VISUAL ART

Newport honors favorite sons David Ogden Stiers, Ernest Bloch

Upcoming on the Coast: a screening of Benedict Cumberbatch in "Hamlet" and an open house at an historic Coast Guart boathouse

The central Coast pays homage to two of its famous former citizens this month. As part of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts’ capital campaign program, plans are under way to change the name of the Performing Arts Center’s Black Box Theatre to the David Ogden Stiers Theatre.

A campaign is under way to rename a Newport theater after former resident David Ogden Stiers. Photo courtesy Newport Symphony Orchestra

In a press release, the arts council’s Executive Director Catherine Rickbone called the actor, known for his role as the pompous Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III in the 1970s TV show M*A*S*H, “an inspiration to several generations over his many years of involvement with OCCA and the PAC.” Stiers, 75, died March 3 of bladder cancer at his home in Newport.

Rickbone’s release continued to note that Stiers often said of the Performing Arts Center, “it so delights me to see the theater camps and dance recitals involving kids. They think they own this place, and of course they do!”

The renaming comes with $1.6 million in renovations that will include a new seating system, enhanced sound, lighting, and acoustics, and improved HVAC for the theater. It will be home to experimental theater, premiering original plays, literary readings, storytelling, piano performances, dance recitals, cabaret-style jazz ensembles, international musical events, and a broader youth theater. It will also enable simultaneous programming with the adjacent Alice Silverman Theatre. For more information, call Bonnie Prater at the OCCA office, 541-574-2655.

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A Diasporist, etc.,etc.

R.B. Kitaj's striking and memorable exhibition "A Jew, Etc., Etc." at the Oregon Jewish Museum splays open the experience of exile

Last summer the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education celebrated the opening of its new home with a stunning exhibit, Grisha Bruskin’s ALEFBET: The Alphabet of Memory. In case anyone was wondering if such quality could see repeat performances, the answer is a resounding: Yes!

The current exhibit, R.B. Kitaj, A Jew, Etc., Etc., is a marvel in more ways than one. Smartly curated by Bruce Guenther, whose deep knowledge about and passion for the artist can be heard and felt during his exhibition tours, the art on display covers a wide range of Kitaj’s changing preoccupations. But it also brings home the underlying constant in his works since the 1970s, his identification as a Jew in the diaspora and his embrace of commentary, the historical means of keeping knowledge intact and learning alive for all Jews, no matter where.

R.B. Kitaj, “The Jew, Etc., Etc.,” 1989–2004, oil on canvas, 36 ¼ x 36 ¼ inches, R. B. Kitaj Estate.

 

R.B. Kitaj, “Self-Portrait (Black Sheep),” 2001-2003, oil and charcoal on canvas, 24 x 24 inches, R. B. Kitaj Estate.

Kitaj was born in 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio. His mother remarried an émigré Austrian Jew after her divorce who took the boy under his wing. It was not a religious household but one that cherished culture in the vein of the Central European middle class. After some years in the merchant marine, Kitaj began to study art at Cooper Union, moved on to the Akademie in Vienna, and eventually ended up in London, where he soon joined a circle of up-and-coming painters, Hockney, Freud, and Auerbach among them. Alone with two small children after the suicide of his first wife, he eventually remarried a 15-year younger woman, a gifted painter in her own right, Sandra Fisher, with whom he had another son.

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Coast through summer: theater, music, visual art along the beach

Entertainment along the Oregon Coast includes old-time melodramas, jazz performances and art celebrating birds.

Hot, sunny days make it prime viewing season for the art and entertainment nature offers along the Oregon Coast. But when the sand, wind and occasional rain get to be too much, beachgoers can find plenty of manmade amusements. Summer on the coast brings theater performances, gallery shows and music.

Not every stage welcomes cheers, boos and popcorn-throwing, but that’s how The Astor Street Opry Company defines audience participation during their performances of Shanghaied in Astoria. Given this is their 34th season presenting the play, they must be doing something right. In their words, it’s live, award-winning, family friendly, historical and hysterical; part vaudeville, part soap opera and an entertaining look at cultural folklore on the Columbia River. The story, directed this year by Ashley Mundel, centers on the “shanghaiing” of the play’s hero and his daring rescue in melodramatic style. It runs at 7 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, July 12 through Sept. 1. Tickets range from $10 to $20. Get the details here.

The Astor Street Opry Company is presenting its 34th season of “Shanghaied in Astoria.”

“Saxophonist to the stars” Patrick Lamb takes the stage at the Coaster Theatre Playhouse in Cannon Beach at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15, as part of the Tom Drumheller Summer Series. Lamb’s last three singles have made the national Billboard Charts, and he was recently inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. He’s toured with Smokey Robinson, Esperanza Spalding, Gino Vannelli, Bobby Caldwell, Jeff Lorber Fusion, among others, and is now touring solo.

