CULTURE

Envisioning the human body — and life itself

Artists Tammy Jo Wilson and Amanda Triplett explore the beauty and metamorphosis of the organic form in a show at the Chehalem Cultural Center

Biological Dissonance, a collection of paintings and sculpture by Portland-area artists Tammy Jo Wilson and Amanda Triplett, is the newest exhibit to take up residence in the Chehalem Cultural Center’s largest gallery. While I was visiting it recently, two other names came to mind: David Cronenberg and Russian art critic Aleksandr Voronsky.

The former, of course, is the Canadian filmmaker who in 1986 gave us a gruesome remake of The Fly and is best known as a pioneer in so-called “body horror” cinema. The lesser known Voronsky wrote in the early 20th-century that art — all art — is, to varying degrees, the “cognition of life” itself.

To cite Cronenberg is perhaps unfair, as there’s nothing in the Newberg-based gallery that is extreme or gross, nothing for shock value, nothing that would be obviously at home in one of his stomach-churning films (although a couple of blob-like textile sculptures, which are beautiful, come close). The key parallel is artistic focus: a sustained and deeply considered exploration of the human body — from the recognizable shape of a single form all the way down to a hair, or even the follicle that contains it. Or an ovum. Life itself.

“Plasmic,” by Amanda Triplett (fiber installation from salvaged textiles, 12 by 60 by 16 inches, 2019) and (in the background) “Bare Bones,” by Tammy Jo Wilson (encaustic on panel, 18 by 24 inches, 2017). Photo by: David Bates
“Plasmic,” by Amanda Triplett (2019, fiber installation from salvaged textiles, 12 x 60 x 16 inches) and (in the background) “Bare Bones,” by Tammy Jo Wilson (2017, encaustic on panel, 18 x 24 inches). Photo by: David Bates

The show is described by Chehalem’s curators as “an exhibition about the irrepressible metamorphosis of the human body and beauty within the organic form.”

According to the statement, Wilson and Triplett “blend their creative expressions in this compelling and tactile exhibit about the biological body, through works of encaustics, paintings, prints, fiber and textile installations. Pairing together their individual approaches to process and medium, they build a visual dialogue expressing the visceral nature of the vessels to which all humans are confined and examining the relationship between flesh and bone; and society, cultural experience and self-awareness.”

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In the Frame 5: Cultural Lights

In a fifth collection of black & white images, K.B. Dixon continues his photographic portraiture series of Oregon arts and cultural leaders


TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY K.B. DIXON


The photographic portrait is a complex thing—an image gathered at the center of four corners. It is what the camera sees, what the photographer sees, what the viewer sees, and what the subject hides or reveals. The facts of it can be explained to some degree, but not the experience of it. It is a magic trick, a sort of transcendental transcription. It is pulling a rabbit out of your hat, or in this case out of your DSLR.

The portraits gathered here are the latest in a series titled In the Frame—a photographic chronicle of the talented people whose contributions to the art, character, and culture of this city have made it what it is today, people whose various legacies are destined to be part of our cultural heritage.

As with the previous portraits in this series, these have been taken in situ using available light.


JERRY MOUAWAD


Writer, Artistic Co-Director, and Founding Member with Carol Triffle of Imago Theatre.

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Sounds of a Yamhill County summer

Pull up a lawn chair and listen to concerts ranging from gospel to heavy psych

This week’s survey of Yamhill County’s cultural scene is All Things Musical — or as close to “all” as is possible to get without being omniscient. The opera-oriented Aquilon Music Festival is in the thick of it, but they’re not the only musicians in town. McMinnville and Newberg each host a series of free summer concerts, while out in Willamina, folks are getting ready for the Wildwood Music Fest, which has been hosting regional bands since 2010. Let’s start there, as that’s a ticketed event. 

WILDWOOD MUSIC FEST: On Yamhill County’s east side in the Sheridan and Willamina area, we find Katie Vinson of the Wildwood Hotel and Kim Hamblin of Roshambo ArtFarm once again organizing a grassroots musical affair and family camp-out that benefits local nonprofits. The nearly 20-year-old festival will be held July 19-21 on the farm, 22900 S.W. Pittman Road. Tickets and all the details you could possibly need are available here. The lineup includes the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers, Sam Chase and The Untraditional, Drunken Prayer, Willy Tea Taylor, and many, many more.

McMINNVILLE CONCERTS ON THE PLAZA: Organized by the McMinnville Downtown Association, these Thursday evening concerts are held on the U.S. Bank Plaza at the corner of Third and Davis streets. The street is closed, and some seating is available, but it goes fast, so best to bring a lawn chair. Concerts run 6 to 9 p.m.

The series kicks off July 11 with the Portland heavy-psych band Blackwater Holylight, founded by vocalist/bassist Allison Faris in 2016. At the website for Portland label RidingEasy Records, which represents Blackwater, Faris describes the band’s genesis: “I wanted to experiment with my own version of what felt ‘heavy’ both sonically and emotionally. I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.”

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Blues finale: a festival with teeth

The party gets hearty as "Kingfish" Ingram picks his guitar strings for the crowd. Joe Cantrell snaps the Waterfront Blues Fest's last hurrah.


PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOE CANTRELL


When the extraordinary young guitarist Christone “Kingfish” Ingram waded into the crowd at the Waterfront Blues Festival on Sunday and started picking the strings with his teeth, you knew the whole darned party was gettin’ down. Musicians, fans, techies, vendors, kids, couples, senior hipsters, spur-of-the-moment dancers, festival newbies and seasoned blues aficionados – it was the last day of the four-day music extravaganza in Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and everyone was wringing the juice from the thing down to the last drop.

