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Enjoying the Beach Galleries of the Oregon Coast

painting of dune grass
By permission of the gallery


  This is Sandy Brown Jensen, and you’re listening to Viz City, KLCC’s arts review program.

I just got back from several glorious days at the beach. One of those days, high winds kept us off the beaches, so we did what everyone likes to do at the beach--we went gallery hopping.

We were staying in Yachats, where there was almost too much to see. One more painting of Heceta Head Lighthouse? Really? One more photograph of a beach at sunset? Should I buy a mug with a cranberry bog on it or a big piece of blown glass with seagulls somehow impossibly in the glass? What’s good and what’s not and why is it I suddenly can’t figure it out? Beach Art Overwhelm, folks.

overview of art gallery
Credit By permission of the gallery
Lots to see at the Earthworks Gallery in Yachats, Oregon

When this happens to you, as it did to me, I suggest we all just sit down and unscramble our brains for a few minutes.

Ask yourself, “Today, what do I love looking at here at the beach?”  For example, as I entered Earthworks Gallery in Yachats, I realized I was really enjoying the dune grass rippling in that cold wind. So for this hour, I chose to only seek out paintings of dune grass. Now my mind had something specific to search for while still enjoying everything else. 

water in rock
Credit By permission of the gallery
Punchbowl. Acrylic. By Alan Leach at the Earthworks Gallery in Yachats, Oregon

Because I narrowed my search field, I discovered Oregon Coast oil painting artist Liisa Rahkonen. I was very drawn to all the colors in the dune grass and the fresh, exciting movement of the wind. The painting looked like a place I’d like to be. Reading the title card, I learned it was called “Renewal,” and Liisa writes that it reflected her sense of renewal after breast cancer.

I know I missed a lot by looking for only one thing, but I felt I had had an encounter with a real human being. Art had pulled me in and lifted me up. I left the gallery inspired rather than overwhelmed, and that’s how art should feel. 

Oh, and I also love my mug with the cranberry bog on it.


This has been Sandy Brown Jensen for KLCC.


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