The grip of the pandemic on the cultural life of Yamhill County has loosened enough to give us a clearer picture of the scene, and it is in many ways positive. Things are happening, musical and theatrical productions are in the works, and we have an idea of who survived, who stumbled and who fell.
In that last category, we sadly had a third year without the Terroir Creative Writing Festival, which before the pandemic had staked out a Saturday in April to draw writers and poets from across the state to shop and network. From what little I’ve picked up, it looks like an infusion of new energy and it will take a lot of work to bring it back to 2023, if at all. I suspect it will happen, although if the pandemic has taught the arts community anything since 2020, it’s to take nothing for granted.
The Pentacle Theater in Salem, which has just completed a series of twelfth nightis back on stage, as is the Gallery Theater in McMinnville, which enters its final weekend of The sound of music. The Verona Studio in Salem is gone, as is Willamette Shakespeare. But those looking for a taste of the bard this summer can look forward to another survivor: Newberg-based Penguin Productions. Gallery Theater director Seth Renne is on board to direct Dream of a summer nightwhich kicks off a three-weekend Penguin tour on July 8. Before that at Penguin, Brelby Productions of Arizona will give a guest performance on June 4 and 5 of Luna & Solisa tale by Brian Maticic.
I’m told the Walnut City Music Festival is planning to return, likely Labor Day weekend, but no specifics yet. Much more is known about the Aquilon Music Festival, which will return to a full schedule of live and in-person events this summer after a two-year hiatus. Although largely centered at Linfield University in McMinnville, the festival will also hold concerts and recitals at area wineries. A highlight will be the “pre-premiere” of a new opera, OUR EARTH by Paul Davies and Daniel Helfgot. Lectures and master classes will fill the program. Keep an eye on this space for more from Weatherlight as we get closer.
While we’re at Linfield University, consider visiting the Miller Fine Arts Center to see what the school’s art students have been up to. Main Portfolio: Exodus features student work through May 30. It includes painting, installations, fabric work, mixed media, and more. For less than a dozen students, it’s a delightfully eclectic collection of work.
Meanwhile, across the lawn, the Linfield Theater is presenting another production this week, a double bill of two student-directed one-act plays, Frankenstein and First on the rope. It shows up on two evenings only, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, May 18 and 19, and admission is free.
Also in McMinnville, artists’ cooperative Currents Gallery opens a new exhibition on June 14 Artistic event, featuring watercolor and acrylic works by Kathleen Buck and Claudia Herber, two of the gallery’s seven partners. An opening reception is scheduled for June 18 and the show will continue until July 10.
Finally, at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg, the non-profit will start this month Including You: A Series of Conversations “exploring diversity, equity and inclusion” through the arts. Each month a different artist will present, with the overall goal of building an ongoing volunteer base to work on these issues in the Newberg area. Poet Desmond Spann kicks things off at 6 p.m. on May 26. Events are free, but pre-registration is required. Visit the website for more information.
In the meantime, you still have two weeks to discover the visual arts exhibitions that fill the Parrish and Central gallery spaces. Habitatwhich greets visitors to the center as you enter from the south side, features the work of nearly 30 artists from Studio Art Quilt Associates, juried by Michael Fisher, executive director of the Maude Kerns Art Center.
The art of Hampton Rodriguez lines the walls of the central gallery at the end of the hall. The Portland artist grew up in the Dominican Republic, where he was influenced by the “intellectual activities of the contemporary abstract art movement in his country,” according to the program notes. He exhibited his work in Spain and Belgium and landed in Oregon 20 years ago. The 17 pieces include both color and black and white collages (get up close and imagine how long that must have taken!) and a few bits of ink.