Springfield Art Walks features ‘grounded’ artists, eco-inspired art

Rae Mategora painting a storm drain.

SPRINGFIELD – The August Springfield Second Friday Art Walk was a cornucopia of artists, murals and music. In addition to the usual galleries and displays, there were bonus stops and special features. The Springfield Mural at 307 Main St. boasts being the fastest erected mural in Springfield.

The UpStream Art storm drains featured paintings centered around nature and ecology. One of the artists from this project, Rae Matagora, was at the art walk selling stickers, prints and shirts.

“It’s our duty to keep Planet Earth healthy,” Matagora said. “As a speck in this universe, it can feel like a daunting task. But when you look at it on a micro level, and bring it locally, there are small, simple things you can do: like keeping the storm drains clean because it all goes straight to the streams. The Upstream Art Project brings awareness to this cause in such a clever and creative way. It brings our community together by inviting local artists to share their talents and point of view, while also sharing a message that adds beauty to the streets of our city.” 

Matagora will also be showing art in Cottage Grove at Axe and Fiddle for its Last Friday Artwalk on Aug. 26.

Patricia McConnell’s encaustic “The Scent of Ocean Spray.”

Whether intentional or not, ecology and the natural world seemed to be a theme across the art walk with so many other artists. There is so much love of nature expressed in the murals, the storm drain project, pieces at the Emerald Art Center and Willamalane Adult Activity Center. The Springfield History Museum’s exhibit “Springfield H2Oh!” pairs perfectly with the Upstream Art’s storm drains on the theme of water, the environment, and our role in the ecosystem.

At the Island Park Art Gallery reception, Steven Reiser played piano. During the month of August, Kristin McKenzie is showing work that could be described as mixed-media stained glass. The modern twist on medieval stained-glass techniques incorporates natural elements into her work like shells, rocks, and agates. 

“I’m always looking for the next unique element to put into pieces and challenge my sense of design,” McKenzie said. “The effect is a stunning display of light and color.”

One of the highlights of the art walk was the variety and range of talent at the Emerald Art Center. Melanie Pearson’s vivid, larger-than-life portrait, “Mandala Breathe” is a well-placed piece to draw people into the gallery. Photographs do not do it justice, but the same could be said about many of the other pieces in the gallery. The vibrant colors, patterns, and the beauty of her work draws the viewer in. Her artwork is reminiscent of the way Impressionists used contrasting warm and cool colors and feels like the emotion captured in the paintings of the Expressionists, only her portraits are so much happier than Edvard Munch’s The Scream. 

Other art worthy of mention at EAC is Marilyn Stauber’s “Dusk,” a mixed media watercolor and pastel, capturing the beauty of nature and realism technique with mastery. For those drawn to abstract art, Merrilea Jones’ painting created with fluid acrylics, “The Sand Storm” captured beautiful patterns and colors in a balanced composition that was a delight for the eyes. 

Patricia McConnell’s encaustics, “The Scent of Ocean Spray” and “Through the Clouds” bridge the line between representational art and abstract in a style that captures the essence of nature. For those unfamiliar with the encaustic technique, the artist mixes pigments with hot wax, building rich textures and colors. 

Melanie Pearson’s acrylic on canvas “Mandala Breath” at the Emerald Art Center in Springfield.

Kassy Daggett’s liquid acrylic and gel medium painting, “Holding on by a String a.k.a. hanging on by a Thread,” was beautiful from a distance. But up close, every inch of that painting was a work of art in itself.

Also in the gallery was the Plein Air Painters of Lane County, showcasing scenes of nature painted outdoors, some of which were local. One of the most notable for skill, balance of composition, color and ability to render light and shadow was Horst Hittenberger’s oil on panel titled “Saginaw Sunset.” Students from the Dotty and Frank Light Summer Art Camp showed off student artwork. Live music by Lana Dishner was featured at the art reception.

Other art and music that was part of the art walk included art by Karen Pidgeon and Paula Lichefield at the Springfield City Hall Gallery. Outside the library, Deer and Antelope Band played music. Other attractions included Iris Wine Bar, Neu Real Estate, Hearts for Hospice, Remember the Moon, Hap-Hazard Creativity, Festival Boutique, and the Mercantile.



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