Oregon ArtsWatch


Yachats Celtic Fest plans for fall

The coastal music fest, which lost its 20th season last year to the pandemic, is taking steps to start again in '21 – if restrictions are eased in time

Editor’s note: As coronavirus restrictions gradually ease, festivals and cultural organizations around Oregon – including the Yachats Celtic Music Festival, on the Coast – are making tentative plans to bring back live performances after a lost year. This story was published originally on March 10, 2021 on the coastal news site YachatsNews.com, and is republished here with permission.

By CHERYL ROMANO/YachatsNews.com

Most of the acts are booked. A reservation for the Yachats Commons has been made. And if COVID-19 restrictions permit, the Yachats Celtic Music Festival will return in November.

“Despite changing COVID-19 restrictions, we are optimistically moving ahead and continue planning for the 2021 Yachats Celtic Music Festival,” the board of directors of Polly Plumb Productions announced Tuesday. The nonprofit arts group oversees the festival and several other Yachats cultural events.

Cancelled last year — it would have been the 20th annual event — by the pandemic, the festival has grown to include high-level Celtic performers from across North America. In addition to singers and musicians, the popular event has also offered food, whiskey tastings, workshops and more, and has been a key attraction of the fall cultural/tourism season in Yachats.

“We are currently in a ‘yellow light’ cautious mode of planning,” the board said in its announcement, “hoping that state and local restrictions will be lifted by November and that we can proceed … we are still a few months out from ‘green-lighting’ the festival.”


My few brief minutes with Christopher Plummer

After the great film and stage actor's death at 91, veteran Portland actor Tobias Andersen remembers talking about Prospero with Plummer

Editor’s note: On Saturday afternoon, Feb. 6, the day after the great actor Christopher Plummer died at age 91 at his home in Connecticut, the veteran Portland actor and director Tobias Andersen sent an email remembering his own meeting with Plummer in 2010, when Plummer was starring as Prospero at Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Andersen was preparing to take on the same legendary role at Clackamas Repertory Theatre in Oregon. We asked Andersen if we could share his story with ArtsWatch readers, and he kindly agreed.


One heckuvan actor died yesterday.  A gracious gentleman, Christopher Plummer.

When David Smith-English and I were kicking around thoughts about our upcoming production of The Tempest at Clackamas Rep in 2010, a New York Times review made us realize that the last great classical actor of our generation, Christopher Plummer, had just opened as Prospero at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario.  We scrambled for tickets, plane reservations, a hotel, and got it all done in time for us to be in Canada ten days later.

I wrote to Mr. Plummer, not expecting any reply but didn’t think it hurt to mention that we were about to start rehearsals for The Tempest, that I was playing Prospero, and we would love to meet him afterwards, if possible.  Nothing ventured.

After our flight, checking in, dinner, all that – we were at the theater where I sent another note backstage, saying we are in the audience.  We had excellent seats, audience right.  

The Filipina actor Soelistyo as Ariel, with Christopher Plummer as Prospero, in the 2010 Stratford production of “The Tempest.” The photo is from Andersen’s copy of the show program. Of Soelistyo’s Ariel, Andersen comments: “She entered the stage, face down, from the ceiling along a 36-foot wire. You had to be there.”

I’ll only mention this about the production – it was terrific, particularly Plummer’s intensely moving Prospero along with the most astounding (four foot, blue) Ariel I have ever seen.  A shipwrecked grand piano, half buried in the sand, was the focal point of the setting.


Portraits of both sides: An interview with a protest photographer

Rian Dundon takes photographs at protests. He's been busy.


Rian Dundon (www.riandundon.com) has been photographing Oregon demonstrations since shortly after moving to Portland in 2019. What follows is an interview conducted on January 21, 2021 between Oregon ArtsWatch’s Blake Andrews (BA) and Dundon (RD) along with a series of Dundon’s photographs taken over the last several months.

BA: Did you photograph the Portland protests last night (Inauguration night, January 20th)?

RD: Yes. I’m going on about 3 hours sleep so bear with me.

BA: They went all night?


