Art about agriculture dishes up a new show about food

April 1, 2005

CORVALLIS - Two well-worn hands tenderly cradle a potato. A tractor is portrayed as angles, colors, and abstraction. Pea pods become sculpture.

The subject is food, and artists from around the region have been playing with it. The result is the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences' 23rd annual Art About Agriculture exhibit, now on display at the Guistina Art Gallery in OSU's LaSells Stewart Center through April 27.

The exhibit, "Art About Agriculture Tour 2005: On the Subject of Food," will travel to the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum in June and to the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center in Portland in July and August.

"We want to help develop an appreciation, especially among people not traditionally acquainted with agriculture," said Shelley Curtis, curator and manager of the exhibit. "We thought it would be fun to focus on food this year; the theme is usually the broader topics of agriculture and natural resources."

"Agriculture is not about food only," said Thayne Dutson, dean of OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. "It is about the stewardship of the land, and the protection of the environment. Agriculture has to do with the people, families in communities, their pleasures and heartaches and hard work. It is also about beauty, and all of the other contributions of Oregon's huge export industry: landscaping.

"If you wake up on a spring morning and see the dew, or a newborn calf, you have a feeling but may not be able to communicate it in words. Art is a powerful way to express all that is involved," he added.

Artists responded in diverse ways to this year's competition, expressing ideas about what we eat as well as the origins and pathways of goods to our markets. From a denim work jacket used as a canvas, to aerial photos of cultivated fields, the pieces present feasts, culinary arts, cultural heritages and influences, gardening, growing and cultivation, science and economics.

Three jurors selected the artwork for the exhibit: John Maul, who has taught at OSU since 1991 and is represented by galleries in several states; Conrad J. "Bud" Weiser, retired dean of OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences, who produces stone and bronze sculptures as well as "living sculpture" bonsai trees; and Phyllis Yes, a former OSU faculty member who is dean of Arts and Humanities at Lewis and Clark College and a painter.

Grants totaling $5,900 went to artists for art purchases and honor awards. Accessions to the Art About Agriculture Permanent Collection are made possible in partnership with the OSU Foundation and the E. R. Jackman Board of Directors.

Pieces from the permanent collection are on display throughout the OSU campus as well as in Corvallis at the Benton County Commissioners Offices. They also are on display at:

Albany - OSU Linn County Extension;

Bend - OSU-Cascades Campus;

Condon - The Gilliam County Courthouse;

Eugene - The Bureau of Labor and Industry;

Medford - The Bureau of Labor and Industry;

Salem - Offices of U.S. Representative Darlene Hooley, the Capital Press, OSU Marion County Extension, and Oregon Department of Agriculture; the Bureau of Labor and Industry;

Silverton - The Oregon Garden;

Portland - OSU Portland Center, OSU Food Innovation Center Experiment Station, and Wheat Marketing Center.

Author: Jana Zvibleman
Source: Shelley Curtis