CULTURE

Otis Café: the fire this time

The landmark diner, a cultural touchstone near the Oregon Coast, goes up in flames on July 4. Its owner plans to rebuild. Here's hoping.

If the best news from July 4 came from the many hilarious reactions to President Donald “The Rain Made Me Do It” Trump’s historical conflation of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Age of Flight, the worst news – at least, for many Oregonians – may have been the fire Thursday evening that seems to have destroyed the legendary Otis Café.

Inside the Otis Café on a summer day in 2013. Oregon ArtsWatch photo

Shannon Gormley’s story today in Willamette Week reports that there were no injuries from the blaze that swept through the landmark diner, which sits – or sat – bright-red and beckoning just a few miles east of the coast on the way to Lincoln City, “but owner Jeff England tells WW the damage appears to be a total loss, and the historic cafe will likely have to be demolished.” While damage is still being assessed, England tells Gormley he plans to rebuild: “We all will learn and grow as we pull together and work together to bring the Otis Café back. Will it be as quaint as the 1920s building that we very possibly have lost? It’s hard to recreate that.”

England’s point is well-taken. As with an Old Master painting, much of the Otis’s charm derives from a patina built up over many years: the way the woodwork dents and shines, the just-right sagging of the floors, the inevitable pocks and marks of time. It can’t be renewed. It can only approximate and begin again. Its people, of course – the cooks and servers and deliverers and local regulars and weekend drop-ins from the city and workers in the nearby woods who stop in for a loaf of pumpkin bread or a fresh pie on the way home – will re-create it in their own image, and, if all goes well, a tradition will begin anew.

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Waterfront Blues: a bang-up start

On Day 1 on the 4th of July, the festival rings out in red, white, and the blues. Joe Cantrell captures the mood and the action in photos.


PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOE CANTRELL


It was a bang-up day on the Fourth of July in Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where this year’s Waterfront Blues Festival got off to a high-flying start and, come night time, a rainbow of fireworks lit up the sky. It was just the first of four days’ ringing out the blues on the waterfront – the festival plays through Sunday – and photographer Joe Cantrell spent hour after hour and walked mile after mile through the park, capturing the essence of the action from the stages and the crowd and the sky. Whatever else the festival is about, it’s about people: the musicians, the fans, the revelers, the technicians, the oldsters, the couples, the kids, the crowds.

Red, white, and boom! Blues Fest fireworks light up the sky.

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Whatever gets your synapses firing, July’s got you covered. This month is packed with shows that run the gamut, from a rare exhibition of the the father of Japanese Conceptual art to the Salem Art Fair and Festival. If you’ve only got one day to peep some art and can’t make it to Salem, the annual open studios at the NW Marine Artworks studio will have the most artists under one roof in Portland. And if you’re hungry, head on down to Carnation Contemporary on July 6 for their opening that features a Culinaria event at Disjecta – sandwiches and art together! Honorable mentions for this month are the Paris 1900:City of Entertainment exhibit at PAM and the Recent Grads show at Blackfish.

Psi, the glyph used by Yutaka Matsuzawa as a calling card
Yutaka Matsuzawa: Curated by Alan Longino and Reiko Tomii

Through August 18, 2019
Thursday – Sunday, 12–6pm
Yale Union
800 SE 10th Ave

Considered the father of Japanese conceptual art, Yutaka Matsuzawa was born in 1922 in Shimo Suwa in central Japan. Matsuzawa studied architecture during World War II; the devastation caused by the firebombing of Tokyo in March of 1945 made a significant impression on him. Proclaiming that he wished “to create an architecture of invisibility,” he gave up architecture and became a poet an a painter. His desire to express the invisible brought him to the realm of conceptual art, but he “transcended” it in ways that were not fully appreciated by Western audiences. Influential in his time, he was rarely exhibited in the West. This will be the first major exhibition for Matsuzawa in the US, accompanied by an edition of 500 copies of his QUANTUM ART MANIFESTO. This exhibition was curated by art historian Alan Longino and Reiko Tomii, a scholar and curator who worked with Matsuzawa before his death in 2006.

