CULTURE: January’s art, history exhibitions and events

This month, galleries in Salem are celebrating self-taught artists, creative explorations of identity and the work of Willem Volkersz.

Salem Art Association

600 Mission St. S.E.

Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 12 – 5 p.m. The museum is closed for the holidays until Jan. 10. 

Admission: Free

THOUGHTFUL SCULPTURES – Pencil, Ink, Paint, Wood & Wire

Jan. 12 – 28, opening reception on Jan. 12 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Artist Bill Rutherford’s sculptures will be on display in the focus gallery this month. In an artist statement, he said he lets the pieces guide themselves. 

“If the idea seems like it might become something I continue on! As the piece develops, IT decides what it wants to BE. From then on, I just try to keep up with the piece until it’s time to stop! Art is never complete,” he said. 

DIFFUSING LIGHT – The Evolving Landscapes of John Van Dreal

Jan. 12- Feb. 24, opening reception Jan. 12 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Landscapes from Salem artist John Van Dreal will be showcased later this month. He combines oil paints and translucent glazing to capture light, and sketches while painting according to his artist statement.

“Using this method, combined with traditional aesthetic principles, allows me to create contemporary images that are luminous, tonal, evocative and that connect with the viewer on a personal level,” he said. 


Jan. 12 – Feb. 25, opening reception Friday, Jan. 12 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Oil paintings by self-taught artist Chloe Frydenlund celebrating creativity, nature, womanhood and the cycles of life and death will be on display through February. 

“It was not until I became a mother that I realized I needed art on a daily basis to start unburying who it is that I really am. I have repeatedly felt called to be a painter throughout my life, as it brings me an immense amount of joy,” she said in her artist statement.

Frydenlund has lived in Salem for four years, and thanked the community for its support of her ideas and art.

Hallie Ford Museum of Art – Willamette University

700 State St. 

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 12 – 5 p.m.

Admission: $8 general, $5 for seniors. Free admission for children up to age 17, educators and students with ID and museum members. Free admission on Tuesdays. Passes available for checkout at the Salem Public Library.


Through March 30, artist lecture on Saturday, Jan. 20

Twenty-five years worth of work from mixed-media artist Willem Volkersz will be on display through March. Volkersz is internationally recognized, and best known for his use of neon and paint-by number installations. 

Volkersz was born in the Netherlands, and immigrated to the U.S. after WWII, and studied art at the University of Washington and Mills College in Oakland, California. 

Volkersz will give a free, public lecture at Willamette University on Saturday, Jan. 20. The lecture starts at 5 p.m., and will be in the Paulus Lecture Hall, Willamette University College of Law, 245 Winter St. S.E.


Through April 20

The exhibit highlighting self-taught artists from the permanent collection includes work from well-known contemporary, regional, Midwest and Southern artists, plus newer work from neurodivergent artists in Corvallis and Salem working with the Living Studios program.

It’s the first time the museum has specifically highlighted self-taught artists.

“As the cultural divisions that have led to the othering and separating of many self-taught artists and their work is dissolving, these important artistic voices and their influence are being brought into the larger conversation about contemporary art,” curator Jonathan Bucci said in a statement. 

Willamette Heritage Center

1313 Mill St. S.E.

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Admission: $10 adult, $8 seniors over 65, $6 students and children age 6-17. Passes available for checkout at the Salem Public Library.


Through Jan. 31

A traveling exhibit celebrating filaments, the threads that come together in weaving and fiber arts, is on display at the Willamette Heritage Center this month. The exhibit promises a “visual feast” for art enthusiasts and fans of textiles.

“Whether for domestic use or as artistic expressions, the exhibit highlights the fusion of function and form through the choice of fibers,” said a press release from the center.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Weaving Guilds of Oregon, called WeGO, and has been in six venues in Oregon this year from Bend to the coast.

The Willamette Heritage Center held a member preview event on Nov. 16, 2023 to open the “Filaments” exhibit (Courtesy/ Willamette Heritage Center)

Mid-Valley Quilt Guild 

Keizer Civic Center – 930 Chemawa Road N.E., Keizer

Hours: Monday- Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

Admission: Free

LOCAL QUILTERS – The Quilts at Keizer

Through Jan. 30 

The Mid-Valley Quilt Guild, which meets monthly in Salem, will have nearly 30 quilts on display in Keizer this month. The quilts are a range of styles and sizes, including modern, traditional, wall hangings and bedspreads. There will be some quilts for sale.

The display also includes comfort and fidget quilts that are popular for children and memory care patients, which will be distributed to community organizations, said member Michelle Litke. 

Salem Public Library

585 Liberty St. S.E.

Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission: Free


Through Feb. 1

The library is featuring an exhibit about Oregon’s Civil Rights Movement, focusing on the fight for equal rights and racial justice during the 1960s and 1970s.

The exhibit was developed by Oregon Black Pioneers, a Salem-based historical society that researches, preserves and educates about Black history in Oregon. They’ve published an online version of the exhibit at the library here.

Elsinore Framing & Fine Art Gallery

444 Ferry St. S.E.

Hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission: Free

The gallery is taking a break from new shows in January, but is still displaying work by Alan Leach, Phil Sargent & Marilyn McMurray. There are also new pieces from Tricia Heiser Wente, said General Manager Brent Allen.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-575-1251.

SUPPORT OUR WORK – We depend on subscribers for resources to report on Salem with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Subscribe today to get our daily newsletters and more. Click I want to subscribe!

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.