Bob Hicks

 

ArtsWatch Weekly: The ground is fertile. The age is golden.

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

It started, as so many things do, with a casual conversation. “You know what this town needs?” “What if?” “What we really ought to do is …”

The very first Fertile Ground festival of new performance works, in January 2009, featured singer McKinley’s musical Gracie and the Atom; the Algonquin Round Table play Vitriol and Violets, with music by jazz wit Dave Frishberg; and new plays by the likes of William S. Gregory, Sandra De Helen, Eleanor O’Brien, Steve Patterson, Matt Zrebski, and others.

This week the eighth annual Fertile Ground opens for an eleven-day run, Thursday through January 31. And it’s not fooling around. This year’s festival will include more than 160 performances on more than 30 stages across the metropolitan area. What began mostly as a theater showcase has expanded to embrace dance, performance art, aerial and acrobatic acts, new-vaudeville, clowning, even film animation, which has a lively presence in Oregon. Offerings range from the biggest theaters in town to pop-up projects, and cover just about every step in the process, from readings to full-blown world premieres.

Echo Theatre will be the hub for circus and aerial acts at this year's Fertile Ground.

Echo Theatre will be the hub for circus and aerial acts at Fertile Ground. Photo: Renata Kosina

A couple of weeks ago three ArtsWatch writers joined the mob at Artists Repertory Theatre for Fertile Ground’s big media kickoff, a “speed-dating” evening in which producers, performers, and playwrights lined up to spend five minutes with a writer or reporter, pitching their project. What we gathered in these assembly-line interviews, we compiled in Fertile Ground: Let the fest begin. Among the things we learned: When a woman comes after you with a hatchet, she’s not after your scalp, she just wants to tell you about her play Grimm Northwest. Faith Helma hates positive thinking so much that she wrote a solo show about it. And playwright Patterson, who was in the original Fertile Ground, is back with another, a play he describes as “kinda like a feminist Huck Finn on acid.” We’re pretty much sold on that.

 


 

Solid Gold Cadillac. All right, not a Cadillac. Brett Campbell’s talking about serious contemporary music. “We may be entering a golden age for Oregon contemporary classical music, he writes for ArtsWatch. “This past fall might have brought Oregon music lovers more new music by Oregon classical composers than any season in history.” That includes, among many other projects, a fresh performance of Portland pianist and composer Darrell Grant’s The Territory. Of Grant, who teaches at Portland State University and is a leading figure on the city’s jazz scene, Campbell says that if Oregon had a most-valuable player award for musicians, “I’d nominate Darrell Grant.”

Darrell Grant: MVP?

Darrell Grant: MVP?

 


 

A few things to consider on this week’s calendar:

  • Celestial Carnaval. As Portland’s suburbs and surrounding communities grow bigger, the art scene expands, too. Out west, the Valley Art Association‘s been at it a long time. This party and fundraiser Saturday night celebrates fifty years for the association, which operates a gallery in Forest Grove and presents events including an annual sidewalk chalk festival. Saturday night in downtown Forest Grove, with the ever-excellent 3 Leg Torso providing the tunes.
  • Great Expectations. After a week of previews, Portland Center Stage’s adaptation of the Dickens classic opens Friday night, with Stephen Stocking as Pip, Dana Green as Miss Havisham, and a solid supporting cast. It anticipates yet another adaptation opening in late February at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.
  • Beethoven-Bartok Festival. The admirable Jerusalem Quartet returns to town to show some classical flexibility at Friends of Chamber Music in four concerts at Lincoln Performance Hall, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and next Tuesday.
  • Dido and Aeneas. Baroque opera doesn’t get performed much in Portland, but The Ensemble is on hand to help correct the oversight with performances Saturday in Eugene and Sunday in Portland of Henry Purcell’s lovely first opera, along with excerpts from John Blow’s even earlier version.

