OREGON

Vision 2020: Rachael Carnes

The Eugene playwright fears that as the community grows, it becomes harder to enter the performing arts: "Access is the foundation for a vibrant arts scene"

Rachael Carnes has so many irons in the fire that introducing the sheer scope of her work is a bit daunting. She’s a former dancer and journalist who, just three short years ago, enrolled in a play-writing class through Oregon Contemporary Theatre with the award-winning playwright and instructor Paul Calandrino. Today, she lays claim to having had her plays workshopped, published, and produced in Oregon and beyond, from Seattle and Los Angeles to New York and London — and even one in South Korea.

A lifelong Eugenian, Carnes earned a bachelor’s degree from Reed College in 1993 and spent a quarter-century in arts education, journalism, and nonprofit work. Since 2016, her artistic output has exploded, both in terms of the number of plays and partnerships.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


At the New Play Exchange, Carnes has more than 80 plays available, ranging from one-actor shows to full-length pieces and tackling a remarkable range of topics: gun violence, feminism, #MeToo, romance, history, reproductive rights, and the Supreme Court, to name a few. Currently, her artistic home is Oregon Contemporary Theatre, where she recently collaborated with Calandrino in Bunfight, a collection of eight short plays by the two playwrights. Her new play, At Winter’s Edge, was commissioned by Minority Voices Theatre in cooperation with the Very Little Theatre, and performed in December. 

Rachael Carnes says Eugene has a robust theater scene, including long-running Oregon Contemporary Theatre, which is “curating a season that is as bold and as innovative as one you might see in Portland or Ashland.”
Rachael Carnes says Eugene has a robust theater scene, including long-running Oregon Contemporary Theatre, which is “curating a season that is as bold and as innovative as one you might see in Portland or Ashland.”

How would you characterize the state of artistic and cultural life in Eugene and Lane County?

Eugene’s theater scene is robust for a community its size. The University of Oregon and Lane Community College offer a range of student productions each season, along with a variety of community theater offerings. The UO takes on some terrific work, from classics to new work about climate change. And LCC impresses with its student-run organization. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with them a few times, and they’re impressive.

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Remembering the Big Blow

Book author John Dodge will speak in Cannon Beach about the 1962 Columbus Day Storm and its effect on Oregon and its wine and timber industries

On Oct. 12, 1962, the strongest windstorm in the recorded history of the West Coast battered the Pacific Northwest, claiming lives, destroying homes and businesses, and decimating farmland and forest — the latter resulting in an unexpected silver lining of sorts. John Dodge was 14 at the time, living in the Olympia area with his family. He would go on to a 40-year, award-winning career in journalism, serving as columnist, editorial page writer, and investigative reporter for The Olympian before retiring in 2015.

John Dodge says many people who attend his talks about the Columbus Day Storm are seeking closure for the event they lived through 58 years ago. Dodge was a teenager living in Olympia when the storm hit in 1962.

In 2018, Oregon State University Press published his book, A Deadly Wind: The 1962 Columbus Day Storm.  Dodge will kick off the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum’s lecture series on Jan. 16 with a presentation about that deadly day.

The free talk will be from 4 to 5 p.m.  Plan to arrive early, as no one will be admitted after 4:15.

We talked with Dodge about his memories and his research. His comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Where were you when the storm hit?

I was at a football game and right before kickoff, a state trooper came out and told everyone to go home — a big storm is coming. Right about then, the lights went out and the winds kicked up. We lived in the woods in a very rural area on property with a lot of Douglas firs. Our fear was our house was really vulnerable and we didn’t think it would be safe there. So our family went to a friend’s house in a suburban development. Then a tree came down. We were lucky not to be in the room where the tree fell. Later, after the storm had passed, Dad and I got in our truck and drove back to the house. Lo and behold, there were trees all over, but nothing hit the house. It was one of those ironies, we went to a house to get safe from the trees only to be struck by a tree.

Among the casualties of the 1962 Columbus Day storm was the Campbell Hall bell tower at the Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon University) in Monmouth. The iconic photo shot by college student Wes Luchau illustrates the cover of John Dodge’s book, “A Deadly Wind.”

What is notable for you about the storm?

Most notable is that it seems the number of fatalities and injuries could have been much greater. There were a lot of “there but for the grace of God go I” type of experiences. I tallied 63 direct and indirect deaths. Indirect would be folks who died of, say, a heart attack the next day cleaning up debris or someone who fell off their roof trying to attach a TV antenna. Direct deaths — people who died in the storm — are closer to 46. There were 300 serious injuries requiring someone to be hospitalized.

We’re used to some big wind here on the Coast. How big was this?

The highest peak winds were probably at Cape Blanco (four miles north of Port Orford) on the headland. There was a Coast Guard station there. Their wind gauge blew out before the worst of the winds arrived. When it blew out, they had already recorded a 145 mph gust. Most of those at the station thought the winds hit 175 to 185 mph gusts. There were sustained winds of over 110 mph. That would be the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane. Ground zero of the storm was the Willamette Valley. You’ll find the most harrowing stories coming from Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, and Portland. People succumbed to the wind all the way to Vancouver, B.C.

