By Alexandra Schaefers
“People have funny ideas about coming into a gallery,” said the Arts Center’s executive director, Cynthia Spencer, who is excited about the current Ian Black show as an antidote to the rut we get stuck in when we think about art. Black is a high school student who tapped into a love of designing athletic shoes at a young age and went all out with it, even receiving mentorship at Nike. Spencer hopes more artists will take their cue from Black and realize the possibility of doing something creative that also pays the bills.
Spencer also highlighted the show of neurodiverse artists beginning in April and the installations of Joan Truckenbrod starting next November. The neurodiverse show will happen in conjunction with the Sprout Film Festival at the Majestic Theatre, which also features the creative projects of people with developmental disabilities. Truckenbrod is an internationally known artist working in sculptural video installations. She recently moved to Corvallis after several visits to the Northwest observing fish runs for her work, which is centered on issues of nature and specifically salmon.
In addition to gallery shows, the Arts Center will continue its outreach programs to schools, at-risk youth, and hospital patients as well as in-house classes, camps, and workshops. They also recently hired a manager for the ArtShop as a way to enhance the business both as a resource for the community to find local arts and crafts and as an opportunity for local artists to show and sell their work.
Spencer said that last year 20,000 people were touched by the Arts Center in some way, whether through an educational program or a gallery visit. She is happy that they can provide “so much to so many people on a relatively shoestring budget.” About a fifth of their budget is paid out to the artists who teach in their programs. That’s $130,000 for services and fees returning to the community. There are many more people who could use the Arts Center’s resources. Schools are clamoring for art, there is a growing population of retirees who could benefit from creative activities, and many of the patients who have been part of ArtsCare in the hospital wish they could continue the program when they leave.
Spencer cited the lack of art education in public school as a central challenge that increases the number of people in the community who need services, but also makes it harder to raise funds and advocate for the arts among a population with less exposure to it. Arts Center teachers regularly encounter students who don’t know how to use scissors or hold a pencil, or who have never played with crayons. In Spencer’s words, people who “never got to experience how fun it is to get their hands dirty and paint or work with clay or anything else [often believe] you have to be good at art to do it. But there are so many good synapses happening in your head that all of us should be doing it.”
Spencer remains optimistic about the future and sees the recent high turnover among executive directors in Corvallis arts organizations as normal growing pains. While many voice their disappointment over the current state of the Majestic Theatre, Spencer sees an opportunity for us to come out with something better and wants people to be positive and hope for that.
One new event in the works is a monthly art walk with Pegasus, Art in the Valley, and Studio 262. Hopefully that will be just the sort of fun that will get the community out appreciating and supporting the wealth of cultural resources we have.
The Arts Center has a very diverse season approaching, with everything from quilts to video installations and shows that require community participation. Here is a summary of the upcoming season in their main gallery. The Corrine Woodman Gallery will also host shows by emerging artists and experimental work by seasoned pros:
Until Nov. 15, the Arts Center hosts a family altar for everyone in the community to add memorabilia of loved ones to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. Casa Latina will host dances and music at the reception on Nov. 6.
From Nov. 20 to Jan. 3, well-known artists of the region who normally work large will show works made to specific dimensions.
From Jan. 7 through Feb. 12, Andy Meyers and Andries Fourie each mentor an emerging artist through the exhibition process showing works from all four artists.
Feb. 7 through April 3 is the annual Howland Open; everyone in the community is invited to show a piece in this non-juried show.
April 9 to May 23 will display works by neurodiverse artists (artists who are developmentally disabled) as well as pieces from workshops led specifically to encourage other developmentally disabled people to discover their artistic side.
May 29 to July 11 will host a juried show of artists from around Oregon as selected by top gallery owners in Portland. Locals are encouraged to submit.
July 16 to Aug. 22, Pat Boas, Robert Tomlinson, and Marie Sivak explore language in the visual arts: Boas and Tomlinson through paintings, and Sivak through stone sculpture.
Aug. 27 to Oct. 3, in collaboration with Benton County Museum, the Arts Center hosts contemporary quilts by Bonnie Bucknam and Linda McLaughlin.
Until Nov. 14, 2015, an object-centered show with paintings by Sarah Fagan, photographs by Susan Rochester, and photographs and small sculptures by Sandee McGee.
Nov. 24, 2015 through Jan. 9, 2016, Joan Truckenbrod, internationally known and published artist, shows installations of video projected onto sculptures.
Learn more about the Arts Center shows and programs on the web at www.theartscenter.net.