Coast calendar: Here’s to an arty new year

Art exhibits and author readings are among events getting 2020 off to an inspiring start

The first Saturday of 2020 starts with several events in Lincoln County, including two openings at the Newport Visual Arts Center. At 2 p.m., the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts hosts a First Saturday opening reception for the 11 artists chosen from the recent 2019 PushPin Show for the 2020 Mayors’ Show. There’ll be comments at 3 p.m. and the opportunity to schmooze until 5 p.m.

Winning artists include Linda Aguirre (miniature dioramas), Haley Dean (watercolor still lifes), Denise DeMarie (fiber wall sculptures), Graece Gabriel (photography), Sallie Inman (acrylic on wood panels), Susan Jones (woven reed sculptures), Herb Kateley (photography), Bill Posner (photography), Ben Soeby (mixed media on wood), Emy Syrop (gouache and acrylic on paper and canvas), and Jeff Syrop (watercolor and gouache on paper).

Art by Ben Soeby is among the work included in the Mayors’ Show opening Saturday in the Newport Visual Arts Center.

“Being selected for the Mayors’ Show highlights the VAC’s ability to inspire artists,” Jeff Syrop said in a press release. “The inclusiveness of the PushPin Show really jumpstarts artists’ creativity and the Mayors’ Show is an extension of that energy. It’s definitely an honor to be included.”

The Mayors’ Show was started in 2016 by former Newport Mayor — and painter — Sandra Roumagoux and the Oregon Council for the Arts to give more exposure to PushPin Show artists and to build connections between the arts community and city employees and elected officials.

“I happened upon the Mayors’ Show last winter and considered the possibility of being selected for a future year,” participating artist Susan Jones said in a press release. “That singular thought strengthened my commitment to art and inspired the choices I made while weaving my sculptures over the past year. I am excited and encouraged to be honored in this way by my community. We are fortunate to have this kind of support.”

The show will be up in the Runyan Gallery through Jan. 26.

Seal Rock artist Helen Nighthawk’s work in on display in the Upstairs Gallery of the Newport Visual Arts Center.

Also at the center, an exhibit by Seal Rock Artist Helen Nighthawk opens Saturday in the Upstairs Gallery with a public reception from 2 to 5 p.m.

Turning features acrylic and ink paintings on paper and plywood, and wood sculptures. A visual artist and poet, Nighthawk has been painting for more than 50 years. She has been involved with the Nye Beach Banner Project and been a featured artist at libraries around the county. She also worked as a scenic artist for films, television shows, and public and private productions throughout Seattle. Her credits include collaborating with directors David Lynch and Robert Altman. Her show will be on display through Feb. 1.  

AT THE SITKA CENTER FOR ART and Ecology, Saturday is the Resident Show & Tell. Visual artists Lanny DeVuono and Genevieve Robertson and writers-in-residence Maxim Loskutoff and Lydia Conklin will present what they’ve been working on since their arrival in October. Doors open at 12:30 p.m, with presentations starting at 1 p.m. in the Boyden Studio. The event is free and open to the public.

Continues…

DanceWatch Monthly: Marquee TV leaps into the void

A new streaming channel for the performing arts joins local live stage performances this month

Have you heard of Marquee TV? It’s the new Netflix for the dance, opera, and theatre that you can stream in HD onto just about any electronic device. It is now possible to see an abundance of beautifully filmed, full-length productions by some of the biggest choreographic names in contemporary dance, ballet, and dance film-productions. You wouldn’t normally have access to unless you were a frequent traveler to Europe and Russia, and they are not available anywhere else on the web. Subscriptions are reasonably priced, too: You can either pay either pay $8.99 monthly or $89.99 a year to have access to all of the channel’s content. 

Marquee TV  has categories for Contemporary Dance, Ballet, British Choreographers, American Choreographers, works from the Royal Ballet, works from The Bolshoi Ballet, Dance Films, Unique Fusion works, Hip Hop inspired dances, Ballet documentaries, Behind the Scenes films, Opera and Theatre. There are works by Crystal Pite, Herve Koubi, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan, Alexander Ekman, and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, to name just a few, of course. And there are pieces by such American choreographers as Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones, Alonzo King of Lines Ballet, and Seattle choreographer Catherine Cabeen. 

There are also choreographers and works available on the site that we here in Portland are familiar with thanks to White Bird—I’m thinking Crystal Pite’s Betroffenheit, and French-based Compagnie Hervé KOUBI.

Betroffenheit by Crystal Pite. Photo by Michael Slobodian.

It is important to the Marquee TV co-founders Marc Kirschner and Kathleya Afanador that the channel not be an archive, a repository, or library for older works, but a living representation of the best performing arts that are being produced today. “It is a curated, constantly refreshed source for those who love the arts,” Afanador said during a series of emails and phone calls I had with the pair. 

“Marquee TV is actually a combination of two teams,” Kirschner said. “Our New York team, led by Kathleya and myself, came from TenduTV, which was the earliest digital outlet/distributor of dance programming. Our London team is mainly comprised of BBC veterans and is led by our third co-founder, Simon Walker, who was a lead architect of Arts Council England’s digital strategy.”

