A show of porcelain sculptures by the late Elena Karina Canavier, will open at the Coos Art Museum on Friday , December 9th with a reception from 5-7. The event is free and the public is invited. The works will remain on display through February 11, 2017.
Few people of Oregon’s South Coast know that we had a major ceramic artist in our midst. Elena Karina Canavier has works in important collections throughout the United States, including the Boston Museum, the Oakland Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution.
At the time of her death in 2010 she was building a dream studio on a mountaintop south of Langlois. Family members and friends have plans underway for shows in Los Angeles and New York, but since the work is currently here, they have agreed to have the very first showing of the finest pieces right here at our own museum in Coos Bay. Says Coos Art Museum director Steven Broocks, "This is a very special opportunity for the people of Southern Oregon to see a show which normally would not find its way to our area; I am very excited about this exhibit, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Coos Art Museum."
Elena Karina Canavier was born September 2, 1931 in Tientsin, China, where her Russian father was chief engineer for the construction of the Mongolian Railway. The family moved to Los Angeles when Elena was young, and she studied art at the Jepson Art Institute, received her BA in Architecture and printmaking from University of Southern California, and her MA from California Southern University in Long Beach. While there she spent a great deal of time beachcombing, and her fascination with tide pools and marine creatures translated into her works of art.
In the 1970's she moved to Washington, DC where she became Crafts Coordinator for the National Endowment for the Arts, and later served as special adviser for the Arts Office of Vice-President Walter Mondale from 1978 to 1980. She taught ceramics in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., wrote for many publications including Art Week and Art News, and was a featured artist in many galleries, most recently at the prestigious Davis & Cline gallery in Ashland. John Davis, said in a telephone interview: “Elena was a consummate artist; her work was visionary…. She was a true master of the medium, as well as a delightful human being."
Elena became acquainted with Bandon artist and curator Victoria Tierney shortly after coming to the South Coast in 2001. When she started AVK Arts with funds left to her by her aunt and uncle, Antonina and Vladimir Koulaeff , she approached Tierney and suggested that they might work together to promote the arts in Bandon.
"She was an ideal patron of the arts" says Tierney. "She trusted us completely; I never had to write out long detailed proposals and apply for grants. She simply wanted to know what each show cost, and she paid for them. She sponsored over 50 shows. It was a great stroke of wonderful luck for Bandon."
In gratitude for this support, Tierney has offered her services to curate this show at the Coos Art Museum. "It is a labor of love for me," says Tierney, who serves on the Exhibitions Committee of the museum. “I think people will be blown away by the quality of the work. I encourage all of you to take advantage of the chance to see this show."