K.B. Dixon

 

Still Life in a Time of Sequestration

As other subjects retreat into their own solitudes, photographer K.B. Dixon shifts his gaze to the pristine beauty of domestic things


TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY K.B. DIXON


As a photographer I am interested in people, places, and things. These interests do not change with sequestration, but the opportunity to pursue them does. When the people one is sequestered with do not want to be photographed and the places one is sequestered in tend to be private rather than public, one is forced to rely almost exclusively on things.

This particular collection of photographs is the product of the Covid-19 crisis—a crisis that has forced a street, documentary, and portrait photographer to spend more time than usual indoors. It is a radically edited inventory of household goods, of objects near and sometimes dear—the utilitarian, the talismanic, and the decorative. Each item, of course, has its own story. For example, the magnifying glass. It was purchased twenty years ago to help an aging lexophile negotiate the microscopic print of a cheap, compact edition of the OED—a dictionary where one can find the words “mundane” and “miraculous” sitting almost side by side.


PITCHER, 2020



WOODEN BOX, 2020


Continues…

Photo First: Social distancing

We know. It's tough. But some Portlanders have been practicing it for a long time. K.B. Dixon's camera catches an abiding state of solitude.


TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY K.B. DIXON


As part of the effort to combat Covid-19 we have been advised by pretty much everyone to practice social distancing. It is important to slow the spread of the virus, to “flatten the curve,” as statistical analysts put it. As a concept it is not something entirely new to Portland. There are those predisposed among us who have been practicing it for years. They have it down.

2019
2014

Continues…

Eine Kleine Strassemusik

A Little Street Music (or, Remembering Portland as It So Recently Was)


TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY K.B. DIXON


In Austria the hills are alive with the sound of music. In Portland—in normal times—the streets are. The photographs here are a look at the recent past. They are excerpted from an archive of “musicians without borders”—the street performers who have provided the soundtrack to everyday life in this city. On a good day even a dabbler with a dulcimer could make a living wage. As an audience member I might have petitioned for fewer brain-cleaving trumpets and more gut-massaging cellos, but that was just me. When it came to guitars, the numbers always seemed just right. This year, with the COVID-19 contretemps, those numbers will not be what they used to be. I will, however, be thankful for whatever they are. Right now, when it comes to a live performance, I would be happy with a chorus of kazoos on the corner of Fourth and Couch.


TRIO, 2013

Continues…

The Artists Series 3: Visual Artists

Ten portraits in black and white by K.B. Dixon of Oregon artists who are helping to define what Portland and the state look like


TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY K.B. DIXON


This is the third installment of portraits in The Artist Series. The first two focused on Oregon writers. This one focuses on visual artists—the gifted painters and sculptors who have made invaluable contributions to the character and culture of this city and state, people whose legacies are destined to be part of our cultural history.            

It would take pages to catalog the awards, commissions, and honors of these artists and color reproductions of their work to provide a full appreciation of their wizardry so I will simply refer you to their various perches in cyberspace—their virtual ateliers.


LEE KELLY: SCULPTOR



Kelly is one of the most revered artists in the Pacific Northwest. He is best known for his monumental public sculptures. These large pieces are “often animalistic, sometimes suggestive of calligraphy or Asian script, always poetic.” – Bob Hicks, ArtScatter.

Examples of Kelly’s work can be found at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery and at lee-kelly.net.

Continues…

The Artists Series: Writers, Part 2

Ten portraits in black and white by K.B. Dixon of Oregon writers who are making a mark in the world, with excerpts from their work


TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY K.B. DIXON


This is the second installment of portraits in The Artist Series. Like the first, it focuses on Oregon writers—the unusually gifted people who make up this state’s diverse and dynamic literary culture. 

The visual approach remains the same. It relies on an economy of means, on a simple alchemic mix of raw materials: time, light, and character.

My hope is to call attention to the uniquely rewarding work of these talented people, and, as always, to produce a good photograph—one that presents a feeling as well as a form, one that preserves for myself and others a faithful representation of the subject. 


FLOYD SKLOOT


Poet, novelist, memoirist, and science writer. Far West is his latest book of poetry.

“My brain is a jukebox stuffed with old songs

playing a phrase or two at random over

and over. I keep the volume turned low

but you can sometimes see my lips move

as I sing along, eyebrows rising as I reach

for a silent high note.”

Excerpt from the poem “Over and Over” in the collection Far West

Continues…

Tuba or not tuba: That’s the holiday question

For the 29th year, Portland Tuba Christmas makes a mighty sound in Pioneer Courthouse Square, renewing a pleasure we've been missing.


PHOTOGRAPHS BY K.B. DIXON
WORDS BY BOB HICKS


Portland’s 29th annual Tuba Christmas boomed and rumbled over Pioneer Courthouse Square in the center of downtown on Saturday, and to tell the forlorn truth, I’d forgotten all about it. Fortunately for the world in general and ArtsWatch readers in particular, K.B. Dixon had not.

Dixon, my friend and a frequent ArtsWatch contributor, is an enthusiast of the sort of odd creative compulsion that struts proudly just a little to the side of the workaday world. He believes it’s part of the joy and generosity of life to hurl himself into the midst of such wonders – things like carousel museums, vintage car and airplane collections, Day of the Dead celebrations, Saturday Market, coffeehouse culture, roadster shows – and record them in visual images for the rest of the world to see and appreciate for what they are: the quirks and passions and alternate pathways that create a life well-lived.

Out of the chaos, a universe of coordinated sound is born. Music stands and music scores help midwife the joyous event.

Continues…

Photo First: The Day of Dead

At the Portland Art Museum, a lively and well-adorned crowd comes out to join in the Mexican celebration of Día de Muertos


TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY K.B. DIXON


Día de Muertos (Day of Dead) is a national holiday in Mexico. It is celebrated throughout Latin America, the United States, and here in Portland at a handful of venues, including the Portland Art Museum and Pacific Northwest College of Art.

A truly flamboyant festival, it celebrates the lives of departed loved ones and the larger life of a diverse and vibrant community. It mocks the fear of death with ornately decorated images of the macabre.

Saturday afternoon’s celebration at the Portland Art Museum was the museum’s second time hosting the event organized by Maria Garcia, an indefatigable activist, businesswoman (she owns Revolucion Coffee), and former member of the Mexican Consulate. The event, which drew a huge crowd, included food, art, Aztec dancers, Mexican cowboys, poets, lectures, music, and an exhibition of altars. It is slated to become a regular annual offering.

Continues…