By Karl Klooster • Staff Writer • 

The real and surreal

If you are familiar with the art movement called surrealism, you likely know the name of its most famous proponent, Salvador Dali.

The Out and About feature of March 22, 2013, “Nothing short of surreal,” told of a rare selection of his works currently on display at Lawrence Gallery in Bellevue.

Dali was a prolific artist and audacious self-promoter who died in 1989. A rare selection of his etchings and watercolors from the Argillet Collection has been touring museums around the world.

Pierre Argillet was Dali’s friend and publisher for more than a half century. Over those years he collected many of Dali’s works and even commissioned a series of etchings.

Gary Lawrence, who founded Lawrence Gallery on Highway 18 in 1979, persuaded the collection’s owner, Christine Argillet, to make his gallery one of the coveted stops on the tour.

Argillet often stayed with her father at an inn near Dali’s home on the Costa Brava in Spain. As they spent time together, he became like a favorite uncle to her. 

She said he could be playful and silly in private but not nearly to the extreme suggested by his flamboyant public persona.

“My father thought Dali was actually a bit shy, “ she recalled. “And this was his way of compensating for that.

“He worked a lot, but when we did have time together, he was fun to be with. He and his wife, Gala, spoke French fluently.”

The Lawrence Gallery show opened in late March and will continue through May.

The highlight of its run comes on May 4 and 5, when Madame Argillet will attend a reception in her honor at the gallery from 1 to 4 p.m. each day to greet the public. There is no admission charge, so feel free to drop by and meet this charming woman, who grew up in the world where Dali’s observations of life inspired many of the creations he committed to canvas, sculpture, film and mixed media.

Art as graphic symbolism meant to inform, amuse or simply to stimulate a reaction is perhaps one of the most eloquent personal statements an individual can make.

Much of the talent that makes a great artist, musician or writer is inherent. No matter how skilled and practiced one becomes, natural ability adds something more — something from inside, a innate sense that cannot be learned or acquired, only honed and perfected.

And that statement brings us to the second story — “Time to face the music,” which appeared in the April 12 edition.

It conveyed the fact that natural forces are changing the climate. By mid-century, much of the Yamhill Valley will no longer be suitable for growing great pinot noir.

The Oregon wine industry needs to act in anticipation of that reality. Based on current conditions, over the course of the next 37 years, Mother Nature will make her own statement

Conclusions of a long-term study by Conservation International provide a warning that should not be ignored. Since it seems apparent that serious steps are not being taken from the prevention side, then those who will be most affected must themselves act.

Such a shocking revelation elicited attention from readers and even a direct response. Following is an excerpt from a Letter to the Editor sent by Les Howsden of Amity.

“Mr. Klooster ... artfully avoided any discussion of the causes of climate change and, as a result, placed the burden on the wine industry to take steps to accommodate it.”

Since the purpose of the story was to inform, not preach, I held aside my own strong opinions about the causes and possible prevention or at least amelioration of global warming.

Mr. Howsden went on to say, “Perhaps it is too late and climate change is unstoppable, as suggested by Mr.Klooster. However, public attitudes can change rapidly as evidenced by the sea change in opinions about same-sex marriage.”

I agree with Mr. Howsden that public opinion can be changed, But social issues are a very different animal from economic ones, particularly ones lacking political will.

Evidence the overwhelming public support for background checks on gun purchases, which was shot down in flames by a Congress that seems to think it answers to no one but itself.

Consider also the horrific sight of Beijing, China, on a “typical” day where visibility is no more than a half mile, skyscrapers disappear in the haze and pedestrians must resort to face masks.

Will that assault on the atmosphere be dealt with? Not as long as factories are able to keep lots of people employed and more of them than ever want their own automobile.

Given this opportunity, I would like to state that I am convinced global warming is real. Its relentless intrusion on the environment is happening all around us every day.

And, if natural cycles are playing a part, then at the very least they are being exacerbated to a significant extent by certain adverse human activities.

In fact, the mere existence of so many human beings is likely one of the most damaging causes. But that is something no one seems to want to talk about, much less attempt to address.

Most disturbing of all is the fact is that so much of what is ecologically harmful has taken place just in the last century or so led by the explosion in world population

There were 1.7 billion people inhabiting our 57.5 million square miles of dry land in 1900. Today, there are 7.1 billion and counting, hour by hour, day by day. 

By 2050, it is expected to reach 9 billion. In just 150 years, the threat to all aspects of the environment has increased more than five- fold.

This is empirical evidence. Reasonable, logical people cannot argue with it. Those who deny it are fools or worse. Their naysaying is forestalling action that needs to be taken now.

Just as Christine Argillet is preserving and protecting the legacy of Salvador Dali for a world of art appreciators to enjoy, so should the inhabitants of Earth preserve and protect our planet so all of us can continue to enjoy its natural beauty and bounty.

And that’s what I found out while OUT and ABOUT — considering the reality that the scope and scale of Mother Nature’s creations transcend anything we mere mortals can conjure up.

Karl Klooster can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 503-687-1227.

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