CULTURE: April’s art, history exhibitions and events

Spring has officially begun, and Salem’s local galleries have a fresh slate of local art on their walls. Two shows celebrate the work of graduating college seniors and other shows showcase self-expression and marine life.

Salem Art Association

600 Mission St. S.E.

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 12 – 4 p.m.

Admission: Free

The following shows will have a joint opening reception on Friday, April 5, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

GRADUATING SENIORS – Fresh Perspectives

April 5-28 

Fourteen graduating students from colleges and universities in the Mid-Willamette Valley are showcasing their recent work in ceramics, drawing, photography, prints and more at the Salem Art Association’s A.N. Bush Gallery this month. The work explores personal and contemporary subjects, according to the show description. 

SELF-EXPRESSION – Outside the Lines: Uncharted Territory

April 5-28

Artists Kay Pendleton and Sharon Cook’s March residency at the Bush Barn Art Center allowed them to challenge themselves, according to an event description. Both artists work with oil and cold wax, and “never looked back” after meeting each other during a 2018 workshop.

The pair “decided long ago not to color in the lines or stay in their own lanes. Their creativity will be on display in “Uncharted Territory” this month.

A piece by artist Sharon Cook for “Outside the Lines” (Courtesy/ Salem Art Association)

ORGANIC LIFE – Propelled flora

April 5 -28

Jodi Thomas and Eric Tautkus, a florist and a painter, have joined forces to bring out the best of both their crafts in “Propelled Flora.”

“A floral painter’s job is to emulate nature’s palettes and a florist’s job to present nature to the viewer sometimes like that of a painter. So what happens when they collaborate to make an immersive environment splashed with color and organic life?” a description reads.

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


Pacific Northwest artist Chelsea Beaudrie’s work uses vivid colors and texture to share about her personal experiences and witnessed interactions. Her work seeks to share the power of untold stories.

“Through my art, I seek to invite viewers to delve into the unknown, to ‘shine the light’ and confront the mysteries and shadows that are often concealed within the social norm. I want to challenge perceptions and spark conversation, encouraging others to see the world in a new and thought-provoking light,” she said in a statement shared by Salem on the Edge.

Beaudrie will be at the gallery on the first Friday Art Walk, May 5 from 5-8 p.m., and again on April 13 from 1-3 p.m. for a wine and art talk.

“Wax and Wane” by artist Chelsea Beaudrie (Courtesy/ Salem on the Edge)

LOCAL ARTISTS – Guest artists

Guest artists Kayla Richardson, Lin Musick and Ben Kelley will have their work on display. The three are from Living Studios, a Cornerstone Associates program supporting artists who identify as neuro-diverse in the Salem and Corvallis areas

Richardson, a Salem artist, references her personal history in drawings using bright colors in contrast to darker themes of grief and loss.

Musick, a Liberian American artist living in Albany, celebrates the joy of Black identity through her series “African Dancers.” Her work depicts figures in motion along with loose and colorful depictions of animals, real and mythical. 

“Lin’s work is a way that she connects with her cultural identity, from which she often feels removed and untethered. Through these figures she both remembers and creates a community of dynamic objects where she is not only creating representations but feels represented,” a statement from the gallery said.

Kelley, a Corvallis abstract painter, explores the sounds of text and lettering through color.

“The text acts as a symbol and figurative element; the works create sound without words,” the gallery statement said.

“LOL” by artist Ben Kelly (Courtesy/ Salem on the Edge)

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 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. 


April 20 – May 18

Four years of work by eight Willamette University seniors studying studio art will be on display this month. Their work includes a wide range of media.

There will be a free, public opening reception at the museum on April 19 from 6-8 p.m. There will be free guided gallery tours with students at noon on April 23 and 30, and an open house on Sunday, May 19, from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

This year’s annual exhibition is paired with “What Remains,” a solo faculty exhibition from art Professor Alexandra Opie. It explores her black-and-white photographic art inspired by “tipping points” in environmental systems of all sizes.

Elsinore Framing & Fine Art Gallery/Artists in Action

444 Ferry St. S.E.

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

Admission: Free


Through April 30

The Salem nonprofit Artists in Action is featuring the works of Olga V. Walmisley-Santiago and Susan Thompson throughout April, as well as works from 20 other artists in the co-operative. The nonprofit has a co-op gallery inside the framing shop. 

There will be an opening night reception on Friday, April 5, from 5 – 8 p.m., including an awards ceremony for the “Spring Renewal” annual show. Show up at the beginning to cast a vote for the people’s choice award.

Independence artist Walmisley-Santiago reflects her love of nature and life experiences around the world through impressionistic acrylic and watercolor paintings. 

“Her colorful style melds influences from her study of medieval literature and its illuminated manuscripts, the world of magic realism of Latin American writers and artists, and her love of Impressionist art,” a gallery statement said.

Thompson paints animals and everyday objects, stained glass and landscapes that emphasize rhythm, color and composition. Thompson has taught at Chemeketa Community College and was an early member of Artists in Action, according to the gallery.

The nonprofit’s fifth annual “Spring Renewal” show will also be on display, challenging artists to interpret and conceptualize what spring and renewal mean to them. There will be awards including best in show, best use of unconventional materials and a people’s choice award by audience vote.

As of late February, the gallery has teamed up with Artists in Action to open a new co-op gallery. The Salem nonprofit has been around for over two decades, supporting artists through gatherings to share techniques, critiques and public events and shows, with about 68 active members. Read more below.

World Beat Gallery

390 Liberty St. S.E.

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturdays by appointment. 

Admission: Free


Through April 20

The World Beat Gallery is showcasing spring celebrations from around the world, including Nowruz, Songkran, Holi, cherry blossom festival and Walpurgisnacht, according to Executive Director Kathleen Fish. The exhibit includes a free kids’ cherry blossom craft.

The World Beat Gallery’s spring activities schedule (Courtesy/ World Beat Gallery)

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.

UNDER THE SEA – The PNW Community Coral Reef Project

Through June 22

Community knit and crochet creations depicting vibrant, healthy coral with marine animals alongside bleached corals will be on display through June. The exhibit aims to engage the audience in a conversation about the significance of coral reefs around the world. 

Students from Salem’s Eagle Charter School contributed to the project.

Paired with the exhibit, there will be a free screening of the documentary “Saving Atlantis” on April 23, 2024 at 6 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. The Oregon State University documentary shares the impact of declining coral reef ecosystems.

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

YOUNG POETS – Poet tree

In honor of National Poetry Month, the library is inviting children to write a poem for the poet tree. Leaves to write them on can be picked up from the 2nd floor children’s desk and submitted, or poems can be emailed to [email protected].

Submissions should include the child’s name and age or grade in school. All styles of poetry are welcome.

“The Poet Tree” at the Salem Public Library (Courtesy/ Salem Public Library Facebook page)

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

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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.