By Frank McKinney
The Times 

Art Talk at Royal Block is about more than art


Lane Gwinn

Joe Roberts draws from his art collection to promote discussion and community in a new monthly series at Royal Block.

WAITSBURG-"What is it about this piece of art that offends you?"

That question inspired Joseph Roberts' decision to start a monthly discussion called Art Talk. Roberts and Tiina Jaatinen are the team that founded the hotel and wine bar Royal Block in downtown Waitsburg.

The high ceilings and gallery lighting make the space perfect for displaying artwork from Robert's extensive art collection.

"Encouraging artists to strive on their path was one of the reasons that led me to collect art," Roberts said.

According to Roberts, his intent in displaying and rotating the art displayed at Royal Block is to bring people from different viewpoints together – not to – try to change minds.

Art Talks began after a guest said Roberts should take a piece of art down because it was offensive.

Roberts said, "Instead of automatically defending it, I asked her to explain what offended her about the piece of art. What made her see the artwork as


Art Talk's inaugural session was held in the event room at the back of the wine bar on Saturday, March 2. About 20 people came to hear Roberts talk about "Three Moments," a large print by photographer Chris Engman.

Roberts gave a bit of background on why he chose Engman's piece for his collection and as the first Art Talk subject. He then opened the discussion to audience members to share their observations.

As an interesting side note, Roberts said "Three Moments" is an edition of only six prints, and Elton John owns one of the other five.

Chris Engman's work will be exhibited from April 4 until May 11, 2024, at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, Washington, or viewed online at the artist's website

Roberts will host Art Talk monthly on the first Saturday at Royal Block from 6-7 pm.

For future events and information visit


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