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Visual Arts

November 16, 2017

An appealing mix of reality and imagination in each of Jon Jay Cruson’s paintings reminds me of a bit from the first days of the TV show Saturday Night Live. Father Guido Sarducci, a character on SNL, suggested that a planet just like ours existed on the other side of the sun. We couldn’t see it, of course — because the sun is in the way — but this other planet was just like ours in every way except that people who lived there ate their corn on the cob north-south (up-down) instead of east-west (across).

November 9, 2017

If you’re a Eugene photographer, be forewarned. A visit to Joseph Peila’s current show Annexed might push you out of your comfort zone.

November 9, 2017

The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education moved to its new location in Portland’s Pearl District this summer — taking over the space once held by the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

The OJMCHE is a conglomeration: It houses the Jewish history museum, with an emphasis on discrimination and resistance; a Holocaust resource center; and two art galleries. The second floor contains everything except the art galleries, which are located on the ground floor.

October 12, 2017

The first time I met photographer Bill Owens was in 1980 in the women’s bathroom. I was 21. We were in the building where I worked, which was at a fashion publication in downtown Los Angeles. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to see a fashion shoot at work — but this wasn’t that.

Owens was one of a big handful of artists chosen to work on the Los Angeles Documentary Project, and he was at our office to take a photograph for his series on clichés about L.A.

October 5, 2017

Photographer David Turner, the former executive director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, along with local historian Douglas Card, will talk about Turner’s new book, Along The Long Tom River: Observations from the Past and Present, from 6 to 7:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Eugene Public Library. The book is an illustrated cultural history of Lane County’s Long Tom River, with contributions from several local writers, photographers and historians.


What was the process behind the creation of the book? 

September 28, 2017

Half a century ago in Los Angeles, Jim Tronson was a young architect fresh out of the University of Arizona and seeking his fortune. He landed an apprenticeship with Gruen Associates, one of the biggest architectural firms in the world. Its founder, Victor Gruen, is credited with inventing the shopping mall.

“I actually saw Victor, once,” says Tronson, a tall man with a shock of white hair who possesses a theatrical intensity that reminds me of Doc Brown in Back to the Future.

September 7, 2017

Just after I moved to Eugene about a year and a half ago, Eugene Weekly ran a story titled “Art: It Could Happen Here” [EW, Feb. 4, 2016]. Written after the city-subsidized Jacobs Gallery had closed, the article suggested that Eugene might have to change its slogan from “A Great Place for the Arts and Outdoors” to “Eugene, A City Where People Go Outdoors.” Had I moved to a town without art?

This summer proved that art can happen here. 

August 17, 2017

An entire room at the Maude Kerns Art Center is dedicated to Melissa Sikes’ series of artworks titled The Back Dock. Other paintings from the series are sprinkled throughout the rest of the art center, too, in a group show that’s up through Aug. 25. All of Sikes’ paintings are of the same outdoor place: the back dock by a lake where her family has been spending summers for years.

According to the artist, the front dock is for boats, and the back dock is for lounging and swimming. The back dock is where she spends most afternoons in summer. 

July 20, 2017

Paintings by Bets Cole on display through July at Karin Clarke Gallery show the long-time local artist at her relaxed, assured best.

Cole has been making and showing work here for as long as I can remember — Oregon landscapes, generally (though she did a portrait show recently), well executed and ready to grace a living room wall. She approaches the world with a practiced and sympathetic eye, documenting not just the details of any particular scene but also its essence.

July 6, 2017

Mírame Bien!” pleads the current photography exhibit in the Morris Graves gallery at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art — “Take a good look at me!” That’s sound advice when visiting any photo show, but particularly the diminutive prints of Edward Weston, Paul Strand and Manuel Alvarez Bravo.

June 22, 2017

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question asked of children, and they know to pick just one thing. Sometimes it works out that way. You decide on a profession or fall into a job, and then stay in it the rest of your life.

Other times you choose one answer, and after nearly 20 years, put it aside and choose another. That is how it happened with Allan Kluber, whose ceramics are on view at Karin Clarke Gallery through July 1.  

June 8, 2017

In a video, artist Mika Aono tells us she is interested in compulsive behavior. After a short while watching, we get an idea the artist is referring to herself. Aono compulsively collects things other people might throw away, and her new work Spill is composed of pieces greatly inspired by her collections.