 


 

ArtsWatch links

Tabitha Trosen and Ty Boice: cruising for a bruising. Lakewood Theatre photo.

Tabitha Trosen and Ty Boice: cruising for a bruising. Lakewood Theatre photo.

Upstart: Lakewood’s Golden Boy. Christa Morletti McIntyre considers Ty Boice’s knockout performance in Clifford Odets’s heavyweight role, and the links between Odets’s conflicted boxer and his own career.

In search of the great white .. leg. Barry Johnson follows Portland Experimental Theatre Company’s next stop in its quest to deconstruct Moby-Dick, this one called [or, the whale]. Sometimes what isn’t there is what’s there.

Engaging ears, eyes, minds. Gary Ferrington previews the creative Cascade Composers’ upcoming show in Eugene, citing concert organizer Daniel Brugh: “There’s gonna be a few lights of a variety of colors, video, some sound-induced visuals and lots and lots of darkness! This is music experienced in an alternative way.”

Golden cage, broken promises. Broken Promises, Olga Sanchez’s new play at Milagro about the child sex-trade corridor  in Oregon and along the West Coast, “straddles cultural, social, and age divides,” Christa Morltti McIntyre writes.

Woman, trapped. Sue Mach’s new stage adaptation at CoHo of the classic story The Yellow Wallpaper, Christa Morletti McIntyre writes, feels “like the pit of your stomach was ripped out and lost down a hole.”

Grace Carter, caught in the wallpaper. Photo: Holly Andres

Grace Carter, caught in the wallpaper. Photo: Holly Andres

 


 

About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this every Tuesday 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…

We end with a couple of requests. First, if you have friends or family members who you think would enjoy our cultural writing online, could you please forward this letter to them? The bigger our circle of friends, the more we can accomplish. Second, if you’re not already a member of ArtsWatch, may we ask you to please take a moment and sign on? What you give (and your donation is tax-deductible) makes it possible for us to continue and expand our reporting and commenting on our shared culture in Oregon. Thanks, and welcome!

Become a member now!

ArtsWatch Weekly: Stardust among us. The week to come.

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

Here at ArtsWatch we don’t have much to add to the outpourings of sorrow and reminiscence that have come with the news of David Bowie’s death from cancer, except to say that 69 years seems too few, and we, too, wish he had had more time to spend on this planet Earth. Bowie was a showman of great talent, obviously, and he had that rare ability of speaking seemingly personally to people who had never met him. His admirers felt close to him, in the way one feels close to a true friend: he seemed to reveal himself deeply, even as he hid behind his masks.

He was important, partly, because he appeared to speak so directly to what we feel about contemporary life – that it is a restless prowl, a constant reinvention, a swiftly moving shedding of skins and reemergence in new costumes with new rules but somehow, still, with some form of continuity: still David Bowie after all these years. In this sense he was like Picasso, eternally searching, changing, mastering one style and moving on to the next, unbalancing and enthralling people with the message that change itself is at the crux of art. It’s the same message that the business world sends, in a different set of clothes and with a perhaps less palatable spin: creative destruction makes the world go ’round. Except that Bowie, and Picasso, didn’t destroy, necessarily; they were serial creators, moving through sometimes deep and painful places to reappear, confidently, someplace new.

Continues…

Yads, Torahs, history’s pointing hand

Three shows at the Oregon Jewish Museum spotlight creation, destruction, and reclamation through scrolls, Torah pointers, and the World War II home front

It’s a little stick, a stylus, a pointer. Usually long and thin, often elegant and decorative, it’s enlivened by a tiny hand at the end with a slim index finger pointing forward, leading the way. Called a yad, the Hebrew word for hand, it’s used as a place-keeper and guide while reading the Torah, the foundational stories of the Jewish faith.

