Arment to exhibit art treasures

<p>Steve Arment looks at a few of the paintings in his collection which will be exhibited in the “Artist’s Eye ~ Collector’s Passion” show at the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture Feb. 22 through March 24.</p>

JOSEPH – An exhibit of dozens of artworks encompassing a broad sampling of artistic style and genre will open Friday, Feb. 22, at the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture. The exhibit is comprised of works from the collection of Enterprise artist Steve Arment.

The exhibit “Artist’s Eye ~ Collector’s Passion,” is a must-see for everyone in the region,” exhibit curator Mike Koloski said.

Arment is well known for his wood sculpture ranging from carousel animals to decorative woodwork. His art is installed in many of the region’s homes and businesses.

Arment also draws, paints, and has done bronze sculpture. Koloski said that Arment may be the only artist in the Northwest who has a carved giraffe on display in Siberia. “Artist’s Eye ~ Collector’s Passion” can be viewed at the Josephy Center from Feb. 22 through March 24.

An opening night celebration with an opportunity to meet and talk with Arment and the curating team is set for 7 p.m. on Feb. 22. Admission is by donation. Complimentary appetizers and no-host wine and beer will be available.

Arment and Cheryl Coughlan, art historian for the exhibit, will also present a walk-around discussion of the exhibit at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. All ages are invited. Exhibit hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12-4 p.m. For more information, see or call the center at 541-432-0505.

“I find it fascinating that such a broad collection spanning four centuries of European and American art should be housed right here in Wallowa County,” Koloski said. “The exhibit provides an opportunity for a museum art experience without having to travel to Seattle or Portland.”

“I’m intrigued by the stories that Steve spins about the paintings, their provenance, and his collecting adventures,” Coughlan said.

“For example, Steve’s enthusiasm as he talks about the 20th century industrialist and sportsman who commissioned Olaf Olsen to paint the beautiful landscape of Mt. Murchison is infectious,” Coughlan said. “One could spend hours with Steve exploring the history of the collection.”

Some of the pieces in Arment’s collection were acquired for as little as $10 and most for $100 or less – much less than their artistic significance and market value.

Arment dismisses the subject of value. “I know many collectors who buy art for its investment value and store it away in a closet,” he said. “That makes no sense to me. Why buy something you don’t enjoy? I buy art that I like or find interesting, and I hang it where I can see and enjoy it.”

Coughlan noted that Arment has been collecting for over 25 years and has built up a network of friends and acquaintances who alert him to art that he might want to acquire.”

“This exhibit is an exceptional educational opportunity for students at all levels, primary through college,” Koloski said.

Kathy Drake of Joseph is serving as Educational Outreach coordinator for the exhibit. She is contacting local teachers and organizing activities for art educators and students, Koloski said.

Parents and teachers wanting information about the educational opportunities of the exhibit can contact Drake at 541-432-0871.

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