Landscape art marks last First Friday of season in Milwaukie
Milwaukie's final First Friday of the season will happen from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 6, and as Ed Zumwalt looks back at the event's seven-year history, he believes it has been "good for the city and good for the businesses downtown."
Zumwalt, who co-founded the community activity along with Enchante owner Kim Keehner, described the beer garden, along with the food and craft vendors, as "a really cool little deal." He also noted that Chihuahua Desert, the final musical act for the season, is "mellow and well liked."
Zumwalt already is looking ahead to next year and said First Friday "will continue to evolve."
Art has been one major constant in the development of First Friday, and that aspect will be on display with "Over the Bay and Through the Woods," a group landscape show opening Oct. 6 and running through Nov. 6 at the Milwaukie City Hall Gallery, 10722 S.E. Main St.
The show is curated by ArtMOB, Milwaukie's Arts Committee, and lead curator Chris Haberman; ArtMOB is an acronym for Art - Milwaukie on Board.
The group chose the name of the show because the exhibit will be partly set up in the exterior space of the Bay Gallery at Milwaukie City Hall, and it references Milwaukie Bay on the Willamette River.
The title also recalls the classic Thanksgiving song "Over the River and Through the Woods."
"As we tried to focus on group art shows in City Hall this year, a group landscape show seemed like a perfect fit. The idea formed, and we quickly came up with a fun title and a great artist list," Haberman said.
Artists showing their work include: Ursula Barton, Elizabeth Chadwick, Dan Harrel, Tom Healy, Leah Kohlenberg, Monika Kralicek, David Mayfield, Gary Michael, Wilda Parks, Jude Welter and Nancy Zhang.
"This landscape show definitely examines both rural and urban landscapes, which not all landscape art shows do," Haberman said, adding that the artists in the show were chosen because they represent both environments, and often in different media.
Rural, urban landscapes
"Most of us city dwellers live in an urban environment (or cityscape) that encroaches on the natural world," Haberman said.
"But as recorders of the world around us, artists see both surroundings as inspiration. The traditional plein air artist travels into the meadow or field to paint a landscape that connects physically and spiritually with their environment, creating a 'spot of time' for the viewer," he said.
"The same can be said of an urban landscape artist that records the ever present man-made landscape that houses buildings and bridges, and most likely they experience it every day."
Viewers find that landscapes are easy to identity with and people love to identify with things, Haberman said, adding that landscapes also are one of the most traditional and beloved art forms in history.
Artists flock to region's beauty
"Most recently, we witnessed the massive Eagle Creek fire and were reminded again how important landscapes are to us here in Oregon," Haberman said.
"As tragic as the fire was, the first personal postings I saw on Facebook were from the arts community, sharing memories of areas they had painted previously, which were now consumed by fire: waterfalls, trails, hills, green lush life which is captured so well forever in a beautiful painting.
"We live in a majestic place, and so many wonderful artists have flocked to create here because of its constant beauty. Art is beauty, but it is also memory, a special vision shared between artist and viewer, and nothing captures this better than landscapes," he said.
"Oregon art is full of personal, artistic images and visions of the present world around us, and this art show is an excellent reflection of regional artists who live and breathe the full landscape."
Mayfield said he paints plein-air landscapes as a way to experience a place.
"Unlike clicking a camera, painting a canvas can occupy many hours — time well-spent watching the sunlight, clouds and shadows shift and change," he said.
"What grabs my attention will change, and what I record accounts for hundreds of brush strokes. These may show up on the canvas only to later be overpainted with new colors and nuances."
As for why people seem to appreciate landscapes, Mayfield said that many "see a scene that appeals to them, reminding them of a place they have been, or a place they wish to be. I like landscapes that offer nuance and complexity that draw me in to the scene, again and again."
For several years, Mayfield had been painting along the Willamette River.
"My father, when he was growing up, lived in a house on the banks of the river in Oak Grove, just upstream from Elk Island. I've done many paintings up and down that stretch of river," he said.
Visitors to First Friday's landscape show will see Mayfield's painting of Goat Island.
"The scene was painted on a blustery day when the river was running high and a couple of times the rain hit. Fast brush strokes seemed appropriate for the weather," he said.
Parks said she likes to paint landscapes because she enjoys reproducing the places she finds interesting.
"Some are exciting, some thought-provoking and some peaceful. Several times I've painted sites in Montana, which are always well received," she said,
Landscapes are popular with viewers, Parks noted, as the paintings sometimes jog the memory and sometime provoke quiet and peaceful thoughts.
She has found inspiration in Montana's historic places, such as tumbledown farms or mountains and prairies.
"I also enjoy working on various Mount Hood views — daylight, nighttime, calm, stormy. Most folks enjoy visions of Mount Hood," she said.
One of her paintings in the exhibit will depict an old farm scene in the fall in Montana, and she hopes the public likes is a small one of Mount Hood at sunrise with an almost orange sky.
Welter has taught on-location landscape classes for years, and feels that painting out of doors trains the artistic eye.
"Once back in the studio, those images will come back as memories and help to capture a scene on paper or canvas," she said.
"Landscapes can be very literal places that resonate with viewers, or they can trigger memories of places. We all form attachments to our local icons such as Mount Hood and Multnomah Falls, but we also find our own spaces that are natural, sometimes in our own backyards."
Welter said she is drawn to mountains, although she has just discovered the Southwest and noted that each place has its own mystery and beauty.
One of her paintings in the exhibit is a watercolor of a heron on the Willamette River,
She added, "Although I was not able to do the painting on the spot, the feelings and ideas that came from the photos I took helped to recreate the moment of being in a canoe and coming on this beautiful bird."
What: Oct. 6 marks Milwaukie's final First Friday of the season
When: 5-9 p.m.
Where: Downtown Milwaukie
Featured: The final art show of the season, "Over the Bay and Through the Woods," will open at 5 p.m. at Milwaukie City Hall, 10722 S.E. Main St.
The exhibit will showcase landscape paintings by 10 local artists. It runs through Nov. 6.
Sponsors include the city of Milwaukie, First Friday In Milwaukie, Milwaukie Business Association, Milwaukie Arts Council (ArtMOB - Milwaukie On Board) and Chris Haberman Presents. ArtMOB works to connect artists with resources and to connect the community with art. Visit facebook.com/artMOBMilwaukie.