Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jeff White & Michael Orwick: Masters of Light, The Gallery at the Watershed

Jeff White & Michael Orwick: Masters of Light, The Gallery at the Watershed

“Masters of Light,” featuring landscape painters Michael Orwick and Jeff White, is the latest show at Eugene’s Gallery at the Watershed. While these talented artists more than merit solo exhibitions, it truly does seem as though their paintings belongs together. Beyond the very general, their work isn’t overly similar, and yet it’s exceedingly complementary. As the show’s title suggests, the depiction light and its myriad effects is central to the work of both artists, but Orwick and White have taken their mastery into realms much more complex, far less tangible, than simple light and shadow.

Just why these artists fit so well together is not so easy to pin down. Maybe it’s the way they utilize negative space, drawing the eye through a painting while simultaneously engaging the edges of the canvas, never for a second allowing us to forget what might lie beyond -- as in White’s “Enchanted Moments,” where sky and water heighten the layered effect of clouds and mountains, asking us to keep looking up, up, up... Or in Orwick’s “Get Low,” where the moon seems to be pulling the sky down into the otherwise crowded tree line. Or is it the way each, in his own distinct manner, occasionally leaves ever-so-subtle traces of the uncanny, from the other-worldy red glow of Orwick’s “Crimson Clover” to the awesome figure who seems to be emerging from the clouds in White’s “Talisman at the Gates”?

Perhaps it is the striking range each displays in this show. White’s “Harmony in Motion” is an apt example of his trademark dramatic skies and cloud formations, swinging wildly between utter serenity and perpetual, swirling chaos. This painting stands in stark contrast to his pointillist landscape, “Fall Splendor,” and its profound, perfect stillness. Orwick’s range is perhaps less stylistically obvious, but, in terms of effect, just as dramatic. The familiar beauty of “Oregon Vineyard” is representative of his appeal. With its glowing rows of vines receding into a climbing, hazy landscape, this piece manages to be both quaint and expansive. In contrast, “Cool Breath” eludes the overtly familiar altogether. All detail is lost in shadow, heightened by the golden light of the background, creating a mystery far more inviting than it is imposing.

But maybe the answer is closer to home. Gallerist Amy Isler Gibson calls Orwick and White “beloved Oregon artists,” and of course she’s right. These landscape painters are two fine examples of the Pacific Northwest’s deep pool of artistic talent, and those of us privileged enough to see their work on a regular basis, to live in and near the landscapes that inspire them, is enough to make us feel a certain sense of ownership -- pride, even -- in these two artists who, in a manner of speaking, represent us and our corner of the world.

But, perhaps unintentionally, Ms. Isler Gibson’s simple sentiment points to something at the very heart of these artists’ work, the quality which seems to tie them together so well: it is not merely the artists who are beloved, but the Oregon they depict. So powerfully do Orwick’s stately vineyards and meditative sunsets, and White’s astonishing skyscapes and serene woodlands, impose themselves upon our own emotional memory that they become the places we live, visit, and remember -- as much as, even more than, their real-world counterparts. Orwick compares it to storytelling, whereas White sees something akin to a Rorschach inkblot, but the result is the same: these are more than just landscapes; they are our venues, settings in which we, the audience, become characters with unique experiences. Such an accomplishment transcends mere regional appeal, and requires so much more than solid technique and talent with a paintbrush. It demands empathy and human understanding of the most profound kind. Plein air painters are always saying how the eye sees differently than the camera -- well, as Orwick and White clearly show, the heart sees differently than either.

For all it has to offer, here is a show that simply doesn’t stop giving. It includes the work of a special guest: one Elena Orwick, nine, daughter of Michael. In her artist’s statement, Miss Orwick says, “I see beauty in everything and everyone ... and that is what inspires me.” This infectious, precocious charm notwithstanding, her work evidences startling talent and maturity in one so young, from the elegant simplicity of “Last Leaves” to the surprising depth of “Golden Hour on the Bend.” I’m far from qualified to throw around the term “prodigy,” but this young artist is one to watch.

