Cultural center exhibit pays tribute to renowned painter
A tribute to renowned Oregon painter Michael Gibbons has been erected at the Chehalem Cultural Center.
An exhibit of 64 of the painter's work, titled "The Yaquina Exhibition: A Painted Voice for a Sacred Landscape" and which will remain on display until the end of the month, wends its way through three galleries in the Sheridan Street facility. While most of the works are not for sale, CCC Director of Arts Program Carissa Burkett said there are 10 selected originals available for purchase, as well as a number of giclee prints of selected works.
Gibbons, a Toledo resident who described himself as a "poet with a paintbrush," died July 2 at the age of 76 from complications from a stroke he suffered in 2016.
His work, primarily oil paintings, concentrated on the beauty of the state he called home for all of his life.
"Gibbons was a prominent artist in Oregon, especially among the plein air painting community and oil painting community," Burkett said in an email. "He had several commissioned works in places of prominence, such as the governor's residence."
Burkett explained that most of the works on display at the CCC are plein air (undertaken outdoors) paintings of the Yaquina watershed near Gibbons home.
"He spent 35 years exploring this land with his paintbrush," Burkett said. "Michael's paintings show an intimate conversation between himself and the land around him."
Gibbons, a Portland native, rose to prominence in the art world quickly, first as a student at Benson Polytechnic Institute (now Benson High School), where at the age of 16 he became the youngest person ever to become a member of the Oregon Society of Artists. He worked after high school as a designer of specialty automotive accessories for a small manufacturing company he had invested in, but then left the world of manufacturing to pursue art full time after moving to the Oregon coast. He practiced his craft there for more than 30 years.
"Life is an endless series of opportunities brilliantly disguised as hard work," the artist wrote on his website.
Burkett said the exhibit had been planned for more than a year and it was just happenstance that it occurred near the time of Gibbons' death.
"Michael's passing was sudden news that came only days after the exhibit opened at the center," she said. "We are honored to be able to host this exhibit and celebrate his life and work."
Burkett added that, unfortunately due to the pandemic, the CCC was unable to host a reception "or any sort of public event for the exhibit," but encouraged the community to view the exhibit during regular hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information or to see a sampling of Gibbons' works, visit bit.ly/3en7QxW.
"Somehow the artist is the mercurial figures, the messenger, the alchemist, sent to add to the benediction of human history," Gibbons wrote in 2007. "I pray my offerings will, in some way, contribute to the collective blessings evident in this region."
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