Community, kids and paint at Upstart Crow
By Natalie Miller
Across the train tracks and surrounded by auto repair shops, kids are hard at work expressing their passion for the arts, dancing, singing and acting. At Upstart Crow Studios School of the Arts on 1st Ave. between Adams and Monroe, kids are encouraged to grab hold of their creative side and share it with the community. But even when the children are not performing, the public can still enjoy their work â€” and the work of adult artists who created Upstart Crowâ€™s recently unveiled mural.
This summer, artist
Erin Bucklew and community muralist Kari Johnson,along with the help of Upstart Crow kids, neighborhood children and a grant from the Lane Arts Council, created a large scale mural on the side of the building. The wall painting is complete with a giant crow and everything imaginable that has to do with lines: music lines, a stream, a jump rope, a cat dressed in stripes and a line from The Wizard of Oz: â€œIf the good Lord wanted to see mermaids swimming through a cow pasture, he would have put them there himself.â€ Bucklew says that by choosing the theme of lines, she hoped anybody could participate.
Although Bucklew and Johnson started painting the mural in July, Bucklew says she worked on the design for about three to four months before that, studying, photographing and learning how to draw crows. After creating a format, Bucklew began to outline the shape of the crow with a tree pruner and then began to paint, using a paint roller. Bucklew says, â€œItâ€™s scary letting little kids on a mural.â€ So when it came time for the kids to join in, Bucklew asked that each child draw his or her idea about five times before committing it to the wall. The oldest child to participate was 8 years old, and each child signed the mural after the painting was finished.
According to Upstart Crowâ€™s Executive Director, Eularee Smith, throughout the project, the mural continued to evolve and grow as new additions were made. But the uncertainty didnâ€™t bother her; quite the contrary. â€œIt really captures the essence of Upstart Crow. And thatâ€™s what I love about it,â€ Smith says. â€œI think, in general, for the community and for the kids that come here, it personalizes the building and makes it their home.â€
The outside painting is not the only mural at Upstart Crow. Inside, youâ€™ll find two more murals, including another mural by Bucklew, the result of her desire to create a mural that connected to the kidsâ€™ theater work. With help from her kids, Bucklew came up with a whimsical design focused on teenage themes, such as braces. The other mural is a colorful graffiti painting by Joel Fish, splashed across an entire upstairs wall. As part of the
Restorative Justice Program, Fish created his own design, and over a weekend created an inspirational mural that follows Upstart Crowsâ€™ mission: â€œThe power of creative expression.â€
To view any one of these murals, head down to Upstart Crow Studios, located at 855 W 1st Ave, and watch for more about Upstart Crow in this space.
Local Artists Open Up
By Natalie Miller
Since taking on the intern tradition of visiting the local art galleries, I have been amazed to learn about the skills involved in creating the works of art, gracing the walls of Eugene. And now to image the idea of having the opportunity to visit the origins of some of these creations excites me even more. Once again, DIVA (Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts) is offering Eugene an opportunity to view a number of local artistsâ€™ studios through the DIVA Studio Tour. The tour includes 32 local artists of varied mediums, from metal, pottery, photography, oil paints and charcoals to pastels, just to name a few.
This yearâ€™s tour will be a first for many of the artists participating. The fundraiser, along with exposing the public to Eugeneâ€™s many artists, allows the artists to become more deeply rooted in the local art scene.
One of the first year participants is metal artist Ryan Beard, who became involved in the tour after being approached by DIVA. Born and raised in Eugene, Beard developed an interest for working with raw materials, such as steel and copper after being inspired by his father, Ray Beard. After his father retired and built his own shop, Ryan started helping his father as he experimented with welding. Helping around the shop, Ryan learned how to work with metals. Now father and son work closely together, building metal sculptures perfect for a backyard setting.
Although Ryan says his pieces are mainly designed for the outdoors, such as an accent piece for a garden, his work can also be enjoyed inside. And just as most of his pieces are made to endure the elements, Ryan says that much of his inspiration comes from nature and the materials he uses. â€œEverything comes back to the outdoors,â€ says Beard. â€œAnd the sculpture can compliment or contrast that.â€ Many of the sculptures he makes combine organic forms such as curves and circles. However, he also designs pieces with stark straight lines that stand out against nature. To further define his style, Beard says he tries to make big pieces out of welding many small things together.
