Arts, Entertainment and Events, Communities, Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir

More than 100 guests finally enjoy a grand time during new art gallery’s official opening in Oakridge

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oakridge art council,new gallery,grand opening
Artists and patrons gather for Saturday evening’s grand opening of the Oakridge Art Council’s new gallery at the old Pope and Talbot mill office building east of town on Highway 58. John W. Ross photo

By JOHN W. ROSS/Correspondent/The Herald — Finally. FINE-A-LY . . . Oakridge art gets a moment — an opening. Grand by design and execution last Saturday evening at the new gallery east of town.

By organizer Rene Gobelman’s accounting, it’s been two years since the last Valentine’s Day Art Walk was organized by the Oakridge Art Council. Then COVID—19 swept through communities, virtually everywhere, shuttering public events and appearances like nothing before.

After that came a summer of flames, smoke and ash threatening the very existence of the city, depending on which way the wind blew and for how long.

oakridge art council,new gallery,grand opening
Sissy Cutchen announces which art piece is donated with purchased teapots that included yearlong memberships. Donating artists included: Dana Tracy Gibbens, Weldon Oliver, Kathy Aiosa, Robert E. Woodson, Jillian Mardin, Sissy Cutchen, Su Stella, Curt Harville and Kevin Gobelman. John W. Ross photo

But Saturday night, Feb. 13, was different, calmer, more peaceful and welcoming as the Oakridge Art Council’s Gallery threw open its doors to patrons and artists by the dozens.

Creations by Oakridge and Westfir artists festooned every wall and practical useable space, including the restroom with an impressive, diverse collection that promises to become more so—most reflecting the vibrant as the surrounding national forest lands.

“This is kind of a kick-start trying to figure out how to travel forward,” Gobelman explained. “The art community that supported us was amazing. I was pleasantly surprised.”

She estimated total attendance numbered close to a hundred.

“It really was a privilege to have so many people here,” she said. “I was very grateful for the number of people who came.

oakridge art council,new gallery,grand opening
Some of the artworks awarded to new members at Saturday evening’s Oakridge Art Council gallery grand opening. John W. Ross photo

“It’s a big thing as some people who went home with a local piece of art. They came to see art and the artists,” she said. “Nothing sells art like artists.”

The evening included a silent auction for one donated painting and a dozen more given as enticement to purchase annual memberships at $30. Donated artworks were given out according to tags in colorful ceramic teapots that Bob’s Lock Shop donated. Tag numbers identified the artworks that went with each individual teapot.

In promoting memberships and the teapot distribution feature, Council Marketing Manager Sissy Cutchen expressed her gratitude for the time Rene and husband Kevin have contributed to staffing the gallery.

“This is just a really cool place,” Cutchen said. “If you’re not an artist and you become a member, you are an artist—part of the arts community.” She said future art classes and workshops are planned with various community artists, including one where attendees will learn how to make a knife.

“This was a part of the community that really needed a place to be,” Gobelman said. “There were years when they had no place to be.”

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