Director's Notes

Greetings from Sitka and Happy New Year!
Often at this time of year we are so committed to thinking about the future that we forget to pause and reflect on the year that has passed. This time last year I wrote to you about Sitka's goals for 2016 and today I'd like to share what we've accomplished together:
We hoped to build stronger connections with Lincoln City and surrounding coastal communities, which we have done through enhanced partnerships with a variety of local organizations including the Lincoln City Cultural Center and the Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council.
Another goal was to deepen our commitment to ecology across our programming areas. In addition to the exciting launch of a dedicated ecology residency in memory of Howard L. McKee, we have achieved that goal by expanding our ecology event and workshop offerings to include 4 new workshops and 4 public events in 2017, all ecology-focused!
Finally, in 2016 we were committed to making strides in equity and accessibility at Sitka. I am proud to say that with the ongoing support of the Ark Foundation we offered more than two dozen scholarships in 2016. Additionally, we have been providing shorter residency periods to selected artists who are unable to take 3.5 months away due to family or work commitments. This is just the beginning of our work to ensure that Sitka serves a population that reflects the increasing economic and cultural diversity of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
In 2017 Sitka is beginning a strategic planning process which will help us further define these and other goals, set achievable outcomes, and develop a roadmap for the next several years. I hope you will reach out to me and share your thoughts about ways that Sitka can better serve artists, ecologists, and Oregonians from all walks of life!

Ben Shockey
Executive Director

January 2017
Resident Show and Tell 
Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - 6pm

Each spring, Sitka invites a new group of artists, writers and musicians to spend the season in residence. We hope you will join us at the upcoming Show & Tell to hear from the newest Artists-in-Residence, including:
Ingrid Calome, a visual artist who has found inspiration embedded in urban places, will learn a new medium - working alongside Sitka's Master Printmaker, Julia D'Amario. 

Allison Cekala is a visual artist and educator from Massachusetts who works primarily in photography and film to investigate how humans move, shape and transform their surroundings. 

Satoko Motouji, a Japanese-born visual artist, is interested in the transient nature of existence and the tactile process of making art. 

Lisa Sewell, a poet, hopes to focus her sabbatical from teaching English at Villanova University on a project on endangered species and ecosystems. Click here to learn more about all of the residents who will spend time at Sitka in Spring 2017. 

Click here for event information and directions. 
Welcome to New Sitka Development Manager Andre Bouchard

We are pleased to welcome the newest member of Sitka's staff, Development Manager Andre Bouchard.

Andre (of Kootenai/Ojibwe heritage) hails from the Flathead Reservation in western Montana and first found his love for the arts in dance. It grew from there. He is an advocate for Native artists nationwide and books and manages touring for contemporary Native performing artists. 

He received his Master's in Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a BA in Anthropology and BFA in Dance from the University of Montana. Andre most recently worked as Program Officer for Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. He has dreamed of working on the Oregon coast since he fell in love with Ecola State Park (and other environs) ten years ago. He is a multi-disciplinary performing artist, a rescuer of dogs, a new father and a cultural travel junkie.
Resident Filmmaker Finds Clarity at Sitka
Eileen Olivieri Torpey, Artist-in-Residence November 2016

In a 2-week Sitka residency this fall, filmmaker Eileen Olivieri dove into her film project, which has a strong basis in the local coastal area. We invited her to share about her time here.

My independent film project, "Mink River," based on the original novel by Portland author Brian Doyle, gained tremendous depth and vision from my residency at Sitka. 

The book-to-screen adaptation process is multi-layered and having the opportunity for complete immersion in the natural landscapes where the film will ultimately be shot, was invaluable. The generosity and support from other resident artists as well as the extraordinary staff at Sitka, made a significant impact on my productivity. 

Additionally, I invited project collaborators to join me throughout the residency, and they too were profoundly inspired by Sitka and the Cascade Head area-- the homeland of the Tillamook (Salmon River Band). 

This was my first artist residency in over 16 years, and it will most certainly have long-lasting, positive affects on the development of the film. I can't  wait to return to the area to continue working on the project.  

For more information, please visit Eileen's website.

Sitka Announces 2017 Job Opportunities

Sitka is hiring this spring!

We're excited to announce an opportunity on our year-round staff, the full-time role of Program Manager. Mindy Chaffin is returning her full focus to the Art Invitational and special projects, and we thank her for her service as Program Manager over the last year. Now we are looking for a new face to join us on the coast to manage the development and administration of our workshop and residency programs.

Additionally, Sitka will begin our annual hiring for the summer Art Center Intern.

