September 6th, 2019

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Art Harvest

I know full well that many Oregon cities worthy of their local artists offer some type of art walk, particularly studio tours where you get to see artists in action. The organizers of these festivals will surely tell you that their art studio tour is one of the best, if not the best in Oregon.

The studio tour you’ll find in Yamhill County the first and second weekend of October has one huge advantage over similar events around Oregon, which you will discover for yourself when you visit this fall. Ours actually is the best.

Currents Gallery, on McMinnville’s famous downtown 3rd Street, features pieces from local artists in a wide variety of mediums. Photo by Dominic Allen.

Sure, I’m biased, but seriously: The Art Harvest Studio Tour of Yamhill County is a confluence of autumnal wonders that invites hyperbole. Pick a breakfast hot spot along McMinnville’s beautiful downtown to plan your tour strategy before checking out Marilyn Affolter’s photography, oils and tempura work. Just a short walk away, visit Tracy Lee White in her studio, where she works with watercolor and makes hand-made journals.

This is what studio tours are all about: Visiting with working artists, often in the physical space that inspires their creativity, where they paint, carve and sculpt. Yes, you can buy stuff, but that isn’t what this is ultimately all about: It’s about the happy accidents of making connections with artists you maybe haven’t heard about. It’s about sharing stories, learning about art, and often seeing how it’s made.

The 27th annual event includes nearly 40 artists, working in every medium imaginable: oil and watercolor, acrylic, bronze, copper, steel, glass, stone, pastels, charcoal and much, much more.  It kicks off Friday, Oct 4 and runs six days over two weekends. Tour entry buttons are only eight bucks, available at any studio, and are good for the entire run.

If the number of artists is daunting, here’s what you do: Visit the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg. Starting Sept. 4 and going until the end of October, you’ll find work by all 38 artists. You can actually see all the work before deciding what you want to see more of. No charge for entry.

Thirty-eight artists this year; most are in McMinnville, with the rest split between Newberg, Amity and elsewhere in Yamhill County. Johnny Mathis can swoon about Christmas, but I maintain that October in McMinnville, when you can swish through yellow and orange leaves while exploring art, food and wine, is the most wonderful time of year.