clay Ball.  As usual, in keeping with this year’s theme, Get Up & Gatsby, SAA encourages attendees to don dramatic 20s era duds.  Clay Ball’s ever changing themes keep the yearly event fresh and so much fun!

Since 1999, Salem Art Association has brought us Clay Ball – an event that merges local artists, community, and creativity in a grand way.   On February 22rd, Ball attendees will be plied with wine from Redhawk Winery, a three-course sit-down dinner, and swing to Bobwhite Big Band at the Salem Convention Center.  There they will have the opportunity to bid on silent and live auctions of fine art and exclusive experience packages.

The following artists have donated fine art pieces to the live auction:  Dale Crawford, George Essaides, Jan Gassner, Rebekah Rigsby, Maralynn Maltz, Nancy Eng, Carla Wright, John Van Dreal, Chloe Raymond, Tom Kunke, Jon Colburn, Monica Moyano, James Southworth, and Slate Wilson.




















Saturday, February 22 at 5:30 pm

Salem Convention Center

200 Commercial Street SE, Salem



Ticket Information


$80.00 through February 16 (online, on the phone, or in-person)


$95.00 from February 17-February 19 (online, on the phone, or in-person)


$95.00 from February 20-February 22 (only available on the phone, or in-person)


Tickets are available for purchase online at www.SalemArt.org or call 503-581-2228.

Seattle Artist Whiting Tennis Exhibiting at Hallie Ford

Hallie Ford Museum of Art will be exhibiting nationally recognized, Seattle mixed media artist, Whiting Tennis.  The exhibition, held in the Melvin Henderson-Rubio Gallery, is entitled, “Whiting Tennis: My Side of the Mountain” and features paintings, sculptures, drawings, and large scale collages.

Tennis created a collage that depicts the backyard of a house in his Seattle neighborhood. Bucci says, “Artworks like the large 14 foot long “Bitter Lake Compound” are familiar and relatable while at the same time alone and slightly sad. What could have been viewed as an eyesore transforms into a beautiful array of rhythms, textures and colors.”

The exhibition opens on January 18 and continues through March 23 and will be accompanied by a free full-color brochure.

About Hallie Ford Museum of Art

The museum is located at 700 State St. in Salem. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Monday. General admission is $6, $4 for seniors and $3 for students 18 and older. Students 17 and under and children are admitted free. Admission is free for everyone on Tuesdays. For more information call 503-370-6855 or visit willamette.edu/arts/hfma.

Something Red Art Walk -A Downtown Tradition

Artists, art lovers, and regular downtown First Wednesday goers braved the blustery weather December 4th for Artists in Action’s 11th Annual Something Red Art Walk and awards reception – the kickoff to the month long art walk in the heart of downtown Salem.

AiA partnered with over 20 downtown businesses to exhibit (and offer for sale) 150 pieces of art from Oregon photographers, painters, ceramic artists, weavers, felters, and digital artists.  New this year is the category of Creative Digital Imaging.  Although there have been entries of digital artwork in past events, they were routinely placed in the Photography or 2-D categories, where they didn’t quite fit – this time, however, there was a category specifically created for digital artists.

There were many wonderful pieces submitted to this year’s event, however, one piece caught the eye of many – “Red Barn in Winter,” a photograph by Rick Keating, took First Place in Photography, received the Salem Arts Building Award, and was also awarded Best of Show.

Perhaps the highest honor for the artist, it sold on the way to its’ exhibit location at Grand Vines.

If you missed the reception on First Wednesday, you still have plenty of opportunity to view the pieces –The Something Red Art Walk continues thru the end of December.  Visit www.somethingred.org for the list of participating businesses, an art walk map, and the list of artists.

3 Dimensional Art
3rd “Stag” Clay & Glass Autumn Breitwieser
2nd “Wandering Spirals” Clay Judith Walden
1st “Crow” Clay & Glass Autumn Breitwieser

Honorable Mention “Please Be Seated -Bologna, Italy” Ron Wolf
3rd “Red Mask at Country Faire” Paul Szudzik
2nd “Escape in Amity” Ron Wolf
1st “Red Barn in Winter” Rick Keating

Creative Digital Imaging
3rd “Old School 1,2” Diane Forsberg
2nd “Zion Crack” Michael Hare
1st “Winter Apples” Joel Zak

2 Dimensional Art
Honorable Mention “Dawn Comes” John Eells
Honorable Mention “Imagine” Debbie Robinson
Honorable Mention “Starry Eyed Mermaid” Marnie Jeffers
3rd “Red Peonies” Jane Buccola
2nd “An Oncorhynchus Performance” Robin Barnes
1st “Sanguine Moon” Benjamin Prewitt

Honorable Mention “Ladies Night Out” Kaitlyn Ecklund
3rd “Georgia O’Keefe Red Canvas” Sawyer Hemstreet
2nd “Dahlia” Brooklyln Vandehey
1st “The Day of the Red” Olivia Webster

Sponsor Awards
Salem Arts Building “Red Barn in Winter” Rick Keating
Elsinore Framing & Fine Art “An Oncorhynchus Performance” Robin Barnes
Salem Weekly “Alaskan Lily” Nathelle Norfleet
The Ink Spot Printing “Crossing Over” Sonia Allen
Statesman Journal “Metro Red” Therese Misner

Mayor’s Award “Cloud Illusions, Day of Promise, and Head in the Clouds” Katy Vigeland
Best Use of Color Red “Crow” Autumn Breitwieser
Best of Show “Red Barn in Winter” Rick Keating

When is an Empty Bowl the Best Bowl?

