NEWS & NOTES

MORE THAN THREE HUNDRED NEWSPAPERS AND OTHER PERIODICALS across the United States have published editorials in today’s editions denouncing President Trump’s continuing attacks on the news media, which he has repeatedly characterized as “enemies of the people.” The media campaign, coordinated by the Boston Globe, is a daring and in some quarters controversial, yet necessary, step. The political tactic of deliberately confusing the public about what is truth and what is a lie is deeply dangerous to the core values of the nation, and to make a public enemy of the institution that exists to bring truth into the public view is to, in fact, endanger the nation as a whole. We shouldn’t have to say this. Unfortunately, in the nation’s current extreme circumstances, we do. Freedom relies on a free and open press. A government that denies this is a government that denies the rights and freedoms of its own people. Unwarranted attacks on the value and necessity of the press degrade and imperil the culture itself. We at ArtsWatch stand with the publications that have taken this stand, and with the journalists who strive every day to publish and broadcast what is true in spite of intense pressures to hide the truth from them and shake the public’s confidence in them. We hope you’ll stand with them, too.

Gallery Theater: 50 years, 340 plays, thousands of stories

McMinnville's community theater celebrates a half-century partnership between actors and audiences

Gallery Players of Oregon has been cranking out plays in downtown McMinnville since 1968, which means we’ve arrived at the 50th anniversary. That kind of endurance for any artistic project is worth celebrating.

I cannot hide my enthusiasm about it, and you ought to know why: For many of the past 20 years, I’ve acted on Gallery’s stage. Candidly, this is a bit weird for me. I’ve been a journalist since moving to McMinnville in the mid-1990s, and I’ve been involved at Gallery (both as an actor and a director) for most of that time. But those two lives haven’t intersected — until now.

Like many who will attend Saturday’s 50th anniversary gala, which will include a catered dinner and an evening program, I was introduced to theater in high school. Instead of letting it become just another memory from my youth, I remained active in theater and, more than three decades later, have accumulated a wealth of memories, characters, thrills, laughs, life lessons, friendships and stories.

Seth Renne, who has managed Gallery Theater since 2014, considers the
perils of growing carnivorous plants in 2013’s production of “Little Shop
of Horrors.” Photo: Gallery Theater

I’ve worn suits, ties, armor, stars and stripes, pajamas, a bathrobe, a dress, fake breasts, tighty-whities, and a burlap sack while smeared with mud. Actual, homemade mud, because I learned that mud washes off faster for a quick scene change than oil-based makeup. I also learned, over the course of that production, that dirt is alive and, if allowed to sit in a jar with just enough water, will grow things that smell awful.

I’ve learned the hardest thing to do onstage is not to cry, laugh or even passionately kiss a friend while your spouse (and hers) watches from the audience, but to eat. Appearing in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I had in my field of vision one evening Dr. Dean Brooks, who headed the Oregon State Hospital for 27 years and played a character similar to himself in the 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson; he was seated in the first row. Having played Col. Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men, I’ve found myself in the absurd position of being compared to Jack Nicholson.

I’ve been killed by and slain good friends, then gone out drinking with them afterward. I’ve come to understand how and why the show must and ultimately does go on, even when the director walks out, or when an actor vanishes on the eve of opening night or — for any number of reasons I’ll not get into here — in the middle of a show’s run. As an audience member, I broke down at Atticus Finch’s “Thank you for my children, Arthur.” And I’ll never forget the stunned silence at the end of a fantastic Cabaret, where the biggest Nazi flag I’ve ever seen unfurled over the stage for the final scene.

But the most important thing I’ve come away with is an appreciation of the audience – both as an actor and director and as a theatergoer.

Here’s the thing: The audience wants you to succeed.

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Coast calendar: Second-look photos, author art, and a hootenanny

Calendar highlights include photos of subjects "entitled to reverence," Rick Bartow's sketches of famous writers, and a night of music and merriment

As a journalist, I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing photographers, pros who could take what I saw as a simple, even uninspiring, scene and render it into a work of pure art — often in the most fleeting of moments, or brutal circumstances. Those are the photos that make you want to take a second and third look, the photos that keep you returning over and over again.

That’s what juror and world-renowned artist Robert Adams looked for in selecting pictures for a new show, The Sacred, at the LightBox Photographic Gallery in Astoria. A total of 165 camera buffs submitted their work; 52 made the cut. Here’s how Adams described his choices:

“Clouds,” by Dennis Witner is one of 52 photos in “The Sacred” show at Astoria’s LightBox Photographic Gallery.

“The photographer Dorothea Lange said that she wanted to make pictures that are ‘second-lookers’ – pictures that reward repeated viewings. It has been my privilege to assemble an exhibition made up of such photographs. The pictures record what is ‘entitled to reverence,’ as the dictionary defines the word ‘sacred’ – times and places and people that point beyond themselves. We stand today in particular need of such testaments. I was asked to select a few of the photographs for ‘honorable mention,’ but this seems unnecessary. As is apparent, the photographers brought honor to themselves by first selflessly honoring their subjects.”

The show opens with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, and runs through Sept. 5.

The Coaster Theatre is promising a night of music and merriment at its Cannon Beach Hootenanny on Aug. 25. The evening of folk, blues and rock ‘n’ roll showcases local musicians: Adams & Costello, The Floating Glass Balls, Maggie & the Katz, and Thistle & Rose. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $15 and can be purchased online, at the box office or by calling 503-436-1242.

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Connecting artists and visitors along 363 miles of coastline

So far, the inventory for the Oregon Coast Public Art Trail includes 125 works, including sculptures, murals and functional art, in 27 communities.

