The eclectic enclave of Toledo, a picturesque town nestled in the mountains seven miles east of Newport, sets the celebratory tone for the Newport Visual Arts Center’s 30th year with an extraordinary exhibit in the Runyan Gallery.
Titled “Eclectic Perspectives,” the exhibit includes 22 artists, each with a unique story and a distinct perspective.
The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts (OCCA) welcomes Toledo Arts Guild participating artists Cheri Aldrich, Steven Alicea, Elizabeth Atly, Sandy Blackman, Scott Blackman, Sam Briseño, Don Butler, Malcolm Cole, John Crawford, Mary Eastman, Heather Fortner, Sylvia Hosie, Anne Husmann, Cynthia Jacobi, Angela Lehrbass, Rodney Lehrbass, Cat Mair, Marc Maislen, Janet Runger, Rex Smith, Larry Sommer, and Clayton Young.
The Toledo Arts Guild was founded in June 2010. Founding members included Linda Sorokin & Larry Sommer, Deanne Dunlap & Sam Briseño, Sandy & Scott Blackman, and Shirley Weber & Malcolm Cole, some of whom are featured in the VAC show.
According to its philosophy and mission statement, the Toledo Arts Guild is an umbrella organization for six disciplines of the arts—fine arts, mixed media, multi-media, music, theater arts and traditional American crafts—that supports and promotes the arts in east Lincoln County.
The Toledo Arts Guild is currently housed inside Gallery Briseño on Toledo’s Main Street.
Here are some of the unique perspectives of the exhibiting artists:
Don Butler has been making Wind Spirit flutes for about five years in his Windblown Studio in Waldport. He worked mostly in engineering and sales until 2001 when he retired to the Oregon coast so he could spend his time working with wood, a craft he had pursued off and on throughout his school and work years. Butler enjoys working with woods indigenous to Oregon, and his flute bodies are made of red cedar, juniper, Pacific yew, myrtle, maple and red alder. He immerses the flutes in shellac to seal the wood and then wipes on four coats of polyurethane. His flutes are tuned to the pentatonic scale with an electronic tuner and are currently available in keys of A, G, F#, F and E. Butler says he tries to make flutes that play well and feel good. He hopes the person who owns one of his flutes will play it and share the music with others.
Cat Mair paints in acrylics. “Throughout human history there has been a need to express the subject of the Spirit through art,” as Mair explained her perspective. “Spirit beings are able to comprehend things that we as humans do not. Spirit beings have historically been represented in all cultures throughout the world, and man has looked to these beings for protection and guidance in all aspects of life. “For the past 20 years my work has revolved around this theme,” Mair continued. “Working in various [media] and styles, my work is always an expression of things that I see, colored by things that I feel.”
Heather Fortner is passionate about nature printing. At her Sea Fern Nature Printing studio in Toledo she plays and prints with fish, seaweeds and plants in a style known as gyotaku. “Japanese art of fish rubbing and nature printing resonates with me as the ultimate blend of the artistic and scientific realms,” she says. “Through nature and fish printing, I can interpret the patterns, colors and shapes of the artistry of nature.” The world of the sea is an elemental part of Fortner’s life. She authored a book on Hawaii’s edible seaweed while earning a degree in natural sciences from the University of Hawaii followed by 25 years working on the water as a commercial fisherman; after that, she was an officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine. During all that time, she printed fish, plants and seaweeds, both on the ships and in a studio at home. Fortner teaches a variety of workshops in many aspects of nature and fish printing and papermaking.
The Guild works with the city of Toledo and organizations by sponsoring or judging the Scarecrow Festival, Christmas lighting displays and window contests, the Summer Festival Sidewalk Chalk contest. It assists with decorating the seasonal Main Street displays, including autumn wreaths and Christmas wreaths, and repainting the Valentine heart boards.
The Guild introduces new artists to the community through Briseño Gallery shows; making fabulous paper masks for Mary Eastman’s play, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” staged at the Newport Performing Arts Center; and coordinating and providing artists for Toledo High School’s Afterschool Arts Program.
At the present time, members of the Toledo Arts Guild include approximately 40 artists and supporters of the arts from around Lincoln County.