ON A DRY AND CHILLY MORNING, BEAVERTON BROKE GROUND Wednesday on a significant slice of its future. The official groundbreaking of the long-awaited Patricia Reser Center for the Arts drew a big crowd to the site of what’s hoped to be a new city center, at The Round in the Creekside Urban Development District, near a MAX light rail station, City Hall, and Beaverton Creek. The 45,000 square foot arts center, which is expected to open in 2021, puts a huge stamp on the western suburb’s push to re-establish its own identity separate from downtown Portland: As the metropolitan area grows, its cultural and economic scenes expand with it and assert their own identities.
Reser herself was on hand to help celebrate the occasion, as was Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, who has championed the project for years; and photographer Joe Cantrell was there to record the event. The Reser Family Foundation gave the $13 million lead donation for the $51 million project, which will include a 550-seat theater; an art gallery; an outdoor plaza for art exhibits and community festivals; rehearsal, workshop and meeting spaces; and a next-door parking garage. About $21 million will come from city revenue bonds, and the rest from private, foundation, business, and public donations. Reser helped build Reser’s Fine Foods with her late husband, Al Reser. She remains the company’s board chair, and is chair of the family foundation. The Resers’ involvement seems especially fitting, linking the cultural center with Washington County’s agricultural industry roots, which continue to be significant in a high-tech age.
What will grow from the center’s bricks-and-mortar beginnings should be fascinating to watch and experience for years to come. The center is meant to be multi-purpose, not just for performances but for community gatherings and visual art as well. Its 550-seat theater is a good between-size, neither too big nor too small, and should be adaptable to all sorts of programming, including dance, music, and theater. Touring performances undoubtedly will be part of the mix. The center also could spur the growth of local or even resident groups and artists, and become a vital arts and cultural space for Washington County’s many immigrant communities.
“Mrs. Reser was extraordinary to watch” at the groundbreaking ceremony, the veteran photojournalist Cantrell reported. “I positioned myself between the standing room only crowd, including all sorts of Portland arts luminaries, and the podium/chorus risers. She showed pure joy, the kind from the heart, through most of the activities, but several times she appeared to tear up. It was not so easy to tell because I did, too. I’ve covered a jillion of these things since 1960; this was the most moving I ever remember. It was GOOD.
“The choir was composed from many local groups. They ranged from the soloist, who is 14 years old, to the older folks who climbed onto the stage with their walkers. Everybody obviously sang their hearts out. The last thing on the program was the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love,” where the kazoos joined the brass quintet present in playing that “BLAT-ta da da da” part AND as they sang it the sun came out, throwing the whole thing into the most beautiful diffused light. Brother, it really did seem choreographed from On High.”
THEATER: DON’T PASS THE SNACKS, THANKS
AH, AN EVENING AT THE THEATER. The bright lights, the crisp costumes, the comedy, the drama, the … coughing and sneezing and chatting and singing-along and cell-phone ringing and crinkling of candy wrappers and even passing of fried-chicken boxes down the row? In his DramaWatch column Musings on behavior and blackness, Marty Hughley discusses the do’s and don’ts and maybes of sitting in the audience:
“Maybe we’re left to rely on the great spiritual insight from Monty Python’s Life of Brian: ‘You’ve all got to figure it out for yourself.’ I like the theater to be almost like a holy place, a place of engagement and absorption, where the moment onstage lets me know what’s appropriate, whether that’s raucous laughter or silent, rapt attention. Maybe you like theater to be someplace to forget the strictures of everyday life, a place to feel spontaneous and free, Twizzlers included. But we each have to be cognizant of each other when we’re sharing the theater space, and negotiate, in a manner of speaking, accordingly. So … see you at the theater! … but please don’t pass me the chicken.”
- ‘CAUGHT UP IN THE RIPTIDE’: SWEAT AT LINFIELD THEATRE. David Bates reviews a college production of Lynn Nottage’s difficult and ambitious drama of working-class life, and discovers that committed young actors and a fine play can leave their audience gobsmacked.
MUSIC: THE MAGIC IS IN THE MIDDLE
A HANDFUL OF THINGS, MATTHEW NEIL ANDREWS WRITES in his new MusicWatch Weekly, makes a city’s musical culture feel complete: “You need several symphony orchestras and large choirs, and they all have to be pretty damn good. You also need several smaller choral and instrumental ensembles overlapping with and supplementing the larger bands; ideally, these smaller units will be a little more adventurous, and probably a lot more stylish. You need an ecosystem of local and touring bands across the various spectra of genre and heft, not just the big names and your friend’s solo noise-pop project but a solid middle-register balance of lesser-known but high-quality musical acts. This middle ground principle applies equally to rock, jazz, classical, and all the rest: the magic is in the middle.”
- FROM HATE TO HEALING. Brett Campbell looks deeply into the history and meaning of FearNoMusic’s program commemorating Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian student who was beaten to death in Portland in 1988 by white supremacists. An exhibit accompanying the concert is called The F Word: Stories of Forgiveness. Willamette Week’s Elise Herron has a good wrap on the murder and its still resonant aftermath.
- CLAIMING CULTURE, MARKETING EMOTION. Daniel Heila reviews an Oregon Mozart Players concert in Eugene that steps out of its historical setting.
ART ON THE ROAD: THE COLORS OF INDIA
PORTLAND WRITER AND PHOTOGRAPHER ANGELA ALLEN takes a photographic journey across northern India, discovering a continent of colors in the world’s second most populous nation. She shares a portfolio of images with ArtsWatch readers, capturing moments of clamor and quiet in a nation both traditional and modern.
DANCE: A SHAKE, A LITTLE TWIST, A LITTLE SHOUT
NIM WUNNAN REVIEWS REGGIE WILSON’S FIST AND HEEL DANCE TROUPE in its White Bird series performance of POWER, which is based on the history of African Americans in the Shaker religious movement.
- MEANWHILE, CATCH UP WITH WHAT’S CURRENT in dance in Jamuna Chiarini’s DanceWatch Monthly. Among the coming week’s offerings: a world premiere from The Holding Project, a little shaking and shimmying at Performance Works NW, some fireworks at New Expressive Works, the Bolshoi at the cinema, an autumn choreographers concert at Pacific University, and the continuation of BodyVox’s neo-Shakespearean Death and Delight.
IN GLENEDEN BEACH, A NEW PLACE FOR PHOTO ART
ART DEALER JENNIFER DECARLO HADN’T PLANNED to move to the Oregon Coast, but when her husband got a job there she packed up her gallery in San Diego and set it up in The Marketplace at Salishan – an “offbeat spot” for art, she tells ArtsWatch’s Lori Tobias, “but not without its unique merits — sort of like the ‘Hamptons of the Pacific Northwest.’”
END NOTE: NEW FACES IN OLD PLACES
CHANGING FACES ALONG THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN OREGON COAST: Harlen Springer, a retired corporate executive who is chair of the Florence Public Arts Committee and a founder and past president of the Florence Regional Arts Alliance, has been named the newest member of the Oregon Arts Commission. And the Coos Bay World reports that Marcia Hart, a longtime nonprofit executive in Coos Bay, has been named executive director of the Coos History Museum, a vibrant small museum that pays attention to both indigenous and European history and culture in the region.