A small but striking exhibition of these instruments of practicality and beauty, Pointing the Way: The Art of the Torah Pointer, is being featured through February 28 at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, along with the photo exhibit Surviving Remnants, images of Torah scrolls rescued from the Crimean city of Simferopol after the city’s Nazi occupation, but tattered beyond repair. Together these two small exhibits tell a story of creation, destruction, and reclamation, which in a way summarizes what history and culture are all about.

A relatively simple yad, pointing the way.

A relatively simple yad, pointing the way.

The yads are objects of ritual meant to protect the parchment Torah scrolls, which can be fragile, from the oils and other impurities of human touch. Their origin is obscure. Daniel Belasco, consulting curator for Pointing the Way, cites a bronze object created in the 1100s in northeastern Afghanistan as a possible starting point, or perhaps an ornate silver pointer from Ferrara, Italy, from about 1488. Examples become more numerous after about 1600.

Continues…

ArtsWatch Weekly: Moby-Dick, Golden Boy, in the galleries

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

Neither snow nor ice shall keep ArtsWatch from its appointed rounds, which on this frigid and slushy morning include a virtual tour of what’s coming up in the Portland arts world in this, the first full week of 2016. We’ll also take a gander back at that creakity old-timer 2015, but fresh things first.

Sometimes what’s new is old, or built on what’s old, and that’s the case with [or, the whale], Juli Crockett’s new play for Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble, opening Friday at Reed College. PETE’s been spending the season reexamining the events and implications of the great Moby-Dick (Barry Johnson reviewed Drowned Horse Tavern, the project’s opening chapter, here), and this newest chapter, the PETEsters say, “will dive into the mind of the old sea-salt sea captain of the one leg.” Right now, we’re imagining a voyage through icy seas.

"[or, the whale]": drama on the high seas. Photo: PETE

“[or, the whale]”: drama on the high seas. Photo: PETE

Also this weekend, Ty Boice slaps on the gloves at Lakewood Theatre and takes a punch at Golden Boy, Clifford Odets’ earnest cautionary drama about American ambition. Boice, who recently left Post5, the company he helped found, to seek further adventures in the northlands of Washington state, seems excellent casting for Joe Bonaparte, the sensitive violinist who stumbles into the fight racket in search of fortune and fame. Three guesses how that turns out – and Odets didn’t even know about the massive long-term dangers of repeated concussions.

 


 

Final call. A couple of big museum shows close up shop this weekend: Seeing Nature, the exhibition of paintings from the Paul Allen collection, on Sunday at the Portland Art Museum; and Alien She, built around the artistic provocations of the Riot Grrrls, on Saturday at the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

Jim Lommasson, from "What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization," at Blue Sky. image © Jim Lommasson

Jim Lommasson, from “What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization,” at Blue Sky. Image © Jim Lommasson

First call. This week also brings the first First Thursday of the year in the galleries, and because New Year’s Day arrived last Friday, the Second Friday gallery hop arrives the following day, bringing lots and lots of new exhibits to town. A few shows to keep in mind:

  • Photographer Jim Lommasson is an investigator of trauma and survival, looking for shards of hope amid upheaval. At Blue Sky Gallery, his new series What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization documents the stories of refugees fleeing the Iraqi war, and the things they brought with them. Also on view will be works from his earlier series Exit Wounds, about the aftermath for American soldiers of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meantime, at the Nine Gallery inside Blue Sky, you can see some convincing, new works by ArtsWatch correspondent Patrick Collier.
  • Charles Siegfried’s Boom, at Blackfish, also looks at the effects and aftereffects of war: it’s based on a declassified Department of Defense document detailing a communications surveillance system designed to create a “virtual fence” between North and South Vietnam.
  • Sublime Crush, a new show of dreamlike and intensely stylized landscapes by Kendra Larson, is at Augen.
  • On Friday Portland’s longtime Attic Gallery, a downtown fixture since 1973, opens its first show in its new home across the Columbia River, at 421 N.E. Cedar Street in Camas, Washington. Artists include Bill Baily, Brenda Boylan, and Mike Smith.
  • In addition to new abstract works by the always interesting Portland veteran G. Lewis Clevenger, Laura Russo Gallery will feature Looking Back: Northwest Icons, work by pioneers including Louis Bunce, William Givler, Martina Gangle Curl, Kenneth Callahan, Sally Haley, Carl & Hilda Morris, Amanda Snyder, the Runquist brothers, and others.
Louis Bunce, "Study for Fleet Mural," c. 1960, oil and mixed media on paper mounted on masonite, 25 x 41 inches. In "Looking Back: Northwest Icons" at Laura Russo.

