“Church of Totem” at Linfield Gallery offers new take on artist receptions

An opening reception for “Church of Totem,” featuring recent works by Linfield teacher and artist Totem, will be held Friday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. The first of a series of audience-inspired collaborative performances scheduled for the duration of the exhibition will begin at 7 p.m. The show runs from Feb. 6 to March 17.


Totem is an accomplished woodcarver whose creations reflect indigenous cultures and portray a pronounced reverence for the natural world. Totem’s more recent pieces are imbued with a Cubist-style movement and musicality.


Totem has created an artist’s sanctuary that features the “Church of Totem” and includes new woodcarvings, photography and installation art. The collection resides somewhere between traditional indigenous design and contemporary graffiti art, and each piece, he says, approaches the same question: What would I want on the walls of my church? Totem’s body of iconography and symbols represent his current beliefs and contradictions.

“There is a good deal of mystery in art-making,” Totem said. “I try to get out of the way and be a channel for something deeper than words.”

“Beliefs are open to interpretation,” he said. “There is always another metaphorical and metaphysical level, and theories are created and destroyed every instant.”

Every Friday night at 7 p.m. for the duration of the exhibition, Totem will host a public meeting in the gallery. These EVENTS will be free-form, collaborative gatherings of the community that will feature musical and art performances, and impromptu discussions.

As for his funky, sometimes humorous, pieces, he invites viewers to laugh along with them. “Or laugh at me; I don’t care,” he said. “Laughter comes from wisdom. Go ahead, have an experience, kiss the ground.”

Totem invites viewers to insert their own experiences, both mentally and physically, by bringing copies of family photos that will be pinned to the gallery wall, forming a collaborative installation. Gallery visitors are also invited to bring three small items to “gift” someone with.


The Linfield Gallery is located on the Linfield College campus in McMinnville, in Oregon’s wine country. The town offers a charming historic downtown, numerous wineries, farm-to-fork restaurants and art galleries.

Throughout the academic year, exhibitions of regional, national and international stature are on view in the 1,500 square-foot gallery. The shows exemplify diverse approaches to contemporary art. Gallery Director Cris Moss has curated and coordinated exhibits around the country, and his work has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the world.

All exhibits are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information or directions, visit Linfield Gallery or call (503) 883-2804.