For the last six years, Willamette Art Center, Salem’s community arts center located at kthe Oregon State Fairgrounds, has hosted “Empty Bowls Benefit” – an annual sale benefitting Marion Polk Food Share. Empty Bowls is an event that takes place in many cities in the country to help the hungry. Empty Bowls in Salem began six years ago in a partnership between WAC and the Marion Polk food share.  About 20 local potters, most throwing at the Willamette Art Center, have annually raised $6,000 to a little over $16,000 – totaling over $80,000 since the event began.  Jason Laney and Cheri Posedel are two local artists that throw more than 100 bowls each for the event.

Empty Bowls will take place on Saturday, November 23 from 10:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday, November 24 from Noon to 5:00pm.  WARNING:  Bowls sell very quickly! Get there early on Saturday morning – WAC will be selling espresso in the covered parking lot beginning at 9:00am.  Proceeds from espresso sales will help fund Family Clay Sundays.

Sitka Art Invitational

The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, a 43-year old non-profit arts organization, has been showcasing artwork from Pacific Northwest artists in the Sitka Art Invitational for 20 years.  This year, more than 120 Northwest artists and more than 500 works of art make up the Invitational, which is the main fundraiser for the Sitka Center. It also achieves the organization’s mission to support artists by sharing all art sales 50-50 with the participating artists. All of which must reside in the Pacific Northwest and incorporate nature or ecology into their creations.

The Sitka Center is located on coastal Oregon’s scenic Cascade Head, where they hold their Workshop Program from May to October.  Workshops include art making, writing and exploring the natural world. From October to May, the Residency Program offers space for artists, writers, natural scientists and musicians to work.

Local Salem artist, Ann Kresge, has twice taught Sitka’s Workshop Program and is planning an upcoming workshop, “Three Dimensional Books: Books as Space.”  She is experiencing the Invitational for a second time.  Of the event, Kresge says, “I love the Invitational as it is a strong show, great energy and benefits a wonderful organization.”  Kresge’s career as a professional artist has spanned 30 years – well-known and actively involved in outreach and education in the arts community, she has contributed art to organizational fundraisers for decades.  For Kresge, the Sitka Art Invitational is a different experience, “I really appreciate that Sitka shares the sales with the artist. It shows respect for the professionals that we are it encourages the artists to provide their strongest works. It is also a vehicle for artists throughout the Northwest to be exposed to a broad art viewing and purchasing public.”

Kresge’s roots are in printmaking and book arts and her media includes: artists’ books, 2-D prints and paintings, installations, constructions, video and collaborations with dancers and musicians.  Her current projects include creating printmaking based stage sets for a touring group of improvisational dancers and musicians – these sets are currently touring in the US, Europe and Asia.  For the Invitational, Kresge has submitted four prints on different materials: wood, metal, vellum and paper.

Cynthia Herron, art professor at Chemekta Community College, is also enjoying the Invitational for a second time.  “I take part in this event because it supports Sitka, a place I heartily believe in! I love their mission of bringing artists, writers and biologists together for the sake of creativity and caring for our environment.”

Herron moved to Salem in 2004 and was introduced to Sitka Center in 2006.  She immediately began taking writing classes during their summer program and has continued nearly every year since.   The beautiful campus, quality of the classes, and the wonderful experiences with the staff and other students, Herron says, “…I dreamed of teaching there.”  In 2010 she submitted a proposal for “Abstract Composition in Landscape” and after the rigorous jury process, it was accepted.   In addition to her full teaching schedule at Chemeketa, Herron is teaching a beginning drawing class in November downtown at Art Department, and hosts a drop-in painting session on the first and third Wednesday afternoons through January at her studio.

The exhibit and sale is open to the public in Miller Hall at the World Forestry Center, Saturday and Sunday, November 2-3, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, with an entry fee of $5 (under 18 free).   There are additional Invitational events, also at the World Forestry Center – see sidebar for details.  For more information about Sitka Center for Art and Ecology or the Sitka Art Invitational, call 541.994.5485 or visit www.sitkacenter.org.

Committed to expanding the relationships between art, nature and humanity, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology is well known for its workshop and residency programs. Located on Cascade Head, with views of the Pacific Ocean and Salmon River, Sitka Center offers a place where artists, writers, natural scientists and musicians of all abilities and backgrounds come to nourish and inspire their creativity, which ripples out into our world, making it a brighter place for all.

