Sleek cars, Peer Gynt watercolors and (maybe!) a revived Mayor’s Art Show are on Eugene’s arts calendar
By Bob Keefer
Visual arts fans have much to look forward to in the new year. Some great museum shows are coming to Eugene, Salem and Portland, as well as some interesting gallery shows around town.
And perhaps the best news of all, the city is trying to resurrect the now-defunct Mayor’s Art Show.
We’ll start with the three big art museums along the I-5 corridor, which offer the richest assortment of art.
At Eugene’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on campus at the University of Oregon, a big exhibition coming right up features work by Eugene artist, collector and arts patron Keith Achepohl.
Vision of Nature/Vessel of Beauty features paintings, drawings and collages Achepohl made during artist residencies in 2011 and 2016 at The Lake, the fabled northern California home of Northwest mystic painter Morris Graves (1910-2001) and still owned by the Morris Graves Foundation. While there, Achepohl focused on the native plant life that surrounds the rural estate.
“A single tree could be observed many times, revealing a different landscape in the intricacies of its bark and branches at each perspective,” he writes in a statement accompanying the show.
The exhibition opens Saturday, Jan. 20, and runs through April 29.
Continuing at the Schnitzer is an edition of Chinese superstar artist Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. The figures refer back to a circle of human/animal figures installed in an 18th-century palace outside Beijing, most of which were looted by Anglo-French troops in 1860. Some have since appeared on the contemporary art market; some are either lost to history or in the hands of discreet private collectors.
Early in his career Weiwei recreated the figures in two editions: one in gold, which was exhibited three years ago at the Portland Art Museum, and one in bronze, which you can see now in the Schnitzer’s outdoor North Courtyard through June 24.
Several smaller exhibits are also coming up at the Schnitzer.
The dryly named Weegee: Selections from the Collection draws on a 2016 gift to the museum of 85 photographs taken by Arthur Fellig, the mid-20th century New York freelance photographer who went by the name Weegee. It includes both his hard-boiled newspaper crime coverage, which has long since enjoyed cult popularity, and his later experimental work. March 28 to July 1.
Don’t Touch My Hair: Expressions of Identity and Community checks into the politics of hair. It will feature portraits of UO students accompanied by their “personal hair stories.” Feb. 23 to May 13.
Up I-5 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, check out a new exhibition of work by Portland conceptual artist MK Guth running Saturday, Jan. 20, through April 1.
MK Guth: Paying Attention draws on her previous work and features a range of site-specific installations by the artist to explore how social interaction is shaped through rites and treasured objects.
Even farther up I-5, the Portland Art Museum has a major Richard Diebenkorn exhibition opening in June. Beginnings, 1942–1955 will feature about 100 early paintings from the acclaimed Portland native, covering a period in which he was influenced by abstract expressionism and the Bay Area figurative movement of the mid-20th century. It runs June 16 to Sept. 23.
Dipping into popular culture, the museum will offer The Shape of Speed: Streamlined Automobiles and Motorcycles, 1930–1942, with 16 classic streamlined cars and two motorcycles from June 16 to Sept. 16.
In collaboration with Eugene Ballet, White Lotus gallery will showcase watercolors this spring by Satoko Motouji that will be used in the ballet’s April production of Peer Gynt.
A well-known Eugene artist and teacher, Satoko worked with the ballet’s artistic director Toni Pimble to create a series of paintings that, reproduced, will be used as the backdrop for the ballet.
The original watercolors will be shown at the gallery March 25 to May 19.
Eugene’s actually got two small photography galleries, both tucked away inside commercial businesses. One, O’Brien Photo Gallery, is run by master printer Walt O’Brien at 2833 Willamette Street, Suite B; it is currently showing his landscapes in platinum, silver and pigment through March 8.
The other is Don Dexter’s dental office not far away at 2233 Willamette Street, Suite B. Dexter, who has shown rotating art exhibits for many years at his office, recently began to specialize in photography, with shows changing each quarter. His current exhibit, running through March 26, is Landscapes Near and Far, with photographs from Oregon and from Cape Town by Zoey Miller.
Printmakers and fans of that medium will be happy to see that Whiteaker Printmaking, better known as WhitPrint, is bringing back its popular Big Ink festival July 20 to 21. We’re talking prints so big — 4-by-8 feet — that they’re printed flat on the ground using a steamroller.
WhitPrint has lots of other activities, from classes to demonstrations; see more at whitprint.com.
Finally, it looks like the Mayor’s Art Show may actually be returning. The popular juried exhibition ran for years at the now-defunct Jacobs Gallery in the Hult Center but ended when the gallery closed in early 2016.
Isaac Marquez, head of the city’s Cultural Services Division, said he’s trying to pull together staff and funding for the show, which would run in late summer in the former (and now even smaller, thanks to new construction) Jacobs Gallery space — which is once more called the Maurie Jacobs Community Room — downstairs in the Hult.
When the old mayor’s show ended, gallerist Karin Clarke stepped up and held a juried Eugene Biennial exhibit at her downtown gallery.
Marquez said he’d like to see the city-sponsored mayor’s show run in the Jacobs at the same time Clarke has her biennial in the gallery, which is half a block from the Hult Center. A third element in his rough plan would be to bring in a couple artists to create outdoor installations that could be viewed simultaneously.
Clarke’s Eugene Biennial is accepting artist submissions through April; details at karinclarkegallery.com. Jurors will be Clarke, artist Craig Spilman and Schnitzer Museum associate curator Danielle Knapp. The show will run Aug. 1 to 25.
Meanwhile, Marquez is also working on continuing the 20x21EUG Mural Project, which aims to have 21 outdoor murals created in town by internationally prominent artists. The first seven were installed last summer; Marquez says he’s talking to as many as nine new artists to create new work for the project this summer.