“We’ve designed the Marquee platform to be something that adds to the live arts ecosystem, not something that exists outside of it or competes with it,” Afanador said. “So part of the curation strategy is really about building ongoing partnerships with the arts organizations and positioning Marquee as a digital extension of the great work they’re already doing.  

For Marc, he consider venues like White Bird to be their spirit animals or guides as to what Marquee TV should screen.

Marquee is piloting a “digital membership” program with some arts organizations. That will give their members and patrons access to their content on Marquee, Afanador said.

“Our acquisition strategy is very much focused on staying current, Afanador said.

ALICE by Christopher Wheeldon for The Royal Ballet. Photo by Johan Persson.

Although the channel will have and will acquire great classics, it is committed to showcasing the new work being created and the diverse artists voices that are out there right now, Afanador said. “We look at what’s being written about and reviewed; what productions are going to be touring; what choreographers are getting commissioned and who’s setting work on various companies around the world.” 

There is an assumption that seeing performances live is the ultimate experience, and that digital experiences will drive people away from the theatre, but I would argue, now that I’ve experienced Marquee TV, that that’s not true. What you get is an intimate experience with choreographers and their work on your own timeline. You can get up for snacks and go to the bathroom as many times as you want without disturbing anyone. 

“It’s about risk management.” Kirschner said, “People don’t want to have a bad experience. Given how much tickets are, people want to know they will enjoy it.”

Kirschner said they surveyed four thousand people in the US and found that younger audiences want familiarity with an artist and their work and will watch what they can see online and go to the theatre as well. 

In Europe, digital is a part of every arts organizations mission, Kirschner explained. The goal is to reach a variety of communities through digital media, to create the biggest impact, and to draw people into the theaters to see the work live. 

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra. Photo courtesy of Marquee TV.

Now I did have one issue with watching Marquee TV on my own TV, which Marc explained is an Apple one. Because I have a first generation Apple TV I can’t get to the Apple TV App Store to get the Marquee TV App. But I can easily watch through AirPlay and get an upgraded Apple TV which I’ve been wanting to get anyways. 

“We are expanding our reach as we speak—we’re about to launch on a major cable app platform, and we have a few more similar deals in the pipeline. From a device perspective, the only problematic ones are LG and Samsung TVs. However, both of those manufacturers have begun supporting AirPlay on their higher-end models, so that barrier is coming down for us. Plus, now that many streaming middleware providers (Roku, Amazon Fire, AndroidTV) are embedding their systems directly into newer generations of Smart TVs, we’re rapidly reaching a point where Marquee will be accessible to any new device that supports streaming.”

So get those snacks, get cozy, and get watching your favorite choreographers or discover new ones, on Marquee TV. You can find all the details on the website.

Dance Performances in January 2020

Week 1: January 1-5

ZooZoo

Imago Theatre, Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad
January 1-5
Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th

ZooZoo is back! This longtime, audience favorite magnifies the quirkiness in our everyday life with an expert composition of elaborate costumes, masks, dance, music, physical comedy, and anthropomorphic humor. ZooZoo features a zany cast of characters like playful polar bears, firefly eyes, hippos with insomnia, arrogant anteaters, introverted frogs, acrobatic worms, self touting accordions, and tricky penguins, in this carnival of the absurd. 

Founded in 1979 by Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad, Imago presents original productions using masks and elaborate costumes making the humans disappear and the imaginative creatures appear.

Week 2: January 6-12

Might I suggest, Marquee TV?

Week 3: January 13-19

Dancer Andrea Parson in She’s Here: A One Woman Show. Photo courtesy of Andrea Parson.

She’s Here: A One Woman Show
Andrea Parson and Susan Banyas
January 16-18
CoHo Productions, 2257 NW Raleigh Street

Choreographed and performed by veteran NW Dance Project dancer and Princess Grace Award winner Andrea Parson, She’s Here: A One Woman Show investigates the spiritual roots of one woman through dance and storytelling. Directed by Portland writer and performance artist Susan Banyas, this evening-length work weaves personal stories, oral history, and myth to trace spirituality, magic and witchery in Parson’s Sicilian lineage. 

a world, a world by Linda Austin. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis

a world, a world
Choreographed by Linda Austin in collaboration with the performers: Austin, claire barrera, Muffie Delgado Connelly, Nancy Ellis, Hannah Krafcik, Danielle Ross, and Noelle Stiles
Presented by Performance Works NorthWest 
January 16-25
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave

Performed for an intimate audience of 30, a world, a world, drops the viewer into the same, saturated, arena-like environment that the dancers themselves inhabit. The work offers an immersive experience that is an amalgamation of movement, sound, image, and language.

An American in Paris
Presented by Broadway in Eugene
January 17-18
The Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Silva Concert Hall, 1 Eugene Way, Eugene

Post-war Paris is full of romance and youthful optimism as World War ll veteran Jerry Mulligan begins to make plans for a new life as a painter. But things get complicated when he meets a young Parisian shop girl with secrets. In this musical, the power of love is rediscovered through gravity-defying choreography and soaring Gershwin melodies that include, but are not limited to, I Got Rhythm, Liza, S Wonderful, But Not for Me, and Stairway to Paradise.