Eugene Contemporary Art presents Spill at Barn Light East through June 30.  

June 1, 2017

For photographers who came of age during the film era, the experience of seeing that very first image materialize in the developing tray is remembered as magical or uncanny. That the miracle often occurred in an educational setting as a shared communal experience deepened the impact.

Yes, community darkrooms left a fond residue in the mind as well as on the fingertips. But alas, their influence has faded. With photography’s transition from film to digital now mostly complete, community darkrooms have largely disappeared from the national landscape, Eugene included.

May 18, 2017

James Nares might be called a Renaissance artist, though he is associated with the 1970’s No Wave movement, where he played in a band and made art in the street.

Nares makes objects, composes music and is a filmmaker, photographer and painter. The subjects of his paintings are lines. What could be simpler, right?

Not in Nares’ case.

April 27, 2017

Some people look forward to retirement. They plan for the time when they can stop working and do nothing but take it easy and relax.

Artists aren’t usually among those people. Take Picasso, for example: He lived to 91 and famously worked through his later years. Or consider Georgia O’Keeffe, who lived to be almost 100 years old. When her eyesight failed, she switched from painting to sculpture so she could keep working. 

Artists want to keep on making art. 

April 20, 2017

Have you ever tried to repeat a phrase until it loses its meaning? Take “appreciating diversity,” for instance. It’s one of those phrases repeated so often, especially on college campuses, that people become indifferent. It’s discussed as a requirement rather than what it is.

April 13, 2017

If you like art that keeps you looking, that brings you back for a second or third glance, then you will appreciate the art of Wendy Red Star, a Portland photographer and multimedia artist who was raised on the Apsáalooke reservation in Montana. An exhibit of her work is open at the state Capitol in Salem through May 11.

April 6, 2017

Eugene photographer and digital artist Melissa “Mimi” Nolledo began work on this photographic essay shortly after the November election. Since then she has been reaching out to local immigrants from various ethnic backgrounds, photographing and interviewing them and posting their stories, lightly edited here, on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram. She exhibited these photos for the first time at the Oregon Asian Celebration. Her dramatic portraits are accompanied by thought-provoking stories of what it’s like to be an immigrant in America.

March 23, 2017

The White Lotus Gallery has put up a new show, replacing an exhibit of contemporary art with Japanese paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. The beautiful paintings will be up until April 1, and then they will come down, about 20 works altogether, and another group of artworks will replace them. 

March 16, 2017

Standing in front of Fall Creek, a watercolor painting by David McCosh (1902–1981), I was aware there was someone else looking, too. Viewing the same artwork as someone else in a gallery or a museum can be awkward. Often one person will walk away to give the other their time with the piece. But not at the Karin Clarke Gallery on the day of curator Roger Saydack’s talk about the Eugene artist.

The atmosphere in the gallery was social. 

“You can tell this art is McCosh’s work,” the person said. 

March 16, 2017

It’s been more than a year since the Jacobs Gallery closed its doors in downtown Eugene, another victim of — of what, exactly? The sluggish economy? City Hall’s indifference to the visual arts? Poor management by the nonprofit organization that ran the Jacobs, created in 1987, on the lower floor of the Hult Center?

March 9, 2017

Most of us collect objects of some kind: a shell, a concert ticket, a dried flower kept in a book as a keepsake.

But what if you went to someone’s house and they had a whole room filled with such objects — and those things weren’t personally tied to their experience? Would you perhaps think that person was wired a little differently?  

February 23, 2017

Marc Chagall lived for nearly a hundred years. He left Russia for Paris and then, due to the rise of the Nazi party and anti-Jewish sentiment, left Paris for the United States.  

You might think someone who had witnessed such turmoil would have made art that was dark and heavy. But Chagall’s people, animals and flowers — recurring subjects in his imagery — are rarely bound by gravity. They hover above the ground and fly.  

February 16, 2017

Walk into the luscious new Louis Bunce retrospective at Willamette University’s Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, and you’re immediately confronted with a 1932 self-portrait of the artist.

Wearing a banded fedora and sporting a 20-something’s raffish sneer, Bunce — whose career as an Oregon painter spanned the mid 20th century — glances forward through the decades as if to challenge the 21st century museum-goer: “You’ll never meet another artist quite like me,” he seems to say.