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A life, stitched in time

Oregon's new national folk art fellow, Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, embroiders her Palestinian heritage and refugee past into a living art

I had the great pleasure recently to meet with Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, the master traditional embroiderer and newly named national folk art fellow, to discuss her life and work. Feryal, who was born in Palestine and lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, is one of nine artists named last month as winners of the 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship, the highest form of recognition for folk and traditional artists by the United States government. She received this tremendous distinction for her lifetime of work in the centuries-old art form of Palestinian traditional embroidery, or tatreez, which features detailed cross-stitch designs and adorns clothing, pillows, and wall hangings.

Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, in her Milwaukie home, with memories on the wall. Photo: Danielle Vermette

When I arrived at her home I was unsure of which entrance to use, and my misstep left me a little jangled. But once ushered inside by Carrie Kikel from the Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Cultural Trust, who joined us for our conversation, I quickly fell under Feryal’s spell. Soft-spoken, thoughtful, exceedingly kind, and with an uncanny ability to hear the questions within a question, Feryal offered a master class in her fascinating and endangered folk art form and a generous and moving look at her history and culture.

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Ryan Burghard at Pataphysical Society: Spare and liminal

An installation at the Portland Pataphysical Society suggests the presence of history lurking in the present

By PRUDENCE ROBERTS

In his latest, immersive exhibition, Whatever hour you woke, Ryan Burghard alludes to memory, to the passage of time, and to the imperfect erasures of history, using the sparest of marks and materials.

The title is drawn from the first line of Virginia Woolf’s A Haunted House, a short prose-poem from 1922. The house she describes is less haunted than filled with the presence of its former inhabitants. The couple is faintly glimpsed through slight shifts in the location or appearance of objects; through phenomena sensed rather than directly seen or heard; and through a quest for a treasure that turns out not be physical at all.

An element of Ryan Burghard’s installation at Pataphysical Society/Photo by Mario Gallucci

In a similar way, Burghard’s carefully considered installation at the Pataphysical Society through July 13, envelopes you in a kind of vibrating silence. Gradually, as your mind becomes accustomed to the space, its details reveal themselves, coalescing into a series of five works that are at once discrete and interrelated, linked by their concern with presence (the gestures that created them) and absence (they function as shells of those gestures).

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Beautiful Lives, remembered

Artist Quin Sweetman gathers 55 artists to paint portraits of the 58 people murdered in last October's mass shooting in Las Vegas

By BONNIE MELTZER

The Beautiful Lives Lost exhibition at the Art Institute of Portland during July is a tribute to honor the fifty-eight people whose lives were cut short by senseless gun violence in Las Vegas on Oct 1, 2017. Artist Quin Sweetman organized the project to help us grieve this national tragedy, in which a lone gunman firing into the crowd from above at a country music concert killed 58 people and injured another 851. She gathered 55 artists to make portraits of the 58 people murdered.

“We really don’t like referring to the people who lost their lives that day as victims,” said Sweetman. “All of them were people, not statistics, living rich, rewarding and beautiful lives. They were invisible to the perpetrator, but all the artists who committed to this project clearly see their humanity. The artists recognize, remember and honor those lost lives with their artworks. They volunteered their time, materials, and talents as a loving gesture to bring some comfort to the families, loved ones and communities by showing that people care about their loss.” Following the exhibition, all portraits will be given to the families.

Charles Hartfield. Oil on canvas; artist Quin Sweetman.

A powerful visual impact is created by showing all of these portraits together. Each face told a story of a life lived. We are all reminded of that the common thread that bound them together — their love of country & western music and their curtailed lives. The opening reception was a joyous event even though its origins were seeped in sadness. The portraits evoked life and joy.

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Henk Pander brings Vanport to Newport

In his first show in Newport, the celebrated Portland painter reflects not only on the devastating 1948 flood, but also on his childhood, racism and war.

NEWPORT — When celebrated Portland artist Henk Pander opens his show here Friday, July 6, it will mark not only his first exhibit in this coastal town, but also the first time nearly all of the watercolors have been out of his studio.

Times of Our Lives: Selected Watercolors by Henk Pander will run from July 6 through Sept. 2 in the Runyan Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center. The show, presented by the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, will feature large-scale watercolors and works from Pander’s recent series, War Memories, Liberty Ships and the Climate Refugees of Vanport.

“Buildings Are Floating” is among Henk Pander’s large scale watercolors on the theme of the Vanport flood.

Pander said he painted the watercolors for the Vanport Mosaic project, which commemorates the city north of Portland that was wiped out on Memorial Day 1948, when a dike broke, flooding the town in less than an hour and displacing 40,000 people. Many of the residents worked in the shipyards and included African Americans who were not welcome in Portland.

The Vanport watercolors were shown briefly this spring as part of the Vanport Mosaic Festival in Portland, Pander noted, but never in a gallery. His previous work on Vanport felt dated, he said.

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