56605 Sitka Drive
Otis, OR 97368
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August Director's Journal

                                                                     Sun, Sand and Saltwater workshop participants in action

Earlier this month, beloved Sitka instructor Judy Vogland hit the beach, giant canvases in tow, with participants from her workshop, Sand, Sun and Saltwater: Exploring Mixed Media Landscape. This workshop is one of the most spirited and logistically ambitious that Sitka offers. The vision for the Cascade Head Ranch neighborhood in which Sitka is based is sometimes described as an intentional living community with an art and ecology center at its heart instead of a golf course. If Sitka is the art equivalent of 18 holes, Judy’s Sun, Sand and Saltwater workshop is our Masters Tournament.

At days end, however, participants and staff alike were energized by the experience. No one was ready to leave. Instead, we gathered in the outdoor courtyard to relax and connect. Some asked concerned and hopeful questions about how Sitka is weathering the pandemic. It was a joy to be able to share so much good news and to give credit to so many who are contributing to Sitka’s present and future vitality.

This month saw Sitka’s six-week youth summer enrichment program come to bountiful fruition. Kids, teachers and parents gathered in Nestucca Valley Grade School’s new garden for the installation of a living seed quilt designed by guest artist and past Sitka resident Jane Ingram Allen. Congratulations to Sitka Program Coordinator Leeauna Perry, Superintendent Misty Wharton and everyone for serving over 100 kids with a summer filled with outdoor art making, ecology, community service and fun. We can’t wait to return to Tillamook County classrooms this fall.

Living Seed Quilt detail, photo by Timothy S Allen

Ceramics instructor Jeff Gunn admiring work in progress

On Sitka’s workshop campus, new instructor Jeff Gunn (not to be confused with longtime Sitka painting instructor and Art Invitational artist and past resident Jef Gunn) commented during his Stretching for Texture, Slipping for Contrast workshop on how smoothly everything was going, how beautifully the campus is maintained and how supported he felt. Thank you to Program Manager Tamara Jennings for organizing such an engaging and flexible workshop schedule, and thank you to general manager Nicola Harrison, summer Studio Technician Maria Etling, Administrative Coordinator Nancy Newman and Facilities & Ecology Manager Bob Langan for your teamwork and attention to every little detail that makes the Sitka campus a creative oasis for all who visit.

When our residency program resumes, the incoming cohort will be the most diverse we have ever hosted, with over 60% of invited residents coming to Sitka from communities of color, pursuing fascinating work ranging from social practice-inspired stop motion animation to climate and watershed biology-informed Chinese ink drawing to Indigenous art curation to evolutionary biology and much more. We look forward to introducing you to Sitka’s 2021-2022 residents as the days shorten and the season changes. Curating the residency season is challenging enough without pandemic restrictions. Thank you to Program Manager Tamara Jennings for creating so many opportunities for so many visiting scientists and artists this fall and for rising up to meet their needs as travel plans change.

Fall 2021 resident and interdisciplinary ecologist and artist Qin Qin Liu, Ph.D.

At this time, we are still hoping to bring the Art Invitational to Portland this November, informed by everchanging masking, vaccination and public gathering guidance. Our goal for this show is to connect working artists with collectors and new audiences after such a challenging financial stretch for artists and galleries. Our Inside the Studio series, which features Shannon Carlson this month, is one way Sitka continues to showcase regional artists, and our Jordan Schnitzer Printmaking Residency commemorative portfolio exhibition moves to the Chessman Gallery in Lincoln City in September. I am in awe of Art Invitational Coordinator Katie McClintock as she plans for every contingency and keeps a vow to serve regional artists at the center of her work. Thanks also to Development Director Lisa DeGrace, Print Technician Kathy Kuehn and Master Printmaker Julia D’Amario for their stewardship of the print portfolio project and traveling show.

Through it all, past Sitka board members who helped see the organization safely through past ordeals have reached out to offer sage advice. Longtime donors have pledged ongoing support, and new friends are asking how they can contribute to Sitka’s future. As the fall unfolds, Sitka Development Director Lisa DeGrace and I will reach out to share more about our progress toward our annual fundraising goals. We hope, through this past year and half of pandemic resilience and new programming, we have earned your support. Please consider Sitka in your year-end giving plans. By each doing our part, we are on track for this to be another community success story.

In times of change and uncertainty, I find truth in this favorite Wendell Berry quote:

It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Thanks to so many throughout our community, things are at their fluid and babbling best at Sitka. Together, we’ve got this.

Alison Dennis

Executive Director