ArtsWatch Weekly: Thanks again

On a day of sharing, we talk about giving and receiving, and then dig in to Oregon's lavish cultural banquet: the arts beat goes on


TODAY IS A DAY OF GIVING THANKS, HOWEVER YOU CHOOSE TO DO SO. Here at ArtsWatch, some of us are on the road, traveling to visit family. Others have already reached their destinations. Some are hosting dinners or meeting with friends. Some are already busy in their kitchens, chopping and baking and simmering and laughing and preparing for a grand meal. We imagine you’re doing much the same. Some of you might even be busy in soup kitchens or food pantries, helping to cook and serve a good hot meal for people who don’t always get one. Some of you might be in line, waiting. 
 

Childe Hassam, Oregon Stlll Life (detail), 1904, oil on canvas, 25 x 30.25 inches, Portland Art Museum. Gift of Col. C.E.S. Wood in memory of his wife, Nancy Moale Wood. (On view in Belluschi Building; the museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day.)

Oregon is a land of bounty, as Childe Hassam’s delicious painting above from more than a century ago attests. Enjoy, share, and nurture it. Revel in its natural and creative wonders. Be generous. In a time of division and antagonism, help make it a place for everyone. Happy Thanksgiving to you. And thanks for being part of ArtsWatch. We’re here thanks to you.  


THE ART OF GIVING, LARGE AND SMALL


Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos), aretha franklin (1942-2018) reins supreme, dance cap, 2018.

“IT’S ABOUT HAVING A CONVERSATION,” Laura Grimes writes of the many-colored, messy, complex process of giving and receiving. “It’s an exchange, if you will, but it’s even more than that. It’s a relationship. A bond. A matter of trust. And so it begins and continues every step of the way. A respectful nod. When [Sara] Siestreem harvests plants, she talks to them, telling them her plans and all she hopes for them. How important they are. She handles them, imbues them with her energy, and they hold that and give back. It’s an exchange. And she leaves an offering. A salmonberry, perhaps.”


DANCE IN DECEMBER: RHYMING COUPLETS RULE!


Cirque Dreams Holidaze brings Vegas-style spectacle to Eugene’s Hult Center on Sunday with a winter-holidays blowout. Photo courtesy Cirque Dreams Holidaze

THERE’LL BE NUTCRACKERS, ZOOZOOS, WINTER WONDERS, BABES IN TOYLAND and more on Oregon’s dance floors in December as the season and its lighting begin to twinkle and shine. Jamuna Chiarini’s new DanceWatch Monthly, the state’s definitive guide to dance performances, has ’em all – and to get you in the proper holiday mood, she introduces them with a … well, let’s just say you’ll recognize the rhythms of the rhyme.

  • BUT WAIT: IT’S STILL NOVEMBER. The month gets a last dance hurrah with the world premiere of Tom Gold’s Petrushka (with a 1950s-Portland setting) and the return of John Clifford’s Firebird from the Portland Ballet, Friday through Sunday at Lincoln Performance Hall. 

ART: REVEALING THE MYSTERIES OF THE MASKS


Outer masks can exaggerate inner feelings: six of Fernando Rodriguez’ nine photos of anger in A Universal Feeling at Chehalem Cultural Center. Photo: David Bates

THE MEDIUM IS THE MASK. David Bates talks with master maskmaker Tony Fuemmeler about A Universal Feeling, the Chehalem Cultural Center show he spearheaded by bringing together work by more than 60 national and international mask artists. “The results are stunning, fascinating, playful, and occasionally disturbing,” Bates writes, and then quotes Fuemmeler: “It was an experiment. I had no idea what would happen. I was very curious how people would respond.”


MUSIC: WE’RE THANKFUL FOR THE ELF, MAN


Elfman, Nitemare B4 Xmas style. Photo courtesy The Saloon Ensemble
Elfman, Nitemare B4 Xmas style. Photo courtesy The Saloon Ensemble

MUSIC EDITOR MATTHEW NEIL ANDREWS HAS BEEN AS HAPPY AS A HOG IN MUD lately, as he explains in his unabashed love letter King of the Undead: “It’s no secret to anyone that the present author’s favorite composer is Danny Elfman (except in academic circles, where I claim it’s Stravinsky), and it made a wonderful birthday gift this year to hear his music performed twice in my adopted hometown. The two concerts could hardly have been more different – symphonic Batman screening at The Schnitz, homey Nightmare hootenanny at Alberta Rose – and both shows were firmly indebted to the visual and narrative elements that birthed the music. Satisfying though both experiences were, the frame felt somewhat intrusive, and left me wishing I had more opportunities to just listen to this guy’s music the same way the rest of you get to listen to The Decomposing Austrians.”