Art on the walls, violence in the Capitol

The art on the walls helped interpret the failed coup attempt in the Capitol Building

By Victoria Sundell, Molly Alloy, Nathanael Andreini, Mariah Berlanga-Shevchuk, and Rachel Brumit

Editor’s note: We saw this visual essay from Five Oaks Museum published as a thread on Twitter and Instagram and asked permission to post it on Oregon ArtsWatch. It addresses the discordances—and harmonies—between the invaders of the Capitol Building on January 6 and the art on the building’s walls that provided the backdrop.

Private lives of the trees

September's Holiday Farm Fire decimated some areas of forest while others escaped relatively unscathed. Photographer David Paul Bayles lovingly documents the surviving trees.


It’s a chilly December morning when I pull into the parking lot tucked along the McKenzie Highway. David Paul Bayles is already here, sorting camera equipment in his truck for our upcoming exploration. We are soon joined by Fred Swanson, who will be our guide and mentor today. A retired Forest Service scientist, Swanson has been working on local forest issues since the 1970s, as a field scientist and research leader in the Long-Term Ecological Reflections (LTER) program at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest near Blue River (where he and Bayles collaborated in 2018). He possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of Northwest ecosystems, and the McKenzie corridor in particular. Now in his mid-70s Swanson is as spry and curious as ever. As he begins tromping through the forest, Bayles and I must double our step to keep up. 

We are in the heart of the McKenzie valley, and nothing looks like it did earlier this year: September’s Holiday Farm Fire laid a path of destruction right down the valley’s gut, starting at the eponymous Holiday Farm Resort, then sweeping downwind to eventually incinerate over 170,000 acres. The damage was not uniform. Instead, the fire burned in patchwork fashion depending on forest type, density, grade, defensibility, and a degree of cruel luck. In the communities nestled along highway 126, intact homes sit adjacent to charred waste lots. From our meeting point along the river we can see huge swaths of blackened hillside. But there are also many nearby groves which appear largely intact, at least in their upper stories above the scorch line. 


Remember the uncomplicated joy

In a time and place reeling from multiple crises, local duo Methods Body meditates on recording as radical practice


This has been a weird year to drop a debut record. Portland has seen its share of upheaval lately. In January, after three years of composing and recording, we’d found great label support, honed our live set, ordered vinyl, and booked tours. Then, our record announcement fell on the same day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Two months later, the record was released just days before George Floyd’s murder. We wept for the world as we went through the motions working on promo and music videos, and the world showed us growing fascism, worst-ever wildfires, and forced sterilizations of the most vulnerable people. Every week of 2020 has shown us something far more important, far more worthy of attention than a record of new music by two white men.

We’ve had the rare fortune of being able to put our most precious energies into our art for decades. We’re lifers. We always thought this in itself was a radical practice: fighting for a life outside of the accumulation of capital, spending our efforts building a community for the arts, and trying to share with our friends and audiences a sense of hope, joy, and inspiration, or offering a new definition of beauty that’s lightyears away from the Gucci-Kardashian-Bugatti-sphere.


Fertility figures get an update

Grace Stott's ceramic sculptures offer whimsical takes on fruit, baked goods, and even Cheetos


The slate grey of the concrete floor offsets the deep scarlet red of three anthropomorphized strawberry figures, voluptuous and feminine, covered in electric yellow, lilac, and coral strawberry seeds. The figures coalesce into a pyramid shape. This ceramic wall sculpture, Strawbaes, faces the gallery entrance of Fuller Rosen when you walk into Grace Stott’s show, “Ambrosia.” 

Grace Stott, Strawbaes (2020). Ceramic relief, 18x15x2 inches. Image courtesy of Fuller Rosen Gallery.

The show’s title alludes to the delicacy that was the food of the Greek Gods, rumored to be life-giving and restorative for those that lived on Mount Olympus. North Carolina-based artist Grace Stott’s sensuous, fruit-focused figures bridge the gap between symbolic and literal. The body of work featured in “Ambrosia” was inspired by Stott’s personal struggle with infertility, as E.M. Fuller, the gallery’s co-founder, shares in both the gallery’s press release and in conversation. 

Stott’s year-long rumination led her to become increasingly interested in fruit imagery, and the longstanding correlation and symbolism it shares as representations of fertility. The personal and archetypal aspects of muliebrity in this work are uniquely expressive and auspicious.