COAST

Children, meet Charlotte’s dad

Newport author Barbara Herkert's picture-book biography of E.B. White is a finalist for the 2019 Oregon Book Award in children's literature

Barbara Herkert’s story is the classic tale of the would-be artist who shelves her dreams to pursue a more practical path. Starting out as an art major in the 1970s, Herkert switched to nursing at her parent’s urging.

Ten years later, she followed her heart, pursuing an MFA. The Newport resident has written picture-book biographies on artists Mary Cassatt and Harriet Powers and is an 2019 Oregon Book Awards finalist in the children’s literature category for her third one, “A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider: The Story of E.B. White.” The book awards ceremony will be held April 22 in the Gerding Theater at the Armory in Portland.

Newport writer Barbara Herkert has written three picture-book biographies for children.

Newport writer Barbara Herkert has written three picture-book biographies for children.

White is well known as the author of three classic children’s books — Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1927 until his death in 1985, and his revision of William Strunk Jr.’s writer’s handbook, The Elements of Style, is known to legions of college students and writers.

We talked to Herkert about her craft and admiration for White.

What led you to picture-book biographies?

Barbara Herkert: When I was at Hamline University, I had the great good fortune of working with Jacqueline Briggs Martin, who wrote the picture-book biography Snowflake Bentley and many others since then. She was my mentor and I fell in love with the genre. I started out illustrating my biographies. Then my editor asked how I felt about using an illustrator. So I’ve had three different illustrators for the three biographies. It brought a whole new level to my words and was very exciting. I’ve been very pleased.

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A great beach read

Cannon Beach's Get Lit at the Beach gathers writers and readers in an intimate setting to talk about books and reading

I am lucky enough to have attended literary gatherings all over the country, leaving me with great memories of meeting writing giants face to face, hanging out over cocktails or dinner, and, of course, scoring their signatures for my collection of autographed books. More importantly, I was lucky enough to be nurtured by some fine writers.

At one of my first conferences, Sandra Scofield took me under her wing like one of her own, and nearly 30 years later, I still turn to her for advice and support. At the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, I remember rising at some ungodly hour to gather in a small classroom with the late director and screenwriter Gill Dennis to explore themes in our work. And at the Denver Woman’s Press Club, a handful of us shared the living room of our clubhouse with Richard Ford who signed his short story collection, “For Lori… with very good wishes for you, for you know.” Seriously, I never knew for sure what he thought I knew, but I always hoped he was right.

Seattle-area writer Jonathan Evison signs books during 2017's Get Lit at the Beach. The 8th annual festival is April 5-7. Photo courtesy: Get Lit at the Beach

Seattle-area writer Jonathan Evison signs books during the 2017 Get Lit at the Beach gathering. The 8th annual event is April 5-7. Photo courtesy: Get Lit at the Beach

That intimate setting I experienced is what sets Cannon Beach’s Get Lit at the Beach, A Gathering for Readers apart from other, larger events. Not a conference or a workshop, the April 5-7 event is a weekend of small gatherings designed for the purpose of talking words and stories and all that goes with them. Events range from free of charge to $95 for the whole package.

Now in its eighth year, Get Lit can claim some pretty fine bragging rights by hosting authors such as the late Ursula K. Le Guin, National Book Award finalist Jess Walter, and the late, and much-loved, Brian Doyle. This year’s authors are Terry Brooks, Pierce Brown, Deb Caletti, Carol Cassella, Sophia Shalmiyev, and Leni Zumas.

The weekend starts with a reception Friday evening.

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Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover

In a Newport exhibition of artists' books, a work by Alaskan Margo Klass tells its story through its structure rather than pages

When Margo Klass boards the plane in Fairbanks bound for Oregon, she’ll be carrying a most unusual book. Open, it stretches 6 feet. It’s a work of art, a memoir in abstract, the story of nine days Klass spent with her writer husband, Frank Soos, as artists-in-residence on Alaska’s Beaver Creek.