For the Studio Tour, Beard will not only be showing his work, but also showing tour-goers how his pieces are made. Beard says that welding is a process that many people donâ€™t understand or are unfamiliar with. And by opening his workspace to the community, Beard hopes to unravel the mystery of how his pieces all come together â€“ and not just the artistic side, but also the nuts and bolts of welding. For those who visit Beardâ€™s studio and who want to watch him in action, Beard will supply welding masks. And after watching Beard weld, visitors can view finished pieces located around his 30-acre property, surrounding his workspace near Marcola road.
Another artist, participating in the DIVA Studio Tour is photographer Scott Huette. However, this is not the first time he has opened his home-based studio in south Eugene; interested viewers can schedule an appointment to see his work. Huette also shares his studio space with his artistic partner, Sisy Anderson, who will also be participating in the studio tour. â€œMy studio space helps me with my creativity by allowing me to withdraw from other aspects of my life,â€ Huette says. â€œIt provides a space in which to focus specifically on my creative pursuits.â€
Huette first fell in love with photography after seeing his grandfatherâ€™s photos from trips around the world. He later went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ohio University and his Masters from the Arts and Administration program at UO. In his photography, Huette focuses on mixing the technology of the 21st century with the 19th century alternative photographic printing process, while shooting mainly images of landscapes and portraits. â€œThe beauty and wonder of nature, the mythic qualities of light and the Zen aesthetics of wabi (solitude), sabi (the basic), aware (feeling of nostalgia), and yugen (the mystical) are at the heart of my photographs,â€ says Huette.
Located a little further south, in Cottage Grove, is DIVA artist Joan Milligan. As a painter, Milligan says her art mirrors her lifeâ€™s journey and personal transformation, describing her art as full and vibrant. But in between the time when she started drawing and painting as a child and where she is now, there seemed to be a large gray area â€“ a time in which she stopped painting. Then in 2001, she says, â€œthe year that science fiction made its imprint on the world as the year of exploding possibilities, I began to paint again.â€
Milligan compares her reawakening to the scene in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy steps out of her dreary Kansas home and into the lush colors of Oz. Now in the light of her new beginning, Milligan says that inspiration comes to her in different forms, â€œthe things that move me to paint are sometimes kind of ugly in the literal world, but in the process of painting, they get transformed.â€
The artists participating in the DIVA Studio Tour are located in and all around Eugene, including Coburg, Bethel, Springfield, Cottage Grove and Cheshire. To step inside Eugene's growing art scene, pick up a ticket to the Studio Tour, downtown at DIVA. The tour costs $15 and is self-guided. And if you canâ€™t make it this weekend, Oct. 17-18, the artists will open their studios again Oct. 24-25 as well.
DIVA (Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts), 110 Broadway, Eugene
Recycle, Reuse, Recreate
By Natalie Miller
Filled with bins of old maps, broken glass, beer caps, and many other recycled art supplies, M.E.C.C.A. (Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts), at first glance, seems more like an artistâ€™s playground than an art gallery. But amongst the tubs of soon-to-be art projects sits M.E.C.C.A.â€™s current exhibit, known as the "Object Afterlife Art Challenge." The display is a collaboration of 38 local artists who in June signed up to compete in a challenge that would bring the world of fine art and scrap art together, mixing mediums and ideas.
At the beginning of the challenge, M.E.C.C.A. gave participants limited materials to start their projects. From there, the artists had two months and the liberty to add any other recycled material to their venture. The pieces are now finished and have already been on display at the Eugene Celebration, but there is yet to be a winner. First the public must decide; itâ€™s viewersâ€™ choice. The pieces will then be moved again and shown at BRING gallery.
Seemingly hovering over M.E.C.C.A.â€™s studio space is mixed media artist Ellen Furstnerâ€™s finished project. Initially given bike wire and a clear plastic flat mannequin, Furstner transformed her basic materials into the figure of a woman, wearing a crown of apples and the world as her belly.
Fellow participant Sue Hunnell received fewer materials. Two months later and her initial roll of blue bubble wrap stands roughly three feet tall, greeting M.E.C.C.A.â€™s customers as a Goldfish cracker holding mermaid. And although you may want to eat one, the mermaid is complete with a sign asking that you refrain.
Most of the initial materials given to the artists are now unrecognizable, having been incorporated into larger pieces of art. To help appreciate the artistsâ€™ creativity, M.E.C.C.A. has put together a book, detailing what was given to each artist and what became of those materials.
The exhibit isnâ€™t the only thing new at M.E.C.C.A. Theyâ€™ve moved. The art gallery/artistsâ€™ workspace is now located in the yellow building next to the train station at 449 Willamette Street.
