JOSEPH — As the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting nearly all aspects of our lives, the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture turned it into something positive, as the approximately six-week exhibit “Hello From Lockdown” concluded today, Wednesday, Nov. 18.
The Best of Show winner will be announced in next week’s Chieftain, Josephy Center officials said.
Cheryl Coughlan, director of the center and curator of the show, had the innovative idea for the show when she realized there was nothing planned for fall.
“When we first started the lockdown (last spring) we didn’t have an exhibit for fall, so we came up with this,” she said. “I noticed that there were a lot of online exhibits so we stalled and made this a full exhibit.”
And full it was. Megan Wolfe, program coordinator at the center, said there were 19 artists and 36 pieces of artwork. She said most artists were local, but there was one each from Pendleton, La Grande, Bend and Seattle.
Pam Beach, who also helps at the center, said some shows there have as many as 40 pieces of art. Beach is an instructor of ceramics and life drawing and does graphic design for the center.
“I wear a few different hats … I’m sort of a jack of all trades,” she said. “Wherever I can, I fill in the gaps. … “and, as needed, I shovel snow,” which she was doing last week before the interview.
She helped Coughlan and Wolfe set up the show, which included works in ceramics, oil and acrylic paints, sculptures, textiles, photography and other media.
One of the more unique collections of works was that of Erl McLaughlin, a retired Enterprise-area farmer and owner of Sunrise Iron, which includes a variety of antique farm machinery and other machines he’s restored.
During the pandemic, McLaughlin has turned his talents to another venture. He took some of the antiques he’s collected over the past 35-40 years and put together what he deems “interesting conversation pieces.” Some, which were wired by Enterprise Electric, turned out to be lamps. Others were just unique in their own right, many comprised of pipes and old pressure gauges from the early 1900s.
McLaughlin said that during the COVID lockdown, he created about 25 pieces of artwork from his unique collection of brass collected from farm implements and irrigation equipment.
“I just get a bunch of pipe and tweak it until it’s easy on the eyes,” he said. “Then, I take it apart in sections to paint so I know how to get it back together.”
Coughlan said his work doesn’t readily fall into a specific classification of media. She called it a mixed media of recycled mechanical parts.
“Erl’s stuff, it’s pretty amazing,” Beach said. “Everybody’s just enamored with it.”
Like McLaughlin, the “Hello From Lockdown” show elicited innovation from other artists, often getting them to try out media that is a departure from their usual.
Dawn Norman, who usually paints, created a quilt.
“This is kind of a departure from what she usually does,” Beach said. “People are doing things during COVID that, it seems like, they weren’t doing before.”
Carol McLaughlin — Erl’s sister — also created a quilt. She also created multimedia sculptures in clay and paint.
“It’s really shined a light on people we don’t normally see in shows here and then the people we do normally see in shows, they’re taking a departure from their normal medium,” Beach said. “They’re doing things we’ve never seen before. It’s pretty unusual.”
“I really enjoyed putting it together because of all the different types of art involved,” Coughlan said.
Coughlan and Beach also had entries in the exhibit. One of Coughlan’s pieces, called “Rebel Rabbit,” is a sculpture showing a rabbit with what appears to be a cigarette in its mouth.
“She does a lot of animals with bad habits,” Beach laughed.
Coughlan said that many of the artworks are for sale — some are not — 60% goes to the artist and 40% to the center, a standard commission. However, that’s not the primary reason for the exhibit.
“Part of our mission is to have an artists’ market and to benefit their careers,” Coughlan said. “The Josephy Center tries to encourage artists, whether they’re professional or just getting started. We want people to participate.”
The next show, she said, will be called “Who’s Your Buddy?” that will focus on domestic pets. Works should be submitted by Dec. 1. The show will run from Jan. 8 to Feb. 22.
“It should be a really fun show,” Coughlan said. “If you can’t come in, look at it online. Everything will be for sale.”