(GOLDENDALE, Wash., July 17, 2019) —Maryhill Museum of Art‘s collaborative printmaking project is taking the Columbia River Gorge by storm. The Exquisite Gorge Project is the first of its kind in the region and took its inspiration from Surrealist art practice known as exquisite corpse. In this case, the Columbia River will become the unifying element in a flowing 66-foot artwork telling 10 conceptual stories of the Columbia River and its people. 

The unique project features 11 artists working with communities along a 220-mile stretch of the Columbia River from the Willamette to the Snake River confluence.  Each artist was assigned a stretch of the river and is working with input from community members to carve images on 4 x 6 foot wood panels. The woodblock panels will be then joined end-to-end to form a massive 66-foot steamrolled print completed on the grounds of Maryhill on Saturday, August 24.

Some sections have been carved, while others are still in progress, with each artist taking a different approach to developing creative content by engaging with the local community. For example:

  • Neal Harrington, a printmaker from Russellville, Arkansas, worked with community members in The Dalles, Oregon to learn more about the stretch of river he was assigned and develop motifs he used in his final woodblock design. 
  • Students and art faculty from Lewis & Clark College were assigned an area of the Columbia that extends from just east of Portland to just west of Cascade Locks. The stretch of river encompasses much of the area affected by the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, which is the focus of their print. After interviewing residents and geologists, as well as hiking the area and studying aerial photographs, the students  chose to draw attention to the boundary between urban and wilderness areas, in both literal and metaphorical terms, as well as the cycle from fire-damaged forest to new growth.
  • Molly Gaston Johnson, a printmaker from Lake Cuomo, New Jersey, sought input from students at Hood River Valley High School, asking them to write haikus to capture their thoughts and feelings about the river.
  • Portland artist Roger Peet was assigned section seven of the project – Miller Island to the John Day River – and invited community members to help carve the woodblock at a local library.
  • Mike McGovern, also from Portland, is working on his block during a residency at Little Bear Hill in The Dalles through July 23. He is collaborating with students from the Wahtonka Community High School, who are helping him direct imagery for the block.
  • Drew F. Cameron of the collective Combat Paper will visit the region in early August to complete section nine from Roosevelt to Hat Rock. Cameron plans to work with Columbia Gorge veterans and The Columbia Gorge Veterans Museum to create an original woodblock.

The public is encouraged to follow the project on social media, searching #exquisitegorgeproject or visiting the dedicated web page www.maryhillmuseum.org/exquisite-gorge-project to see images of artists’ works-in-progress.

Oregon Arts Watch has also published several articles about some of the sections completed to date. 

For more information about this project, specific artists and/or images of their work-in-progress, please contact Colleen Schafroth at colleen@maryhillmuseum.org or 509-773-3733 ext. 23.

Once all of the print blocks have been carved, Maryhill Museum of Art will host a day-long event on Saturday, August 24 where the public can meet the artists, engage in hands-on printmaking activities and watch as the blocks are inked and a steamroller runs the length of the giant piece of paper to create one large, continuous print. The print will be on view at the museum from September 3 – 25, 2019.


Exquisite Gorge Steamroller Print Event
Saturday, August 24 | noon to 4 p.m.

Come join in the fun at the culmination of the Exquisite Gorge Project, a collaborative printmaking project featuring 11 artists working with communities along a 220-mile stretch of the Columbia River. Artists worked with community members from their assigned stretch of river and carved images on 4 x 6 foot wood panels. Each completed panel will be connected end-to-end and printed using a steamroller to create a massive 66-foot print. Washington State Poet Laureate, Claudia Castro Luna, will be at Maryhill to create a poem commemorating the event and the Columbia River. Meet the artists at noon, enjoy kids printmaking activities, music and more. Free on the grounds of Maryhill Museum of Art. For more information visit www.maryhillmuseum.org

Exquisite Gorge Exhibition
September 3 – 25, 2019

View a unique 66-foot print created with a steam roller on the grounds of Maryhill Museum of Art. Eleven artists were selected to create a woodblock carving inspired by and in collaboration with communities along the Columbia River from the Snake to the Willamette. Similar to the Surrealist practice of “exquisite corpse,” each artist’s unique print block was joined with the others to form a continuous image, with the Columbia River running through it. On view in the museum’s M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Education Center.

This project would not be possible without a range of partners along the Columbia River, who helped facilitate the project and connect artists with communities, these include:  Maryhill Museum of Art, Lewis & Clark College, Arts in Education of the Gorge, The Dalles-Wasco County Library, The Columbia Gorge Veterans Museum, The Dalles Art Center, Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries, Whitman College, and White Salmon Arts Council, Little Bear Hill, LLC., Klickitat County, Department of Economic Development, Lodging Tax Award, Vonda Chandler, Gunkel Orchards, Maryhill Winery, Jo Dean and Juris Sarins, McClain’s Printmaking Supplies, Continental Hardware, Array of Elegance, Gamblin Artists Colors, Story Gorge, LLC,  Your Party & Event Center, and Greystone Papers.

Dylan T. McManus, Artistic Director of Exquisite Gorge Project, Artistic Director of Little Bear Hill, The Dalles, Oregon
Louise Palermo, Project Director of Exquisite Gorge Project, Education Curator, Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, Washington

Greg Archuleta, The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Oregon
Section One (Willamette River Confluence to River Mile 110)

Michael Namkung/Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon
Section Two (River Mile 110 to McGowans Light)

Molly Gaston Johnson, Lake Cuomo, New Jersey
Section Three (McGowans Light to 13 Mile Point)

Jane Pagliarulo, Portland, Oregon
Section Four (13 Mile Point to Rowena)

Neal Harrington, Russellville, Arkansas
Section Five (Rowena to Browns Island)

Steven Muñoz, Washington, DC
Section Six (Browns Island to Miller Island)

Roger Peet, Portland, Oregon
Section Seven (Miller Island to John Day River)

Mike McGovern, Portland, Oregon
Section Eight (John Day River to Roosevelt)

Combat Paper/Drew F. Cameron 
Section Nine (Roosevelt to Hat Rock) 

Sarah Finger & Nicole Pietrantoni/Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington
Section Ten (Hat Rock to Snake River Confluence)

Ken Spiering, Valleyford, Washington

Image above: Steven Muñoz working on his woodblock.