Scene and Heard

You be the judge

Mayor’s Art Show exhibits imagination, reflection

SPRINGFIELD – Art is one of those subjective experiences—not everyone can agree on what makes art the best or how to scientifically, factually determine why it might resonate with one person and not another. Sometimes we examine a juried show, and we completely disagree with the judges and can’t understand why they selected the pieces they did when so many other pieces have merit.

Luckily for Springfield art enthusiasts, for just $5, you can disagree with the judges at the Mayor’s Art Show at Emerald Art Center. Art enthusiasts are encouraged to purchase awards. The proceeds go directly to the artist selected.

The Springfield mayor, Sean VanGordon, selected Katie Royce Zolezzi’s entry “Poplar Forest from Below.” It is VanGordon’s second year as mayor and his second year of judging. 

VanGordon said he looks for a piece that “captures his eye and imagination and speaks to the essence of the community.” He chose a forestry piece in 2021 after the wildfires, and he was seeing a lot of pieces that were reflective of the recovery of forests. This year he was also drawn to a piece reflective of the beauty of nature. 

Although the mayor isn’t an artist himself, he is someone who appreciates arts and culture. 

“Arts are a really big part of downtown — one of the things that helped create that sense of renaissance that we’ve seen that makes a big part of our ability to get the downtown going again,” he said. “That goes from everything from the big murals you see to the individual murals … all the way to the store murals you see. Arts and music in downtown Springfield has been really important to this community for the last 20 years.”


“L8a9” by Kalita Patrick at the City Hall Gallery.

The show has a long history in Springfield, predating the Emerald Art Center. The show originated thirty years ago with the Emerald Empire Art Association, founded in 1957, which eventually moved into the EAC building.

Like most juried shows, this one is full of talented artists showing a wide range of mediums and skills. 

Rich Bergeman and Analee Fuentes, professional artists and retired art teachers from Linn-Benton Community College, judged the show. They picked winners in each category, photography, oil painting, mixed media, and more. The red, white, and blue ribbons are awards from EAC. Some of these awards included: Springfield Arts Commission Youth Awards for Youth—as well as three for adults, Springfield Chamber of Commerce Award, Travel Lane County Award, Photography at Oregon Merit Award, Blick’s Art Materials Award, Dot Dotson’s Award, and the Donna Gilhousen Memorial Award. These winning entries received $50 or $100 prize money.

There were so many incredible pieces in this show, some receiving official awards—and some that still might earn some from spectators during the course of the month. A few notable pieces worth admiring: “Sunset on the Bayou” by Cheryl Owen-Wilson, “Fields of Color” by Colleen Goddwin-Chronister, “Dinner in Reena’s Attic” by young award winner Marta Jungjohann, “Unpredictable Joy” by Jane Hammond, “Dream Iris” by Karen Higgins, “Falling Blessings” by Cheri Thorpe-Turk, “Disquietude” by Jo Christiansen Archer, and “Happy memories—Watson Falls” by Shannon Apee.

A few streets down from the Emerald Art Center, the City Hall Gallery outside the library showed off Kalita Patrick’s paintings. Music was played by Bob Ragan with Slightly Retro Jazz. Any one of these paintings might have been considered an optical illusion, from the fuzzy, out-of-focus contrast of complementary colors to the mathematical perfection combined with impossible angles, to the tricks of shadow and light in graphic images that pop out at the viewer. 

The artwork marries “the aesthetic with the mathematical,” Patrick said. “My compositions utilize the precise drawing techniques of ancient Greek geometric, Islamic geometric design, and technical drafting.”

The Academy of Arts and Academics enlivened the art walk with Family Art Night, a student gallery showcase and exhibit of live demonstrations. Some of these free classes included: Salt Crystal Art, Jewelry Making, Paper Lanterns, and Silk Painting.

Noteworthy participants of the art walk included art by Eliza Williams at Common Bond Yoga, the Hippie Museum showing off posters and memorabilia from music legends, and jewelry artist Amie Peirzina at Hearts for Hospice. Other attractions included Iris Wine Bar, Hap-Hazard Creativity, Festival Boutique, and the Mercantile & Parkway Bakery.

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