Above photo: A herd of elk cross through the Necanicum Estuary in an image captured by local Seaside photographer Neal Maine.
As I crossed Broadway, outside of Fairweather House and Garden, I was struck by the scene through the window. It was so inviting, that room full of people, art and light, especially on a cold and dark December evening. I was there to revisit the First Saturday Art Walk, where artists demonstrate or discuss their process and answer questions from those in attendance. I find it’s the best way to be immersed in a work of art, to speak to its creator. I often refer Seaside’s visitors.
On this visit, I enjoyed a discussion hosted by local nature photographer Neal Maine, co-founder of the North Coast Land Conservancy, a group that works to preserve the natural habitat of our area. Neal, who taught biology in Seaside for 30 years, is dedicated to Oregon’s North Coast and his art demonstrates the natural beauty here.
I admired the natural beauty of one of Neal’s photos, a herd of Roosevelt elk running through water. I was then given a new perspective when Neal explained how he took it. He described standing along the Necanicum Estuary, hoping for the right shot of the herd that was crossing. As Neal put it, “Elk usually just proceed in a line.” This time, he hoped for something unique. He described in detail how the sound of the waves that crashed at a slightly different rhythm along the beach would startle the herd. With each of those out of sync waves, the Elk shifted and bunched as they moved through the water. Suddenly, one loud crash sent the whole herd on a different trajectory. As they rushed across the water, Tillamook Head, shrouded in mist, appeared in the background. He had his shot.
Neal refers to adventures like the elk as, “war stories.” Each image has a context. Although underlying, the context is very relevant. That is Neal’s gift. He shows us not only that one second in time, but also the wildness and energy that both preceded and followed it.
Experiences like learning from Neal are why I enjoy sending visitors to the art walk. It is an almost instant immersion in the “context” of Seaside. For anyone looking for that immersion, the art walk takes place the first Saturday of every month from 5-7 p.m. Most of the businesses in the Gilbert District, the area where Broadway and Holladay converge, participate. Attendees can meet artists, view demonstrations, sip wine, sample tasty treats, and listen to live music. For more information on upcoming art walk events, visit our Calendar of Events here.