The new location has enough space to include an art studio open to the community, a teacher resource room with free materials available to teachers, lockers to store unfinished projects and a classroom for the Network Charter School. The next time you stop by, check around the house prior for any scraps or potential art supplies you can donate â€“ the people at M.E.C.C.A. will appreciate your generosity.
Visions of the Future
Glass, steel and Jerry Garcia at Fenario
By Natalie Miller
Glass and steel â€“ when used together in a project the thermodynamics of each make them a challenge to work with because they expand and contract at different temperatures. Thus, if the two materials touch at any point during the cooling process, the glass will crack. But it can be done. Sitting in the front window of Fenario Gallery are two rather sizable pieces of blown glass that have been draped around grapefruit-sized balls of steel. Fenario owner, Brent Rosskopf, says that the pairing of the rough steel and the nearly smooth glass elicits a certain tension. So it seems only reasonable that one of the glass sculptures is titled Pressure. The man responsible for these pieces is one-time Eugene resident Ben Brown.
Although there are only a few glass and steel pieces in the gallery, they seem to set the tone for the rest of Fenarioâ€™s display â€“ a well-balanced contrast between a variety of mediums, art movements and various artists from around the globe.
From now until September, the gallery will display a group show, including Rosskopfâ€™s personal collection of Jerry Garciaâ€™s work, Brownâ€™s glass sculptures and a variety of artists from the Visionary movement.
The show also includes miniature sculptures by one of Fenarioâ€™s framers, Braxton Nagle.
In the spacious gallery, almost an entire wall has been dedicated to Jerry Garcia â€“ the other wall is filled with the somewhat futuristic perceptions of various artists of the visionary movement. Included in the display are pieces by Robert Venosa, who is the â€œgrandfather of the visionary movement,â€ Rosskopf says.
The musicianâ€™s collection has been an interest of Rosskopfâ€™s for years, having started accumulating his work while the artist was still alive. The collection contains roughly 14 prints, all hand signed. And although Rosskopf still remembers his first Garcia piece, itâ€™s now long gone. Alongside the Garcia collection is a piece by Roberta Weir â€“ the woman who taught Garcia to etch.
In addition to the display, the gallery also specializes in fine art reproduction, printing and framing. It can also archive artistsâ€™ work. While the gallery is showing a large variety of pieces, that will surely be a hit for Garcia fans, it can appeal to various tastes. To check out the art on display at Fenario Gallery, visit them at fenariogallery.com or stop by at 881 Willamette St.
Note from Suzi: Along with planned regular blog visual arts updates from me, arts interns Natalie Miller and Sheena Lahren will regularly contribute posts from the gallery and museum scene in Eugene, Springfield and sometimes farther-flung places like Florence (or, hey, even Portland). This is the first in a series! Natalie Miller is a senior journalism-magazine major from the UO, and her website is available here. Natalie is a staff writer for Ethos Magazine this summer and has written about food for the Weekly. Look for more from Natalie and Sheena in the months to come.
Image: Okazaki: Castle and Sugo Bridge: woodblock print by Sekino Jun'ichiro, from the series "The 53 Stations of the Tokaido." 1969. Courtesy White Lotus Gallery
An Evolving Tradition
By Natalie Miller
Following their recent return from Japan, Dick Easley and Hue-Ping Lin, the owners of White Lotus Gallery, have opened their doors to showcase a new exhibit.
On display through August 29, the show features contemporary Asian art, with an emphasis on Japanese printmakers Yoshida Hiroshi, Sekino Junâ€™ichiro and Noda Tetsuya. Jennifer Huang, White Lotusâ€™ curator, says that each of the artistâ€™s work represents a different generation and a number of Japanâ€™s major printmaking movements. Thus, by showcasing these artists side-by-side, White Lotus gives people a chance to learn about the individual movements and the techniques. According to Huang, the exhibit also allows viewers to visualize the changes that Japan underwent throughout the 20th century.
â€œTo a large extent, the thrust of this show is to work in conjunction with the Jordan Schnitzer Museumâ€™s showing of the 53 Stations of the Tokaido by Sekino Junâ€™ichiro,â€ Easley says. â€œ[And] to compliment Sekinoâ€™s work, the gallery has a number of prints by Yoshida Hiroshi. In the case of Noda Tetsuya, this show has to do with recent acquisitions.â€ Easley explains that Yoshidaâ€™s schooling in the techniques of shin-hanga, or new prints, make his work a good counterpoint to the work of Sekino, who focused on the printmaking school of sosaku-hanga, where prints are self-carved and self-printed.