Chemeketa Courier

Fine art collection is part of Chemeketa’s Yamhill Center

By Bernie Knab

An art acquisition committee has been working for more than a year to select and purchase art for the new Chemeketa Yamhill campus.

The committee, composed of former and current Chemeketa faculty and staff as well as community volunteers, decided to focus on acquiring works created by Yamhill County artists. We believed that the new Chemeketa campus serves primarily the people of Yamhill County and that the art selected should celebrate the artists who live there and find the endless beauty and diversity of the region inspiring.

One of the delights experienced by the committee was watching the new building, a work of art itself, take shape and grow into a beautiful three-story green structure that impresses from the outside as well as in its spacious, high tech interior.

It’s the kind of interior, with its long hallways, attractive carpets, and numerous glass-enclosed lounges and built-in benches, that offers a perfect environment for displaying a diverse collection of art.

The committee has acquired numerous works. They range from an 8- by 12-foot wood carving by the late LeRoy Setziol, with its imposing lobby presence, to landscapes, photographs, wall sculptures, paper stencils, and drawings.

Additionally, the committee has commissioned a glass sculpture interpreting the Native American 1970s Chemeketa motif, which celebrates a gathering place for the community.

Chemeketa’s tradition of purchasing art began in 2000 when the Salem campus library and auditorium were built. For the first time, a committee was formed to solicit and purchase art to enhance the learning environment for all who use the facilities.

Two years ago, with the construction of the new CCBI building in downtown Salem, another committee acquired significant art works as well as a series of historic photographs depicting people, business, and industry in the Willamette Valley.

The new Chemeketa Yamhill Valley campus opened in September and will be formally dedicated in February. The public is encouraged to tour the building, its attractive surroundings, and its fine collection of art representing the work of numerous county artists.

Bernie Knab, a former dean of the Chemeketa Humanities Department, is the coordinator of the Art Acquisition Committee. Also serving on the selection committee were Pat Barrett, Don Brase, and Jerry Vessello; advisers Cheryl Roberts and Ellen McClure; and a number of volunteers familiar with the Yamhill County art scene.