Cloudy. High 57F. Winds light and variable..
Cloudy. Low 48F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: October 29, 2022 @ 2:31 pm
Guest artist Colleen Caubin of Newport, who studied plein air painting with Michael Gibbons, is showing her work at the Yaquina River Museum of Art during the Toledo Art Walk.

“Soap Creek School” (above) is the name of this painting by the late Toledo artist Michael Gibbons. Gibbons was the inspiration behind the concept that has evolved into Toledo Art Walk, which returns this Labor Day weekend.
Guest artist Colleen Caubin of Newport, who studied plein air painting with Michael Gibbons, is showing her work at the Yaquina River Museum of Art during the Toledo Art Walk.
In 2008, Toledo Mayor Rod Cross asked plein air artist Michael Gibbons about his vision for the small mill town. As Gibbons’ wife, Judy, remembers, her husband’s response was “art.”
Fourteen years later, that focus is on the road to coming true.
On Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3-5, the 28th annual Toledo Art Walk takes place, with some of the old, some of the new, and plenty of art — more than 25 artists in eight locations. And although Gibbons died in 2020, his tireless efforts to revitalize Toledo and its neglected old buildings, and to develop an arts district, are appearing to come to fruition.
While her husband’s illness and death and the arrival of COVID shutdowns led to cancellation of the annual Art Walk in 2020, and only a mini-version of it last year, Judy Gibbons is pleased to be bringing back the Labor Day weekend event at a “higher level” this year, with new venues and live classical music.
And in spite of Michael’s absence, his influence as a plein air (outdoor) oil painter of nature remains strong in town, with Judy continuing to promote his legacy.
Guest artist Colleen Caubin of Newport, who studied plein air painting with Gibbons, is showing her work at the Yaquina River Museum of Art, founded by the Gibbons. She is dedicating her exhibit, titled “Heaven in a Wildflower” after William Blake’s poem “Auguries of Innocence,” to her mentor’s memory.
“I miss Michael; he was such an important part of my life as a painter,” Caubin said.
Caubin said she wanted to do a one-woman show to honor Gibbons. “He was basically the first person I met when I moved here,” she said.
“I try to capture my very first impression — I just want the raw, beautiful, innocent impression that hits first,” Caubin said of her plein air painting.
Caubin recalled, “I had never had any guidance on plein air painting before I met Michael. Plein air is completely different from studio painting. You have to respond immediately to what is in front of you.”
“I wanted to paint the sea,” she recalled. “I had been to Newport once to visit my brother, and there was so much here for a seascape painter that I had no need to go anywhere else.
“This show is not only to thank Michael and Judy, but also to celebrate how exquisite this area is,” she said. ‘Michael’s vision with his gallery and museum is to bring recognition to its landscape.”
As Judy wrote in “Michael Gibbons, Painting in Nature,” “he leaves a legacy of paintings to remind us of the beauty and importance of nature.” His plein air oil paintings present “the voice of nature,” she noted.
Judy, who chairs this year’s Art Walk, likes calling it Revival Art Walk 28 and sees an historical significance in it that goes beyond music and art. “There’s a new focus on art in the city of Toledo with its new economic development that looks to rejuvenate Main Street,” she explained. She noted that several historic buildings in town have been repurposed to focus on the arts, both in the Arts District and on Main Street.
And up on the hill in the Arts District that the Gibbons founded, art of all types is thriving and will be showcased Labor Day weekend.
Ceramics and photography and a musical presentation by the Newport Youth Symphony at St. John’s Episcopal Church are new additions this year, along with four Phantom Galleries from Art Toledo Main Street, showing artists’ work in window displays. Art murals are appearing in the city as well, and this year’s Art Walk includes a reprise of the Saturday-only Toledo Library Founders Show. An artist talk, a tradition Michael began, is at 1 p.m. daily outdoors at the Yaquina River Museum of Art. And the city’s Art, Oysters & Brews event on Main Street Sept. 3 and 4 from noon to 5 p.m. brings “Art on the Street” by surprise artists.
At its heart, Art Walk welcomes the public to artists’ studios. Through the years, visitors have flocked to Art Walk “to get a glimpse of the real life of the artist — seeing art where it’s being created,” as Michael Gibbons said. And part of his vision for Toledo was to see the city become an arts mecca.
Art Walk began when Gibbons, then a mentor artist with the Vistas & Vineyards plein air art program in Corvallis, opened his Toledo studio in the former Methodist Church during Vistas’ annual fall “artists on location” studio tour,” complete with Springhill Cellars wine and local musicians.
Art Walk Toledo began in 1994 as a casual affair called “Open Studios,” and now has 28 years under its belt, Judy said. In October 1993, Gibbons persuaded fellow Toledo artists Ivan Kelly and Doug Haga to join him in opening their studios to the public. Showing art at the time in Toledo was a “real novelty,” Judy said.
“Now that Art Toledo Main Street is joining the First Weekend schedule in summer and Art Walk, we are seeing more interest in the arts in general in Toledo,” Judy said. “Main Street Phantom Galleries are showing in windows all year and outside wall murals are appearing, with more scheduled to come.”
Maps for self-guided tours are available at participating galleries. Visitors may collect a stamp or signature at each participating gallery, then bring the completed cards to the last stop to be entered in a drawing for prizes from participating artists.
Toledo Art Walk celebrates its 28th year on Labor Day Weekend, Saturday through Monday, Sept. 3-5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is free.
• Yaquina River Museum of Art, 151 NE Alder St., nonprofit art gallery and history museum founded by Michael and Judy Gibbons to preserve and …
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