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Vision 2020: John Olbrantz

The director of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art praises Salem's thriving arts community, while noting that proximity to Portland is both a blessing and a curse

For more than two decades, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University has served as an essential artistic, cultural, and intellectual center for both the school and the community. John Olbrantz has been with the Salem museum from the beginning.

Olbrantz, the Maribeth Collins Director of the museum, is a specialist in ancient and American art while also pursuing his interests in Roman art, the history of archaeology, contemporary American art, and the history of museums. He holds a BA from Western Washington University and an MA in the history of art from the University of Washington. He and his wife, Pamela, live in Salem and have two grown children. 


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


During his long career, Olbrantz has helped found two art museums, been involved in numerous capital fund drives for expansion and renovation, organized more than 100 temporary exhibitions of historical and contemporary art, and juried more than 40 art competitions on the West Coast. He also lectures on a wide variety of art topics both at Willamette University and around the country, and is published in the fields of ancient and contemporary art. You can read more of his biography here.

John Olbrantz, Maribeth Collins director of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, says his projects this year range from increasing museum staff to doing research on Scottish artist David Roberts for a future exhibition. Photo courtesy: Willamette University
John Olbrantz, Maribeth Collins director of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, says his projects this year range from increasing museum staff to doing research on Scottish artist David Roberts for a future exhibition. Photo courtesy: Willamette University

What would you like people to know about the Hallie Ford Museum of Art? What is its role in the community?

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Yamhill County calendar: Winter warmers

The new year rolls in with a little of everything: gallery exhibitions, TEDx talks, readings, and music

I’m not sure whether to chalk this up to naivete or the fact that Yamhill County’s arts and culture scene has been developing momentum in recent years, but there was a time not so long ago when I assumed things slowed down in the winter. 

Perhaps it did once, but not anymore. Even when the skies turn gray and the trees are bare in Oregon’s wine country, our cultural calendar remains packed full. So follow along as we dive into 2020 with a peek at what’s in store over the next couple of months.

CURRENTS GALLERY IN DOWNTOWN McMINNVILLE is one of several businesses housed in the Elks Lodge building on Third Street. The top floor of the 1908 structure, once occupied by lodge space (including a ballroom), was renovated in 1993 by locals Matt and Marilyn Worrix into a sprawling 10,000-square-foot apartment. Having visited there over the years, I could wax poetic for some time about the place, but the point is the building is on the market, and the couple’s downsizing strategy includes selling much of the art collection that filled the apartment: paintings, etchings, ceramics, glass, and more.

Matt and Marilyn Worrix are downsizing and selling much of their art collection, such as this acrylic painting by Matt Worrix, through Currents Gallery in McMinnville.  

Currents Gallery will host the affair, which kicks off with a reception from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, in the gallery. The show runs Jan. 7 through Feb. 16 during regular gallery hours. Artists whose work will be on display include Nils Lou, Marg Johansen, Chris Johnson, Glen Hashitani, and more. A second reception will be held for the monthly 3rd Friday on 3rd Street artwalk, from 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 17. For more information, call 503-435-1316.

THE CHEHALEM CULTURAL CENTER IN NEWBERG opens 2020 with three new shows in January. In the Parrish Gallery, look for a stunning glass installation, Hanging River, by Takahiro Yamamoto and Andy Paiko, beginning Jan. 7. Also opening that day is Intimate Conversations, a botanical photography exhibition by Fretta Cravens. Rich Bergeman’s The Land Remembers opens Jan. 14. The series of black-and-white infrared landscape photography, inspired by events during the Rogue River Wars of 1851-56, has been bouncing around the state and lands in Newberg for a show that runs through February. Visit the website for more information and details on receptions for all three shows.

The “Hanging River” show by Takahiro Yamamoto and Andy Paiko at the Chehalem Cultural Center includes multiple transparent objects, including a large glass sculpture resembling a stringed instrument.

While you’re there, check out the staged reading series that begins Feb. 1 (tickets are on sale now) courtesy of Newberg-based Penguin Productions. More? The 2020 Boxed Show Series begins Feb. 21.

TWO SHOWS HIGHLIGHTING art by local youth will be featured in The Gallery at Ten Oaks in McMinnville this month and next. The first runs Jan. 7 through Feb. 2 and showcases work by students from high schools around Yamhill County, including Yamhill-Carlton, Sheridan, Amity, and the Delphian School. An opening reception is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15. Then, work by students from high schools in McMinnville and Newberg will be unveiled Feb. 5, with a reception at 6 p.m. Feb. 12.

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Vision 2020: Christopher Acebo

The longtime OSF designer and arts leader says extending equity to under-represented groups provides a way forward for everyone

As is true of many of our Vision 2020 participants, Christopher Acebo wears many hats. Until leaving recently to pursue freelance opportunities, he was associate artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. In 14 seasons there, his work included virtually every aspect of play production, from season planning and casting to design; he also participated in strategic planning and creative team selections.