Week 4: January 20-26

a world, a world by Linda Austin continues through the 25th.

Berto Boyd and the artists of Flamenco Pacifico. Photo courtesy of Berto Boyd.

Flamenco Pacifico
Presented by Berto Boyd
7:30 pm January 24 
The Old Church Concert Hall, 1422 SW 11th Ave 

In the spirit of convivencia (“coexistence” in Spanish), Flamenco Pacifico’s acclaimed guitarist and composer Berto Boyd integrates Brazilian samba and American jazz with traditional Spanish flamenco in this one-night-only performance. Boyd, with guitarist/singer Grant Ruiz, percussionist Terry Longshore, and bassist Randy Tico, will accompany dancers Elena Villa and Melissa Cruz.

An artist of Flip Fabrique’s Blizzard enjoying the snow. Photo courtesy of Flip Fabrique.

Blizzard
Flip Fabrique
8:00 pm January 25
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Silva Hall, 1 Eugene Way
&
Presented by Portland’5
7:00 pm January 26
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay Street, Portland

Canadian circus company, Flip Fabrique, started by a group of friends in 2011, appropriately takes on the extreme experience of winter as a canvas for storytelling, through circus arts, creating arresting visual poetry. Blizzard, captures the magic of winter and invites you to lose yourself in the wonderment and joy of movement. 

Olga Smirnova as Giselle and Artemy Belyakov as Albrecht in Alexei Ratmansky’s reconstructed “Giselle” at the Bolshoi Ballet. Photo by Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theater

Giselle
The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
12:55 pm January 26

This romantic ballet in two acts follows the peasant girl Giselle as she learns that her aristocratic lover (Albrecht) is promised to another. After going mad and dying from a broken heart, she returns from the dead as a vengeful spirit (a Wili) and she and her tribe of Wilis, force Albrecht to dance to his death.

In this brand-new production by Alexei Ratmansky for the Bolshoi Ballet, former director of the Bolshoi Ballet (2004-09) and now the artist in residence with American Ballet Theater, gives Giselle a refresh. 

To create this new version of Giselle, Ratmansky drew from several historic sources that include notations made in the 1860’s by the French ballet master Henri Justamant that were a combination of written notes and miniature drawings of the choreography, and notes scribbled on musical scores that he found in various Russian archives. The ballet, according to a review by Marina Harss for Dance Tabs, “is both familiar and new. Watching it on opening night and on the following evening, with different casts, was like seeing a faded painting regain its colors,” she said. 

Debuting in Moscow on November 21, 2019, this screening was captured live from the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

Week 5: January 27-February 2

Fertile Ground Festival of New Work and Groovin’ Greenhouse
January 31-February 8
Check the Groovin’ Greenhouse and Fertile Ground websites for locations and times

The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works and its dance-centric arm, Groovin’ Greenhouse (hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre), unfold in venues around town for 9-days. The performances feature new work in various stages of development, from the fully staged to workshops, in theater, comedy, dance and film, and everything else in between.

Groovin’ Greenhouse will be performed at Polaris Dance Theatre’s home theatre located at 1826 NW 18th. The choreographers and companies being presented there are: Polaris Dance Company, ELa FaLa Collective, Mark Koenigsberg and Sara Naegelin, Polaris Junior Company and NEO Youth Company, ELXR Dance Company, and Central Catholic Dance. Check the Groovin’ Greenhouse schedule for dates and times.

Independent Fertile Grounds dance productions

Interplay
Echo Theater Company 
January 31- February 9
Echo Theatre Company, 1515 SE 37th Avenue

Featuring dance, video, music, physical theatre, aerial expression, Shibari (Japanese rope bondage), and more, this mixed repetoire highlights the work of traditionally marginalized communities and will be sex and size positive. Each weekend will feature a different group of artists presenting 10-20 minute vignettes. To view these works is to explore what arises when several performance disciplines unite to produce an original piece of work.

Weekend A: Heavy Is The Head that Wears the Crown: Mental Health Memoirs of the Black Woman by Noelle Simone, Bad Grrls of Bellydance by Sasshole, self-titled Rip/Pull Effect, and We Belong Here by Echo Theater Company.

Weekend B: CITRINE by Joni Renee Whitworth, The Book of J by Sara Fay Goldman and Marc Schreiner, Textured by Flo Buddenbaum, Summer Olsson and Aurora Rupert, and We Belong Here by Echo Theater Company.

