‘The Ship Show’: an exhibition worth seeing at the Royal Nebeker Art Gallery in Astoria
If you’ve ever stood on the banks of the Columbia and watched the ships move along the Astoria waterfront, you know those ships put on quite a show. Today, the same can be said of the Royal Nebeker Art Gallery, where The Naval Show until January 26.
A ship exhibit in Astoria may seem natural, but the idea was not as obvious as one might think. Rather, it was born out of a little desperation as the opening date for the 2022-23 exhibition season approached and gallery director Kristin Shauck still had no theme for the first exhibition. (No, she wasn’t dithering, she had just lost her mother.) So she turned to curator Ben Killen Rosenberg, who recalled, “I was just thinking OK, a theme for the show… Where are we at?” -we ? Boats, ocean. And then I thought of ships and said, “The Naval Show.”
Rosenberg traces his fascination with ships back to the United States Bicentennial celebration, when he saw the tall ships of 1776 sailing into Boston Harbor. He remembers being captivated by their “dizzying masts” and “magnificent rigging”. In Astoria, he made a point of stopping to observe the ships transporting goods and passengers on the Columbia River. “Ships are mysterious and romantic,” he says in the show’s notes. “They speak of an earlier time and a slower rate of travel as they cross large bodies of water.”
The Naval Show features 20 Oregon artists working in mediums such as watercolor, sculpture, ceramics, and printmaking. A free public reception with the artists will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 27 in the Clatsop Community College Campus Gallery.
“Band shows are always great fun,” Shauck said. “I’m so excited. We’re blessed with two huge watercolors by Henk Pander, both painted on location – one in Homer, Alaska and one in Astoria. Another thing that excites me is that there are quite a few local artists.
One of these inhabitants is Noel Thomas, “famous” for having painted ships on the spot. “You can’t have a naval show without Christmas,” Shauck said.
In curating the show, Rosenberg wanted to include artists he had never worked with before, ensure a balance between female and male artists, and show only one or two pieces per artist, so that everyone could be “the star of the show”. spectacle”. It wasn’t always easy, certainly not when it came to Pander.
“To me he is one of the ancient guardians of classical painting,” Rosenberg said. “He does these big pieces, and he sent me a whole bunch of work.”
So, Rosenberg made a list of the pieces that appealed to him the most, first putting one of the paintings down, then changing his mind.
Painting, he says, speaks to its time. “There is an abandoned car. You look at it and wonder, well, maybe someone is living from it. Then you see this ship, sort of lifted out of the water. The more I looked at it, the more I thought it was the boat that wasn’t in the water. Not in his place. And here is this car which is not in its place and which serves as a house. I like plays where it’s left to the viewer to figure out what’s going on. I had chosen another piece on top, then I put it back in place. I’m glad I did.
Shauck and Rosenberg also have paintings in the exhibit. Shauck’s, of the tall ship Lady Washington, departs from its usual subject of numbers.
Rosenberg painted a ship on which he had long kayaked in a coastal bay.
“I see these beautiful rust colors that have happened over the years,” he said. “I keep telling myself made-up stories about it.” When he was painting the boat, he said, the owner’s son stopped, “and he started telling me that he was working with his dad on the boat, and they took him all over the place. the world. I love history and just hearing all those stories.