The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts remembers Toledo-based painter Michael Gibbons (1943-2020) as having a warm, creative heart, and a deep appreciation for the natural wonder of Yaquina Bay. Gibbons died at his home on July 2nd after complications following a stroke. OCCA extends its deepest condolences to Michael’s wife, Judy, and their extended family.
“Nobody represented Toledo better than Michael Gibbons,” said OCCA board chair Akia Woods. “He was a skillful painter who created masterpieces of light and water on canvas.”
Gibbons’ primary subject matter for his plein air oil paintings was Yaquina Bay itself. He created hundreds of works capturing every side stream, inlet, and open field. His paintings shimmered with an impressionistic glow that had viewers wondering if there was something special in the air, which, of course, there most certainly is in the marshlands between Newport and Toledo. Michael’s paintings were flush with life in otherwise silent and serene beauty.
The Yaquina Traveling Exhibition: A Painted Voice for a Sacred Landscape, includes 45 of Michael’s works created over the last 35 years. The exhibit is currently on display through July 31 at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg, following a summer 2019 exhibit at the LaSells Stewart Center at Oregon State University.
“The purpose of this exhibit is to offer a visual documentation of the beauty, history, health and viability of the Yaquina watershed,” Michael wrote. “Through experiencing these poetic landscape interpretations, a benchmark is offered for sustaining this significant environment for forests, fish and wildlife.”
Beyond his paintings, Michael invited the public to learn about the many creatives living in Toledo. He helped establish the Toledo Labor Day Arts Walk (now running over 25 years) and single-handedly built the Yaquina River Museum of Art.
“Michael was always welcoming to me early on,” says Tom Webb, OCCA’s Director of the Newport Visual Arts Center. “He had me out to his gallery within a month of my arrival in Newport, and he extended that invitation to countless others. Michael is the reason that Toledo has a reputation as a creative destination.”
Sandra Roumagoux, artist and OCCA Board Member, also remembers Michael fondly. “Years ago when were both teaching oil painting, we talked about the craft of painting,” Roumagoux recalled. “Michael said to me, it’s so hard to get students to use more paint. He said he would be tempted to take the tube of paint from the student and squeeze out what the student needed on their palette. Michael’s handling of paint was superb and because of it, his surfaces shimmered, his color was beautiful and powerful, and his use of warm and cool colors to describe the landscape was magnificent.”
OCCA is pleased to represent Michael’s work in the current Oregon Coast Online Visual Art Show. His oil painting, “Abandoned House in Lochiel,” was generously donated by Don Weller in memory of Cynthia Scott. [Click to view or purchase]
In lieu of flowers, Michael’s family encourages those wishing to honor Michael’s memory are encouraged to a charitable donation to the Yaquina River Museum of Art (www.YaquinaRiverMuseumofart.org).
Learn more at:
YouTube: “Gibbons celebration”