Photography, sound installation at VAC

“A Kiss of Life: For the Love of Water,” a new installation at the Newport Visual Arts Center, was described by the artist as “peering through liquid to the soul of the natural world, one droplet at a time.” (Courtesy image)

The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts presents the installation, “The Kiss of Life: For the Love of Water,”  through April 25 in the Media Room at the Newport Visual Arts Center. The installation includes visual imagery by Graece Gabriel, a photographic artist, and instrumental audio by Walking Bird/Mark Beckwith. A public reception will be held for the installation from 2-5 p.m. on March 14, with the artists speaking about their work at 4:30 p.m.

“I’ve added a subtitle to the installation,” Gabriel said. “I think of it as ‘peering through liquid to the soul of the natural world, one droplet at a time.’”

Many of the images in the 15-minute installation are drawn from Gabriel’s collection of macro photographs capturing water in stop motion.

Gabriel is an Oregon coast-based photographer who has immersed herself in nature photography since late 2013. As an artist from a family naturalists and artists, raised in the Pacific Northwest, she translates her eye and talent for composition into opulent nature shots ranging from abstract macros, to playful crow portraits, to waves exploding against the rocks. 

“Fine-art photography should be psychoactive, transporting the viewer, momentarily silencing the inner dialogue,” she said.

Gabriel’s work was recently exhibited in the 2020 Mayors’ Show at the VAC and at the Angst Gallery in Vancouver, Wash. In 2019, she received a third place award from the Columbia Council of Camera Clubs as part of the group’s monochrome invitational.

Beckwith plays and composes music for the Native American style flute. He has recorded various albums using the moniker Walking Bird/Mark Beckwith under the label Kima Upland Productions. For the past several years, Beckwith, a certified music practitioner from Newport, has been playing Native American-style wooden flutes in the homes of many hospice patients. Beckwith acts as a compassionate presence in the room, observing patients and specially tailoring his music as patients respond. 

“For me, playing music is a meditation. For others, it is a calming experience,” Beckwith said. “My music has been described as ‘organic,’ ‘earthy,’ ‘healing’ and ‘soulful,’ to name a few. What it boils down to is that I play what the muses of the universe dictate. Many people have purchased my music with the intent to use it in their massage boutiques or in their place of meditation.”

The Media Room is open Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. “The Kiss of Life: For the Love of Water” installation is projected on a loop during regular hours.