“Masters of Light” runs at the Gallery at the Watershed, 321 Mill Street, through September 14.

Finished Painting

Early Vessel, 60x60 oil and wax on wood. $10,000

Monday, August 19, 2013

New Winery Found in Carlton Park

Last weekend Linda and I spent a wonderful couple of days with Rebecca Shouldis (Ghost Hill Cellars) and Thibaud Mandet (Willakenzie Estate) at  their house in the Eola Hills. For dinner Saturday evening we headed over the hill west to Amity and to the Blue Goat. Located right in the center of town, it serves locals as well as informed visitors like us.
The food was great as was the service. We opened a bottle of Brooks' Janus Pinot Noir and let it wake up while we chatted and had Blue cheese stuffed figs that were huge and sweet!
 Linda, being a vegetarian, was well pleased by the fare and I, meat eater, was also very happy and the Janus Pinot went perfectly with both our meals.. Now they will be a must stop place on the way north on 99.
We finished the evening talking about the influx of big wine in Oregon and how it will effect workers, harvest, and capacity. We did this over a bottle of 2008 Willakenzie Tarra Base
 This is a beautifuly complex wine and as we sipped it changed from one wine to another over the course of 30 minutes. We were good though and did not open another, but we did have a smidgen of Rémy Martin V.S.O.P.
In the morning we went to Carlton and had an amazing breakfast at the new food cart Henry's Diner next door to Scott Paul. Everything else was closed but they were hard at it and had to close the window to play catch up three times while we were there. I had Carlton Farms sausage and blueberry pancakes with farm fresh eggs and ate ALL of it!
 Carlton's Walk in the Park is just that. A nice benefit for the community and a chance to see friends. we were early arrivers and spent a lot of time looking at the old cars ( Linda's favorite was the 24 Ford Wagon). We saw LOTS of old T-Birds Seven of Hearts and tasted his VERY Special Reserve from the stunning '11 harvest. ( we will be buying some of that when released). Next, a visit WildeAire Cellars for a taste of the Pinot. They make an exceptional wine and the 2011 Timothy Pinot Noir and the Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir are tow of the best.
.In the wine tent we stopped a chatted with Byron of
Last stop, and a real surprise, was Angela Estate.
With the help of Jessica Endsworth we tasted the '07, '09, and '10 and though I think the '07 was one of the best, the '09 carried a truer taste complexity that represented the soil and fruit. Wonderful wine and very nice people. I expect good things from them .Look them up when next in Carlton.
Last stop of the day was the Annual Ghost Hill BBQ. We have been members for years and Linda got to drive her first tractor there! Salmon, salads, and great wines, including the Pinot Noir Blanc that got Rebecca in to Forbes Magazine and many other publications.
We had a scavenger hunt and I came away with a '09 Reserve Pinot Noir and a big smile.
No better way to spend a short weekend in Wine country.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Recommended Musical Venture

Fran and Greg hope you can join them for a memorable evening of the passion and love expressed in Portuguese, Brazilian, and Spanish music.  This world class cultural event is partially sponsored by the Portuguese Government.
MarshAnne Landing Winery
Is proud to present
De Corda em Corda - Um Canto de Amor
Love songs and passionate music from Portugal, Spain and Brazil
Wednesday August 14 & Saturday August 17, 7:30 PM
Ana Barros-soprano
Jed Barahal-cellist
Christina Margotto-piano
The “Love Song Project” shows off the talents of 3 artists visiting from Portugal.   These evenings will introduce American audiences to the inspiring music of some of Portugal’s best contemporary composers.  Highlighting these evenings are the beautiful love songs for voice, piano and cello set to the texts by Portuguese and Brazilian poets along with selected instrumental works.  This recital promises to be a memorable musical experience.
The program will highlight the works of Brazilian composers Claudio Santoro and Heitor Villa-Lobos and Portuguese composers Antonio Pinho Vargas and Fernando Lapa.  The program shows off different approaches to the theme of Love, conceived by composers who lived decades apart.
Ana Barros is a young Portuguese soprano versatile in fado as well as opera and classical song.   Ms. Barros has performed a wide range of operatic roles over the past decade. 
Jed Barahal, a native of California, but a resident of Portugal for over 20 years, performs extensively in Europe and teaches aspiring cellists at Oporto College of Music where he heads the music department.
Christina Margotto, a native of Brazil, is a faculty member at the Oporto Conservatory.  Ms. Margotto has performed for the past 20 years as a recital and chamber musician in Spain, Portugal, England and the United States.
Due to limited seating, advanced reservations are required.  Admission $30 includes abundant appetizers.  541-459-7998
MarshAnne Landing: 175 Hogan Rd, Oakland OR, 97462-just 3 miles off I-5 Exit 142

