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Corvallis' Teal Gallery hosts local art for the holidays

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The winter season can pose a challenge for artists. Festivals and farmers markets come to a close, and it’s difficult to find a physical space to sell art out in the rain and cold.

So, an idea was born to host a vibrant indoor space for local art, a co-op for artists.

Every holiday season for more than 30 years, the Teal Gallery has been Corvallis’ space to engage with local artists and buy art and handcrafted goods. Jewelry, soaps, pottery, paintings and more.

“It was kind of like a pop-up shop before those became popular,” said painter and Teal member Carrie Tasman.

The gallery operates on a shift basis, where local artists take turns promoting each other’s art at the storefront.

Tasman sees it as a space for “camaraderie and support amongst artists.”

It’s also about making art accessible to the public and supporting art. Part of the proceeds made at Teal gallery each year are donated to a local school’s art program.

The gallery doesn’t have a set location. It has occupied different spots in Corvallis over the years. This year it will be in Downtown Corvallis at 328 SW Second St. through Dec. 28.

Teal has also gained new membership. This year there are five new art businesses featured at Teal Gallery.

New artists

Ute Vergin will offer her pottery for sale at the Teal Gallery for the first time.

“It’s a big step up to be with such established artists,” she said.

She wears a cream-colored apron as she shapes clay over the potter’s wheel. Her foot pumps the pedal as her hands smooth the rim of what is to be a bowl. One hand is gloved to protect her nails. As a guitar player, she needs them intact, she said.

When Vergin is spinning her potter’s wheel, she is at peace, she said, not thinking of anything else.

“I let my hands decide what to do,” she said.

Vergin’s hands craft functional pottery: dishware in vibrant jewel tones and metallics.

She works on her art every day, she said, often in her own 200-square-foot studio in Corvallis that houses her potter’s wheel, workbench and kiln. Other times, she’s at Calapooia Clay in Albany, because she likes working alongside other artists.

Vergin can shape a piece of clay into a bowl in less than 10 minutes. But her favorite part of the artistic process is the glazing with all those vibrant colors and mixes.

“I love to experiment,” she said, “I’ve always enjoyed artists who aren’t afraid of color.”

Appreciating art

Vergin got into pottery after her retirement. But, she said, she grew up with an appreciation of art.

Her father was an architect, musician and painter, and her grandparents kept every drawing she ever drew, she said.

Growing up in Europe influenced her view of art because art is more valued there, she said.

It was more prevalent in the education system because it isn’t an optional elective. Here, she believes “art is so undervalued and underappreciated,” she said.

It’s seen as something you do when you have the time and money. To Vergin, it’s not a nicety but a necessity.

“Art is how we express who we are,” she said. “We need art.”

Vergin doesn’t know what can be done on a larger level to make art more appreciated, but she does think there is something that can be done on an individual level.

She hopes more people can “appreciate the process that goes into art” and choose art over mass-produced items.

These active choices about what we use and interact with in our daily life will bring value and appreciation to art.

It may be a small act, but Vergin believes that it can make a difference.


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