Junction
AWOL Dance Collective, push/FOLD, and Tempos Contemporary Circus 
January 31-February 2
A-WOL Performance Warehouse, 513 Northeast Schuyler StreetPortland

Performing together for the first time are aerial dance company A-WOL Dance Collective, contemporary dance company push/FOLD, and contemporary circus company Tempos Contemporary Circus. For this performance, each company was tasked worked with the concept of connectivity as their choreographic theme-the state or extent of being connected or interconnected

AWOL Dance Collective, ​is a non-profit arts organization with their own performance warehouse space in NE Portland that embodies the idea of “aerial without limits,”and believes that the arts build community and enhance the quality of life and in its various forms, fosters creativity, empowers individuals and brings people together.

push/FOLD, is the vision of composer-choreographer Samuel Hobbs, whose work fuses the power of his athletics and dance career with his professional practice in Osteopathic medicine. With a minimalistic visual design and Hobbs’ original sound scores, push/FOLD features momentum-based choreography and sculpturesque partnering that craft immersive moodscapes and virtuosic dance performance.

Tempos Contemporary Circus, is an ensemble that combines dance, music, acrobatics, and physical theater to explore the connection between the vulnerability in ourselves and within our community.

Upcoming Performances

February 
January 31-February 8, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work and Groovin’ Greenhouse
February 2, Holy Goats!, Performance Works NW
February 5-9, Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, White Bird
February 8-9, Alice in Wonderland, Eugene Ballet
February 10, Fall in Love with Flamenco, Hosted by Espacio Flamenco
February 12, Grupo Corpo, Presented by White Bird
February 14-15, Darvejon Jones Dance Ensemble, BodyVox Artist in Residence
February 14-16, Been Ready, Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater
February 15-23, The Sleeping Beauty, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 21-22, Ten Tiny Dances/Corvallis
February 21-23, ORIGIN: Humble Beginnings, PDX Contemporary Ballet
February 22, Interplay, Eugene Ballet and The University of Oregon School of Music and Dance
February 22, Nrityotsava 2020, A Benefit Program for Kalakendra
February 23, Swan Lake, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
February 27-29, Cirque Alfonse, White Bird
February 28-March 7, Attention Everyone!, Presented by A-WOL Dance Collective
February 29, BodyVox on Tour in Medford, Oregon
February 29, Bal Utsav 2020, Hosted by Nartana Kuchipudi

March
March 5-7, Rennie Harris Funkedified, White Bird
March 7, Bootleggers Ball, BodyVox
March 6-8, Dragon and The Night Queen, Ballet Fantastique
March 13-15, Alembic Resident Artists Performance: Sarah Brahim, Maggie Heath, and Cat Ross, Performance Works NW
March 26-April 5, NINETEEN * TWENTY (world premiere), BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest
March 29, Romeo and Juliet, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events

April 
April 2-4, Camille A. Brown and Dancers, White Bird
April 4-5, Heaven and Earth, Eugene Ballet
April 9-12, Beautiful Decay, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 15, ChangMu Dance Company, White Bird
April (dates TBA): Linda Austin & Allie Hankins ║ The Traveler & the Thief
April 19, Jewels, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
April 23, Drum Tao 2020
April 23-25, The Rite Of Spring, NW Dance Project
April 25-28, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre
April 30-May 2, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox

May
May 1-2, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox
May 3: Holy Goats!Plus, Performance Works NW
May 8-9, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 8-10, Luna Mistica, Ballet Fantastique
May 12-13, Dance Theatre of Harlem, White Bird
May 15 – 17, Junior Artist Generator, BodyVox
May 22-24, ARISE: What Dance Could Be, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 28-31, Portland Tap Dance Festival, Portland Tap Alliance

 June
June 5-13, The Americans 2.0, Oregon Ballet Theatre
June 11-13, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 12-14, Up Close, The Portland Ballet


VizArts Monthly: Options for going out or for staying in

Art to see in January both in galleries and from your couch

Welcome to January 2020! Let’s ease into it at a relaxed pace, shall we? Most of Portland is still emerging from the haze of the holiday season, and the events calendar is correspondingly mellow. Many downtown galleries are hosting this month’s opening receptions on the first Saturday of the month instead of the traditional First Thursday, likely in order to get a bit of distance from the aftermath of New Year’s Eve. A couple of group shows offer festival-inspired atmosphere and even mystical divination. The month also promises an abundance of work from local emerging artists along with some weird and beautiful shows at Northwest neighborhood galleries; there are plenty of reasons to venture across the bridge or down the hill. Or, if you’re loath to leave your cozy blankets, we have some great online projects for you to check out as well!

Doll-like figurine pictured on a black background with a serene expression and hands in prayer, surrounded by sculptural elements and ornate accessories, all 3D printed in a shiny off-white polymer material.
Work by Pinar Yoldas, image courtesy Upfor Gallery

Absence of Myth: Iyvone Khoo and Pinar Yoldas
January 4 – February 29
Public opening: Saturday, January 4, 5 – 7pm (artists present)
First Thursday reception: February 6, 6 – 8pm
Upfor Gallery
929 NW Flanders St

Possibly the most unusual show opening in Portland at the start of this new decade is Upfor’s Absence of Myth which brings together works made by two artists in a variety of media that question humankind’s responsibility to the Earth as we step forward into the uncertain future. London-based Iyvone Khoo’s psychedelic photography and assemblage-style sculpture make use of marine plastic waste that regularly washes up on beaches across the globe. She combines this manmade flotsam with images of bioluminescent plankton, a not-so-subtle reminder that we share the planet with many others. Turkish-American artist Pinar Yoldas gets speculative with her cute and creepy “designer babies.” The babies are 3D printed figurines that represent possible evolutionary paths for the human species, an ironic commentary on the foolishness of humans’ age-old desire to control nature. Absence of Myth isn’t exactly uplifting, but it’s not entirely pessimistic either — Khoo and Yoldas both combine the sharp observational eye of science with a poetic, open-minded empathy that even could pass for hopefulness. 

