While taking down some pieces of her artwork off the walls at Sam’s Station in Corvallis, Soap Creek Valley artist Vicki Idema needed to pause for a bit before finishing up.
“One piece was hanging over a couple of people that were eating and I saw a neighbor, so I just sat down and chatted with her — she, too, is an artist,” Idema said during a Nov. 13 interview. “We just got to talking and we said, ‘gosh, there are so many artists out in our valley. We should form a group.
“So that’s how it started — the two of us sitting there waiting for people to finish their lunch.”
That chat occurred back in 2012 and led to the establishment of the Soap Creek Artisans’. The group currently has an exhibit on display in the Philomath Museum’s Moreland Gallery, which will remain in place until Jan. 9.
“We have an email newsletter that goes out in our valley and I put out a call to artists,” Idema said. “Everyone in our group wrote back and within six months, we had our first showing at the schoolhouse.”
Idema was referring to the one-room Soap Creek Schoolhouse, a historic structure built in 1935 that serves as a local landmark on a grassy hillside in the picturesque valley located about 10 miles north of Corvallis.
In the following years, exhibits featuring the Soap Creek Artisans’ pieces expanded beyond the schoolhouse and have appeared around the area, including the LaSells Stewart Center on the campus of Oregon State and on two earlier occasions at the museum in Philomath.
Joining Idema with works in the current Soap Creek Artisans exhibit at the museum are Joe Crockett (photography), Judy Dedek (watercolors, ink and in-between), Dale Draeger (arylics), Sam Hoffman (ceramics) and Ann Lahr (ceramics).
Two guest artists are also part of the show with works by Rhoda Fleischman (pottery, painting) and Dominique Bachelet (paintings).
Crockett’s photographs on one area of the Moreland Gallery’s walls focuses on Nazi-era concentration camps. One piece entitled, “Remember me when I’m gone” provides powerful imagery with faces of men and women in the camps.
Dedek, who is also known as Judy Moon, usually uses nature and wildlife for her artwork theme. Draeger’s paintings often involve landscapes — “Alsea Ripples” is among her works on display in the exhibit.
Hoffman’s ceramics revolve more around artistic exploration than expression. Lahr’s ceramics explore texture and form with themes such as children’s drawings and religion.
“We each put in eight or nine (pieces) — it’s a pretty big space,” Idema said. “Mark (Tolonen, curator of exhibitions) does a wonderful job of hanging the work; he’s great at putting stuff together.”
Idema, meanwhile, has transitioned into charcoal drawings and cut paper after working with yarns and textiles for more than 40 years. A centerpiece of the exhibit is Idema’s “13 Women: A Heart for Humanity.”
“That one is just sort of about getting along with everybody,” Idema said. “When you look at it, it’s 13 women from 13 different countries and each of the women has a pattern on their bodies that I’ve cut in and those patterns are designed from each of their countries.”
Bones and organs are also represented in the piece — an illustration of even though we differ on the outside, we’re all the same on the inside.
The Philomath Museum is open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is free.
SOAP CREEK ARTISANS AND FRIENDS Who: Soap Creek Artisans’ Joe Crockett, Judy Dedek (Moon), Dale Draeger, Sam Hoffman, Vicki Idema and Ann Lahr, and guest artists Rhoda Fleischman and Dominique Bachelet
What: New art exhibit in Moreland Gallery
Where: Philomath Museum, 1101 Main St.
When: Open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.