Oregon ArtsWatch

 

The unexpected potential of venetian blinds in the forest

A review of Rebecca Reeve's "Sun Breathing" at Upfor Gallery

By LUSI LUKOVA

New York-based artist Rebecca Reeve debuts new photographic work in Sun Breathing, her first solo exhibition at Portland’s Upfor Gallery. In her archival pigment prints, Reeve imposes grid-like forms or painted elements on the natural environment. She then photographs these optic interventions, intentionally muddling the internal and the external as a means to explore the dichotomy between restraint and unbounded potential.

Readily recognizable foliage and nature scenes form the crux of Reeve’s content. The addition of vibrant reds, yellows, and blues made by Reeve’s brushstrokes and not readily visible in the prints, are what distort these standard photographs into more fantastic and illusive scenes. Organized chromatically on the three main walls of the gallery are two sets of two prints and one of three, each grouping separated by the primary colors painted into them. On the wall opposite the set of two red prints is the final piece of the exhibition, Sun Breathing #8 (2018), which is the only work that combines all three of those colors to create an artificial rainbow resting on the vegetation. Although the inclusion of these vivid colors obfuscates the realistic quality of the land forms, they simultaneously serve as bold hooks that drive the audience deeper into the image. Where naturally-colored foliage typically camouflages itself in the wild, allowing for a much hastier overall portrait, the reds, blues and yellows painted by Reeve and then photographed in situ make the viewer precisely aware of each individual leaf and twig that might otherwise have been missed. Pushing against unfocused, cursory glances, the longer one studies these landscapes the more forcefully the applied colors come to feel as natural as the background shades of green.

Rebecca Reeve, “Sun Breathing #4,” (2018) archival pigment print, 30 x 37 inches, edition of 5. Photo by Mario Gallucci, courtesy the artist and Upfor.

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Eugene Symphony: earning attention

Orchestra’s fall 2018-19 season includes strong performances, contemporary repertoire, engaging community events

By DANIEL HEILA

After the Eugene Symphony’s 2018-19 season opener, high like only a classical music geek can be and thoroughly lit by a stunning performance of Shostakovich’s fifth symphony, I wandered around the Hult Center’s cathedral-like atrium. Eventually, I paused in front of a blackboard-sized whiteboard that stood in the center of the lobby. A question scrawled across the top asked: How did the concert make you feel? Without hesitation, I grabbed a marker and wrote, Like I should be paying more attention to the ESO.

Eugene Symphony Orchestra

Then a niggling worry crept into my head. Yes, without a doubt, it was the best performance of Shostakovich’s masterpiece I had ever heard (live or recorded). And yes, I had given myself over to the shameless, spine-shivering, scalp-tightening response that such performances elicit, even jumping to my feet and joining my fellow concert goers in the all-too-common standing ovation (and I meant it, goddammit!). BUT! Could this level of excellence be maintained? Now, having attended all the concerts in the season’s first half and many of the orchestra’s excellent concert-week community events, I can confidently say…no…and yes…and thank goodness for that!

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Is Portland the newest dance destination?

Recent transplants tell us why they moved to Portland to choreograph and perform  

By BETH WHELAN

The other day, I stumbled across the Oregonian article  “13 reasons to leave Portland and go back to where you came from.” Quick flashback to 14 months ago: Me, squeezing everything I owned into my car and trekking across the country to Portland, where my only local connection was a rented Craigslist room. In 2017, Oregon was rated the second most popular state for relocation, and Portlanders have been experiencing the effects of that migration for the past decade, including skyrocketing real-estate costs and traffic congestion. As one of the transplants, I hear you, Portland! There are drawbacks to everyone realizing what a gem this city is and abruptly moving here.

But there are benefits, too, including the growth of Portland’s dance community. I moved here because I felt I could have it all: a full life within and outside of dance in a right-sized city surrounded by natural beauty. Once I arrived, I was surprised to find so many recent transplants like myself; people with a passion to leave their creative mark on the place. Why pursue a dance career in Portland, though? I asked some of these new artists what brought them here, the differences they’ve found between Portland and the dance communities in their cities of origin, and what their experiences have been like. Here’s what they told me.

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Andy Borowitz: Surfing politics, absurdly

The New Yorker satirist talks about swimming in a surreal political ocean

By DAVID SARASOHN

Andy Borowitz insists that whatever you might think, this is not an easy time for people in his line of work.

“People say to me all the time, Trump is so good for comedy,” says the author of the satirical Borowitz Report, which revealed in December, “Cabinet warns Trump that shutting down government will make it harder to steal from.”