Black and white photograph of a young woman with cropped blonde hair and simple, outdoorsy clothes, reclining on a slightly messy bed inside a small log cabin with two paned windows behind her.
Donna Gottschalk, Self-Portrait in Maine, 1976, image courtesy Blue Sky Gallery

Brave, Beautiful Outlaws: Donna Gottschalk
January 2 – February 2
Blue Sky Gallery
122 NW 8th Ave

In the context of today’s kaleidoscope of sexual and gender identities, the word “lesbian” might seem almost conservative by comparison. But openly identifying as a lesbian was once a radical action that was often met with bigotry and even violence. Artist Donna Gottschalk was among the early members of the Gay Liberation Front in New York City in the late 1960s and later helped found lesbian separatist communities on the West Coast, all the while documenting her compatriots in intimate black and white photos. Blue Sky hosts this traveling exhibition commemorating those who, in Gottschalk’s words, “insisted on being, whatever the consequences.” 

Framed graphite drawing of ornate neoclassical building facade featuring fluted columns and arched windows, with a figure seen from behind walking through a door on the far right.
Milano Chow, Exterior with Columns II, image courtesy the artist

Johanna Jackson and Milano Chow
January 4 – February 1
Opening reception: Saturday, January 4, 6-8pm
Adams and Ollman
418 NW 8th Ave

Johanna Jackson works across a wide range of media including (but not limited to) painted ceramics, watercolors on paper and tin, knitted sweaters, hooked rugs, and, once, even a shriveled carved apple. No matter the medium, evidence of her idiosyncratic hand is consistently apparent. Jackson’s work, featured this month at Adams and Ollman in a show titled Some Transitional Objects From My Extended Phenotype, is wobbly and lumpy. The colors are sun bleached and muddied. She shows little regard for the mystique or virtuosity that is so often prized in art but her humble objects possess a powerful presence that makes them feel like self-made creatures or like dreams that have sneaked into our reality. Milano Chow’s work is on view in the gallery’s small adjoining room. It offers complementary surreality achieved through very different means, meticulous trompe l’oeil drawings that depict ornate architectural facades in graphite, ink, and photo transfer in delicate shades of gray. The combination of technical detail and atmospheric ambiguity is captivating, and unlike anything else being shown in Portland right now.


A red envelope with an embossed and stamped seal of a dragon, Chinese characters, and decorative elements.
Golden Night Market, image courtesy Littman Gallery

Golden Night Market
January 6 – 31
Opening Reception and Night Market: January 8, 5 – 7pm
Littman Gallery
1825 SW Broadway

Curator Thién Mùi Easland brings together seven Portland artists to share work inspired by their own personal experience and cultural heritage. The show is loosely organized around the theme of a colorful night market akin to those Easland enjoyed in childhood. The group includes artists like Daniel Sandoval, who paints psychedelic graffiti-influenced dreamscapes and Christian Orellana-Bauer, whose past video works have addressed big issues in contemporary politics and small moments of self-discovery. The show promises “light, color, and culture,” which sounds like a perfect way to brighten up a gray January day.

Image of the "blood moon" (full moon with eclipse), overlaid with "20/20" in red and green gothic font.
20/20, image courtesy Womxn House

20/20
January 16 – February 10
Opening reception: Thursday, January 16, 7 – 9pm
Womxn House
3636 N Mississippi

Womxn House on Mississippi Ave is also hosting a group show offering good vibes and positive community to start this shiny new decade off right. 20/20 will be a “tarot themed vision quest” featuring eleven artists and live tarot readings by Emily Carsten and J’ena SanCartier (make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time via the gallery’s website). Artists like Elizabeth Malaska, Pace Taylor, and Isis Fisher contribute work to this mystical exhibition. Whether or not you believe in divination, it’s always fun to have your fortune told and being surrounded by beautiful art makes it even more appealing.

The Hibernation Options
Winter in Portland is notorious for keeping folks inside — it’s tough to work up the motivation to hop on your bike to an art show across town when it gets dark at 4:00 PM and the entire soggy city is slowly growing a layer of moss. Are you one of the many still in hibernation mode? Don’t worry, you can enjoy local art from the comfort of your own couch! Check out these pajama-friendly options for days when your brain needs stimulation but your body just won’t budge.

