As long as there have been human beings on the Earth, they've watched solar eclipses with curiosity, says Randall Milstein.
And as the Aug. 21 eclipse looms, it links us to all the other humans who have gazed into the skies in wonder, he said.
"People seeing a solar eclipse now links us in a long continuum of that shared human experience, and I think that is incredibly important in viewing this event," Milstein said.
Milstein is a photographer and astronomy instructor at Oregon State University.
So it was a no-brainer asking him to help select artwork for a solar eclipse exhibit at The Arts Center, says curator Hester Coucke.
The exhibit "Artful Solar Eclipse" is on display in the Corrine Woodman Gallery at The Arts Center in Corvallis.
The works created by a dozen regional and local artists were chosen by Coucke, Milstein (who also serves as a board member at The Arts Center) and Walter Barkan, a longtime exhibition committee member and fellow board member.
"What we really wanted was art that was unique, number one," Milstein said. "Art that was representative of a total solar eclipse was the second thing."
"(We) wanted them to be someone's very personal interpretations rather than a cliché or general interpretation of an eclipse," he added.
The artists are from the mid-valley, with the exception of painter Elizabeth Burger and glass artist Wadell Snyder, Coucke said.
Before viewers enter the small gallery for the exhibit, they are greeted by the first piece of art. It is a storyboard that explains what a solar eclipse is, painted by Joan Linse, an Arts Center volunteer.
Linse told her 6-year-old grandson about the Aug. 21 eclipse, and was trying to find a way to explain it to him in understandable terms, Coucke said.
"He really likes comic books, so that is the format she used," Coucke said.
Burger painted a silver circle using acrylic paint with a copper rim to just show what an eclipse would look like. Coucke called it the most straightforward image in the exhibit.
Holly Campell painted an acrylic eclipse on canvas called "Syzygy."
"Randy Milstein said that is sort of how the eclipse is going to look," Coucke said.
Joey Azul made a small drawing, "The Great Eclipse of 2017," which offers social commentary on the current political situation.
"She interpreted the eclipse as something that spins out of control a little bit," Coucke said.
Rebecca Arthur features three raku-fired ceramic circles that represent the eclipse in three moments of time.
Dava Behrens made a collage of faces and watches of the eclipse, titled "Deconstruct (of a construct)."
Phillip Coleman shot a film negative photograph many years ago, titled "Setting the Sea on Fire," Coucke said.
"He actually photographed the reflection of an eclipse on a beach in San Diego, so he didn't have to aim his lens directly at the sun," she said.
Diane Comeau created a bead and embroidery piece, which has the moon hiding the sun, and features a nonspecific type of bird.
Coucke said the artist read that birds fall out of the sky during an eclipse, because they lose all means of orientation, though neither was certain if it was true.
Muriel Codon displays an installation which is a treasure box with transparent and opaque spheres inside. It also includes a little painting and animal symbols referring to the eclipse.
"There are myths that animals or gods would eat the sun, and that is why it is disappearing," Coucke said.
Jess Graff shares a cut paper illustration of a young woman cradling the sun and moon in her arms. The woman represents space, Coucke said.
Samuel Hoffman shows one from a series of wood-fired porcelain platters with images of circles and celestial bodies.
Wadell Snyder made a round glass piece with mixed media, in which the sun is peeking out from behind the moon, Coucke said.
Milstein said he found the ceramic and three-dimension works among the most interesting in the exhibit.
And Coucke was pleased by the variety on view in a relatively small space.
"I think it was nice that we were able to pick all sorts of different mediums," she said.