Sweet or Sour?

There is a small town just north of Lane County (about a mile) called Monroe. There you will find Broadley Vineyards, Sweet  Earth Vineyards, Tebri Vineyards, and near by, Benton Lane Winery. All of these wineries deserve a visit, and there are lots more things to see in the area such as Diamond Woods Golf Course. There is also a new and surprising business venture in the small town that is also making a mark,  Hard Times Distillery, home of  Sweet Baby Moonshine, Green Geisha Vodka (flavored with real Wasabi), and Blue Collar Vodka .
 So far my favorite is Sweet Baby. It is smooth, slightly sweet, and eminently sip-able. Made with sour mash, it is far from sour! Last night we tried a blended drink with watermelon, ice, 2 oz Sweet Baby, and a dash of bitters. Perfect!
So, next time you are out scouting for good wines around Monroe, stop in the center of town and take the tour.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Early Vessel

New painting in stage 6. "Early Vessel", 60"x60" oil and wax, raw pigments, graphite on wood panel.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Great Article About Traveling Oregon

Travel Lane County hosted a travel writer Darlene Perrone a few weeks ago and though she came to write about our wines, she wrote about our food also! Great article for locals to read so they can see what they take for granted here;)
Here is the article
She talks about meals at Marche' and our next door neighbor, Rye, in glowing terms. Made me glad I had lunch at Marche' today and plan on the soup at Rye this evening before our opening for Jeff White.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New Painting Under Construction

Amphora, 60"x60" oil and wax on panel (American Easel) Just putting in the first layer of shadow.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Great Meal at Last

There have been many uneven meals at Ox and Fin reported by many of my friends, so hearing that Mike, the chef from Red Agave had taken the reins, I took a chance.
I use Open Table a lot, even for local restaurants so I booked a early dinner. I was greeted and shown to a nice table with a view of the courtyard. One of the owners, Betsy Bills Montoya, came over and introduced herself. We chatted about the food and their history with the restaurant and I gave her some feedback from prior visits.
The menu was heavy on meat and is one of the reasons vegetarians such as my wife are not fond of the place. We talked at length about adding something besides pasta to the menu.
My waiter, Jessie, was prompt and personable and was very knowledgeable about the food.
I ordered my usual Martini and ask about what local gins they had :Smalls (warm and sweet), Ransom(warm and complex),Aviation(Cooler but nice), Crater Lake ( a bit harsh).
I ordered a Ransom with a twist, then THE best tomato salad I have EVER tasted appeared before me. Shaved fennel, at least 5 heirloom tomatoes types, and  small slices of hot pepper over greens with a tasty vinaigrette dressing. I will go back just for this!
Next came a superb steak with spinach and thinly sliced squash that was perfectly done but too many mashed potatoes (I left some on the plate). More greens would have been nice.
I ordered Westry pinot noir and they brought it one of those un-stemmed glasses I hate. Someone in the restaurant biz decided that it would be great not to have stems that break so they got manufacturers on the bandwagon. They suck for Pinot!
Betsy brought a real glass to the table and I had her taste both glasses and she found the difference amazing. The wine was perfect in the right glass. Black Cherry, notes of rose petal, and rich soils with a jammy finish.
Dessert was Fagatto, Vanilla ice-cream from Stella with two shots of espresso. A nice complete. evening.
I think I have a new restaurant on my list of favorites!