Archival black and white newspaper photograph of Yale Union building, a flat-roofed two-story brick building with large arched windows on the ground floor and narrower arched windows on the second story. Headline reads "Yale Laundry will Be Open for All Customers About August 15."
Yale Laundry circa 1908, image courtesy yaleunionlaundrystrike.net

Yale Union Laundry Strike

Long before Yale Union went by “YU” for short and was filled with contemporary conceptual art, it was a busy commercial laundry called Yale Laundry. The laundry, like most textile-related businesses of the day, was not a pleasant place to work — indoor temperatures regularly rose over 100 degrees, soiled linens transmitted infectious disease, and scalding hot presses caused frequent injuries. To add insult to injury, the mostly female workers made the equivalent of just over three dollars per hour for their suffering. A months-long strike began in September 1919, and led to unionization and other industry-wide repercussions throughout the city. To commemorate the centennial of this act of worker solidarity, Yale Union has unveiled a new website with an interactive timeline and lots of historical resources that document the strike and contextualize it within the larger history of the often racialized and gendered textile industry. The Laundry Strike website is easy to navigate and endlessly interesting, and is a great example of an arts institution looking to its own inherited history for socially and politically significant narratives.

Logo reading "The Inside Show" in blue and orange hand-drawn letters.
The Inside Show logo by Gabriel “Chino” Whitford, courtesy CRCI

The Inside Show at CRCI

The first two episodes of Columbia River Creative Initiative’s The Inside Show are available on Youtube, along with clips of some of the individual skits that comprise this offbeat variety show. The Inside Show includes features on microwave cookery, hair braiding demos, party tricks, and a deadpan fashion show, all of which were written and performed by inmates at the Columbia River Correctional Institute, where the series is filmed. The show is funny and charming, and impressively watchable considering the technical and logistical constraints of working inside a minimum security prison. My favorite segment was David “Ohio” Phipps’ painting lesson, in which he teaches two of his fellow artists to render a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in poster paints. You can find out more about the CRCI program, which operates in conjunction with Portland State University’s Social Practice Department, on their website, or you can just enjoy the show for what it is — a unique comedy series starring a diverse group of people having a goofy good time. 

Hand-drawn logo reading "SPOILER ROOM" in angular all-caps lettering, with two musical note cartoon characters on either side, one happy, one sad.
Image courtesy Spoiler Room

Spoiler Room

Want to party without actually going to a party? Spoiler Room is here for you! This recurring DJ night gets live-taped and edited as it happens, and the results are posted online so you can boogie vicariously through past attendees. The aesthetics are a melange of low-tech nostalgia, with VJs wielding 90s era handheld camcorders and playing terrific hour-long mixes of upbeat techno. Project episodes in your living room for an at-home club experience, or just set up your phone on the kitchen counter while you do the dishes. Either way, you will be basking in the positive energy of dozens of party people, and perhaps you’ll even be inspired to get out of the house and join in.

Going, going, gone: 2019 in review

A look back at the ups and downs and curious side trips of the year on Oregon's cultural front

What a year, right? End of the teens, start of the ’20s, and who knows if they’ll rattle or roar?

But today we’re looking back, not ahead. Let’s start by getting the big bad news out of the way. One thing’s sure in Oregon arts and cultural circles: 2019’s the year the state’s once-fabled craft scene took another staggering punch square on the chin. The death rattles of the Oregon College of Art and Craft – chronicled deeply by ArtsWatch’s Barry Johnson in a barrage of news stories and analyses spiced with a couple of sharp commentaries, Democracy and the arts and How dead is OCAC? – were heard far and wide, and the college’s demise unleashed a flood of anger and lament.

The crashing and burning of the venerable craft college early in the year followed the equally drawn-out and lamented closure of Portland’s nationally noted Museum of Contemporary Craft in 2016, leaving the state’s lively crafts scene without its two major institutions. In both cases the sense that irreversible decisions were being made with scant public input, let alone input from crafters themselves, left much of the craft community fuming. When, after the closure, ArtsWatch published a piece by the craft college’s former president, Denise Mullen, the fury hit the fan with an outpouring of outraged online comments, most by anonymous posters with obvious connections to the school.

Vanessa German, no admittance apply at office, 2016, mixed media assemblage, 70 x 30 x 16 inches, in the opening exhibit of the new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University. Photo: Spencer Rutledge, courtesy PSU

Continues…

ArtsWatch Weekly: Boxing Day and the power of stories

As a year closes, stories keep reinventing Oregon's culture and art. Looking back, and peeking forward into 2020 and beyond.


THIS MORNING, FOR A DAILY ONLINE SERIES THAT’S NOT PART OF ARTSWATCH, I celebrated Boxing Day by publishing a picture of “Dempsey and Firpo,” a 1924 painting by the great American artist George Bellows that shows the Argentine boxer Luis Ángel Firpo, the “Wild Bull of the Pampas,” knocking reigning champ Jack Dempsey out of the ring in a famous 1923 heavyweight championship bout at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Dempsey banged his head hard when he landed. After a controversial long count he climbed back into the ring and, in the next round, knocked out Firpo to retain his crown. 
 

