This year, “Oregon Art Beat” got to tell the story of animation in Oregon, starting with a firsthand account by game-changing animator Will Vinton. After inventing Claymation and winning an Academy Award, the animation scene in Oregon was off and running, making its international mark, and nurturing the next generation of world-renowned animation artists.

Claymation pioneers Bob Gardiner and Will Vinton.

Claymation pioneers Bob Gardiner and Will Vinton.

Courtesy of Will Vinton

One of the highlights of this far reaching project was our public premiere at the Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium. Most of the animators profiled were able to join us on stage after the screening — a rare gathering of these talented artists together in one space. They delivered a revealing and hilarious discussion of what it’s like living the life of an Oregon animator. Check out the full series page here. — Jessica Martin

Season 18, Episode 17 - Oregon's Animation Magic


Solar Eclipse

More than 30,000 attendees from all over the world gathered for the Oregon Eclipse Festival on a postage stamp of private land in the Ochoco National Forest. We found some of the Oregon artists, dancers, performers and robot designers among them. On the west side of the state, The Oregon Garden saw an array of sculpture from established and emerging artists kissed by otherworldly light as the moon passed in front of the sun. — Jessica Martin

Fred Harwin

From the moment I heard that there was someone who had the job of hand painting prosthetic eyes, I knew I wanted to tell that story! But what I found when I met Fred Harwin was a man who’s passionate about his life as an artist and tenacious about making sure his clients get the best prosthetic eye he can possibly create. It was fascinating to watch Fred paint, seated just inches away from his client.  

One of the coolest parts to me was seeing how he recreates those tiny red veins in the whites of the eye, using fine red threads from a piece of cotton fabric, gluing them to the surface of the prosthesis.

And Fred’s clients feel lucky to work with him. Arturo Lucatero describes it this way: “I have the opportunity to work with an artist who’s getting to paint something that I’m gonna carry around with me and show off to every person I meet. And basically, what they’re seeing is Fred’s art.” — Eric Slade, Producer

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith

On “Art Beat” we profile “Oregon artists” but Ka’ila Farrell-Smith made me realize that the term can mean much more than just an artist who resides in Oregon. Ka’ila is an Oregon native. She grew up in Eugene and got her Master of Fine Art degree at Portland State University.

But her roots are in southern Oregon, deep in the ancestral soil of the Klamath-Modoc people. “I have a lot of influences (from) living in an urban location — from street art and graffiti but then also you know, it was really beautiful to be raised dancing at powwows and in this kind of an urban inter-tribal community.

“That’s what I’m exploring in my work,” she said. Exploring Ka’ila’s work was one of the high points of 2017 for me — Jule Gilfillan, producer

Portland Winter Light Festival

A visually sumptuous light festival during Oregon’s darkest, dreariest season is a genius idea and I was excited to film it for “Oregon Art Beat” — even though we’d have to be out there in that dark and cold to do so!

What I discovered doing this story though, was that the “old-Portland” DIY ethos is alive and well, even as the city undergoes dizzying change.

“It’s a festival that’s here to bring people out of their houses when they need it the most. They need to be out and enjoying themselves and actually connecting with their neighbors,” said festival artistic director Chris Herring. Turns out, that’s also how you build a community that keeps the “old Portland” ethos alive – Jule Gilfillan, Producer

Liz Vice

There’s something about Liz Vice’s voice that can stir your soul on a deep level. And she does it in a seemingly effortless way. It was such a pleasure to get the chance to sit down and hear her life story.

And even more of a pleasure to get to follow her around to rehearsals, record signings and to her mainstage performance at the Waterfront Blues Festival. These days she’s opening for big name acts like The Blind Boys of Alabama and The Avett Brothers. And at every step along the way, Liz remains surprised by it all.

“It’s a thing of its own that I feel like is leading me,” she said. “It really is whatever the mission of this album is, is bringing me along. Not the other way around.” — Eric Slade, Producer