ART: October’s artist exhibitions in Salem

The leaves are changing outdoors, and inside Salem’s art galleries there are plenty of places to see vibrant colors on canvases and sculptures.

In October, artist exhibitions include contemporary painting by local artists, a celebration of quinceañeras and work from the only professional printmaking studio in a reservation community in the United States.

Salem Art Association

600 Mission St. S.E.

Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 12 – 5 p.m.

Admission: Free

VISIT A WORKING STUDIO: Offsite Artist-in-Residence

Through Oct. 19

Each Thursday, Salem artist John Van Dreal will open up his home studio for guests to see his work and discuss the creative process. His style comes from an “admiration for Northern European realism, American realism, and Tonalism,” according to his artist’s statement.

Van Dreal’s contemporary art uses oil paints and glazing. He’s a third generation painter, who has had his work exhibited throughout the Pacific Northwest, including the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.

Patrons of the Salem Art Association can visit him at his home studio, 595 Leslie St. S.E., on Thursday, Oct. 12, or Thursday, Oct. 19,  from 1-3 p.m.

INDIGENOUS ART: The Art of Lillian Pitt: Past and Present

Through Oct. 29

An exhibition of art from Pacific Northwest Native American artist Lillian Pitt is on display at the Salem Art Association through the end of the month. Pitt is self and community taught, and works in a variety of mediums including printmaking, glass and bronze.

Pitt was born in Warm Springs on the Confederated Tribes of the Wasco, Warm Springs and Paiute in 1943, and her ancestors lived in and near the Columbia River Gorge.

“My purpose in my life and artworks is to let everyone know we are still here working, fishing, and making art, baskets, and tools,” her artist statement said. “My ancestors gave me a gift when they did petroglyphs and pictographs to share. When I am working on clay, prints, bronzes, cast and blown glass I am sharing my ancestors with all that I am making. It gives me purpose and a goal with the hopes of educating the audience.”

Art by Lillian Pitt is on display at the Salem Art Association through Oct. 29, 2023 (Courtesy/ Eliz Snowcarp)


Through Oct. 21

For several years, Santa Fe-based artists Ann Kresge and Mike Nord have been fascinated by murmuration: the patterns and changes in directions birds make when they fly together.

Their exhibit combines Kresge’s prints and paper installations with Nord’s immersive sound design to reflect the experience of watching birds in flight, and the theme of gathering and dispersing throughout nature.

“We thought about this theme and collaboration for several years. I was introduced initially to a murmuration when friends took me to see the Vaux Swifts return to a school chimney in Portland. I did not yet know the word for it but was fascinated by their swirling together en masse into and out of the chimney,” the artists’ statement said. “This activity was mirrored by the many people who gathered to witness it, to share a powerful experience, interact with each other and then disperse.”

Santa Fe-based artists Ann Kresge and Mike Nord combined their crafts for an immersive exhibit now on display at the Salem Art Association (Courtesy/ Eliz Snowcarp)


Through Oct. 29

High schooler Sofia Castellanos has worked with the association to put together an exhibition to celebrate the tradition of a quinceañera, in a photo exhibit featuring student models.

Queinceñeras are a Hispanic tradition celebrating a 15th birthday and the transition from girlhood to womanhood. The exhibition celebrates the lasting impact of the celebration on the young women’s’ lives.

Salem photographer Frank Miller provided mentorship and photography for the show, which features models Virginia Vargas, Rocio Panuco and Marissa Flores.

“Although these models are well past 15, the memories they created that day, in their dresses, will stay with them forever,” the Salem Art Association’s description said. “The beautiful gowns in the photographs were worn to symbolize that although the day itself is over, the impact lives on years later. It also gave these girls a chance to “dust off” their precious dresses that were collecting dust in storage, and use them to help celebrate this major tradition during Hispanic Heritage Month.”

The Quince Project at the Salem Art Association celebrates quinceañeras (Courtesy/ Frank Miller)

TRADITIONAL WEAVING: Zapotec Weaving in the Pacific Northwest

Through Oct. 29

Francisco Bautista grew up in a Zapotec village in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he first learned to weave by sitting under his father’s loom as he worked.

