To market, to market, jiggety jig

Up and down the Oregon Coast, outdoor food and craft markets are gearing up for the crowds. A quick trip to Canada whets the appetite.

I confess I couldn’t tell you the last time I visited our local farmer’s market on the Oregon Coast. I did make it to a handful out of town for a story last year, but in terms of visiting just for the pleasure of wandering from vendor to vendor to enjoy the food, sample the wine and admire the art, I’ve been completely negligent. Yet, the first place on my itinerary after landing in Vancouver, British Columbia, last week (True confession #2: In the 19 years I’ve been here on the Coast, this was my first visit) was the Granville Island Market. It was Easter Monday, pouring rain — and yes, I did feel right at home — but friends told me I had to go to the market and I boarded the water taxi intent on spending time in this touted place of local art and food.

The chocolate submarine that got away at Granville Island Market. Photo: Lori Tobias

It did not disappoint. I agonized over the decision to purchase of a pair of earrings made from Woolly Mammoth tusks, but well aware of the dent the trip was putting in my bank account, I passed, opting instead for a little box of handcrafted chocolates, almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. Outside the market, I dipped in and out of boutiques, where I found a stained glass crow I couldn’t resist. We’ve had bald eagles behind our house, and it’s the crows that signal us to get our small dogs to safety. I returned to my hotel room, patting myself on the back for my spending restraint – then days later, returned to the Island to buy a gorgeous wallet with art by First Nations artist Maxine Noel, and a gift for a friend.

Totems in Stanley Park, the great urban park in Vancouver, B.C. Photo: Lori Tobias

Another day, after hours strolling Stanley Park, I jumped on the sea bus for the Lonsdale Quay Market, and, because I’d been so well-behaved spending-wise, set out to find that one something I couldn’t resist. That something turned out to be phone cases with the most adorable renderings by a local artist of nature and animals. After much hemming and hawing – the pink swan? the blue-nosed rabbit? itty bitty mouse? – I decided it had to be the big-eyed owl, more owlet than owlish.

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It’s over. OCAC is sold.

Catlin Gabel School has bought the Oregon College of Art and Craft campus, and the venerable craft college will cease to exist in May

Oregon College of Art and Craft is history – or will be at the end of May. The beleaguered craft school’s board of directors announced on Monday in a notification to the school community that it has completed its sale agreement to the nearby Catlin Gabel School, a private pre-K through high school institution. OCAC will continue to operate until what has turned out to be its final class of about 140 students graduates in May. Lower-level students will have to transfer elsewhere.

OCAC’s demise is the second major blow to the state’s craft scene in three years. It follows the death of the Museum of Contemporary Craft in February 2016, and even though Oregon has long held a significant position in the American craft movement, it leaves the state’s craft community with no major institutional representation.

Outside the kiln at Oregon College of Art and Craft/Photo courtesy of OCAC

The sale to Catlin Gabel, which emerged early in the year as the site’s main suitor, was expected. OCAC had explored merging with the Pacific Northwest College of Art or Portland State University, but both schools declined, and the OCAC board decided not to pursue some other suggested proposals to save the college at least in some form.

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Art on the Road: Where Tuff meets Tough

Santa Fe, Part 2: Friderike Heuer takes her camera to Georgia O'Keeffe's high desert and rethinks her attitude toward the American legend

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the second of two visual essays from northern New Mexico, photographer and artist Friderike Heuer visits Georgia O’Keefe’s home territory and revises her thinking about the artist. She also responds to O’Keeffe’s views of the land and sky with  images from her own photographic work. In Portland you can learn more about O’Keeffe at noon Tuesday, April 30, when the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust education presents Carolyn Burke discussing her book Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury.

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IT HAS HAPPENED TO ME AGAIN. That’s twice now, in just two years. I’ve had to revise my assessment of an artist once I got to know the history and environment that was essential to her work. The first re-evaluation took place both on an intellectual and an emotional level: where I truly disliked Frida Kahlo before, I came round.

