News & Notes: Maya Lin, Jewish Film Festival, Dad’s Day, more

A weekend gathering of cultural items, with a little Picasso and a caterpillar named Neener thrown into the mix

Along the Columbia River, the Confluence Project continues to grow and deepen. A vast artistic sweep into the history, culture, and natural environment of the Pacific Northwest, it stretches 438 miles from the mouth of the Columbia to Hells Canyon on the Idaho border, following stopping points on the 1804-06 Lewis and Clark Expedition as it explored the western reaches of the continent. That journey led to far-reaching transformations in the land itself, and in the lives of the people who lived along the river, as well as those who were to come.

Maya Lin's walkway at Celilo Falls, as it will look. Confluence Project rendering.

Maya Lin’s walkway at Celilo Falls, as it will look. Confluence Project rendering.

The artist Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Memorial in the nation’s capital, has been a key figure in the Confluence Project, and her elegant, quietly gorgeous pedestrian bridgeway at Celilo, designed to suggest the memory of the native fishing platforms that jutted over the river before Celilo Falls disappeared in 1957 beneath the waters of The Dalles Dam, is bound to be one of the project’s key elements. The Dalles Chronicle has this illuminating update on the project, which is due to be completed in Fall 2016.

Confluence sites at Cape Disappointment (Ilwaco, Wash.), Fort Vancouver (Vancouver, Wash.), the Sandy River Delta (Troutdale), and Sacagawea State Park (Pasco, Wash.) are completed. Only the Celilo Falls site and one at Chief Timothy Park (Clarkston, Wash.) remain to be finished.

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Jewish Film Festival. Here it is mid-June already, and the Northwest Film Center’s 22nd annual Portland Jewish Film Festival is here. Co-presented with the Institute for Judaic Studies, the 17-film festival opens Sunday with Friends from France, the tale of two cousins who travel behind the Iron Curtain in 1979 to meet with persecuted Jews in Odessa, and ends June 29 with The Last of the Unjust, Claude Lanzmann’s long and deep historical film centering on the story of Benjamin Murmelstein, who in 1975 was the only surviving “Jewish Elder” appointed by the Nazis to run the “model ghetto” camp in Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia. The story is complex. Lanzmann had interviewed Murmelstein for his landmark Holocaust documentary Shoah, but didn’t use it in that film. Many years later, he presents it as its own story. Festival passes are available from the film center.

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Sunday is Father’s Day, and the Portland band Nu Shooz Orchestra has a terrific little dad’s day tale. John Smith, who leads the band with his wife Valerie Day, has always been a doodler, a compulsive drawer.

Momo and Neener. Drawing: Malcolm Smith

Momo and Neener. Drawing: Malcolm Smith

He passed his talent on to their son, Malcolm Smith. When Malcolm was young, they spent hours drawing side-by-side, and in the process John created a pair of storybook characters – Momo and his giant caterpillar pal, Neener – that father and son drew over and over again. The years went on, and Malcolm moved on to other art projects, eventually learning animation as well. And then, in 2010, Nu Shooz put out a new record called Pandora’s Box, which included John’s song Right Before My Eyes, about watching Malcolm grow up. And then John asked Malcolm if he’d make a video to go with the song, and eventually – eventually! – Malcolm did.

It’s a sweet tale, told well here. Read the story, then click on the music video at the end. To fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters, too.

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Curtain down, curtain up. In case you’ve been following the curious story of what the New York Times calls “L’Affaire Tricorne,” Charles V. Bagli has this update in the Times. The tale involves a famous restaurant, a famous art collector, a more famous artist, and a theatrical curtain, Le Tricorne, created for a 1919 performance for impresario Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The restaurant is Manhattan’s Four Seasons. The collector is Aby J. Rosen, who owns the Seagram Building, where the Four Seasons has held culinary court since 1959. The painter is Pablo Picasso, and his theatrical curtain has hung in the Four Seasons since the day it opened. But Rosen wanted the curtain gone so the restaurant could be modernized. The New York Landmarks Conservancy, which actually owns the curtain, said “no.” And now, finally, a compromise has been struck: the 19-by-20-foot painted curtain will move (after cleaning and restoration, which Rosen will pay for) to the New-York Historical Society, where it will be the centerpiece of the second-floor gallery. And no matter what you think of the whole kerfuffle, one thing’s true: far, far more people will be able to see it at the Historical Society than at the exclusive restaurant. Let’s hear it, one more time, for museums, those great democratizers of culture.

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