Joe Rudko, Rising Tide, 2019, found photographs on paper, 30” x 22”
It’s Summer

Through August 31
PDX Contemporary
925 NW Flanders

This two-month long group show is a veritable who’s-who of the Portland contemporary art scene. Eschewing a theme, PDX Contemporary has instead asked the participating 28 artists to submit work that reflects the current moment in their studio – what they’re thinking and making in the summer of 2019. Expect a wide range of ideas and approaches from the following artists: Anna Gray + Ryan Wilson Paulsen, Natalie Ball, Tina Beebe, Nick Blosser, Iván Carmona, Amjad Faur, Bean Finneran, Jacques Flechemuller, Ellen George, Peter Gronquist, Victoria Haven, Elizabeth Knight, James Lavadour, Nancy Lorenz, Jeffry Mitchell, Megan Murphy, Jenene Nagy, Georgina Reskala, Joe Rudko, Tad Savinar, Adam Sorensen, Barbara Stafford, Andy Stout, Storm Tharp, Molly Vidor, Nell Warren, and Heather Watkins.

Robert Pokorny, Note to Self (Orange), 2019, Acrylic on linen, 36 x 28 in.
Dialogue: Robert Pokorny

Through August 11
Ampersand
2916 NE Alberta Street

These 24 new paintings by Robert Pokorny pop with color and energy while retaining a sharp sense of control. The show’s title, “Dialogue,” refers in part to the relationship between these paintings and Pokorny’s book, Drawings. Raw linen takes the place of his signature Kraft Muscletone paper. This show means to “glimpse the flow of creative energy, the conversation between a book of sketches made over the better part of a year and the paintings that refine their message.” Beyond that, the show represents the dialogue of collaboration between the artist and the gallery – exploring how the books published through Ampersand’s imprint can stir new creation, not just record existing work.

Doll Head William Matheson
Antigen: William Matheson

Through July 30
Nationale
3360 SE Division

William Matheson’s fourth solo exhibition at Nationale meditates on loss, memory, and the desire to preserve aspects of life when faced with personal loss and the threat of societal collapse. After the 2016 death of a close family member, Matheson started collecting photographs and ephemera, gathering objects that went on to inspire this set of paintings. The photos that became subjects remain as images in a larger world, framed by glowing computer screens or the yellowed borders of an old photograph, accompanied by a deep indigo which Nationale likens to the “nocturnal haze of memory.” The show seeks a conversation with deep-seated fears and death, rather than running from them.

Installation Image from Bloom Tomb
Bloom Tomb: Jessie Weitzel Le Grand

Carnation Contemporary
8371 N Interstate Ave

July 6–July 28
Special event July 6 6-9pm

Jessie Weitzel Le Grand presents her work as artifacts imported from the imaginary town Ny By (pronounced knee-bee). As the sole Ny By importer, Le Grand ups her game for this show to include sandwiches and bouquets in the culinary and floral traditions of Ny By. Bloom Tomb coincides with a Culinaria event at Disjecta, with which Carnation Contemporary shares a building. Culinaria is an ongoing series that “pairs artists and chefs to create unique community events, providing opportunities for collaboration, creative risk-taking, and the exchange of new ideas between two very different creative realms.” On July 6, Le Grand’s work will be paired with food and drink in Disjecta’s Gallery 2 space, with both the art and the food centered on themes of layering and stacking (making sandwiches the obvious choice).

Midori Hirose, WSFN1, Recycled Polylactic Acid, 2019.
Trash Hackers

July 17 – August 17, 2019.
Paragon Arts Gallery at PCC Cascade
815 N. Killingsworth St.

