“Use Your Eyes!” at “Around Oregon 2020” at The Arts Center in Corvallis

Aug 5, 2020

Kelsey Birsa "Family Recipe" Oil on linen
Credit By permission of The Arts Center

  Hot August days, and everybody is going somewhere else for their mini-vacations. Corvallis the Cute is a popular destination for people out wine touring, hiking, biking, river sporting, and doing the art thing, too, I’d like to add. 

THE show to see right now is at The Arts Center at 700 SW Madison in Corvallis, one of those charming churches turned art gallery. For the month of August, their annual show called “Around Oregon 2020” is up for your delectation.


Tamae Frame. "White Magic Woman" Ceramic, feather, found object 13x 11 x 7"
Credit By permission of The Art Gallery

This juried show was open to all Oregonians, young and old, and I think the juror made an intriguing selection of art from oil to watercolor, infrared photography to sculpture.

I visited this show with local multi-media artist Susan Louise to get her take on the show. I asked her what her favorite piece was if she had to choose, and it was an oil by Kelsey Birsa from Portland called “Family Recipe.” “Family Recipe” is a very realistic oil painting of a middle-aged woman in a kitchen stirring batter in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Every fall of light and shadow is precise. It’s just a fraction off being 100% photo-realistic. Susan said she loved this painting because it depicted ordinary life so simply. The gesture of the spoon in the bowl seems timeless. The simplicity, I think, is in the uncluttered composition, the overall calm air of a reassuring domesticity.

Susan asked what my favorite was, and I couldn’t do anything but dither--there are so many artworks worth talking about. But I finally settled on Eugenean Bob Keefer’s “Clearcut in the fog.” The substrate of this spooky image of the familiar trees and stumps made strange by fog is a black and white photograph. But that is just the starting point for Keefer--he then gets out his paints and brushes and goes to work layering washes and glazes of color onto the photo. The overall effect really drew me into his world, one that seems to both critique the logging industry and to praise the regenerative power of the forest.


Bob Keefer "Clearcut in the Fog" Hand colored black and white photograph 18 x 24"
Credit By permission of The Arts Center

I hope you visit this fine show, and I hope you do more than an Instagram scroll through this art-filled space. As Leonardo daVinci told us five hundred years ago, “Use your eyes!”

Viz City is co-produced by Terry Way and Sandy Brown Jensen