Louis Bunce, “Study for Fleet Mural,” c. 1960, oil and mixed media on paper mounted on masonite, 25 x 41 inches. In “Looking Back: Northwest Icons” at Laura Russo.

 


 

Three things, meanwhile, stand out on the close-but-not-quite-here, start-making-plans horizon:

  • Fertile Ground 2016 runs January 21-31, bringing dozens of new theater and dance works to stages across the city, from first readings to staged readings to full productions. From the Brothers Grimm to a Box of Clowns to a Frankenstein cabaret, the possibilities are multitudinous.
  • CMNW Winter Festival: Chamber Music Northwest, far better known for its summer series of concerts, offers this concentrated winter series of reimagined masterworks – six shows and a free rehearsal January 27-February 1.
  • Biamp Portland Jazz Festival. This year’s fest runs February 18-28, and is built around a celebration of John Coltrane’s 90th birthday. Charles Lloyd, Dianne Reeves, Sonny Fortune, Gary Peacock, Elvin Jones, Bobby Torres, much more.

 


 

 

ArtsWatch links

 

Vana O'Brien and Joshua Weinstein in "4000 Miles" at Artists Rep in May, one of the Big 100 of 2015. Photo: Owen Carey

Vana O’Brien and Joshua Weinstein in “4000 Miles” at Artists Rep in May, one of the Big 100 of 2015. Photo: Owen Carey

The Big 100 of 2015. ArtsWatch’s writers and editors put their heads together and came up with 100 stories that helped define the arts in Oregon in 2015 – a kind of cultural road map of the year. From Miz Kitty’s Parlour in January to a farewell to ZooZoo in December, we sampled the distinct cultural flavors of the year.

Christmas at Coffee Creek. Just before Christmas, a group of musicians from the Oregon Symphony brought a special gift to inmates at the Coffee Creek correctional facility for women: a casual, free-wheeling holiday concert. It turned out to be a happy affair for everyone. Photographer Benji Vuong went along, and filed this photo essay for ArtsWatch.

Happy musicians, happy audience: the Oregon Symphony at Coffee Creek. Photo: Benji Vuong

Happy musicians, happy audience: the Oregon Symphony at Coffee Creek. Photo: Benji Vuong

 


 

 

About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this every Tuesday 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…

We end with a couple of requests. First, if you have friends or family members who you think would enjoy our cultural writing online, could you please forward this letter to them? The bigger our circle of friends, the more we can accomplish. Second, if you’re not already a member of ArtsWatch, may we ask you to please take a moment and sign on? What you give (and your donation is tax-deductible) makes it possible for us to continue and expand our reporting and commenting on our shared culture in Oregon. Thanks, and welcome!

Become a member now!

ArtsWatch Weekly: In the Oregon Cultural Trust We Trust

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

And on the fifty-second week, ArtsWatch rested. For the most part, anyway. We hope you’ve been resting, too: Pretty soon, January’s going to come in huffing and puffing and roaring for attention.

