I found an old brochure for the Hallie Ford Museum in Salem OR among my travel info, so Ruth & I traveled to this place on the campus of Willamette University in the heretofore mostly ignored town of Salem, OR on this past Saturday and discovered a new museum really worth seeing. It was the last day for its exhibit of the Oregon artist Rita Robillard, and she was there to meet Ruth and talk about her work and career. Rita is a mixed media artist of local renown, and we both enjoyed her depictions of Northwest nature, especially her rendering of trees and local landscapes. She has experience in showing what the area is really like, and she has lived and worked in California and Oregon until her recent retirement. We also enjoyed seeing this museum’s extensive collection of permanent art from its own collection that seems to be on continuous display here. This is a fine museum and close enough to us to visit often, which we will do in the future. This museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Salem this year, and we were lucky to see it and meet the artist named Rita Robillard on the closing day of her exhibit.
This museum is at 700 State Street in the capitol city of a troubled state. It is across the street from a one-of-a-kind art deco state capitol that we hoped to tour later that day, but we discovered that it is largely closed until 2025 due to an extensive and ongoing renovation. This happened to us in Wyoming too with a happy result. We will have to go back for a tour of this capitol later.
It’s not that we are unfamiliar with this town. We used to bring excited children to its wonderful Gilbert House Children’s Museum. It was fun to reminisce about these frequent visits to this place that specialized in water treatments that had special appeal to young boys.
I expected the Hallie Ford to honor the daughter of a famous writer, but was pleased to learn that Hallie is a local artist who has extensive ties to this area. She is a trustee, teacher, patron, and artist of this particular region, and this is one of the 3 most important art museums in Oregon. Its permanent collection contains several recognizable names and lots of both modern and ancient yet distinguished artifacts from past civilizations. I especially like its display of several amphorae from Chinese and Japanese cultures and was pleased to learn that during the global pandemic when many museums were shut down this museum received 249 artworks containing objects used in daily life by ordinary people in places like Egypt and the Middle East. It is called the Neumann collection and this collector used to work for TWA. I will be amazed if some of its artifacts won’t need to be returned to their base cultures eventually.
Among the treasures I saw and recorded were the works of such distinguished artists from that past as Rodin, the photographer Edward Steichen, the important artist Jean Baptiste Corot, and some lesser known but talented artists like John Wesley Jarvis, an American artist until 1850 I had never heard of whose portrait of William Williams is on vivid display.
This is an art museum worth getting to know and appreciate. I especially liked seeing Blondie Bumstead in one art work seen below. Jarvis’s work is seen above. This was a trip indeed worth taking and an unforgettable Saturday.