Art Gallery in the Vineyard debuts at Bridgeview

A new art gallery opened at the newly renovated Bridgeview Vineyards & Winery tasting room Saturday, April 15 featuring the artwork of Sheila Mason (above) with one of her pieces on the wall behind her.
(Photo by Lindsay Martinho for the Illinois Valley News)

The Southern Oregon Guild of Artists and Artisans collaborated with Bridgeview Winery to hold their first “Art in the Vineyard” exhibit April 15, featuring the works of local artist Sheila Mason. Many curious community members attended the event, perusing the artwork while enjoying appetizers and beverages.
Mason, a self-taught artist and longtime resident of the Illinois Valley, has experimented with a variety of techniques since 2011, when she retired from the workforce and was able to devote her time to a passion that life had not yet allowed her to entertain. “I raised children and worked for most of my life, then after the kids grew up and I retired, I started expeimenting with clay.” Mason learned how to make sculptures from clay that evoke the depth of the feminine experience.
Though sculpting is something that she quickly grew to love, Mason also became interested in experimenting with different styles of painting. The artwork at the event displayed a technique she has honed that is as striking as it is unusual: 3D paintings of forests.
The environments in Mason’s paintings are a combination of real and imagined locations, breathtaking landscapes with tree bark that quite literally pops off the canvas in a way that is just subtle enough to keep the viewer focused on the scene as a whole. The intricate patterns on the bark are just as fascinating as the 3D concept, which involves utilizing plaster and paint to give the image the desired effect.
When asked why she focused so much on trees, Mason responded, “My husband and I used to take yearly trips to Canada. On one of those trips, we came across an artist who painted totem poles in order to preserve their memory, as these cultural landmarks were being destroyed.” Mason said she realized that she felt similarly about the trees that surrounded her, and a labor of love was born.
Mason’s exhibit will serve as the first in what will hopefully be a long line of collaborations between the Guild and Bridgeview Vineyards, as the newly-remodeled tasting room will now serve as a second gallery for the Guild to display the creations of local artists.
The plan, as explained by guild founder Joyce Abrams and vineyard owner Rene Eichman Sr., is to rotate artists through the gallery on a currently undetermined schedule. Hopefully over time, this maneuver will serve to bring more exposure to local artists and business to the vineyard.