In the meantime, we still have a couple of days, and here’s hoping they go smoothly and pleasingly for everyone. Happy New Year, from our home to yours. Let’s hope Old Man 2015 tiptoes softly away more successfully than his predecessor 1904, who got the bum’s rush from that feisty youngster 1905:

Baby New Year chasing the old year into the history books, John T. McCutcheon, from the book "The Mysterious Stranger and Other Cartoons by John T. McCutcheon," New York; McClure, Philips & Co., 1905. Wikimedia Commons

Baby New Year chasing the old year into the history books, John T. McCutcheon, from the book “The Mysterious Stranger and Other Cartoons by John T. McCutcheon,” New York; McClure, Philips & Co., 1905. Wikimedia Commons

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We’ll note one more deadline before the year turns, and it’s a good and important one. Maybe you’ve already done it. Maybe you’ve been waiting for the countdown. We’re talking about your yearly donations to nonprofit organizations. For tax purposes, the deadline is the end of the year: choose those groups you want to support, decide how much you can give, and become part of the process. Oregon’s innovative Oregon Cultural Trust adds a terrific deal sweetener: match your donations to cultural groups with an equal gift to the Trust (up to a limit; $500 individual, $1,000 couples filing jointly, $2,500 corporate), and get the full amount you give to the Trust as a credit on your Oregon state income taxes.That amounts to doubling your donation for free. And the Cultural Trust spreads the money to every corner of the state, supporting arts, cultural, and tribal projects. Here’s how to make your Oregon Cultural Trust donation.

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Oregon ArtsWatch is a nonprofit, too. As the world of journalism changes, new forms of making it possible are taking shape, and we’ve chosen the nonprofit model, which allows us to accept donations from individuals, foundations, and other sources. Without those gifts, we couldn’t do what we do. As you’re making your year-end choices, please consider us, too. Here’s how to subscribe or donate to ArtsWatch. Thanks!

 


 

ArtsWatch links

The sounds of Oregon.  Our man at the turntable, MC Brett, has been spinning the discs of Oregon music released in 2015, and scratching out his thoughts about what he hears. Read Brett Campbell’s recommendations on contemporary classical recordings (David Schiff and Chamber Music Northwest, Susan Chan’s Echoes of China, The City of Tomorrow’s Nature, Catherine Lee + Matt Hannifin Duo’s Five Shapes, the Oregon Symphony’s Spirit of the American Range) and on historically informed recordings (three terrific recordings from the choir Cappella Romana, one terrific Bach recording from Portland Baroque Orchestra). Fair warning: Reading these posts may lead you to go out and buy some CDs for yourself.

In Mulieribus: approaching perfection. One of our favorite Oregon musical groups is the eight-woman chorus In Mulieribus, which roots around in music medieval and otherwise, and does quite wonderful things with it. Bruce Browne went to the chorus’s recent concert at St. Philip Neri Church and declared it nigh unto perfection. We’re bound to say, that’s pretty good.

Rachel Tess, early in the morning. You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to beat Rachel Tess at her own game. While most of us were still in bed on Monday morning, Tess was out on the streets of Northwest Portland, dancing the still-gloomy extended night away starting at 5:30 a.m. A few people were there to watch. Before that early-morning smackdown, Jamuna Chiarini talked with Tess about what was up, and why, with Rachel, a performance for the dead of night.

 


 

About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this every Tuesday 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…

We end with a couple of requests. First, if you have friends or family members who you think would enjoy our cultural writing online, could you please forward this letter to them? The bigger our circle of friends, the more we can accomplish. Second, if you’re not already a member of ArtsWatch, may we ask you to please take a moment and sign on? What you give (and your donation is tax-deductible) makes it possible for us to continue and expand our reporting and commenting on our shared culture in Oregon. Thanks, and welcome!

Become a member now!

 

ArtsWatch Weekly: a Nutcracker for the ages (all of them)

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

It’s three days until Christmas, and the day after the winter solstice (the day of, if you’re going by Greenwich Mean Time or its less elegantly named successor, Coordinated Universal Time), and that means that visions of nutcrackers keep dancing in our heads. This is not entirely voluntary – “inescapable” might be a more accurate word – but it’s not entirely unwelcome, either. As much as the inevitable annual return of The Nutcracker to ballet stages across America prompts world-weary calculations of budget-balancing and traditions gone wild, it also makes us think about why the thing’s so undyingly popular.