He worked on more than 30 productions at OSF, including Robert Schenkkan’s All The Way, which also played on Broadway and won the 2014 Tony Award for best play. His work has also been in theaters in Portland and around the country. Beginning Jan. 16, he’ll be directing Lynn Nottage’s Sweat at Profile Theatre in Portland.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


At OSF, Acebo initiated and curated the Latinx Play Project, which developed and presented new plays and provided a forum for artists, producers, and audiences to discuss and advance Latinx theatre. He was also a founding member of the Latinx Theatre Commons and in 2013 was presented with the LTC Award for Outstanding Advocacy for Latinx Voices in the New American Theater.

Christopher Acebo filled a variety of roles during 14 seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “Our collective responsibility as an audience/viewer/listener,” he says, “is to enter every artistic experience with deep curiosity and empathy.”

For seven seasons, he was an ensemble member of the nationally acclaimed Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles. He also has taught at Cal State University in Los Angeles and the University of California-San Diego. Along with his OSF duties in Oregon, Acebo is the immediate former chairman of the Oregon Arts Commission and a former board member of Theatre Communications Group.

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Vision 2020: Darcy Dolge, Sarah West, and Nancy Knowles

Leaders of Art Center East in La Grande say funding cuts could have been dire in their rural area, but the community stepped up to keep arts thriving

Since 1977, Art Center East in La Grande has coordinated arts programs in a 10-county area that includes Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler counties. The nonprofit community art center houses two exhibit galleries, a gift gallery, and three educational studios in a former Carnegie Library owned by the city. At the center alone, classes, concerts, exhibits, and workshops are offered year-round. Organizers recently estimated that roughly 25,000 people visited the center every year.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


Given the far-flung reach of the center’s programs, we ran our questions by not one, but three women who play key roles. Darcy Dolge is executive director at Art Center East (ACE) and an entrepreneur and owner of Blackberry Moon SoundNancy Knowles, a poet and professor of English at Eastern Oregon University, serves as the nonprofit board’s president. Sarah West, also a local entrepreneur and owner of Teahouse La Grande, is the center’s community outreach coordinator. She also sits on the board for the La Grande Farmers’ Market. Their comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Leaders at Art Center East (from left) Darcy Dolge, Sarah West, and Nancy Knowles oversee arts and culture programs serving 10 counties in Eastern Oregon.

Who comes to the Arts Center? What do they use it for? Basically, what goes on there, year-round? Can you give us a general sense of it?

Dolge: Ours is the only art gallery in Union County open to the public six days a week, and we see a wide range of visitors, both locals and out-of-towners. We’re often surprised at how many visitors wander through our doors to have a look at our exhibit or inquire about the local art scene.

We offer a lot of programming, including an average of 150 classes each quarter, nine-plus exhibits each year, a monthly author reading series, a community music program, monthly dance nights hosted by a partnering organization, along with several free community events and cultural performances all year long. We also serve local artists in the form of retail sales in our gift gallery and an annual maker’s market around the holidays, exposure and notoriety via gallery exhibits, as well as giving those who are interested a place to earn income by teaching their craft.

We have several local partnerships to bring art instruction to underserved populations, including the Union County Juvenile Department, Union County District Attorney Parole Restitution Program, Shelter From the Storm Victim Rehabilitation Program for victims of domestic abuse, and the Center for Human Development. Lastly, our Artists in Rural Schools program places professional art educators in rural schools in 10 counties of Eastern Oregon.

How would you characterize the general state of artistic and cultural life in your area?

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Vision 2020: Rachel Barreras-Kleemann

The Newport dance teacher says her goals are small: “To keep kids motivated to dance and to help kids that are lower income have a place they can go”

Editor’s note: This story begins a series of twenty interviews in twenty days with arts and cultural figures around Oregon, creating a group portrait of the state of the arts in the state. It looks at where we’ve been, where we are, and what might or should happen culturally in the 2020s.

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Rachel Barreras-Kleemann grew up in Newport and began studying dance at the age of 11. After moving to  Portland for college, she grew interested in African-American and Afro-Brazilian dance, and signed on with the marching samba ensemble Lions of Batucada. She later moved to Brazil, where she pursued a technical degree in dance.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


Barreras-Kleemann, who is of Mexican and Native American descent, left the South American country after being mugged numerous times and realizing she had become frightened of the children who roved in gangs. “I thought, I want to be able to go home and help the kids I see, not fear them,” Barreras-Kleemann said. The mother of a baby girl, Barreras-Kleemann teaches dance to children and adults, many of whom are minorities and of low income.

Rachel Barreras-Kleemann says she wants to bring joy and encouragement to people who are fearful of doing arts. “People are tentative about celebrating themselves and about feeling good… I want to remind people it is good to feel joy and it’s still OK to be happy, even in these times that we’re living in.”
Rachel Barreras-Kleemann says she wants to bring joy and encouragement to people who are fearful of doing arts. “People are tentative about celebrating themselves and about feeling good… I want to remind people it is good to feel joy and it’s still OK to be happy, even in these times that we’re living in.”

What, good or bad, has had the biggest impact on arts and culture in your area in the past few years?

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