Nestled in historic downtown McMinnville is a gallery that features Oregon artists, run by Oregon artists.
Currents Gallery is owned by eight local artists who know how to keep the content fresh with pieces that range from paintings to sculptures and everything in between.
“Our gallery started off quite small in 2005 but has doubled in size over the past 8 years,” said Ilsa Perse, one of the owners and also a self-described “bean counter” for the gallery. “The gallery space was much smaller; within two years, we doubled the gallery space and added a classroom and a large storage room where more art is available for viewing. ”
The unique aspect of the gallery is that when you walk in, you will find one of the eight partners, or three associate partners, working at the front desk. They enjoy telling visitors about the different pieces of art, and directing you to things you might have missed seeing.
The first piece that really caught my eye when I walked into the gallery was a painting of a lady, standing in her kitchen with a plate full of pastries. As I looked at it, a voice from behind me said, “I painted that after a trip to Ireland.”
The artist, Andy Charles, was manning the desk that day. We had a nice talk about his travels and how his travels inspire his art.
That is the magic of Currents Gallery, the stories. When you buy a piece of art, it is important that you like the aesthetics of it, but knowing the story behind it – where the inspiration came from, why certain materials or colors were used and the like – is what makes the art meaningful. At Currents the art you admire might have been created by the person behind the desk.
The main display area is approximately 1,000 square feet, filled with many different types of media, including, watercolors, oils, clay sculptures, fiber, collages, whimsical clocks, musical instruments, jewelry, and more. They have items that will satisfy many tastes.
“We completely change the gallery to coincide with the McMinnville Art and Wine Walk on the third Saturday of the month so it is always different,” Perse said. “Currents has become a destination for visitors and locals alike.”
But the gallery is about more than admiring art, it’s also a place to learn. The “Back Door Studio” is a large classroom where people can paint, draw, sculpt, make a mosaic, and on and on. Classes range from 4-hour workshops to multi-week endeavors. The one-day workshops are perfect for tourists who might want to spend a few hours learning something new or relaxing after a lot of wine-tasting!”
“Whether you want to come in and just look and chat, or purchase a piece, or take a class, we are here to celebrate our local talent. I think that’s why we have been so successful for so long,” said Perse.
About Currents Gallery: We are an artist-owned gallery in Yamhill County, the heart of Willamette Valley wine country. …. We obtain new work continually, and each month feature a show highlighting an artist or special genre (like our popular recycle show). The opening reception for each of these shows is on the 3rd Saturday of the month, during McMinnville’s Art and Wine Walk.
Tip: The gallery has many nooks and crannies. Make sure you take the time to see it all. Plus, ask to see what’s in the back storage room when you visit.
Season: The gallery is open 7 days a week, year-round.
Getting there: The address is 532 NE Third Street, McMinnville, Oregon, located in the heart of downtown McMinnville.
By Patrick Johnson