Celebrating the Local

As Covid-19 surges once again, cutting us off from ease of viewing and motion, we are particularly grateful for three exhibits in Salem of the work of three very different but talented artists from three generations of art making…all still working.

Jon Colburn, at 85 the oldest of three, has been in Salem about 15 years after a lifetime of art making in New York, L.A. and Paris. His new exhibit “New Paintings, and Some Not So New” opened recently at the A.N. Bush Gallery at the Salem Art Association ( the actual opening event is this evening from 5-7 with remarks by Jon at 5:45). We were in his backyard the day he pulled out the paintings he was getting ready to go to the gallery…

And it was fun to see the exhibit so nicely hung in the gallery today…

The far end of the gallery is hung with a grid of small paintings, 40 of the 100 he made during the quarantine…

Some give us deep space…

and some give us patterns that dance close to the surface…

Jon’s show is on view until September 25th at the AN Bush gallery.

Claudia Cave was born and raised in Salem in the 1950’s and 1960’s, though has lived in Corvallis for many years. The exhibit “Claudia Cave: Interiors and Interiority” opened this week at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, and continues until December 4th, 2021.

Claudia joins childhood remembrance and experience with imaginative settings and characters, in a way that seems familiar to every viewer in some way…beloved dogs, cups of tea, frightening and screaming figures. We “know” these scenes and can imagine the ones we don’t know.

The “stage set” is the house…the interior if you will. All of these images are rendered with Cave’s careful gouache technique which gives a beauty to every figure and totemic item. Cave has a filmic way of capturing light that adds to the drama of these scenes.

Claudia Cave and her husband Kent Sumner met as art students at the then Oregon College of Education, now called Western Oregon University. They and their creative cohort began a long tradition of “mail art” and some of the more spectacular pieces are included in the cases in the Print Study Room at the museum. (They really did send an egg through the US Mail…hard to imagine in this era.)

Some of us have been lucky enough to receive birthday cards and Christmas cards that are seemingly scenes from paintings…

Curator Roger Hull luckily has chosen to pack in lots of work because you just want to see more and more…the paintings, the big pencil drawings…all wonderful.

Don’t miss the nice brochure written about the artist and her work by curator Roger Hull.

Egor/Eilish Gormley was raised more recently in Salem, though is now a Portlander. Her exhibition “The Pastoral Landscape is on Fire” on view at the Annex at Bush Barn Art Center until October 5th.

Gormley uses a sort of skewed Romantic approach to her subjects, making us delight in them while we squirm. Gormley’s generation (she’s in her 20’s) has been left with the long, now somewhat scary legacy of greed and irreverence for the earth and its inhabitants. We feel the discomfort in this work…

Three good solid exhibitions right here in Salem. Please go take a look supporting your local art and artists.


  1. Thank you, Bonnie. A lovely posting of three art shows now in Salem along with enjoyable sketches of the three generations of artists involved. A shoutout to Roger Hull’s decision that more is more in reference to his curation of claudia cave’s work in the Print Study Gallery.

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