“Kingfish” Ingram: whole lotta talent goin’ down.

Ingram, the 20-year-old prodigy from Clarksdale, Mississippi, who’s played and recorded with Buddy Guy, Keb Mo’ and other greats, is two years out of high school and taking the music world by storm. Portland was happy to be part of the deluge. A Portland favorite from New Orleans, the fabulous Trombone Shorty – Troy Andrews on his birth certificate – played a late set with his band Orleans Avenue, and the likes of Feufollet, Ural Thomas & the Pain, and the Too Loose Cajun Zydeco Band – plus a whole lot of happy revelers – kept the closing-day party sizzling and most everyone waiting impatiently for next July, when the blues fest will blow the lid off the riverfront again.

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Parisian glamour at the Portland Art Museum

All glitz and no grit at the summer show Paris 1900: City of Entertainment

Paris 1900: City of Entertainment, which runs at the Portland Art Museum through September 8, is a confection, a pastel-shaded macaron that looks great on display and encourages fantasies of sunny afternoons frequenting chic patisseries and warm evenings spent promenade strolling. The exhibition focuses on visual culture in the Belle Époque, the era in France that runs from the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 until the beginning of World War I in 1914.

Gaston Roux. Nighttime festivities at the International Exposition of 1889 under the Eiffel Tower, 1889. Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 37 3/8 in., Musée Carnavalet. © Musée Carnavalet / Roger-Viollet

The stories we choose to tell about the past reveal our present interests and fascinations. Paris, especially during the Belle Époque, is a subject that generates great enthusiasm: everyone loves Paris. A focus on the glamour, glitz, fashion of the French capital is bound to be well received by museum audiences in Portland. Portland Art Museum Curator of Prints and Drawings Mary Weaver Chapin delivered the opening lecture about Paris 1900 to a packed house, and the Museum held a Paris 1900 Gala at the end of June.

The objects in the show tell an alluring story introduced in several themes that together lend a richer understanding of the period in question. However, the picture presented is incomplete. In part, this is due to the exhibition’s origins as a packaged exhibition from the Paris Musées consortium. The Portland Art Museum has acknowledged some lapses, including mounting the companion exhibition Color Line: Black Excellence on the World Stage, but the overall presentation is inconsistent with the Museum’s stated mission to “reveal the beauty and complexities of the world.” Paris during the Belle Époque was more complex than Paris 1900 suggests.

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Blues Fest 3: Let the good times roll

There's a party goin' on: Photographer Joe Cantrell gets with the groove as Day 3 of the Waterfront Blues Festival loosens its Louisiana Belt.


PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOE CANTRELL


A lot of Louisiana took the stage on Saturday in Day Three of the Waterfront Blues Festival – groups as redolent of New Orleans and bayou country as Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, Lil’ Pookie & the Zydeco Sensations, Mysti Krewe Mardi Gras Parade, and Chubby Carrier & His Bayou Swamp Band – and the roux got spicy and a little rowdy in the crowd, too, which took on a loose, decorative Mardi Gras flair. The music was terrific, but things got free and easy and party-down in the audience, too, which drifted easily and happily into putting on a show of its own. As photographer Joe Cantrell, who’s been busily documenting the entire four-day festival, put it: “This evening was one of the BEST hours of people-shooting ever!”

This year’s festival wraps up on Sunday with a full day of music and scene-making in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, from morning to night: more zydeco and Cajun from the likes of Carrier and Lil’ Pookie and Taylor and the up-and-coming Feufollet and the eagerly awaited Trombone Shorty, with a little bit of Tennessee tossed into the pot from Memphis Shorty’s Harmonica Hoedown. If anything, expect the groove to get a little looser and the partying a little rowdier yet. Your single-day tickets – $25 at the gate – get you into the party for the entire day, until after dark, and in addition to paying for the musicians and the music, help support the nonprofit Sunshine Division, which distributes food and clothing to people in the metropolitan area who need them.

Cantrell was on site once again all day long on Saturday, focusing his lens on the acts onstage and, more often, on the show in the crowd. Some highlights from his Day Three shoots:

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Waterfront Blues 2: In the Spirit

On Day 2 of the big blues bash on the riverside, the sounds ring over the city. Joe Cantrell captures the excitement in photographs.


PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOE CANTRELL


Day Two of the Waterfront Blues Festival dug deep into the spirit of music and life with an extraordinary set by the Spiritual Brothers and their sounds of Northern Ghana and Burkina Faso. Unlike the four-day festival’s first day on the Fourth of July, there were no fireworks over the river. But there was plenty of fire in the music on Friday, a day that also included sharp sets by the likes of Harpdog Brown & the Uptown Blues Band, Larkin Poe, Terry Hancke, the California Honeydrops, Lloyd Jones, Lisa Mann with Lara Price, Monti Amundson, Brother Yusef, Arietta Ward (daughter of the legendary, late Portland pianist Janice Scroggins) and others.

Passing the traditions on: generations in the crowd.

The four-day festival, which transforms Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park through Sunday, is a highlight of the Pacific Northwest’s summer music season, drawing thousands of revelers every day. Saturday’s schedule features a lot of Louisiana sounds – Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, Lil’ Pookie & the Zydeco Sensations, Mysti Krewe Mardi Gras Parade, Chubby Carrier & His Bayou Swamp Band – plus the likes of top locals LaRhonda & the Steele Family Band, the Terry Robb Quartet, Norman Sylvester’s Allstar Revue, and more. Your single-day tickets – $20 in advance, $25 at the gate – get you the entire day from 10 a.m. until after dark, and in addition to paying for the musicians and the music, help support the nonprofit Sunshine Division, which distributes food and clothing to people in the metropolitan area who need them.

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