ArtsWatch Weekly: Blue Ribbon Special

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

Summertime, and the feeling is scattered. The rhythm of the season is both relaxed and jagged, irregular, prone to long gaps and sudden leaps. Quick: a day in the mountains, a weekend at the beach, a backyard barbecue before the weather turns and the kids head back to school.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 1.55.34 PMIn the past week or so I’ve spied a lovely giant wood-carved Bigfoot lurking by the side of the road on the way to Timberline Lodge, which whetted my appetite for funky folk art; and a swayback, smudged-white horse grazing idly beneath a giant Trump for President sign on a farm north of Ellensburg in central Washington, which whetted my appetite for oddball juxtapositions. Both are peculiarities that seem congruent with an August day.

Down in Salem the Oregon State Fair opens on Friday (“Here Comes the Fun!” the promos shout) and I doubt I’ll make it this year, but if I do I’m also pretty sure I’ll find some blissful oddities to contemplate. I note, for instance, that one of the ongoing features is something called Machine Mania, in which “Pistons Rule!” Plus, this year there’ll be a blue ribbon for marijuana crops. The mind boggles.

 


 

AUGUST ARTS EVENTS are often quick-and-dirty affairs, too, here and gone again almost before you can blink. A couple of short-term things coming up this week, plus a longer-running show to get on your calendar before it disappears:

"The Reimagining of French Gray by the Displaced Woman." Photo: Chain Reaction Theatre.

“The Reimagining of French Gray by the Displaced Woman.” Photo: Chain Reaction Theatre.

The Re-Imagining of French Gray by the Displaced Woman. The world premiere of Elizabeth Huffman’s reimagining of a 1967 Josef Bush play will run Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Milagro Theatre. A co-production of Huffman’s Chain Reaction Theatre and Cygnet Productions, it’s directed by Cygnet’s Louanne Moldovan and stars Huffman in the dual roles of a wealthy Austrian queen caught in the aftermath of the French Revolution in 1793 and a wealthy Syrian bon vivant caught in an Arab uprising in 2016.

Panel Discussion: Crafting the Future. The role of craft in contemporary art is central to Elizabeth Leach Gallery’s 35th anniversary show, and on Saturday a blue-ribbon (take that, state fair!) panel will discuss the implications beginning at 11 a.m. in the gallery. On hand: curator and writer Stephanie Snyder, art historian and writer Sue Taylor, artist/teachers MK Guth and Michelle Ross, and Stefano Catalani, former director of the craft-based Bellevue Art Museum. Daniel Peabody, the Leach gallery director, will moderate.

Kindred Spirits: The Artistic Journey of Lillian Pitt. Pitt, the prominent Northwest artist and a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, has a major retrospective exhibition at the Museum at Warm Springs, a show that covers her work in media ranging from clay and bronze to glass. It opened in June and will close before you know it, on September 10. Time to pack the cooler and head on over the mountain.

 


 

Arvie Smith, "House of Cards," 2016, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches, collection of the artist.

Arvie Smith, “House of Cards,” 2016, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches, collection of the artist.

HERE AT ARTSWATCH we’ve been hitting the galleries and museums lately, and we have a couple of stories to tell about what we’ve seen:

Strange Fruit: Arvie Smith’s seductive provocations. The Portland painter’s racially charged new show at the Portland Art Museum, I write, “has a tough soberness that opens up … to an almost ribald fierceness– a scabrous, funny, lush, and somehow lovingly satiric vision pocked with vulgar and uncomfortable images from American history.”

Harold Feinstein’s camera was always at the ready. “I’ve been looking at art for nearly 50 years,” Paul Sutinen writes. “I rarely get a surprise anymore. I was about a quarter of the way around the front gallery at Blue Sky when I thought, ‘Holy smoke, who was this Harold Feinstein and why didn’t I know about him before?’ ” Turns out, there’s plenty worth knowing.

Harold Feinstein, “Blanket Toss”, 1955/Courtesy Blue Sky Gallery.

Harold Feinstein, “Blanket Toss”, 1955/Courtesy Blue Sky Gallery.

 


 

IT HAPPENED IN OLD SANTA FE. Master choral director and regular ArtsWatch writer Bruce Browne took a road trip recently to New Mexico and came back with his ears and mind filled with ideas, from the sound of the Santa Fe Desert Chorale to the ways we sing Shakespeare. They included some ideas that could be profitably applied in Oregon. Tune into Bruce’s discoveries in his two field reports: Treasures from the Desert, Part 1: American Voices and Treasures from the Desert, Part 2: Singing Shakespeare.

 


 

Gavin Larsen, the Everyday Ballerina. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

Gavin Larsen, the Everyday Ballerina. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

FOR THE PAST WEEK AND A HALF we’ve been up on our toes in anticipation of Everyday Ballerina, former Oregon Ballet Theatre principal Gavin Larsen’s fascinating inside look at the world of dance and dancing. What’s it like to be a professional ballet dancer? She lets us in on the story from morning to night, from the highs to the lows, the grueling rehearsals and occasional onstage mishaps to the moments of triumph in the spotlight. Most of her tales have come with illustrations by the superb dance photographer Blaine Truitt Covert. The most recent, from this morning, is Everyday Ballerina 10: The Drive Home. Two more episodes remain before the curtain falls. Look for them on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

 


 

About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this once a week to a select group of email subscribers, and also post it weekly on the ArtsWatch home page. In ArtsWatch Weekly, we take a look at stories we’ve covered in the previous week, give early warning of events coming up, and sometimes head off on little arts rambles we don’t include anywhere else. You can read this report here. Or, you can get it delivered weekly to your email inbox, and get a quick look at all the stories you might have missed (we have links galore) and the events you want to add to your calendar. It’s easy to sign up. Just click here, and leave us your name and e-address.

 


And finally…

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