Visitors to the March exhibit at Hanson Howard Gallery in Ashland are generally having one of two reactions.

Visitors to the March exhibit at Hanson Howard Gallery in Ashland are generally having one of two reactions.

"I don't get it," or delighted, knowing laughter, as if at an inside joke.

Jamie Newton, the gallery's featured artist this month, has many pieces born out of Fluxus, an anti-art establishment movement from the 1960s with roots in Dadaism — itself an early 1900s movement that famously saw Marcel Duchamp try to display a urinal as art.

There are no urinals on display at Hanson Howard, but Newton is showing sculptures that include bottle caps, cardboard, concrete, brightly colored plastic mesh and other odds and ends.

"Fluxus is related to Dada in its use of ready-mades," said Newton, formerly a Talent resident who now lives in Portland. "It uses found objects and has a sense of humor. It's elevating things you find in the street and elevating them to the heroic and then over-documenting it. It's kind of tongue-in-cheek and can be whimsical, too."

One work that embodies the spirit of Fluxus is a collection of bottle caps Newton gathered from Japan, Portugal and other locations. He then filled the bottle caps with cement and embedded a "handle" in each one. Bent paper clips, a tiny rusted saw blade, screws, a shiny metal hook and other bits of metal make up the handles. The effect is a bit like a box of assorted chocolates or a tray of hors d'oeuvres speared with toothpicks.

Newton said he loves to collect everyday objects when he travels.

"I do 'walk boxes' and pick up things off the streets. They reflect something more real about the place than the souvenirs that you buy," he said. "I like that sense of place. So many places that you go, it's hard to escape the stuff that is put there for tourism. I like the everyday stuff. I like to walk off the beaten path."

Newton also is displaying wooden boxes he's collected and then filled with items like cardboard and what looks like an empty sardine can.

For people who like bright colors and a sense of whimsy, he's built what he calls a "model for a small mountain."

The sculpture, shaped like a mountain in a traditional Japanese painting, is made with wire, screws, a rolling wheel and a rainbow of plastic sheets and mesh.

For people who like a more predictable approach to art, the gallery also has Newton's boldly graphic abstract paintings as well as his hand-painted art books that feature the same abstract style.

Some of Newton's most intriguing work, which can be seen on his website at, includes automatic drawing machines, contraptions that collect frost when left outside in the cold and photographs of large mirrors he set up to reflect the stark, rugged landscape of Lake County, Oregon. Unfortunately, none of those are on display here in Ashland.

Back in Portland, Newton has a 6-foot drawing machine with branches, springs, clips and pencils. When birds land on the branches, they move the ingeniously rigged pencils and create their own little drawings. You can watch a delightful video of Oregon juncos visiting the machine and putting it into motion on Newton's website.

His project to set up big mirrors in Lake County yielded beautiful, striking photographs of the results. In one, snow-clad peaks rise in the distance, while a collection of mirrors in the foreground — showing what can be seen in the opposite direction — reflect bare, brown hills. Another photo shows a shrunken lake and a brilliant blue sky, with a mirror reflecting a snowy ridge line.

Hanson Howard Gallery, located at 89 Oak St. next to Standing Stone Brewing Co., is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and by appointment. Call 541-488-2562 or visit for more information.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or