The Oregon Coast is a natural draw for artists, some of whom return the favor by creating a piece of public art. If you live nearby, it’s easy to find these public works, but vistors might never see them. Plans are afoot to change that, with the coast-wide, self-guided Oregon Coast Public Art Trail.

Marcus Hinz, executive director of the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, came up with the idea while traveling the 363-mile coast.

“I would see public art in random places and wondered how anyone would ever find them,” Hinz said. “After a while, it dawned on me that one, there is a lot of public art on the Oregon Coast, and two, that our agency has never done a great job partnering with the coastal-art-culture community. The goal of this project is to help residents and visitors connect with artists, gain a deeper sense of place, and improve artists’ livelihoods.”

Georgia Gerber’s pair of Tufted Puffins roost near City Hall in Cannon Beach. Photo: Oregon Coast Visitors Association

He hopes it will also serve as a marketing tool, attracting tourists at times of the year when they wouldn’t normally visit.

What art will be featured on the trail hasn’t been decided. Kevan Ridgway, founding partner of tourism marketers Minds Aligned Group and a resident of Cannon Beach, has been charged with finding the pieces.

So far, he’s reached out to 27 communities along the coast and put together an inventory totaling about 125 works, including sculptures, murals and functional art, such as benches or trash cans. To be included on the trail, the art must be accessible by the public 24/7. But beyond that, the criteria are still being worked out. Ridgway is encouraging people with information about a
public art piece to email him at oregoncoastarttrail@gmail.com.

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Newport honors favorite sons David Ogden Stiers, Ernest Bloch

Upcoming on the Coast: a screening of Benedict Cumberbatch in "Hamlet" and an open house at an historic Coast Guart boathouse

The central Coast pays homage to two of its famous former citizens this month. As part of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts’ capital campaign program, plans are under way to change the name of the Performing Arts Center’s Black Box Theatre to the David Ogden Stiers Theatre.

A campaign is under way to rename a Newport theater after former resident David Ogden Stiers. Photo courtesy Newport Symphony Orchestra

In a press release, the arts council’s Executive Director Catherine Rickbone called the actor, known for his role as the pompous Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III in the 1970s TV show M*A*S*H, “an inspiration to several generations over his many years of involvement with OCCA and the PAC.” Stiers, 75, died March 3 of bladder cancer at his home in Newport.

Rickbone’s release continued to note that Stiers often said of the Performing Arts Center, “it so delights me to see the theater camps and dance recitals involving kids. They think they own this place, and of course they do!”

The renaming comes with $1.6 million in renovations that will include a new seating system, enhanced sound, lighting, and acoustics, and improved HVAC for the theater. It will be home to experimental theater, premiering original plays, literary readings, storytelling, piano performances, dance recitals, cabaret-style jazz ensembles, international musical events, and a broader youth theater. It will also enable simultaneous programming with the adjacent Alice Silverman Theatre. For more information, call Bonnie Prater at the OCCA office, 541-574-2655.

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Singing composer Ernest Bloch’s praises in Newport

A wayside dedication will recall the artist -- known during his lifetime as the fourth B -- with "Bloch Talks" and a musical performance

NEWPORT — He’s one of Newport’s most famous former residents, but unless you’re a classical music buff, odds are you haven’t heard of him.

Composer Ernest Bloch spent the last 18 years of his life living in Newport’s Agate Beach neighborhood. Photo courtesy Frank Geltner

That would be Ernest Bloch, the composer known in his day as the fourth B, after Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, and who composed one-third of his world-renowned compositions in an oceanfront home in Newport’s Agate Beach neighborhood.

Thanks to the efforts of Frank Geltner and a group of volunteers, Bloch’s legacy will shine more brightly. The new Ernest Bloch Memorial Wayside, located next to the street where Bloch lived from 1941 to his death in 1959 at age 79, will be dedicated Wednesday, July 18, with events continuing through the weekend.

Bloch discovered Newport while traveling from his son’s home in Portland to the University of California-Berkeley, where he was delivering a series of lectures.

“He arrived at the height of his career,” said Geltner, who is the “flamekeeper” of the Ernest Bloch Legacy Project. “All metrics which can be mustered give testimony to the impact this composer has had on his profession. Perhaps the number of recordings give the scope: about 850 CDs and 400 LPs. Perhaps the number of major awards. Perhaps when you search the name Ernest Bloch online to discover nearly 600,000 hits.”

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A life, stitched in time

Oregon's new national folk art fellow, Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, embroiders her Palestinian heritage and refugee past into a living art

I had the great pleasure recently to meet with Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, the master traditional embroiderer and newly named national folk art fellow, to discuss her life and work. Feryal, who was born in Palestine and lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, is one of nine artists named last month as winners of the 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship, the highest form of recognition for folk and traditional artists by the United States government. She received this tremendous distinction for her lifetime of work in the centuries-old art form of Palestinian traditional embroidery, or tatreez, which features detailed cross-stitch designs and adorns clothing, pillows, and wall hangings.

Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, in her Milwaukie home, with memories on the wall. Photo: Danielle Vermette

When I arrived at her home I was unsure of which entrance to use, and my misstep left me a little jangled. But once ushered inside by Carrie Kikel from the Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Cultural Trust, who joined us for our conversation, I quickly fell under Feryal’s spell. Soft-spoken, thoughtful, exceedingly kind, and with an uncanny ability to hear the questions within a question, Feryal offered a master class in her fascinating and endangered folk art form and a generous and moving look at her history and culture.

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