Springfield resident, Gerta Egy’s mixed media “Blue Anika.”

SPRINGFIELD – Despite the rainy weather, the art community in Springfield was happy to share work – even if it was on Friday the 13th. Highlights included a juried show, live music and relics from Glenwood’s past. 

During the pandemic, the Second Friday Art Walk in downtown Springfield closed, as did the museums and buildings showcasing art and local history. The Emerald Art Center wasn’t able to display its annual exhibits like the Mayor’s Art Show or its national juried show. 

“We didn’t have enough people participating,” says Natasha Fisher, gallery director at the Emerald Art Center. “Members were affected financially. Classes and purchases went down … We couldn’t do projects, and grants are project-based. Morale lapsed.”

Despite the setbacks, the arts community has slowly been making its way back since July 2021 when the Emerald Art Center and Springfield History Museum reopened, and the art walk returned in a modified form. It isn’t a guided tour like it used to be, but there is hope that the art walk and the former numbers it corralled into galleries will return in the summer.

One noteworthy stop on the self-guided tour last weekend included the City Hall Gallery sponsored by the Springfield Arts Commission that featured live music by West Winds Flute Choir. Hearts for Hospice and the Emerald Art Center also showcased live music. Other attractions included Remember the Moon, Haphazard Creativity, The Festival Boutique and The Mercantile. 

The rain on May 13 kept attendance lower than usual, but June’s weather and the return to a guided art walk tour encourages the prospect of greater attendance.

Fisher said that attendance to the EAC is picking back up. “We are starting to get back to normal numbers, about 200. ” During the pandemic, “we were lucky if we got 70 people” at the art walks.

During the last couple of years, it wasn’t just about the sales and attendance that shifted, but the style of artwork. Merrilea Jones, curator of shows at the EAC, says, “The artwork has been more introspective – especially with Ukraine. We’ve had many pieces submitted of sunflowers. You can just feel their anguish or support.”

D Brent Burkett’s “Memorial for a Found Hawk”

Local artist Jim Daly is the judge for the May National Juried Show. His preferences veer toward realistically rendered representational art. One can see the mastery of skill in the pieces he gave awards to such as D Brent Burkett’s “Memorial for a Found Hawk” and Cheri Turk’s “The Ever Moving Waves of Yachats.” Artists captured emotion with color, composition and creativity like Gerta Egy’s “Blue Anika.”

Eugene resident and Gold Medal Award Winner, Cheri Turk’s oil painting “The Ever Moving Waves of Yachats”

Visitors can vote on their favorite piece for the People’s Choice Award. The other ongoing show people can stop in to see is at the Springfield History Museum.

Despite their closure during the pandemic, the Springfield History Museum found ways to connect with its audience with the Dia de los Muertos window displays, provided virtual resources for those doing research and used that time while they were closed to renovate the building.

SARINA DORIE / CHRONICLE PHOTO - Caricature artist, Gypsy Berks, captures the likeness of Brian Gonzales and family.

Its latest exhibit focuses on the history of Glenwood, on display through June 24. In the beginning, its exhibit showcased photographs more than archive-based artifacts. 

The museum hoped, after seeing the exhibit, that residents would want to share their own artifacts. The response was so incredible that the museum had to bring in a new exhibit case to showcase it all. 

PHOTO PROVIDED/ SPRINGFIELD HISTORY MUSEUM - An historic image of the Glenwood Flood.

“People are starting to see the museum as theirs,” said curator Maddie McGraw. Her goal to connect to the community and make local history relevant to people of all ages is coming true.