New arts commissioners, party at the Elevator, more performance!

The Oregon Arts Commission adds a member, illuminating the Oregon City elevator, a(merging), more!

This weekend the Portland art world jumpstarted itself back to life, as hard to imagine as that metaphor may sound. But it did! A lot of the action was on the dance side of things, where Bob Hicks has already written about the Pacific Dance Makers show and Meshi Chavez and company. We also caught POV Dance (report to come), and together they reminded us that these ARE the good old old days in dance in the city. We also talked to the curator of the Art Gym’s “I.M.N.D.N” show of contemporary work by Northwest-based Native American artists and listened in on Vladimir Feltsman at Portland Piano International (last we heard a few tickets remain for tonight’s concert), among other things. Stay tuned!

And yes, a lot of other arts news has started to pile up, too. And to that we turn!

By my count the Oregon Arts Commission has reached its full complement of nine members with the addition of Avantika Bawa, a Portland artist who teaches at Washington State University’s Vancouver campus, and the re-appointment of Elizabeth Tower, the marketing and public relations manager for The Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, to a second four-year term.

At first I was surprised at Bawa’s nomination because she’s only lived in the state since 2009, but then I figured that she’ll be a great representative of the new wave of artists landing here these days. If you want a good idea of her orientation, you can take a look at the most recent issue of Drain, the online journal she helped launch in 2004.

Avantika Bawa, "Re:Re:Re," Installation at the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA

Avantika Bawa, “Re:Re:Re,” Installation at the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA

And less than month ago, Bawa won a 2014 Individual Artist Fellowship from the OAC and received the Joan Shipley Award. She describes her own work; “I am interested in transforming the act of drawing into sculptural gestures that react formally and also conceptually to architectural spaces and their history.”

The arts commission also awarded $116,000 in new Arts Build Communities grants to 26 Oregon community-based projects. We’ll be looking at this program and the underlying premise of it (that drawing us together is one of the ways the arts are useful to us) later.

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Even if you don’t ordinarily have much business in Oregon City, you might recognize the city’s Municipal Elevator, which sits prominently on the basalt ridge above the Willamette River as you cross it into town on Hwy. 43. I think of it as the precursor to Seattle’s Space Needle, a little touch of the same aesthetic that animated The Jetsons and ’50s kitchenware.

A depiction of the original Oregon City elevator.

A depiction of the original Oregon City elevator.

Just for its wonderful oddity, the Municipal Elevator is worthy of an illumination project, but when you factor in its history (it began as municipal steps for early residents tired of walking the Native trails up the ridge from the original downtown to the plain above and the first hydraulic elevator opened on the site in 1915), it’s a natural.

The National Endowment for the Arts agreed: Last year Oregon City and several partners, including the Clackamas County Arts Alliance, snagged a $100,000 Our Town grant and hired Tiffany Carbonneau, an assistant professor in sculpture, extended media and digital art at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., to create a projected-light art exhibit with the elevator serving as “the canvas.”

All of which is just to say…PARTY! The “Illuminate Oregon City” artists reception and street party for Carbonneau is scheduled for 6:30 pm Wednesday, January 22, in Oregon City, at the foot of 7th Avenue, a couple of blocks away from the river on McLoughlin Blvd. And the light switch will be pulled. Well, I doubt there will be much pulling involved, more like clicking.

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The second version of (a)merging, a dance festival for new work by Oregon choreographers at the Northwest Dance Project Studio Theater, springs into action on January 17, with the first of two separate programs over two weekends featuring 14 different dancemakers. The first installment a year ago sold out quickly, and ArtsWatch’s Bob Hicks called it “a refreshing blend of experience and inexperience, the familiar and the new, in an intimate atmosphere that embraces the idea of crossing borders and trying things out.”

This expanded version divides thusly:

Program Sol, January 17-19,features choreography Sara Himmelman, Megan McCarthy & Patrick Kilbane, Briley Neugebauer (Polaris), Sara Parker, Kate Rafter, and SubRosa Dance Collective.

Program Nox, January 24-26,offers choreography by Jennifer Camp, Cat Egan, Sam Hobbs, Free Body Project, Katie Scherman, Emily Schultz, and a special guest.

Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 at the door, 833 N. Shaver St.

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Disjecta fired up its Curator-in-Residence Performance Series this past Saturday, with work by Los Angeles-based artists Math Bass and Lauren Davis Fisher. The series, designed by Summer Guthery, “is meant to highlight the critical role of live performance in the visual arts throughout history. In its own small way, the series intends to suggest this history and incite curiosity into these layers of artistic activity,” says Guthery.

It continues at 7:30 pm January 17-18 at Easy Street, 9705 SW Sunshine Court, Beaverton, with Tyler Coburn’s “I’m that angel,” which explores “content farmers,” who manufacture text attractive to search engines and involves a tour of a data site.
A complimentary shuttle leaves from Disjecta at 7 pm. Must RSVP to erin@disjecta.org. The event is free.

Upcoming events include performances by Matthew Lutz Kinoy, (8 pm February 15) and Lea Cetera (8 pm, February 16).

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