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Baskets and photos, both from the land.

Byline: Bob Keefer The Register-Guard

A new exhibit that opens Friday in Eugene's Jacobs Gallery is all about Oregon landscape, both as observed from a distance and as experienced from within.

The show, which runs through Dec. 3, combines landscape photography by Eugene's Katsuyuki Shibata and basketry by Blue River artist Sally Metcalf.

The two artists - who didn't know each other before their work was combined into a single exhibit at the Jacobs - make a nice pairing: Shibata's elegant photography is cool and distant, while Metcalf's baskets are warm, earthy and organic.

Both are relatively unknown artists for whom showing at the Jacobs is a major event.

"This is so exciting!" Metcalf said. "I've had my work in a lot of shows, but I've never had a solo. ... I feel like this is almost like my show."

She's right: Even though it's a two-artist exhibit, "Views - Near and Far" is more like two complementary solo shows that happen to be under the same roof.

Metcalf, 61, has been an artist her whole life. She studied photography as an undergraduate in college, steered into that by her father despite, she says, her near total lack of ability with the camera and her deep love of basketry.

"My dad was paying for my college education and said, 'No, you cannot make baskets! That's for crazy people!' I was just awful at photography, but my dad said that's what I needed to do."

Once she had her bachelor's degree, she was free to return to textiles. She moved to Oregon and began living in the woods up the McKenzie River. Though she had been making her creations out of rattan, an Asian vine, she became interested in Northwest materials.

"I started studying Native American arts, looking at cedar bark and all that kind of stuff," she says. "A lot of people seem to be doing this cedar bark basketry. I thought, there's a lot of big leaf maple around here. I wonder if I could do something with that?"

She started working with the cambium layer of big leaf maples she found near her home, shaping her baskets in response to her forest environment.

"I am really rural," she says. "I mean, I am isolated rural! When I go out collecting my work, there are like, wild animals out there. I actually had an encounter with a cougar when I was out collecting bark."

About six years ago she got a master of fine arts degree from the University of Oregon, studying with Barbara Setsu Pickett, creating a series of sea-anemone-like creations for her MFA project.

In this show she'll have some rattan work and 12 newer pieces made of local materials.

"They're all based on just the way I feel about nature around me, the environment around me. It's all very undulating. Some of them are sea-like creatures. Some are forest kind of things. I don't draw before I make objects; they just come about."

Shibata, 59, was born in Tokyo and grew up in Berkeley, Calif. He has been taking pictures nearly all his life but became more serious about it in 2004.

"I always liked art," he says. "I did various types of art, stained glass, printmaking, some painting. I studied graphic design in high school and at various art classes in college here."

He began taking a camera on his travels, shooting tourist photos the way a dedicated amateur photographer might. Ultimately he burned out on the process and put his camera down for 10 years.

"I wasn't interested in straight landscape photography back then, as it was a rather boring category for me," he says.

The inspiration for his recent landscape photography came from his experiences as an outdoor guide, taking clients - primarily Japanese tourists - into the wilds of Oregon.

He shoots with a digital camera, doing minimal postprocessing and printing color images on an inkjet printer. It was the transition to digital that really helped renew his interest.

"I try to find images that are not ordinary," he says.

"When I capture images, I try to approach them from a different perspective and seek the 'unordinary' in an ordinary scene. It's mainly the excitement that I see out there, the excitement that I feel. If I can convey that in the image, that is the main thing."


Views - Near and Far

What: An exhibit of textiles by Blue River artist Sally Metcalf and landscape photography by Katsuyuki Shibata

When: Friday through Dec. 3

Where: Jacobs Gallery, downstairs at the Hult Center, Seventh Avenue and Willamette Street

Reception: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday

Artists talk: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday
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Title Annotation:Arts and Literature
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Oct 13, 2011
Previous Article:Fun with time travel.

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