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Eugene Weekly : Visual Art : 1.6.11


A Weekly Year

Portraits and more at the Oregon Arts Alliance

by Suzi Steffen

When Robert Tomlinson saw the cover of the July 1, 2010, Eugene Weekly, he knew that he wanted to do something with the cover photo. Now its part of a show opening during the First Friday Art Walk on Jan. 7.

Aaron S. (Ogre) by Trask Bedortha
Thomas Mapfumo by Todd Cooper

The image of two young homeless girls, shot by EW graphic artist/photographer Trask Bedortha for Camilla Mortensens story "The Dispossessed,” impressed Tomlinson, director of Oregon Arts Alliance (formerly Oregon Crafted). The twin girls, Cassie and Britteny Moss, sparked Tomlinsons thoughts about planning a photography exhibit for the OAAs new gallery space in the former Fenario. "I wanted to find a context in which to exhibit them,” he says. In addition, Tomlinson has long looked at the time around a new year, or the turning of the year, "as a time of reflection, to look back and examine all of the changes that happened.”

Combine that with a request to the EW advertising department, which passed on the idea to EW art director Todd Cooper, and the wheels started spinning a few months ago. Tomlinson helped narrow down some of the selections from Coopers and Bedorthas many, many photos, especially portraits, from 2010, but he says that "the T guys” made the final selections, ending up with 26 images. Cooper and Bedortha sent the images (some digital, some Actual Film, if you can imagine, including a couple of Polaroid shots) to Mpix.com for high-quality printing, Oregon Gallery did the framing, and Oregon Arts Alliance took care of the hanging.

Cooper and Bedortha, both hired originally as graphic artists, say they both enjoy working in a variety of media and picked up photography along with their other artistic and design pursuits. Cooper says "Were just graphic monkeys that can work a camera,” and they both say they're not expecting to get some kind of big career break from the show (though Bedortha jokes about moving to N.Y. with the fame he'll garner).

The images, almost entirely portraits from special issues like Chow! and from the regular cover stories, give a picture both of Eugene and the people who visit our town. In the former category, steampunk party host (and artist) Joe Mross vies for attention with the twin girls, a powerful shot of Thomas Mapfumo and a locally infamous image of Rocky Maselli of Osteria Sfizio (you will not see his actual face; vegetarians and meat-eaters alike probably know what photo I'm talking about if I just say "pig”). The visitors, often politicians like then-gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber, also include activist and Honor the Earth director Winona LaDuke and Haitian economist Jean André Victor.

The OAA space and the opening also feature two other shows ã a wall of photographs from PhotoZone artists and a sculpture show, "Sculpture: Rock, Paper, Stone, Wood, Glass, Bronze & Clay.”

As for the EW photos, the framed images wont be for sale, but viewers can order prints at the gallery. The $100 price covers the gallerys costs (and the OAA cut down on its normal commission for this portion of the show), with the vast majority going to Looking Glass. Looking Glass serves at-risk youth and families in Lane County, including services for homeless youth and families like the twins who caught Tomlinsons eye in the first place.

"The Year (Right Here) in ReviEW” opens during the First Friday Art Walk, 5:30-8 pm Friday, Jan. 7. The show runs through Jan. 29.