Ecology Series: Coastal Temperate Rainforest Bioregion
Part Two - The Salmon River Estuary and Wetlands

Sarah Greene retired from a 30-year career with the U.S. Forest Service as a forest ecologist, having managed the Cascade Head and Wind River Experimental Forests. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Institute for Applied Ecology, and served several years on the Sitka board of directors. In part one of this series last month, Sarah wrote about the Forested Coastal Mountains.

Estuaries and Wetlands in the Coastal Temperate Rainforest

An estuary is an incredibly dynamic ecosystem, acting both as a transition and a buffer between salt and fresh water. Fresh water, nutrients, sediment, wood, dead plants, and debris from the forests surrounding the estuary travel down the slopes and into the river that flows into the estuary. This cornucopia of organic matter meets the brackish water, the incoming tides, fish and other organisms that either reside permanently in the estuary or come in temporarily from the ocean. Meanwhile an estuary protects adjacent land from floodwaters, both outgoing and incoming, and supports the vegetation and soil that help prevent erosion and stabilize shorelines
Migratory birds rest and forage in estuaries. Many animals and fish depend upon estuaries and value them as nursery sites. In the Pacific Northwest, estuaries provide a vital link to the iconic salmon. On their way out to sea, young salmon shelter, forage and rest in estuaries as they make the physiological transition from fresh to salt water. On their return to spawn in the rivers where they were born, salmon swim back up the estuaries. Their dying carcasses add nutrients to the river and provide food for eagles, mink, bear and river otters.
Native peoples worldwide have used estuaries for natural resources, for sustenance and for cultural purposes. In general the Native Americans lived in harmony with the estuaries of the Pacific Northwest, neither trying to tame nor overexploit them. With the arrival of white European settlers in the mid 1800s, estuaries began to change. The US government systematically forced the coastal Native Americans onto reservations and claimed much of their land for farming. By the early 1900s settlers were growing hay and grazing livestock all along the Salmon River estuary. As settlement increased, the estuary was diked to provide livestock constant forage access and to accommodate other farming uses. Many non-native plant species were introduced. Dike building and further settlement continued into the 1960s.
From 1969 to 1975, the Oregon coast's first amusement park, Pixieland, operated on the banks of the Salmon River within the estuary confines. The 57-acre park contained a frontier village, amusement park rides, and RV park, and many dikes to prevent flooding.  When the park closed its doors forever in 1975, the Forest Service condemned the property under the 1974 Cascade Head Scenic Research area Act. This act called for the restoration of the estuary to "natural condition," ultimately involving the removal of all the dikes that had been built within the estuary. In conjunction with the dike removal that started in 1978, scientists began studying changes in the marsh vegetation.  
They found that, like most wetlands, the estuary responded quickly to restoration attempts. With the removal of the dikes between 1978 and 1996, a large portion of the pasture grasses and invasive weeds disappeared from the diked marshes. Native marsh species quickly took over, though the array of species differed from the one undiked or control marsh on the estuary. Because the tides were unable to bring in sediment behind the diked marshes and cattle were continually grazing, marsh floors subsided; their current elevation, even after dike removal, is actually below that of the control marsh, partially explaining why the current set of species is more like a low salt marsh than the high salt marsh control. There is no telling how long it will take, if ever, for the marshes to succeed from low salt marsh vegetation to high salt marsh vegetation; it is just a different phase of vegetation succession, not necessarily a negative condition.
Before the dikes were breached the river served as a direct conduit to the sea. With the removal of the dikes the natural channel system in each marsh has been restored, re-establishing feeder tributaries and backwater channels to the main Salmon River channel. This has improved and increased habitat for insect prey, small crustaceans and other forage that juvenile salmon like to eat, plumping them up for their entry into the ocean. The improved channel systems also create more and varied shelter for the young salmon to rest.  
Meanwhile the ready mixing of salt and fresh water in the restored marshes helps these young salmon adapt to the saltwater environment they are about to enter. As well as being imprinted with the scent of their native stream, it has been surmised that this is also the time when young salmon are imprinted with the natural cycles and currents of the sea. Better and varied forage and shelter have expanded the range and the migration behaviors of the young salmon, resulting in healthier and more resilient fish populations.

Reference: Hoobyar, Paul. 2007.  Salmon and Estuaries. Oregon Sea Grant. Oregon State University. 8p.

Stay tuned for the final installment of this series in the February newsletter, and learn about the meadow and headland ecology of the Coastal Temperate Rainforest Bioregion. Artists, writers and ecologists in residence at Sitka are invited to participate in the Reflections program, with various sites in the Cascade Head Scenic Research Area including the Salmon River Estuary described above. 

The  Howard L. McKee Ecology Residency  application deadline for 2017-18 is April 18, 2017 -- visit the link to learn more about this unique opportunity.

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