Lauren Kessler, right, as Clara's Aunt Rose in Eugene Ballet's version of "The Nutcracker." Photo courtesy Lauren Kessler.

Lauren Kessler, right, as Clara’s Aunt Rose in Eugene Ballet’s version of “The Nutcracker.” Photo courtesy Lauren Kessler.

Tchaikovsky’s score, steely and lush and brilliant, has a great deal to do with it: I’ve been known to give recordings of it a spin in mid-July, entirely out of season, and will put on Duke Ellington’s jazz-suite adaptation at the snowdrop of a hat. The ballet’s odd construction provides a neat children’s-perspective view of the season: the hubbub and excitement of Christmas Eve, with its scary visitor, fierce mouse army, and sibling spat, in the first act; the sheer pleasure, as the parade of divertissements rolls out in the second act, of opening all the gifts on Christmas morning. The ballet may be Russian and German in origin, but it’s also the height of Victoriana at a time of year when Victoria still rules. And if its story is less dark and enthralling than E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original 1816 story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the ballet more than compensates with its music, dancing, and visual spectacle: I still miss Campbell Baird’s exquisite designs, based on Fabergé eggs, that Oregon Ballet Theatre used for several years in the James Canfield days.

The writer Lauren Kessler has long felt the enchantment, and unlike most of us, she did something about it. Kessler, long past ordinary ballet age, decided she wanted to perform in The Nutcracker, and so she cold-called Eugene Ballet’s Toni Pimble, looking for a chance to audition. As Angie Jabine notes for ArtsWatch in her fascinating review of Kessler’s book Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, & My Midlife Quest To Dance The Nutcracker, Pimble said “sure” (or words to that effect), and Kessler set out to pursue her dream. Oh: and to write her book.

That meant, partly, getting her middle-aged body in shape. As Jabine writes: “Like Rocky Balboa in a leotard, she trained. All her previous weight lifting and track running and bicycle spinning had given her strength and endurance but had also shortened her hamstrings and bulked up her muscles. Now she would need to stretch out those hamstrings, develop her leg extension, and totally redefine her carriage. In early spring of 2014, she plunged into yoga, Pilates, water-jogging, and a machine-assisted workout called Gyrotonics—along with ballet classes, of course. All this, she notes, was just ‘prep for the prep for the real work.’”

In The Nutcracker, miracles happen. And so, gentle reader, Kessler did go on stage, as Clara’s Aunt Rose, last year and this year, too. And that, as both Kessler and Jabine tell it, is a pretty good story. Meanwhile, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s own Nutcracker, the George Balanchine version, continues through Saturday at Portland’s Keller Auditorium. You could watch the Christmas tree grow.

Xuan Cheng as Dewdrop in Oregon Ballet Theatre's production of George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker." It continues through Saturday at Keller Auditorium.

Xuan Cheng as Dewdrop in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s production of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker.” It continues through Saturday at Keller Auditorium. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

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A couple of weeks ago the celebrated cellist Yo Yo Ma was in town for a solo gig at the Schnitz sponsored by the Oregon Symphony. And there, before curtain time, he ran into a group of young musicians called the MYSfits – that “MYS” stands for Metropolitan Youth Symphony – who were providing a little pre-show music from the second-floor landing. The kids didn’t have tickets for the show (they were scarce, and expensive), but the chance to play at the Schnitz before a major concert was too good to pass up. And then an older fellow showed up and asked if he could sit in for a bit, and then … but don’t let me spoil the story. Read it yourself, as ArtsWatch’s Brett Campbell relates it. Something extraordinary, and entirely fitting the season, occurred. You’ll remember this story. You might find yourself retelling it to your friends.