George Bellows, “Dempsey and Firpo,” 1924, oil on canvas, 51.2 x 63.25 inches, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

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MusicWatch Holidays: Auld lang syne

Wring the last drops of joy from 2019 with punky, funky, trippy New Year's Eve concerts

New Year’s Eve, like Death, is the great equalizer. We all celebrate the solstice-adjacent holidays differently–Christmas, Kwanzaa, Yule, Festivus, Hogswatch, and so on–but those of us who follow the Gregorian calendar all come to the end of 2019 at more or less the same time. As we look back on one crazy year and look forward to another that promises to be just as bonkers, we’re reminded that we’re all stuck in this Weirdest Possible Timeline together.

So now that the presents have all been opened and the grievances have all been aired, it’s time to kill the fading year’s unfulfilled hopes and dreams and plant them in the dark soil of the coming year, where they will either germinate and bloom or get eaten by squirrels.

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Music Notes: Comings, goings, stayings

Year end round up of recent news and moves in Oregon classical and jazz music

Portland Opera has named Sue Dixon the company’s sixth general director, replacing Christopher Mattaliano, who departed in June after 16 years. She’s served the company in other capacities since 2014. PO also temporarily assigned Mattaliano’s artistic direction responsibilities to Palm Beach Opera’s Daniel Biaggi, who’ll serve as interim artistic director until a permanent AD is found. The opera recently announced its return to a September – May schedule, beginning with the 2020/2021 season, and a five-year strategic plan to modernize business practices, augment community engagement, and balance the company’s budget. 

Sue Dixon, Portland Opera's new general director. Photo by Gia Goodrich.
Sue Dixon, Portland Opera’s new general director. Photo by Gia Goodrich.

Portland Piano International has named renowned Russian-American pianist Vladimir Feltsman its next Guest Curator for the 2020 / 2021 season. He will also open the season, performing on October 3 & 4, 2020.

• The Oregon Symphony has appointed Brooklyn-based composer and singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane to the newly-created post of Creative Chair. “In addition to writing and performing three substantial works over the next three seasons, Kahane will serve as an advisor for contemporary programming on the Classical series … and produce two new concert series: Open Music, a composer-driven chamber series held in smaller Portland venues, and an as yet unnamed indie concert series in which marquee pop artists will collaborate with dynamic composers and orchestrators,” the OSO press release announced.

Gabriel Kahane’s ‘emergency shelter intake form’ featured a “Chorus of Inconvenient Statistics.” From left: Holcombe Waller, Kahane, and Holland Andrews. Photo: Yi Yin.

Kahane’s emergency shelter intake form, co-commissioned by the orchestra, was a highlight of its previous season. In early December he presented the first of his new commissions (the world premiere of Pattern of the Rail, six orchestral settings from his 2018 album Book of Travelers, inspired by a cross country train trip through America following the contentious 2016 presidential election, and the premiere of the full orchestral version of “Empire Liquor Mart (9127 S. Figueroa St.)” from his moving 2014 album, The Ambassador).

• While artistic leaders come and go, the Eugene Symphony announced that its artistic director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, is staying, and has renewed his contract through 2023. In his two seasons at the helm, Lecce-Chong has undertaken a number of initiatives, the most promising being ESO’s First Symphony Project, co-commissioning (with his other orchestra, California’s Santa Rosa Symphony) four American orchestral works to be performed over the next four years, beginning with a new work from New York-based composer Matt Browne in March 2020.

Francesco Lecce-Chong conducting the Eugene Symphony Orchestra at the Hult Center.

• Eugene’s other major classical music institution, the Oregon Bach Festival, parted ways with its controversial executive director, Janelle McCoy, blaming the elimination of her position on university budget cuts. Earlier, the festival reversed her decision to replace the popular artistic director she reportedly chased away, Matthew Halls, with rotating curators and instead embarked on a search for an actual artistic director.

Oregon Mozart Players has appointed a new Executive Director, Daren Fuster. He comes to the Eugene chamber orchestra from Ohio’s Columbus Symphony. Kelly Kuo remains the organization’s Artistic Director.

Siletz Bay Music Festival has named Jain Sekuler, its stage manager and production coordinator for the last three years, as its new Executive Director. Yaacov Bergman continues as Artistic Director, a position he has held for ten years.

Resonance Ensemble board president Dinah Dodds died in September. The longtime Lewis & Clark College professor was a great friend to Oregon music. Resonance has set up the Dinah Dodds Fund for the Creation of New Art in her memory.

• Portland-based jazz legend Dave Frishberg is, happily, still with us, but the 86 year old composer/singer/pianist and his wife April need some help with medical issues, which you can provide here

• Frishberg was the first recipient of PDX Jazz‘s Portland Jazz Master award, in 2011. The organization just named the 2020 winner, the superb singer Rebecca Kilgore, who’s recorded with Frishberg and many other American jazz legends. Already a member of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame, she’ll be honored during the PDX Jazz Festival’s February 27 event at The Old Church and perform with her trio the next day.

• Opera tenor Marcello Giordani, who made his American debut at Portland Opera in The Pearl Fishers and sang with the company several times under artistic director Robert Bailey before becoming a star at the Metropolitan Opera and Paris Operas and other major companies, has died in Sicily at age 56. 