Admittedly, the President provides ample comedy material, concedes Borowitz, who offers his particular take on the news January 18 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Satirist Andy Borowitz brings the stage version of the Borowitz Report to Portland on January 18.

It’s the job that’s gotten completely warped. “The comedian’s job is to take the news and make it more absurd,” Borowitz explains. “That’s now impossible.”

When the regular news out of the White House resembles “a second-level Chris Farley movie,” he points out, “it’s hard to make that more absurd.” As a result, “My job is about the opposite of what it’s previously been.”

Of course, so is the President’s.

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Bach Cantata Choir: Baroque Christmas

Choir pairs choral-orchestral classics by Schutz and Bach

By BRUCE BROWNE & DARYL BROWNE

The pairing of German Baroque music pillars Heinrich Schutz and Johann Sebastian Bach is a treat any time. But at Christmas, programming the Weihnachtshistorie (Christmas Story) of Schutz with the Bach Magnificat – brilliance. The weekend before Christmas, Portland’s Bach Cantata Choir gave us both pieces: the Christmas Story, served two ways.

Bach Cantata Choir performed Christmas music by J.S. Bach and Heinrich Schutz. Photo: Ric Getter

Ralph Nelson directed these major Baroque works by the two great German geniuses, one representing the early part of that music period (1660) and one the later (1723). Despite their similarities — both use strings, winds, continuo, choir and vocal soloists; both are bookended by chorales (in their current forms) — it’s the differences between the two that make the program pairing so enticing.

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ArtsWatch Good Reads 2018

2018 in Review, Part 9: A Fab 15 of ArtsWatch well-told tales worth a second look

Marc Mohan wonders if it matters that the Oscars are a flop. Martha Ullman West revisits the Big Apple of her youth. John Foyston considers sleek cars and fast motorcycles at the art museum. John Longenbaugh starts a podcast “for some very stupid reasons.” Maria Choban and Brett Campbell relate the fascinating tale of a Sri Lankan engineer determined to build the first Pandol new year’s shrine in America. David Bates dives deep into the strangest epic poem you’ve never heard of. Laura Grimes recalls a day of traffic jams, lost glasses, Ursula K. Le Guin, and … pickles. TJ Acena talks gentrification with performance artist Penny Arcade.

The world’s overflowing with stories, and in 2018 ArtsWatch writers grabbed hold of a bunch worth a second look. Here, for your enjoyment, is a Fab 15 of tales well told.

 


 

The Oscars are dying. So what?

March 9: “This year’s telecast drew record low ratings, down a whopping 20 percent from last year’s already dismal numbers,” Marc Mohan wrote in the wake of this year’s television debacle. “… As someone who religiously watches, and even generally enjoys, Tinseltown’s annual festival of self-love, I find myself, perhaps surprisingly, not the least bit perturbed.

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Getting a drop on the New Year

Forget Times Square: For New Year's Eve, the Oregon Symphony downloads a concert hall of balloons at the climax of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy"

Photographs by JOE CANTRELL

First came the audience, filling downtown Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Then the musicians, and the tuning, and the program, which was fitting for a celebration: some selections from Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s sprightly and creative Nutcracker Suite; leading to a pair of pieces by the great stride pianist and composer James P. Johnson, Drums: A Symphonic Poem and Victory Stride; the full windup for Beethoven’s glorious Ninth Symphony and its Ode to Joy. Don’t forget the full-throated applause.

And then the balloons: a full concert hall’s worth, cascading from the rafters and into the crowd, bright and bubbly promises for the year to come. Eat your heart out, Times Square: This is the way to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.

Photographer Joe Cantrell was on hand for Sunday night’s big blowout of a performance by the Oregon Symphony, and captured the vitality and celebratory spirit of the scene. There was plenty of both, with vocal soloists Jenny Schuler, Sienna Licht Miller, Andrew Haji and Richard Zeller, and with a sterling chorus made up of singers from Portland State University, the Oregon Repertory Singers, and the Pacific Youth Choir. “Music, both ‘big band’ and LvB 9, was superb, fresh and bright, and Ethan Sperry’s combined choruses with the soloists embraced the Ninth for the monument to all that’s good,” Cantrell reported, adding that this year, the hall’s first few rows were left empty for the balloons to bounce freely.

What better way to celebrate New Year’s Eve? The concert repeats tonight, Monday the 31st, at 7:30 p.m. Ticket information here.

The map to the music: tracking the score.

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