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Blackbird singing in the dead of night, Lennon and McCartney wrote, and Rachel Tess is taking it a few steps farther: On Monday, she’ll be dancing in the dead of night. At 5:30 in the morning, to be precise, when it’ll still be midwinter dark, on the sidewalks of the still-sleeping city, outside 1210 Northwest 10th Avenue in Portland. She and choreographer Peter Mills will collaborate on RACHEL, a performance for the dead of night, which will keep its audience out-of-doors for up to an hour, so bundle up. Reservations are required; make them by emailing rtess@rachelvtess.org. And set your alarm.

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Also on Monday, at a likely more conducive hour (10 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon) the Portland Art Museum will be open. The museum is open most days, of course, but it’s almost always closed Mondays, so this is something special. If you still want to walk off Christmas dinner and you don’t want to join the mob at the new Star Wars movie, this is an excellent dish to add to your plate. No need to set your alarm.


ArtsWatch links

 

The Mousai review: the importance of now. Ah, that’s more like it, Tristan Bliss writes: a concert made up entirely of work by contemporary composers, “the rare concert that doesn’t coerce nostalgia for a time gone-by that none of us have known, but sounds with torrential excitement to be alive now.”

The Moth: close to the flame. “The only thing missing was a campfire; and maybe some animal on a spit; otherwise, we were at home with our ancestors,” Christa Morletti McIntyre wrote about the celebrated storytelling program’s recent visit to Portland.

 


 

About ArtsWatch Weekly

We’ve been sending a letter like this every Tuesday to a select group of email subscribers. Now we’re also posting 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…

We end with a couple of requests. First, if you have friends or family members who you think would enjoy our cultural writing online, could you please forward this letter to them? The bigger our circle of friends, the more we can accomplish. Second, if you’re not already a member of ArtsWatch, may we ask you to please take a moment and sign on? What you give (and your donation is tax-deductible) makes it possible for us to continue and expand our reporting and commenting on our shared culture in Oregon. Thanks, and welcome!

Become a member now!

ArtsWatch Weekly: a kick of a dance, Orson Welles, it’s a ‘Miracle’

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

By this time the city’s big December shows have pretty much announced their presence with authority, as the pitching phenom Ebby Calvin “Nuke” Laloosh liked to put it in the baseball movie Bull Durham: the Christmas Carols and Nutcrackers and Tuba Christmases and Singing Christmas Trees and Santaland Diaries and other seasonal spectacles have either settled comfortably into their runs or already come and gone.

Northwest Dance Project's Samantha Campbell kicks up her heels in "In Good Company." (c) Peddicord Photo

Northwest Dance Project’s Samantha Campbell kicks up her heels in “In Good Company.” (c) Peddicord Photo

Still, a few good things are yet to come. In Good Company, for instance, is both a bit of a risk and a bit of a lark for Northwest Dance Project, a troupe that concentrates on premieres and so has plenty of experience with risky business. The good company, in this case, is the dancers themselves – Kody Jauron, Elijah Labay, Lindsey McGill, Andrea Parson, Franco Nieto, Julia Radick, Ching Ching Wong – who have taken it on themselves to devise the dances and the program, which roams around Revolution Hall, the former East Side high school, with a whimsically academic theme. Music for the seven dances ranges from Puccini to surf legend Dick Dale. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

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Left: "Comedie 3," Shlby Shadwell, 2015; charcoal and conte on prepared linen, 85 x 85 inches. Right: right: "Boy Huckleberry Basket," Sara Siestreem, 2013, red cedar bark. Photos courtesy of the artists.

Left: “Comedie 3,” Shelby Shadwell, 2015; charcoal and conte on prepared linen, 85 x 85 inches. Right: right: “Boy Huckleberry Basket,” Sara Siestreem, 2013, red cedar bark. Photos courtesy of the artists.

At most any art museum, one of the best things you can do is to pick a day to visit when you purposely go where the action isn’t – to those quieter corners away from the big shows and the big crowds, the places where all sorts of more private adventures might open up.

Continues…

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