Georgia O’Keeffe, “Gerald’s Tree I,” 1937. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Photograph by Friderike Heuer

And now I have to admit something similar is happening for Georgia O’Keeffe. I was never a fan of the endlessly repeated desert skulls or foreshortened flower paintings, imbued with sexual metaphors or gender-specific markers – references, it turns out, mostly peddled by the men in her life in the beginning of her career and appropriated by many a feminist at some later point. O’Keeffe herself rejected these interpretations just as much as being co-opted by the feminist cause. (For a thorough analysis of her relationship to feminism read Linda M. Grasso: Equal under the Sky: Georgia O’Keeffe & Twentieth-Century Feminism University of New Mexico Press, 2017)

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Magic Mountain meets Magic High Desert in Santa Fe

Art on the Road: Friderike Heuer travels the high routes of northern New Mexico with her camera and discovers parallels with Thomas Mann

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the first of two stories from her recent visit to northern New Mexico, Portland photographer and artist Friderike Heuer discovers layers of history, art in abundance, and a cornucopia of vivid images from the streets, museums, and galleries of Santa Fe. The accidental sculpture of walking sticks in the top photo was on display near the Rio Grande Steel Bridge, where a street vendor was selling wares. In addition to the region’s deep history, Heuer found evidence of a futuristic streak: The rest of the photos, except for the book cover, are from “the ultimate Dionysian experience of art meets entertainment at the indescribable Magic Castle known as Meow Wolf.” Coming Monday: Georgia O’Keeffe in the Southwest.

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HANS CASTORP, THE YOUNG, ARTISTICALLY INCLINED protagonist of Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain, visits his dying cousin in a sanatorium for people with tuberculosis in the Swiss mountains. Infected himself, he ends up staying there for seven years before joining the military for World War I in 1914, expected to meet his doom. As a patient, he might as well have come to Santa Fe, New Mexico. This place also attracted health-seekers at the beginning of the last century, many of whom never left, given that the dry high-desert air was beneficial to people with lung diseases.

Mann’s novel was begun in 1912, published more than a decade later, and by that time completely revised to incorporate the lessons from the Great War. The trek of “lungers,” as they were called, to Santa Fe also saw significant changes. A few TB patients arrived in the early 1900s. Others followed as word of mouth spread. People suffering from the disease from all over the United States were soon actively pursued by local politicians and administrators, who persuaded them to come to the area by the thousands. The first wave consisted of artists and educated, mostly wealthy people – the kind you would have also met at Mann’s Berghof sanatorium. Next came soldiers and veterans, then all sorts of poor people unable to pay for their stay and yet welcomed with open arms and plenty of sanatorium beds. What was going on? Why the pursuit of a population carrying a dreaded disease?

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‘La Finta Giardiniera’: early blossoms

The young Mozart's relatively obscure comic opera, staged this year by both Portland State University and Portland Opera, showcases emerging singers

Story by ANGELA ALLEN

Photos by JOE CANTRELL

The obscure La Finta Giardiniera (The Fake Gardener) is making its modern-day debut twice in Portland in four months. The opera is Portland State University’s spring presentation (the final show is at 3 pm Sunday, April 28) and Portland Opera stages it in July.

Did Portland’s opera directors have the same dream at the same time?

Or is it the irresistible W.A. Mozart? The composer was 18 — younger than many of these student performers— when he wrote the opera, which premiered in 1775 in Munich. Even if the opera lacks a moral typical of his later pieces like Cosi, Don Giovanni and Figaro, its music hints at the Mozart to come. Guiseppe Petrosellini gets credit for the libretto though there is some controversy around who actually wrote it. Much of it is so repetitive that in the PSU production, subtitles disappear for stretches of time because the characters repeat the same thing over and over.

The Act One opening ensemble: Life, and song, and costumes are abloom.

With its helter-skelter plot, mixed identities, and operatic exaggerations – these characters wear their hearts deeply inscribed on their long sleeves—La Finta, a fun “buffa” piece—is rarely performed, but it provides a good vehicle for young voices and energetic actors. Four couples, plus a mayor, go in and out of love and at times, go stark raving mad, or slightly nuts. The plentiful roles are distributed evenly, so the opera is well suited to such a student production as PSU’s, and in the case of Portland Opera, to up-and-coming resident artists.

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Young Composers Project: sound of the future

A conversation with emerging Oregon composers featured on upcoming FearNoMusic concert

Interview by CHARLES ROSE

This state is just crawling with composers, though you might not know it if you only go to Oregon Symphony and Third Angle concerts—just to arbitrarily pick on a pair of robust local organizations with rather different ideas of what constitutes classical music and rather similar habits in regards to living local music. Both groups have been justly lauded for programming contemporary composers—inviting faraway folks like Gabriel Kahane and Gabriela Lena Frank to perform and discuss their work—and both deserve credit for occasionally performing music by locals like Kenji Bunch and Branic Howard. A handful of local classical organizations do better—recent efforts by 45th Parallel come to mind—while Cascadia Composers and the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble feature basically nothing but locals.

But when it comes to commissioning and developing a vital ecosystem of local composers in the classical tradition, it’s hard to beat Fear No Music. FNM puts on an extraordinary all-local-composers concert every year, and even has its own composer development program: the Young Composers Project, headed by FNM co-founder Jeff Payne.

