Yard Art to Open in September

Yard Art [photo]Contrary to popular belief, yard art was not born in Southern California in the early 1960s. The Egyptians and Sumerians developed the enclosed domestic gardens, while the Greeks and Romans developed the inner courtyard as a focal point for their homes. Formal gardens continued to be a prominent feature of many palaces and estates, while in 18th century England, many gardens were designed to evoke a wild, natural state.

A major exhibition of yard art will open Sept. 6 and continue through Nov. 1 in the Melvin Henderson-Rubio Gallery at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University.

In the late 19th century, a number of European and American gardens featured hidden paths and surprise elements, such as fountains, gazebos, and birdbaths. Although contemporary homes are often prefabricated, they still routinely include fenced yards. Decorative elements such as birdhouses and whirligigs continue to proliferate, although they are mostly factory produced rather than handmade.

Yard Art has been designed to showcase the work of a number of contemporary artists from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Organized by Museum Director John Olbrantz, the exhibition features a wide variety of unique, one-of-a-kind pieces created for the backyard, including sculptures, fence posts, whirligigs, gazebos, fences, birdbaths, yard furniture, birdhouses, and weathervanes. While many of the artists in the exhibition are self-taught, others have formal training in the visual arts but have opted to work in a folk art style.

As a special feature, artists Dick Elliott and Jane Orleman will discuss the evolution of their folk art site, Dick and Jane's Spot, in Ellensburg, Wash., on Friday, Sept. 5, from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Roger Hull Lecture Hall at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Admission is free. A preview reception will follow from 6 to 8 p.m. in the lobby and galleries downstairs.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located at 700 State Street (corner of State and Cottage Streets) in downtown Salem near the campus of Willamette University. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Sunday and Monday. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and students. Children under 12 are admitted free and there is no fee on Tuesdays.

For further information, please call 503/370-6855.