Trash Hackers is a collective of local artists who attempt to disrupt the ongoing flow of products and materials into landfills, taking what would otherwise be considered plastic waste and pushing it to form what they call “atmospheric, otherworldly expanses.” Utilitarian and abstract sculptures made entirely from recycled plastic will fill the gallery forcing viewers to reconsider the use of discarded material. Interested in “solution oriented strategies,” the collective will invite the public to collect and donate clean, recyclable plastic to the space. They will also present ShredCore, a demonstration of shredding plastic to prepare it for recycling on Saturday, August 3. The exhibition is presented by the founding members of Trash Hackers Collective: Darcy Neal, Midori Hirose, Emma Prichard, Francesca Frattaroli, and Alice Rotsztain.

re:Presence, a solo exhibition of Portland artist Collin Richard will be happening in conjunction with the Trash Hackers show. Richard’s work centers on what Paragon calls “an exploration of environmental epistemics.” His interdisciplinary approach includes includes sculpture, performance, printmaking, video, photography, and language. The work in this show will address our relationship to nature and what alienates us from it.

Opening Reception
Friday, July 19th, 2019 @ 4 – 7 p.m.

Artists Talk:
Saturday, August 3rd, 2019, at 2 p.m.

Salem Salon 100 installation view
Salem Art Fair and Festival and Salem Salon 100

Friday July 19th–Sunday July 21st
Bush’s Pasture Park
600 Mission St. SE
Salem, OR 97302
$10 for full pass, $5 for single day pass

Salem Salon 100
July 5 – August 24th
Bush Barn Art Center & Annex
600 Mission St. SE Salem, OR 97302
Free Admission

The 70th annual Salem Art Fair will fill our state’s capital with activities, exhibitions, and music later this month. Featuring more than 200 artists and two performance stages, the festival’s ticket price helps support the arts in Salem and beyond. While you’re there, you can also catch the Salem Salon 100 show at the Bush Barn Art Center. A non-juried exhibition, it celebrates the work of artists of all levels working within a 75-mile radius of Salem. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a higher concentration of the arts in Salem at any other time of the year.

NW Marine Artworks Open Studios

2:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Saturday, July 20, 2019
NW Marine Art Works
2516 NW 29th, Portland, Oregon 97210

This is the third annual public event for this large, private studio space occupied by more than 100 local artists working in most any media you can think of including painting, ceramics, photography, sculpture, dance, theatre, jewelry, and textiles. In addition to the resident artists, visiting artists will be present from the North Coast Seed Building, River St. Studios, and the Carton Service Building in an effort to represent a broad selection of Portland’s current fine art community. Family friendly activities will accompany the art-crawl, including live music, minigolf, a kids’ painting table, and food carts.

Poetry, painting, and polemics: ‘The Zine Show’ has it all

A show at Salem's Bush Barn Art Center & Annex demonstrates Oregon's zine scene is alive and well

If one were taking the vital signs of a region’s cultural life, the vitality of the local zine scene, it seems to me, would be a key indicator. It’s part of the fabric of an area’s DIY culture that can include (but is hardly limited to) a broad range of artistic forms: bookmaking, paper arts, collage, comics, drawing, photography, poetry, prose and polemics.

Based on The Zine Show, an exhibition at the Bush Barn Art Center & Annex in Salem, I’d venture that the state’s zine scene is alive and well. The exhibition, which  features zines from around Oregon, closes July 10, and a reception for the artists will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 5. Admission is free.

Bush Barn Art Center & Annex in Salem has opened one of its galleries to a selection of 'zines by Oregon artists, along with work by Salem artists Miranda Abrams and Eilish Gormley.
Bush Barn Art Center & Annex in Salem has opened one of its galleries to a selection of zines by Oregon artists, along with work by Salem artists Miranda Abrams and Eilish Gormley. Photo by: David Bates

Bush Barn really packed the gallery for this one. More than 70 zines are displayed, and artwork by Miranda Abrams and Eilish Gormley adorns the walls. The gallery space is relatively small, but there’s a lot to look at. Visitors should plan on spending at least a half-hour to take it all in. There’s plenty to read; it’s like folding a leisurely bookstore visit into an art-gallery trip.