FearNoMusic pianist and YCP director Jeffrey Payne at Blue Sky Gallery.

In March, we gathered Payne and four YCP students as part of a series of “oval table” discussions: six different conversations, featuring over 20 local musicians, all on the theme “the future of classical music.” We engineered these oval tables for the second issue of Subito—the student journal of Portland State’s School of Music and Theater (out in May)—and we’ll be running the whole series here on Oregon Arts Watch this summer. Stay tuned for conversations with Bonnie Miksch, Jeff Winslow, Jennifer Arnold, and more.

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Breaking: Tuski leaves PNCA

Donald Tuski, president of Pacific Northwest College of Art since 2016, will take a similar position in Detroit

Don Tuski, president of Pacific Northwest College of Art, has quit to become president of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. His announcement Thursday morning took PNCA faculty, staff, and students by surprise. Tuski had come to Portland in 2016from the Maine College of Art.

Donald Tuski: leaving for Detroit. Photo courtesy PNCA

Watch for more news and analysis as the story develops.

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Text of the PNCA press release:

PNCA President Donald Tuski Headed Home to Michigan July 1, Accepts Position as President of Detroit’s College for Creative Studies

The Board of Governors has begun the transition planning effort to identify an interim president, and ultimately a new president

PORTLAND, Ore. — Don Tuski, PhD, president of Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), announced today that he has accepted a new position as president of the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit. Tuski’s decision will take him home to Michigan, where he was born and raised, and where his two brothers and his sister live. It will also bring him closer to his children, who live in New York and Texas.

“This was a really difficult decision for me to make given the love I have for PNCA’s students, staff, faculty, donors and supporters of the college, and Portland’s art community,” says Tuski. “Over the past three years, I have been fortunate to call Portland and the college my home, and I will miss it greatly. When I was approached by CCS through their recruitment agency, it was clear to me and my family that this was an opportunity I had to explore, given the chance to return home and help support art and design education in Detroit.”

Tuski has led PNCA since 2016 and previously served as president of Maine College of Art. Prior to that, he spent 25 years in various roles at Olivet College, a private liberal arts college in Olivet, Michigan (and Tuski’s alma mater), where he served for nine years as president (2001–2010).

“Don has been integral to PNCA’s success over the past few years, helping grow the college’s enrollment, increase its program offerings, support arts education in the area, and solidify PNCA as a cornerstone of Portland’s higher education art and design community,” said PNCA Board Chair Scott Musch. “Our board is thankful for Don’s work and dedication that has helped PNCA thrive. We wish Don all the success and a bright future as he starts this next chapter.”

Musch, who was formerly serving in the Board’s vice chair role and has a long-established professional business career, was appointed to the board chair position earlier this spring.

PNCA’s Board of Governors Executive Committee has launched the planning process to find an interim president to lead the school through this transition. The overall transition planning process for the new president will follow the school’s shared governance model to include input from students, staff and faculty, in addition to the Board of Governors.

“This is the nature of higher education,” says Musch. “We are not alone in experiencing a change in presidents. When I look around Oregon, I appreciate that we are in good company with Reed College, Lewis & Clark, Linfield, Concordia, PSU, and Oregon State University. They all have either recently or are in the midst of going through a similar process.”

During Tuski’s time at PNCA, his work with the Board of Governors under its shared governance model has been fruitful: enrollment has grown by nearly 100 students; faculty, staff and students collaborated to develop an ambitious strategic plan; the school welcomed the largest first-year class in its 110-year history last fall at nearly an 18 percent increase over two years; and recruitment efforts were expanded to reach 600 high schools, both in Oregon and nationally.

“While this news is hard, we understand this is what’s best for Don as he looks forward to the next chapter of his career,” said Kate Copeland, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs. “Don’s impact is long-lasting with a positive growth trajectory and a deeply committed group of faculty and staff. While we will miss Don deeply, PNCA is poised for an exciting new chapter thanks to his leadership and legacy.”

PNCA continues its commitment to higher education in art and design in Portland, and under new board leadership has taken an active approach to ensuring the city’s higher education art and design community continues to thrive. The college recently welcomed the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program from Marylhurst, developed a teach-out program for former students of the Oregon College of Art and Craft, and has added new programs emphasizing design and technology. Tuski, along with his PNCA Management Team, also made operational improvements to achieve significant cost savings.

Tuski will succeed Richard L. Rogers, who is retiring from CCS after 25 years. Tuski’s appointment at CCS becomes effective on July 1, 2019.