Closed, Margo Klass’ "Beaver Creek" is compact enough to carry on an airplane.

Closed, Margo Klass’ “Beaver Creek” is compact enough to carry on an airplane.

Klass will share the story behind the book, Nine Days on Beaver Creek, on April 27 during the 24th annual Newport Paper & Book Arts Festival. The Instructors’ Show held in conjunction with the April festival opens Friday, March 22, in the Newport Visual Arts Center.

Open, "Beaver Creek’s" 11 panels stretch 6 feet.

Open, “Beaver Creek’s” 11 panels stretch 6 feet.

“During the residency, I kept a personal journal, took photos, and made sketches of visual ideas that might capture the essence of traveling 100 miles on a river, camping on gravel bars, and almost never being warm enough for comfort,” Klass said. “During the trip we had rain, snow, smoke, and plenty of cold, but somehow that didn’t matter in the end — it was an amazing experience.”

When the trip, part of a Bureau of Land Management program to promote use of public lands, was over, she began work on the book. “I wanted the structure to reflect the meandering of the river, to contain my images in 3D, and to hold smaller, artists’ books of Frank’s texts.”

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Oregon Spotlight: Spring breaks from Shakespeare to Caravaggio

Our sampler of hits and bits from around the state offers music in Covallis and Medford, art in Bend and Roseburg, film on the Coast, and OSF is live in Ashland

We’ve set the clocks ahead, spring is coming, and that means Oregonians are tentatively emerging from their abodes with a mind to hit the road for day and weekend trips. What’s on the state’s cultural menu?

Mark Murphey (holding book) plays William Joad, who meets unexpected relative Martin Jodes, played by Tony Sancho (on ground), in Octavio Solis’ “Mother Road” at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by: Jenny Graham/Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Mark Murphey (holding book) plays William Joad, who meets unexpected relative Martín Jodes, played by Tony Sancho (on ground), in Octavio Solis’ “Mother Road” at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by: Jenny Graham/Oregon Shakespeare Festival

For starters, it’s showtime at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Right out of the gate, four options: Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band in the Thomas Theatre, while the Angus Bowmer hosts As You Like It, Hairspray: The Broadway Musical and Mother Road, a new play by Octavio Solis, inspired by John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and featuring OSF favorite Mark Murphey as William Joad. Solis is an Oregon playwright, and he’s calling this a “sequel” to Steinbeck’s classic, although it continues the story from an immigrant’s perspective. This is a world premiere directed by outgoing artistic director Bill Rauch and likely to be a play you’ll be proud to say, years from now, “I saw it first at OSF in Ashland.” Tickets and more info here.

Meanwhile, a few other options beyond Portlandia:

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Celebrate St. Pat’s with music, poetry, or love gone astray

Coast calendar: Irish and Andean music in Lincoln City, PoetryFest in Manzanita, and rom-coms open in Nehalem and Cannon Beach

You don’t need to go to the local pub to get your green on this St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, you can drop in at the Lincoln City Cultural Center, where Pipedance presents St. Patrick’s Day Unplugged, a multi-cultural celebration. Nora Sherwood and Gary Burman, the duo behind Pipedance, play multiple instruments, and Sherwood is a champion stepdancer. The pair will be joined by the Andean band Chayag, led by Alex Llumiquinga, and flamenco dancer Sophia Solano.

This is a new approach to the Cultural Center’s traditional St. Pat’s celebration, said director Niki Price.

Detail from “The Irish Piper” by William Oliver Williams, 1874, oil on canvas, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Quinnipiac University, Connecticut

Detail from “The Irish Piper” by William Oliver Williams, 1874, oil on canvas, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Quinnipiac University, Connecticut

The celebration had grown into a nice event over the past six years, Price said, but it was time for a change. “We took it off the stage and put it on the floor of the auditorium on a raised platform. There are tables around the platform so it will feel a little more like you are in a pub. You are going to be much closer to the music.”

