There’s never a dull moment (or a dull year, for that matter) for “Oregon Art Beat,” and 2016 didn’t disappoint. It shaped up to be a treasure trove of the unexpected — as well as a dash of the beloved.
This year, the jewel in OAB’s crown is our special on children’s author Beverly Cleary. Fans of Ramona, Henry, and Ralph S. Mouse got to hear the Oregon-born writer — who celebrated her 100th birthday in April — tell her remarkable story.
And 2016 didn’t plateau there. Just when we thought we had seen everything, we came upon more singular artists making art in singular ways. From a decidedly modern take on 18th-century porcelain to art incorporating vintage mug shots, artists across Oregon are creating one-of-a-kind work — and we were there to see them in action.
Here’s a look at some of the artists who captured our imaginations in 2016:
Ceramic Artist Chris Antemann
Chris Antemann’s delicate, painted figurines populate playful scenes with equal parts charm and cheek. Inspired by 18th-century porcelain statuettes, her ceramics work both examines and parodies male and female relationship roles. Antemann spent years working with the master craftspeople of Meissen in Germany, and her work is shown internationally. But it’s her quiet life in Joseph that makes that creative inner voice easier to hear.
Artist Jeffrey Bale
Jeffrey Bale is the first pebble mosaic artist Oregon Art Beat has ever featured. Bale travels the world, finding inspiration for his work in the stunning architecture of Europe and Southeast Asia. Back home in the Northwest, he creates elaborate and intricate pebble mosaics from stone he gathers in the wild. “I want to create something that is beautiful, profound and inspiring,” says Bale, “that links you to nature, that takes you back to it.”
Metal Artist Kelly Phipps
Hood River metal artist Kelly Phipps transforms recycled, rusted metal into intricate lacey works of art. Her tool of choice? A plasma cutter that heats gas to nearly 30,000 degrees, slicing through thick metal panels with ease. As Phipps says, “I’m drawing with fire.” What really caught our eye? Kelly’s work on a hulking metal Rat Rod that ended up winning first place at the National Rat Rod Build Off in St. Louis.
Icon Painter Olga Volchkova
When we first saw Olga Volchkova’s paintings at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, they looked like beautiful, historic Russian icons. Then we took a closer look. Volchkova grew up in Russia, attending the first school of traditional icon painting when it opened after the Berlin Wall came down. After she moved to America she combined her passion for botanicals with her icon paintings to create a new kind of work. She uses traditional Russian techniques and stylized brush strokes to pay homage to potatoes, coffee, beer and something you probably don’t want to eat — nightshade.
Artist Karen Wippich
Using collage and layers of vintage photos to create an expressionist style, Karen Wippich’s acrylic paintings reveal a graphic arts influence. “A lot of people see their mother or a long-lost aunt or uncle,” she says. Wippich, whose work we first notice at the Gallery @ The Jupiter, began to follow a life-long dream to paint and to be a working artist after 39 years in the design field.
Arnold Drake World
We first saw paper flower artist Arnold Drake World in Powell’s Books and were fascinated by the way he uses common paper napkins —and nothing else — to create detailed botanical sculptures. Earbuds in place, World sways to music as he flips and juggles paper strips while shoppers look on. “Different flowers dictate different music,” he says.