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A history of Portland women artists

Katherine Ace's "9 Portraits" celebrates the strength of a generation of women artists. All nine gather to talk about how they got there.

It’s all about the art, of course. But it’s also about the artists and the viewers, and how and why the art came to be. So on a sunny Saturday morning at Froelick Gallery off Northwest Broadway in Portland, a standing-room-only crowd of more than 80 people, many of whom had ducked and dodged around the Portland International Beerfest setting up in the park a block away, gathered to delve into a particular work of art and its double and singular visions.

Katherine Ace, 9 Portraits, diptych, 2019; oil, alkyd on canvas, 72 x 120 inches, at Froelick Gallery through July 13. Photo: Jim Lommason

The crowd, many of whom were also artists, packed the place to get a close look at 9 Portraits, artist Katherine Ace’s 10-foot-wide diptych group portrait of nine prominent veteran Portland women artists, and to hear those artists talk about the painting, their careers, and the often difficult path of making it as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field.

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‘Romeo and Juliet’ kicks off summer theater in wine country

Penguin Productions brings Shakespeare's tragedy to the outdoor stage, plus more Bard outdoors in Beaverton, and World Beat Festival in Salem

Penguin Productions was the new kid on Yamhill County’s theater scene just a couple of years ago, mounting productions of Macbeth and As You Like It right out of the gate. Last year, they forged ahead with Hamlet and Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. On Friday, the company opens its third season with more Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet.

Cambria Herrera will direct "Romeo and Juliet" at Penguin Productions.
Cambria Herrera will direct “Romeo and Juliet” at Penguin Productions. Photo by: Piper Tuor Photography

These are professionals, many of whom have been seasoned on Portland stages in recent years, and for season three we have a couple of George Fox University alums who are doing some heavy lifting for one of Shakespeare’s oft-performed tragedies.

Director Cambria Herrera earned a BA in acting and directing from the Newberg-based Christian college. Recent credits include: Peter/Wendy at Bag&Baggage, The Little Mermaids Project at Enso Theatre Ensemble, Proof at Valley Repertory Theatre, and Balkan Women and Twelfth Night at George Fox. Herrera is also a facilitator/co-founder of the AGE Women of Color in PDX Theatre Collective and serves on the leadership committee for PDX Latinx Pride.

Also from George Fox is Olivia Anderson, who spent a year at the university as an adjunct director for University Players, a traveling, student storytelling-ensemble that tours original shows around the region. She will play Juliet across from Brandon Vilanova’s Romeo. Vilanova hails from the Pacific Conservatory Theatre Professional Acting Training Program and has worked at San Diego Repertory Theatre, San Diego Old Globe Theatre, Santa Maria Pacific Conservatory Theatre, and Bag&Baggage. Stephanie Spencer, who played Ophelia in last year’s Hamlet and Mabel in An Ideal Husband, takes on the coveted role of Mercutio.

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Exquisite Gorge 3: The Listener

Roots music, laughter, an osprey snaring a computer mouse: In Part 3 of Maryhill's river-art project, Neal Harrington imprints on The Dalles.

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER

How does an artist decide which questions to raise and which, if any, answers to provide? How does an educator reach an audience and communicate innovative ideas hoping to stir up responses that foster curiosity and open or change minds?

Neal Harrington, printmaker, musician, associate professor of art and gallery director at Arkansas Tech University

I wondered about this when meeting Neal Harrington, the third of the printmakers to be portrayed for Maryhill Museum’s Exquisite Gorge project: To recap, he, too, is one of 11 artists who in collaboration with community partners are carving woodblocks filled with ideas about individual sections of the Columbia River. All of the blocks will be aligned and printed by a steam roller at the museum on August 24.

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