Bautista and his wife, Laura, moved to Sandy in 2003, and brought his foot-pedal loom, named “EL AVENTURERO” with them.

“Even being so far from our roots, we still yearned for infinite possibilities of crossing threads and creating unique pieces. As such, we planted those seeds of inspiration in our new home. This has helped us continue the tradition of weaving which has been in our families for many generations,” his artist statement said.

They weave using hand-spun and dyed wool in the techniques learned from master weavers, and plan to pass on to their children.

Artist Francisco Bautista learned to weave during his childhood in a Zapotec village in Oaxaca, Mexico (Courtesy/ Eliz Snowcarp)

RANDOMNESS AND CHANCE: Artist in Residence, Nancy Eng

Through Oct. 30

This month, painter Nancy Eng is the featured artist for the association’s artist in residence program, which gives artists a space to experiment.

Eng’s work celebrates change and uses photos, sketches and memories as a starting point, according to her artist’s statement. 

“I leave the creation of pretty paintings for others, as painting for me is a balance of randomness and chance, versus the need to organize and resolve. I am captivated by the act of creating and the unpredictability of where each painting will take me,” Eng said. 

Hallie Ford Museum of Art – Willamette University

700 State St. 

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 12 – 5 p.m.

Admission: Free throughout October, to celebrate the museum’s 25th anniversary

PRINTS FROM UMATILLA ARTISTS: Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts Biennial

Through Dec. 2

The Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, located on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in northeast Oregon, is the only professional printmaking studio in a reservation community in the U.S.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is the repository for the studio’s print archive, and hosts biennial exhibitions displaying the work of artists made at the studio.

This month, over 20 contemporary prints will be displayed. The exhibit includes work that artists Emily Arthur, Jeremy Okai Davis, John Hitchcock, Lehuauakea, Cory Peeke, Ralph Pugay, Wendy Red Star and Fox Spears made during recent residencies at the institute.

CELEBRATING 25 YEARS – Highlights from the Permanent Collection

Through Dec. 16

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art first opened in October 1998, and will celebrate 25 years by showcasing nearly 100 works from its permanent collection, including some on display for the first time.

The art on display comes from the Pacific Northwest and around the world, and spans from ancient to contemporary. The exhibit will also explore the history of the collection and the people who made it happen over the years.

There will be a series of lectures, films, gallery talks and activities in conjunction with the exhibition, the schedule is available online.

Salem on the Edge

156 Liberty St. N.E.

Hours: Wednesday-Thursday 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 12 – 4 p.m.; closed last Sunday of the month

Admission: Free

COMPLEX MIXED-MEDIA: A Moment of your time

Through Oct. 28

Robin Kerr’s work mixes material, colors and scale with drawings, collage, paint and pattern to  celebrate the complexity of the world and encourages a closer look. 

“Perhaps a memory, feeling or idea is brought to mind that prompts a smile, question or the beginning of a story. In any case, the work is successful if a dialogue of sorts occurs between the viewer and the art,” the gallery’s description said.

“How Are You,” an acrylic paint, ink, wax pastel and fabric collage piece by Robin Kerr (Courtesy/ Salem on the Edge)

INVESTIGATING MEMORY: Guest artist Corrine Loomis Dietz

Through Oct. 28

Salem painter Corrine Loomis Dietz grew up in Michigan, and moved to Oregon in 1980. After becoming a Certified Working Artist for GOLDEN Artist Colors in 1991, she’s spent the past two decades teaching other artists in the Pacific Northwest. Her work will be on display at the gallery this month.

“Today Corrine’s Studio practice is about working fearlessly! She focuses her efforts on investigating memories and the color interaction from a wealth of pigments. For the artist, the act of painting is a constant play of energy, always questioning outcomes through abstraction,” Salem on the Edge’s preview said. 

“Symbols of Bounty,” an acrylic painting by Salem artist Corrine Loomis Dietz (Courtesy/ Salem on the Edge)

Update: This story has been updated to clarify that admission is free at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art throughout October.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.