Salem is about to be transformed by a downtown space devoted to art, artists and creativity.

The Salem Arts Building, 155 Liberty Street, is on its way to becoming what landlord Mike Tevis calls, “LIVING and WORKING space for artists, photographers, startups and entrepreneurs.”

In collaboration with new building manager and local artist/metal smith Helen Nute Wiens, Tevis intends the building to be “a gathering spot… the downtown Salem hub of creative minds, young and old.”

The project began as Tevis’ dream when he bought the building eight years ago and gave it its name.  It has six floors full of studio and living space, and tenants already include artists such as Wiens, who’s worked from there for four years.  Wiens, who has been active on non-profit art boards Keizer Art Association and Artists in Action, editor of Salem Weekly Art Canvas, and is a founding member of artist cooperative Red Raven Art Gallery, says Tevis’ recent invitation to join the vision as building manager and liaison with local artists thrilled her.

“When Mike asked if I would work with him on this project, I really felt I could bring something useful to the table…. I get to share this incredibly cool and unique project with the community.  For me, it’s a wonderful opportunity – getting the chance to work on a project that has the potential to bring so much to downtown Salem.  With my love of downtown, our art community, and belief in the project, it was easy to jump in with both feet.  I was so excited I hardly slept the first week.  I just hit the ground running.”

The second floor, which Tevis calls, “an artist hive,” will be the home of an art collective, 24 studio spaces of varying sizes with many shared amenities like a common area for teaching or meetings, a kiln and internet.  The result is space that struggling artists can afford downtown.

Wiens says that much of that market is out of the reach of local artists, especially studios that are clean, attractive and well maintained; finding a “space within their budget is the first hurdle; once liability insurance and downtown parking tax is figured in, the once “affordable” space is no longer within budget.”

The collective will mean financial relief for these creative people.  “Having the 24 studios under a common collective enables us to cover the downtown parking tax and commercial liability – meaning that the affordable space actually IS affordable,” says Wiens.

The first tenant lease Wiens secured was DIY Studio, the creative re-use nonprofit who set up temporary shop in Salem Center several months ago.  Jessica Ramey of DIY Studio says the organization, a 501 (c)(3) had already begun a search for a new home when it discovered that Salem Arts Building might be a possibility.

“We toured the building and realized that both of us have similar goals,” Ramey says, “We both want to be an arts destination for Salem.”  DIY Studio met with Tevis and Ramey reports “He liked our mission of diverting waste and turning it into art, as well as our space made from pallets, wooden spools and reclaimed paint. He even purchased a belt made by from upcycled bike tire before he left.”

Once established in their new location, DIY Studio will continue to offer reclaimed materials for arts and crafts, community upcycled art, and educational programs and events. The group feels the new location will benefit them in more than one way.  In addition to sharing a creative atmosphere with other artists, “We’ll be in a more central location downtown,” Ramey says,  “This will allow DIY Studio to engage with First Wednesday participants and partner with downtown businesses.”

Other arts non-profits will benefit from the Salem Arts Building as well, as it is intended to provide space for special exhibits, receptions, and meetings.  Already planned is a November photography exhibition with the Salem Photo League, “Everyday Heroes,” documenting locals whose work and passion enrich the Willamette Valley, and in December, the annual “Something Red” Artists in Action show, including an awards reception on the Mezzanine level.  The vision encompasses what Wiens calls, “a true arts building with an art collective, community outreach, arts education and partnerships… The potential of our building is enormous, a catalyst to bring more artists and creative individuals to downtown Salem.

As fall becomes winter in Salem, Mike Tevis seems to be finally realizing his original goal for the building, to become a thriving collaboration of local artists, entrepreneurs, retailers, photographers and business owners.
“There is nothing like this development in the mid-valley!” Wiens says, as she invites artists from the region to become part of the Arts Building vision.

“This is truly unique in our area…the potential of our building is enormous – a catalyst to bring more artists and creative individuals to downtown Salem.”

Sale to Benefit History -Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill

Salem’s story has been interwoven with textiles since before the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill was built in 1895.  It is fitting, then, that today’s fiber artists, who still weave at looms on the Mill’s fourth floor, present their wares at a sale to benefit the regional treasure, the Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill.

Friday and Saturday will see a Handweaver’s sale and demonstrations of skill and design.  Unique handmade scarves, dish towels, table linen and rugs are among the items to be offered and proceeds go to support the work and programs of the Heritage Center.

“We want to keep our fiber history and Marion County history alive,” says Dess Graves, who created many of the original items.

How long do her dish towels last?  Graves laughs.  “They last forever!  And they just get softer and better!”

Salem Fiberart Guild Annual Sale
October 4th and 5th
10 am – 5 pm
1313 Mill Street SE, Salem