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It is Thursday morning of Art Invitational weekend, and volunteers are gathering on the Oregon Contemporary courtyard for art sales training and a first glimpse of the exhibit.
Inside, participating artists Ruth Armitage and Carolyn Hazel Drake are collecting their thoughts, preparing to lead a tour for the dozens of volunteer docents who help make the show possible while the installation team adjusts lights and straightens frames.
“What a wonderful space!” a longtime volunteer gasps as we step inside. “The show looks beautiful!”
The show is indeed beautiful, with new work by 101 participating artists and imaginatively curated by Patty Maly and Ruby Maly. I love discovering through-lines and undercurrents in the work and listening in on the aesthetic and topical conversations Ruby and Patty create between the pieces and across the gallery through their placement.
This year’s exhibit also reflects how regional artists are observing new complexity and uncertainty in our relationship with nature as climate change tangibly impacts our lives. From Sarah Grew’s forest images captured on glass in carbon gathered from wildfire sites to Roger Peet’s linocut smoke portraits to Diane Jacobs’s woodcut diptych, this Invitational is a testament to our changing relationship in the Pacific Northwest with forests and fire. One of Whitney Lowe’s ceramic works looks as if it is meant to hold ashes.
I listen as a couple who have fallen in love with a landscape by Kirk Weller discuss their discomfort with its fire imagery. Later in the weekend they return and purchase the painting. Living with fire is part of our lives now.
Experiences and insights from our week in Portland follow us home to the coast.
“As my focus at Sitka is our workshops, it was especially meaningful to view completed pieces by some of our instructors,” Sitka team member Maria Elting shares, reflecting on her first Art Invitational. “While teaching, they are so focused that I rarely get to see more from them than demos. Taking in fully realized works by artists like Jenene Nagy and Mike Vos deepened my appreciation of the talents and perspectives that are shared through our educational programming, both on campus and out in community schools."
I am thrilled to announce that Maria will be stepping up to serve as Sitka’s Workshop Coordinator. She is working now to curate and schedule the 2023 Workshop Season. The catalog will be shared online next month, and the 2023 Spring + Summer Guide will be mailed early next year. Please reach out and share any recent address changes.
We are not done showcasing art this year. For those on the coast this fall, Sitka will host a pop-up gallery and print sale in the Salishan Marketplace at jdc Fine Art on weekends in November through December. The curatorial and gallery team of Katie McClintock and Nancy Newman are installing the show now. Join us this Friday through Sunday from 11am-5pm for our opening weekend. Thank you to jdc Fine Art director and Sitka board member Jennifer DeCarlo for donating her gallery space. I am moved by the generous support of longtime Sitka friends Rosanne and Greg Berton for helping us seize this pop-up opportunity by sponsoring the exhibit.
The first of more than 50 photographers, journalists, biologists, musicians, weavers, fiction writers and other practitioners that Sitka will host between now and April are in residence at Sitka. Read more about them in this newsletter. Our next Resident Talk takes place on November 17 and will take you inside their work. Thank you to everyone who shared with me during your workshops and at the Invitational about just how much you enjoy tuning in for this online series and staying connected to Sitka year-round.
Congratulations, Art Invitational Coordinator Katie McClintock for holding such an inspiring show and helping Sitka reach a new community.
Most of all, thank you to this year’s Art Invitational artists for deepening our connection with nature and each other through your work.