St. Nicholas Icons at Hallie Ford Museum

From Nov. 1 through Jan. 3, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University will present a small exhibition of icons of St. Nicholas in its Study Gallery. Organized by Dr. Ann Nicgorski, associate professor of art history at Willamette and a faculty curator at the art museum, the exhibition features 24 icons on loan from American collections.

The exhibition is supported by a generous grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in the fourth century AD, is one of the most revered and beloved Orthodox saints. He is especially celebrated for his piety and many acts of charity, as well as for numerous miracles, which earned him the acronym, the "Wonder Worker."

Over the centuries, St. Nicholas' legendary generosity and special love for children evolved into the custom of gift giving on his feast day, Dec. 6, and to his gradual transformation into Santa Claus.

Included in the exhibition are a number of Greek, Russian and Serbian icons that date from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The earliest icon in the exhibition is Russian and is dated to the early 16th century, while the most recent icon was written by the Portland, Ore., iconographer Heather MacKean in the early 1990s.

Among the various lenders to the exhibition are the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University, the Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in California, and a number of private and public collections in Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan and Massachusetts.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Nicgorski will present an illustrated slide lecture on the iconography of St. Nicholas Thursday, Nov. 6, from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Roger Hull Lecture Hall at the museum. Admission is free.

The museum is located at 700 State Street (corner of State and Cottage Streets) in downtown Salem near the University. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Sunday and Monday. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and students. Children under 12 are admitted free. There is no admission Tuesday.

For further information, please call 503/370-6855.