Look Around: Photojournalists Capture Locals

Photo by Nick Demou.

Mithril Ajootian (they/them) is a Corvallis based artist. While their favorite medium is acrylic paint, they also do drag performances, sing, play guitar, sculpt, embroider, carve linoleum prints, among other art forms. Ajootian’s main inspirations is found in nature, people, botanicals, as well as drawing from their experiences as a queer POC. 

They see art as a form of self expression and believe that it’s important to display their art so that other people can see that there isn’t just one type of person that should be represented in art, and everyone should feel beautiful. “It makes some people a little uncomfortable, there’s a lot of backlash, but it’s something I try not to be afraid of,” said Ajootian.  
Their interest in painting began with an art class that they took their freshman year of high school, “I didn’t think I was very good, so I didn’t paint much before. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when a piece isn’t going the way you wanted it to.” They soon found that the hard work in the beginning led to an outlet to express themselves and a way to share their experience with the world.

Story and Photos by Carlos Torres

Boss Hoss motorcycle dealer, rider and mechanic, Ron Tangsrud revs the engine of his Boss Hoss motorcycle. He enjoys bringing the bikes to shows all over the country because it allows him to meet people of many different ages from many different backgrounds. He loves to share his testimony and listen to the stories of everyone he meets on the road. 

“Everyone has many God given talents, but one or two will start to show as dominant strengths. Do what you love and get really good at it! When you get really good at something people will be willing to pay for your services. Dream big!

Story and Photos by Kaiona Menguita

Nathan Gunn is a blacksmith that lives in Blodgett, Oregon. He is the owner of a small business Burntwoods Forge that creates custom peices of metal for anything from railings to bottle openers. All of his products are made in the forge pictured above and by his hands. He discovered blacksmithing about 5 years ago and hasn’t been able to think about anything else since. He spends most of his time working in his repurposed automotive shop listening to EDM and reggae music. He also enjoys taking care of the farm his family lives on and spending time with his wife Mary and his daughter Maggie.

Story and Photos by Josiah Gunn

Brenden Weatherly has worked as a janitor for medical institutions in Corvallis and Albany. While his favorite job was working at Salem’s Enchanted Forest, he currently works as a janitor at Riverview Elementary in Lebanon.

Weatherly’s true interest lies in drumming. He started drumming when he was ten and got his first drum kit when he was sixteen. He tries to expand his drum kit as much as he can, and enjoys drumming at his parents house whenever he gets the chance. During his high school years, Brenden spent time as a member of various independent bands, among which were The Guttones and #30.

Story and Photos by Spencer Weatherly

Alex Clarke has been riding motorcycles on his grandfather’s property in eastern Oregon at five years old. He began on a little 50cc pull-start mini bike that his grandpa had built from spare parts, and bought for himself his first “street legal” bike, a 2005 Honda CBR600RR, when he was 19. 

Clarke started racing in 2018 by participating in New Racer School on track days with Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing Association (OMRRA), which are held at either the Portland International Raceway or the Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington. The classes were for fun, not competition, but riders were grouped by skill level to practice and learn. 

He now teaches at New Racer School to help pay for his entry fees. Clarke laughed when asked how much he spends on racing. “I prefer not to say.” 

He is sponsored by Gray Area KTM located in Eugene, Hot and Hazardous Performance in Newberg, and the Gore Electric Company in Beaverton, Oregon. Depending on the level of sponsorship, he gets parts at discounted prices or at cost. “They also feed me while I’m at the track,” he said, “which is really nice.”

He recently participated in the 50th anniversary race of the Stumpjumper Desert 100, an off-road dirt bike endurance race that occurs in Odessa, Washington. He was one of 963 riders to attempt the 100 mile race, and he placed 364. 

In the last 8 years, he has ridden 35,000 miles, and he can’t wait to ride thousands more.

Story and Photos by Alicen Arsenault