The Saturday night show kicks off at 6 p.m. March 16 with a traditional dinner by the cultural center’s Judy Hardy, featuring corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, soda bread, and dessert. The Sunday show starts at 2 p.m. with snacks and beverages. Tickets range from $32 to $8, depending on the show.

“What you will see is a small ensemble on this platform,” Price said. “Sherwood is going to be doing some dancing as well as working on the pennywhistle. It’s not going to be this big booming electric version of a St. Patrick’s show, but rather a personal, more intimate experience.”

All ages are welcome. For ticket information, go here.

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Empowerment and impermanence: making a mandala in Newport

The touring monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery in India will spend six days sharing Buddhist teachings and raising funds for the Tibetan culture in exile

As a photographer and communications consultant for nonprofits, Tripp Mikich worked for more than a decade with Tibetan monks touring the United States. He assumed that work was finished when he moved recently to Lincoln City. But while he was visiting his hometown of Placerville, Calif., over Christmas,  he went to view a sand mandala made by the monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery in India.

The monks offhandedly mentioned they were going to be in Newport. His response: “‘Are you serious?’ It was a happy surprise to find out they were coming to my new backyard.”

Mikich, who says his own practice is rooted in the tradition of Vietnamese zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, is working with the Gaden Shartse monks to share information about their visit March 12-17. The Gaden Shartse Monastic College was founded in the 15th century in Tibet. When China invaded that country in 1949, Gaden Shartse survivors fled to India and eventually started a new monastery. The monks are on a two-year tour to share Tibetan culture with Americans with stops in Florida, New Hampshire, Los Angeles, Seattle, Nebraska, and the Oregon Coast.

Shanu, youngest of the Gaden Shartse Tibetan monks on the tour, works on a Manjushri Sand Mandala. The thin funnel in his hand is called a "chakpur" and is especially made for this task. A thin metal stick is used to "ratchet" or vibrate the funnel so it sends a controlled, thin stream of sand in fine lines to make the details and background colors. Rather than being laid "flat," the sand is fact mounded into ridges and troughs, creating a brocade-like effect. Photo by: Tripp Mikich

Shanu, youngest of the Gaden Shartse Tibetan monks on the tour, works on a Manjushri sand mandala. The thin funnel in his hand, called a chakpur, is especially made for this task. A thin metal stick is used to “ratchet” or vibrate the funnel so it sends a controlled, thin stream of sand in fine lines to make the details and background colors. Rather than being laid flat, the sand is mounded into ridges and troughs, creating a brocade-like effect. Photo by: Tripp Mikich

During their six days in Newport, they’ll offer public talks and host Tibetan Buddhist sacred rituals and ceremonies, as well as two family-friendly, all-ages workshops on Tibetan butter sculpture, Tibetan calligraphy, and the making of sand mandalas.

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Racism through the eyes of the oppressors

Artist Anne Mavor's installation in Newport uses self-portraits and stories of her ancestors to explore identity, privilege, and white supremacy

When Portland artist Anne Mavor attended a meeting a few years ago to learn about Native Liberation, the movement to free native peoples from capitalism and colonialism, she was already thinking about collaborating with a Native American on a project. But after hearing the speaker’s thoughts, she changed her mind.

Anne Mavor’s portrait depicts the artist in her studio.

“The speaker said, ‘White people need to go and find your people, you need to discover who they are.’ As soon as she said that, I realized I was off track,” Mavor said. “I was just another white person hanging on the coattails of Native America. I asked myself, what would it look like if I claimed my white heritage?”

Her answer, I Am My White Ancestors: Claiming the Legacy of Oppression, is on exhibit through Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Newport Visual Arts Center. Mavor’s installation includes 13 life-size photographic self-portraits printed on fabric panels, each accompanied by audio and written narratives from the perspective of each character. The exhibit invites people to approach and understand racism and related oppressions from a historical and personal perspective.

Mavor, a Portland artist whose work ranges from painting to photography to book arts, hoped that in studying and portraying her ancestors, many of whom she already knew about through family genealogy research, she might learn more about herself.

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