• After 14 years running Central Oregon’s Sunriver Music Festival, executive director Pam Beezley is retiring at the end of the year, and the festival has launched a search to succeed her. 

•  Richard Lehnert, the respected longtime copyeditor of Stereophile, most recently at the magazine’s Ashland offices, has retired after 34 years, leaving behind a sweet reminiscence of his long tenure at one of the world’s leading music magazines.

Laurels & Shekels

Ethan Sperry conducts an Oregon Repertory Singers rehearsal at Portland State University. Photo by Paige Baker.
Ethan Sperry conducts an Oregon Repertory Singers rehearsal at Portland State University. Photo by Paige Baker.

•  Oregon Repertory Singers has won the 2019 American Prize in Choral Performance in the community chorus division. The major national performing arts prize is the latest earned by choirs directed by Ethan Sperry, the ORS artistic director who has also guided Portland State University’s choral singers to many national and international awards.

• Another Portland chorus, Sing Portland!, was the only adult choir from the US selected to perform at Carnegie Hall at a conference and three-day residency organized by Distinguished Concerts International New York that featured 500 singers from around the world. They’ll be returning in 2021. 

Sing Portland! at Distinguished Concerts International New York. Photo by Kristin Jacobson.
Sing Portland! at Distinguished Concerts International New York. Photo by Kristin Jacobson.

• The University of Oregon Chamber Choir won first place in the chamber choirs/vocal ensemble category at the Grand Prix of Nations in Gothenburg, Sweden, earlier this month, beating out 15 other choirs from around the world at one of Europe’s most prestigious choral competitions.

BRAVO Youth Orchestra trombonist Eric Acosta-Medina was among 100 students from around the country selected to perform in a July concert with the YOLA National Orchestra in Los Angeles’s Walt Disney Concert Hall conducted by Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. BRAVO is performing seven times around Portland in December.

• Portland’s Resonance Ensemble has been awarded a $100,000 grant from Oregon Community Foundation’s Creative Heights Initiative to help fund the world premiere of composer (and ArtsWatch contributor) Damien Geter’s An African American Requiem, which the choir commissioned and will perform with the Oregon Symphony on May 23 at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

• Several music organizations received grants in the Oregon Cultural Trust’s 2020 grants:

Metropolitan Youth Symphony’s Music and Equity Program that addresses barriers to instrumental music for low-income youth;

Ethos Inc.’s rural outreach program Music Across Oregon;

My Voice Music’s artist mentorship after school programs for working families;

Phame Academy’s original rock opera;

Oregon Symphony’s programs for low income students (Kinderkonzerts, Young Peoples Concerts, Link Up, open rehearsals and Prelude Series);

Pacific Youth Choir’s expanded Neighborhood Choir for elementary school students;

Eugene Symphony’s youth music education programs;

Portland Youth Philharmonic’s touring program; 

Eugene-Springfield Youth Orchestras’ introductory strings classes;

Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble’s From Maxville to Vanport program;

Marilyn Keller with PJCE in ‘From Maxville to Vanport.’

Montavilla Jazz Festival’s program expansion;

Third Angle New Music’s upcoming Sanctuaries original chamber opera by Portland composer, arranger, educator and pianist Darrell Grant (last year’s winner of the Portland Jazz Master award that Becky Kilgore just won) with a libretto by two-time National Poetry Slam Champion Anis Mojgani and directed by Alexander Gedeon. Sanctuaries also scored a $25,000 from the New York-based MAP Fund, the only Oregon-based arts group to earn one of the 42 original live performance projects to receive that grant.

Chamber Music Northwest’s 50th anniversary season’s community outreach activities for resident ensembles;

Fear No Music’s “The F Word” concert;

In Mulieribus’s October concert commemorating the 400th anniversary of the birth of composer Barbara Strozzi;

and operational support for Portland Baroque Orchestra, Portland Columbia Symphony, Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, Eugene Opera, and Shedd Institute for the Arts.

Composer Jake Runestad discusses his new orchestral work World On Fire, commissioned by the Oregon Coast Music Festival, and inspired by the massive fires that swept over Oregon in 2017. It premiered in July at Coos Bay’s Marshfield High School Auditorium. 

Positive Developments

All Classical Portland announced a new Music Heals initiative, a comprehensive radio, web, and social media campaign designed to raise awareness of local organizations that are using music to heal and help connect community members to those resources. It follows on the public radio station’s 2017-18 Music Feeds campaign, which provided 53,538 meals to those in need in Oregon and SW Washington.

Portland’5 Centers for the Arts has partnered with KultureCity to make Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Keller Auditorium, Newmark Theatre, Winningstad Theatre, and Brunish Theatre, and all of the programs and events that they host, to be sensory inclusive. Portland’5 staff received training and equipment to improve the listening experience for customers with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions.

Classical Music ain’t dead yet! If you have more news about Oregon music you’d like us to consider for these occasional roundups, or for other OAW coverage, please let us know at music@orartswatch.org.

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