You won't want to miss this group of 'Rising' artists
A tradition of the Lake Oswego Reads program is to have local artists read the selected book and then create art inspired by it. The 20 artists will gather to explain their art at a special reception starting at 6 p.m. Feb. 3 at Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S. State St. in Lake Oswego. They will explain the pieces they created after reading "Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore" written by Elizabeth Rush.
"Each year we artists are happily challenged to read a book, take it to heart and create a visual emotion of something that was meaningful to us," said Beth Verheyden, one of the artists who contributed this year. "For me the process of doing that is lengthy, mostly because my mind skips from one situation to another, often not settling on any one (idea) until the end of the book. There are many conversations and relationships portrayed by the authors each year, this year being no different. As I read through 'Rising,' my own list of emotional responses was long and daunting. Some I responded to positively, some I did not. That was the hard part, and in the end I settled on an aspect of the book that I could relate to and one which could be portrayed in a positive and relational way."
In the book, Rush demonstrates how rising seas are transforming the coastline of the United States in irrevocable ways. She personally guides readers through some of the places where change has been most dramatic, highlighting the impact on plants, animals and humans across seven states, including Oregon. She weaves firsthand testimonials from those facing change with profiles of wildlife biologists, activists and other members of vulnerable communities.
"What struck me in Rush's book was our need to pay attention to 'the sounds of beings unlike ourselves,' to quote Thomas Berry," said artist Susie Cowan. "Those beautiful bird songs that we hear every day — what will we hear as habitat is lost? Big questions 'rise' in this book and I saw it as a calling for attention, reflection and action. Raising awareness is a first step."
"As I read the passage about the red knot bird in 'Rising,' I was reminded that I had previously heard about the plight of this little shorebird with one of the longest migrations of any animal on the planet," artist Mary Burgess said. "The red knot begins its journey from the southern tip of South America, and stops for rest and refueling at beaches along the way to their nesting grounds in the Arctic. Finding places to rest and feed along the way are critical for their survival. With loss of habitat and climate change, traditional feeding grounds are becoming less productive and as a result, the red knot population is seriously threatened and populations are in a steep decline. In my painting I wanted to illustrate the beauty of these birds and draw attention to their dire situation."
Burgess often includes birds in her art and says her interest in them stems from many years of birdwatching.
"As a young adult I was given a pair of binoculars, and discovered how amazingly beautiful birds can be," she said. "I was hooked! As my interest in watercolor has grown, so has my desire to use birds as subject matter in my paintings. I am so glad that the selection committee for Lake Oswego Reads chose this important book for 2020."
Verheyden says her piece, titled "My House," represents the hard choice that Louisiana resident Edison Dardar faced when his home was being threatened by rising water.
"Over the course of many years his fix of building his house on 17-foot stilts wasn't enough to keep his home safe," Verheyden said. "He faced pressures from his neighbors to move inland; he was offered money to relocate inland from our government and he was criticized by his peers when he made the decision to stay. He made a hard choice, but it was his choice to make. To me, this is similar to what we all face many times in our lives — hard choices. My dad said to our teenaged sons as he was dying, 'Your life will be defined by the choices you make.' I believe in our right and ability to make choices for our lives. And I also believe that we live by the successes or consequences of those choices. This is what my painting is about. I suppose I should have titled it 'Choices.'"
Artists participating in the exhibition include Stuart Adams, Bill Baily, Mary Burgess, Leslie Cheney-Parr, Susie Cowan, Marta Farris, Jenn Ferrante, Bonnie Garlington, Dave Haslett, Dotty Hawthorne, Dyanne Locati, Ann Munson, Debby Neely, Kara Pilcher, Jan Rimerman, Beth Verheyden, Lisa Wiser,
Natalie Wood, Haelyn Y and Beth Yazhari.
All are invited to attend the free presentation. Light refreshments will be served.
The art will hang in Lakewood's gallery through the month of February.
You can also view an exhibition of art made by students at Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools at Chrisman Picture Frame and Gallery, 480 2nd St. during regular business hours.
Also on display at the Lake Oswego Library, 760 4th St., are photographs of birds taken by Scott Carpenter, marine life quilts and reusable bag designs created by Lake Oswego children.
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