Since 2001 the historic Neighborhood House in Portland’s Lair Hill neighborhood has been home to Cedarwood Waldorf School. While still one of the youngest Waldorf schools in the country Cedarwood already enjoys a well-deserved, national reputation for offering a most innovative Waldorf education to its students, both inspiring and supported by its vibrant community of parents, faculty, staff, and children. Consistent with this tradition for innovation—and its broader mission to bring other Waldorf-inspired initiatives to the greater Portland community—the school has opened its space to host a new gallery—The Art Hall—to showcase art inspired by anthroposophy, the initiative that gave rise to Waldorf education.
Cedarwood’s success had the main building bulging to capacity by the end of the decade. An early renovation included extensive seismic retrofitting and some functional remodeling but useful space soon grew scarce. By the winter of 2012 the adjacent annex, which once housed Portland’s first indoor swimming pool, was renovated to accommodate the school’s overdue expansion. The design-to-build team maintained the integrity of the original building, with exposed brick and coarse concrete walls, a poured cement floor, and ample wall space. Upon stepping into the new entry hall an alumni parent immediately imagined an art gallery devoted to sharing anthroposophically-inspired works from artists, near and far. The Art Hall was conceived.
Anthroposophy—Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science, or philosophy—lays the foundation for Waldorf education and many other practices in farming, art, music, movement, medicine and other therapies. Our gallery focuses on showing the works of artists who work out of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual understanding of the human being and the true meaning of color. Opening events always include a gallery talk or demonstration on a related topic.
The gallery opened on Friday, April 12, 2013 with a beautiful exhibition of watercolors and mixed media images inspired by the poetry of Mary Oliver and created by Dutch artist and Portland resident, Jannebeth Röell. Speaking to a crowd of nearly 200 Jannebeth’s warmth and humor delighted all as she spoke about her lifelong journey as an anthroposophist, nurse and artist living in the world of color, and her more recent enjoyment of Oliver’s poetry. This convergence resulted in a striking and sensitive display, each painting’s title taken from a line from a poem. Jannebeth generously donated 50% of her sales to help the gallery get started. She also donated a studio painting to the winner of a school-wide naming contest which went to then-third grader, Ryley Wheeler, for Art Hall.
On September 20, 2013 an exhibit of high school artwork opened, curated by Fine Arts teacher and artist, Patricia Lynch, of the Portland Waldorf School, Cedarwood’s sister school and frequent collaborator from across the Willamette River. The works showed students’ developmental progression from ninth grade through their senior self portraits. Wade Cavin, science and math teacher at PWHS, gave a rich and beautiful talk illustrating the organic interweaving of all the subjects in the curriculum and the value and relevance of those observational skills developed in art classes when applied in the sciences.
The next opening reception, October 11, 2013, presented colorful, collected works of the Cedarwood faculty and staff created in their August in-service program with master artist and teacher, Ted Mahle. Works included pastels and wet-on-wet watercolors depicting seasonal themes and nature scenes. Second grade teacher, Natalie Norman, and movement teacher, Heather Pearl, enthusiastically shared their experience of learning, striving, struggling and (ultimately) feeling the joy of their process and work, individually and with their colleagues.
We at The Art Hall are very excited to be hosting New York artist Laura Summer, co-founder of Free Columbia, in January 2014. Laura’s beautiful, colorful paintings will be on exhibit from January 6 through February 14, with an opening reception on Friday, January 17, 5:00 – 8:00 pm. This will be a very special event as Laura is bringing us an Art Dispersal and a gallery presentation on Free Culture: a new way to look at art and money. In collaboration with the Portland Waldorf School, Laura will also lead a two day workshop January 18 and 19 titled Devotional Art in the 21stCentury: Drawing from the Face of God.
In May 2014, Patricia Lynch, known for her large scale oil landscape paintings (and as the Fine Arts teacher at the Portland Waldorf School), will be our exhibiting artist, another inspiring show that will conclude The Art Hall’s inaugural year.
In closing, we want to thank a few people who have helped us during this founding year. First, at our openings we have had the pleasure of listening to a cello orchestra from Portland Waldorf School founded by music teacher Corey Averill and an ensemble of other accomplished Portland Waldorf High School strings musicians. In addition, we thank Michael Wheeler of PDX Wine for his generous donation of wines for our opening events, and Atticus Rice and Seth Miller for their aesthetic sense and technical expertise in designing our flyers and logo. Last, we want to thank all the faculty and staff at Cedarwood for accommodating our presence in your space, which must at the very least be challenging and sometimes even intrusive. We especially want to thank Chiaki Uchiyama, Chair of the College of Teachers, for her early guidance and support; Elizabeth Nugent, School Chair, for her steady endorsement of and help in developing the project; Jean McGowan, Director of Development and Communications, for her assistance with all aspects of community liaison; and Tiffany Joy Rogers-Jackson, School Support Specialist, who always seems to provide that last, necessary push to get things done.
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The Art Hall is available for viewing outside opening reception hours by appointment. Contact Robin Lieberman at 503-222-1192 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 2013 ♥ Portland, Oregon