The Astoria Art Loft Gallery is open to visitors. The Loft presents shows every month by local, regional and international artists. Receptions for our gallery's featured artists are customarily held to coincide with the ongoing Second Saturday Astoria Artwalk from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.
The Artwalk is sponsored by the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association and includes many of the community's prominent galleries and businesses. The cost is free to visitors. The experience is invaluable!
Our Gallery and adjacent space is also available for local events and meetings. For more information and to schedule, contact us at 503-325-4442.
Originally constructed 110 years ago just east of the Megler Bridge in historic Astoria, Oregon, the building's second story was used as an upholstery workshop. The Loft is directly above "Dots 'n Doodles", the Oregon Coast's premier art supply shop. With views of the great Columbia River, we have maintained much of the Loft's original charm. The Gallery, recently remodelled, provides a perfect setting to view and enjoy the work of featured artists. Join us!
JIM UNWIN: Featured Art Loft Artist for March
For Unwin, wood carving is not just about the skill, but it is also a personal and spiritual journey. The wood, once a living thing, communicates with the sculptor and often determines the direction it wants the artist to go. “Driftwood,” says Unwin, “comes with shapes that tell a story and define who they are, with little or no alteration.” Further, Unwin believes carving is a lesson in life, “to learn the balance between pushing in to make the right cut or pulling back.”
Wood carving, from the stone age to the present, is common to all cultures in the world. The techniques and tools used today are not so very different from those used in ages past. With a steady hand and sharp tools, the sculptor begins with a block of wood. He reduces it gradually to the size and shape of his design. He continues refining the object, adding details, and finally goes on to smooth it. He may enhance the carving with stain or with oil, and preserve the wood with varnish, resin, or wax. The process is time-consuming, requiring patience, strength, and the ability to see that certain something in the wood, or to let it emerge as it will.
Although Unwin enjoys working with redwood, he uses many other kinds of wood, especially wood he finds on his forest and beach tramps. His favorite place to gather wood is the area about 25 miles north of Eureka, at the heart of Patrick’s Point in northern California, a “mother lode for all kinds of interesting pieces, … all kinds of varied shapes with unique patterns from worm holes.”
Through the centuries, wood carvers have used many kinds of wood including softwoods and hardwoods such as oak, mahogany, walnut, elm, limewood, ebony, cedar, cypress, olive, teak, pine, and exotic woods from around the world. Each wood has its own personality and emotion.
How does a sculptor choose subjects for his carving? In the late middle ages and early renaissance, the church encouraged religious subjects, such as altars, life-size saints and biblical figures, portrait busts, intricate railings, facades, decorations, and furniture. Today’s sculptor is free to choose his own subjects.
Unwin’s favorite subjects come from nature, especially ravens. “Ravens,” said Unwin, “are very intelligent and adaptable and have a special place in many cultures and their mythology.“ As for style, Unwin admires the Northwest Native style with its intricacies and tie-ins with nature. Understanding First Americans’ sensitivity about people copying their work, he says, “… so even though I am using that style and I borrow from the legends, I do my own thing. I try to make each piece a connection with the inner world – the place where the Spirit dwells within all of us and makes us connected.” For example, one of Unwin’s favorite pieces, “Raven Buddha,” combines adapted northwest coastal motifs with the Buddhist theme of a meditating figure.
Personally, Unwin is well-educated, adaptable, and a man of catholic tastes. He is a former owner of a computer sales and service company, teaches computer classes as well as wood carving classes. He shares his home and his shop in the woods with his two cats, a beautiful tabby and a charming Maine Coon Cat.Unwin will be the featured artist at the Astoria Art Loft from March 2 through April 3, 2018.
The Art Loft is featuring a special exhibition devoted to bees, all kinds of bees and bee accessories. All interested artists including children, emerging artists, and professional artists are invited to produce artwork celebrating bees. The artwork should be ready to hang, or ready to display, turned into the Art Loft my March 28, 2018, between 10a.m. and 4p.m. or other times by special arrangements.