When the Portland-based insurance company,The Standard, was acquired by Tokyo’s Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company in March, local schools and non-profits, including arts groups, could have been forgiven for fumbling toward their worry beads. After all, The Standard has traditionally matched its employees and retirees gifts up to $5,000 on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Last year, that meant the company kicked in $1.1 million in the match. What would happen to that venerable, model program under new ownership?
Not to worry. Meiji Yasuda has announced that it will add an additional match to all donations made by employees during The Standard’s 2016 Employee Giving Campaign. During the 2016 campaign, employee contributions will be matched 2:1 up to $5,000 per employee, for a total gift of up to $15,000 per employee.
Akio Negishi, president of Meiji Yasuda, said exactly the right thing about it all: “We are very excited to partner with The Standard in support of the annual Employee Giving Campaign. We look forward to contributing to The Standard’s strong legacy of investing in the communities where their customers and employees live and work.”
The Standard introduced its first-ever Week of Caring this year. From April 18-22, employees of The Standard volunteered with more than 15 nonprofits on a wide variety of projects. Volunteer opportunities included cleanup at Harper’s Playground in Portland, gardening at The Oregon Food Bank Community Farm and spring cleaning at Friendly House. And The Standard offers all regular full-time employees paid volunteer time annually to use for any volunteer activity they choose.
Nelson Sandgren’s art had a delicious Northwest texture, color and tone to it, belonging more to the art world of Depression America than to its subsequent developments—toward abstraction and the toward Post-Modernism. This meant that, even in his lifetime, he seemed to belong to the past more than the present, and that his accomplishments as a painter and printmaker weren’t sufficiently valued.
Fortunately, we have the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University to rebalance the scale. The Salem museum will present a concise retrospective exhibition of the paintings and prints of Sandgren, opening May 14. Even better, art historian Roger Hull continues his invaluable work with Northwest artists with a new volume devoted to Sandgren. And on May 4, Michael Parsons Fine Art will open a Sandgren show in Portland, including a gallery talk with Hull and Nelson’s son, Erik Sandgren at 2 pm May.
Sandgren, 1917-2006, grew up in Manitoba and Chicago, before moving to Portland during the Depression. He attended Linfield College and then graduated from the University of Oregon, before heading to the Pacific for World War II. He returned to UO for graduate work, where he studied with painting professors Jack Wilkinson, Andrew Vincent and David McCosh. After getting his degree, he accepted a position with Oregon State University art department, then chaired by Gordon Gilkey, in 1948, and taught there for the next 38 years.
CoHo Productions has announced its CoHo Summerfest schedule, and as usual, it has a nice edge to it. There’s Emily June Newton’s “Frank: to be Frank,” which proceeds from the premise that somehow a Sinatra Rat Pack member escaped notice or mention, for example. Shaking the Tree will perform Shakespeare’s great erotic poem “Venus and Adonis” in mask, directed by Samantha Van Der Merwe and featuring Matthew Kerrigan and Rebecca Ridenour. A Little Bit Off will stage “Bella Culpa,” billed as “Downton Abbey meets The Three Stooges,” relying on the acrobatic clowning skills of Amica Hunter and David Cantor. And Kelly Kinsella’s “When Thoughts Attack” concludes the festival: “Clinging to her sense of humor and an emergency Xanax, she teeters between the salmon or a complete nervous breakdown.” In Kinsella’s hands this is all darkly comic.
Summerfest runs June 23 through July 17, with each show getting a week’s run. CoHo, 2257 NW Raleigh, is also delightfully air-conditioned. Festival tickets start at $20 for a single ticket, but you can get the whole season for $60.