ART ON THE ROAD: TRANSPARENCY, A SOLDIER’S ART


Jenny Pohlman and Sabrina Knowles, Transparent (2017), in Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition, Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Photo: Friderike Heuer

ARTIST, PHOTOGRAPHER, AND WRITER FRIDERIKE HEUER has been exploring north of Oregon, and has taken her camera and notepad to a couple of fascinating places: 

  • In Transparency in Tacoma, she takes a deep look at the art and ideas in the ambitious show Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition, at The Museum of Glass. “I counted the fact that the title alone made me think, before I even physically entered the exhibit, as a success,” she writes. “As it turns out, one of many that this show delivers.”
  • And in A soldier’s journey, she visits in a Seattle atelier with artist Charles Burt, whose compelling story runs from a religious childhood to war zones and a military life to an art academy and the challenge of disease. “While observing him at work in the studio,” she writes, “I was reminded of Monet’s phrase linked to Impressionism: To see we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at.” 
Work Boots, by soldier-turned-artist Charles Burt. Photo: Friderike Heuer

STAGE: SARAH RUHL’S ALMOND JOY


Sadness never looked so fun: Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play in a Third Rail Rep production at CoHo Theater. Photo: Owen Carey

CHRISTMAS IS COMING, THE GEESE ARE GETTING FAT, and Marty Hughley’s new DramaWatch column is, well, stuffed with news about Scrooges and Black Nativity and seasonal musicals and even a holiday mystery complete with Sherlock Holmes. But first, a word from Sarah Ruhl. Third Rail Rep is opening her Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musical, which puts a twist on things. It is, Hughley explains, “about melancholy. It concerns a woman named Tilly whose wistful, romantically melancholic affect is so alluring that the folks she encounters — her therapist, her tailor, her hairdresser and so on — fall all over themselves falling in love with her. Until, surrounded by all that love, Tilly has what’s either a sudden recognition or a true transformation: She’s happy. And, well, that doesn’t go over so well.” And the almond? We can’t give everything away here. Wait and see.

  • CLOSE UP AND BURNING BRIGHT. Asylum Theatre reignites Lanford Wilson’s Burn This with intimate staging and palpable emotion: Bennett Campbell Ferguson reviews.
  • SHAKESPEARE AND THE SYMPHONY. ArtsWatch triple-teams the Oregon Symphony’s double-team of a staged The Tempest with the orchestra playing Sibelius’s score for the play. In Shakespeare and symphony meet, as if by magic, Marty Hughley talks with veteran Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors Tyrone Wilson and Armando Durán, who are in the cast. And in A Tempest in the Schnitz, photographer Joe Cantrell shoots the opening-night action and Bob Hicks tells the tale in words.

A LIFE WELL LED: REMEMBERING A FREE SPIRIT


Juergen Eckstein built the 20-foot tower Wolkenkuckucksheim (right) at Burning Man in 2013. Photo courtesy Jeff Ouderkirk 

LORI TOBIAS REMEMBERS JUERGEN ECKSTEIN, a widely beloved Newport artist who has died at 77: “The German native liked beer, was passionate about the environment, eschewed medicine, and traveled the world with his family,” she writes in Farewell to a free spirit. “He settled with his wife, Dianne, in Newport in 2000. ‘I think he was just a really free spirit,’ said Cynthia Jacobi, friend and fellow artist. ‘He always liked to say he was an unschooled autodidact. He had a unique way of looking at things.’”


A NEW OPERA: SMOKE & MIRRORS, ALL IN THE GAME


Lydia O’Brien, Maeve Stier, and Madeleine Tran, with image of Wyatt Jackson on screen in PSU Opera’s Mirror Game, premiering Friday. Photo: Joe Cantrell

PSU OPERA, THE HIGHLY REGARDED UNIVERSITY COMPANY that acts as a springboard to operatic careers, often ranges beyond the warhorses, and its latest joins the exploratory crowd. Mirror Game, which opens Friday and continues through Dec. 8 in the intimate Studio Theatre at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall, is a world premiere, with music by Celka Ojakangas and libretto by Amy Punt. Its setting and issues are up-to-the-minute, too: a high-stakes game among three women programmers at a Silicon Valley gaming company, fighting to turn the tables on a sexist workplace.



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