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Tammy Jo Wilson: Nonprofit group faces challenge of continuing to connect communities

COURTESY PHOTO - Friderike Heuer's 2019 'Rivalry' is a 25-by-19-inch archival inkjet print.COURTESY PHOTO - Tammy Jo Wilson, visual arts program manager at Lewis & Clark College, poses along the McLoughlin Promenade in Oregon City.Art in Oregon, a visual art nonprofit based in Oregon City has been navigating the challenges of the COVID crisis. With the widespread loss of art events and exhibitions in 2020 and into 2021, Art in Oregon faces the challenge of continuing to connect artists and communities.

Over the past year, we have been able to pivot to the virtual format when necessary and in person when possible, hosting two online exhibitions and two artist residencies since the beginning of the pandemic. Art in Oregon attributes our ability to endure to the conscientious adaptability of collaborators, patrons and artists, as well as art's ability to capture and articulate the human experience.

Patrons and nonprofit supporters play a critical role in the perseverance of Oregon's arts venues, projects and artists. Every art purchase and donation strengthens our art and culture ecology — thank you.

COURTESY PHOTO - Erik Sandgren's 2020 piece titled 'Willamette Falls' is a 48-by-24-inch woodcut print on kozo paper.Portland-based artist Erik Sandgren contacted Art in Oregon about donating a large work to the Museum of the Oregon Territory (MOOT). His recent exhibition at Karin Clarke Gallery in Eugene, "Observed, Imagined and Remembered: the Northwest Landscape," was very well received and he wanted to give back in appreciation.

The donated artwork, aptly titled "Willamette Falls," is an expansive 4-foot-tall woodcut print that explores the past, present and considerations for the future of the falls — from the abundant fish that fed human beings for millennia, the industrial exploitation of its power and our moment to reflect on the bones of abandoned mills as we decide our future.

The print is a black-and-white vertical landscape with a sliver of sky folding down into layers of dynamic marks. Hidden in the textures you will find tiny fishing boats and ravens perched on branches. The artwork is part of Sandgren's "River Series" inspired from investigations of region, nature, history and culture. Sandgren often finds himself posted at the banks of Oregon rivers at work painting on location to capture and bear witness to the changing landscape.

Sandgren says his piece titled "'Willamette Falls' is an invitation to figure out anew who 'we' should be and to reimagine our sustained existence here."

Watch a video with Sandgren at youtube.com/watch?v=jBJPUwIVilY

COURTESY PHOTO: TAMMY JO WILSON - Artwork in the Museum of the Oregon Territory's Tumwater event space features Friderike Heuer's series 'Tied to the Moon.'The Museum of the Oregon Territory lives atop the cliffs overlooking the majestic Willamette Falls in Oregon City. The museum is excited to provide a permanent home for the artwork as well as archive information about the work and the artist.

MOOT plans to display the donation prominently near the entrance of the museum. Art in Oregon (AiO) and MOOT began their relationship in 2018 when AiO awarded MOOT an Art Shine Project micro-grant to purchase, "Road to Timberline," a 2017 oil painting by Clackamas County artist Elo Wobig. The relationship has grown to include art exhibitions in the top floor event space, the Tumwater Room.

This is especially good news as art exhibition spaces in Oregon City are fairly rare, and yet many amazing artists reside in the area. AiO and MOOT's Tumwater gallery currently is featuring artist Friderika Heuer's series "Tied to the Moon."

Jenna Barganski, MOOT's executive director, told me: "We are so pleased to welcome Erik Sandgren's 'Willamette Falls' piece into our collection and excited to display it front and center in our lobby. I view art as a primary source to history and value the relationship that CCHS has developed with Art in Oregon. We look forward to further collaboration with local artists and invite them to consider our buildings as an exhibition venue."

MOOT recently fully opened for the first time in a year. Be sure to look for Art in Oregon displays of artwork by artists Sandgren, Wobig, Friderike Heuer and Tamara English as you explore the fascinating history of our region.

You can join artist Sandgren this summer at the annual Sandgren Coast PaintOut from July 10-17. This outdoors community painting event will be centered in Yachats with activities happening in Newport and surrounding areas. The PaintOut is open to everyone: no registration or payment is required. Rain or shine, the PaintOut gathers daily at Oregon State Parks or waysides.

Websites for more information include eriksandgren.com, elowobig.com, friderikeheuer.online, tamaraenglish.com, artinoregon.org, Artshine.org and clackamashistory.org.

Tammy Jo Wilson is an Oregon City resident and co-founder of the Art in Oregon nonprofit organization.


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