By Randi Bjornstad
The Emerald Art Center at 500 Main St. in Springfield is always a bustling place, with exhibits, classes and a well-stocked gift shop with items by local artists, but it’s especially chock full right now with four distinct shows on the walls, all scheduled to last through Nov. 23.
Gallery director Paula Goodbar is especially pleased to have a large collection called “A Passion for Baskets” — most like nothing you’ve seen before — created by members of two arts guilds, the Willamette Valley Study Group and the Columbia Basin Basketry Guild.
“These pieces of art are just not what you would expect when you here about a basket show,” Goodbar said. “I was extremely surprised when I came up the stairs and saw all these beautiful things. I was just flying from one to another, and every time I come up to look I see something I hadn’t noticed before.”
Some are whimsical, such as “Broom Migration” by Sheila Tasker, a wall hanging with an arrangement of tiny brooms on a woven back.
Mariana Mace crafted a a tapered container made of red cedar and “mystery bark” that looks has a little sculpted face peeking out one side.
“Sun Wheel” by Margaret Matthewson uses a more traditional pattern of basket weaving, but in the form of a large, freewheeling wall hanging that contrasts nicely with Donna Crispin’s “Copper Wall Hanging,” made of woven rectangles of the metal suspended from a wooden reed.
About half of the items in the basket exhibit are for sale.
On the first floor, a show called “Beauty of Mexico” takes up one short wall toward the back of the gallery. It consists of several landscapes by Mexican photographer Guillermo Reza, who began his life as a photographer at age 13 when he took photography courses at Kodak Mexicana, studying an exposure technique favored by Ansel Adams and F. Archer.
The show also includes brightly colored photographs by Maricela Figueroa of the Dance of the Tlacololeros Dancers, which features two groups of seven dancers plus a tiger and a lead musician called the pitero, who plays a reed flute with the left and and a tiny drum with the left.
The dance is a supplication to the rain god, Tlaloc, to bring water to assure a good harvest.
The bulk of the gallery space is devoted to one of the nine non-juried shows that the center hangs every year plus a corner to show the work of a featured member, this time Jo Dunnick’s delicate watercolors of abstracts and figures.
The open, member show “is non-juried, so people can bring what they want,” Goodbar said. “It doesn’t have a theme, so we get a lot of varied work.
Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
For information, call 541-726-8595 or go online to emeraldartcenter.org/.