VISION 2020

Vision 2020: Dañel Malán

Teatro Milagro's leader talks about bilingual arts, using theater to build community, and the joys and perils of taking the show on the road

Dañel Malán’s path from her planned career as a visual artist and toward her future as the co-founder of Milagro Theatre, the Pacific Northwest’s only Latino theater company, led through a grove of Eucalyptus trees.

“I was probably around 16 when I had my first visual arts exhibit and I thought that was going to be my destiny,” Malán says. That changed at the University of California San Diego, where a mentor suggested that she switch to theatre. “I went over to [the theatre department], crossed the divide—there’s a grove of Eucalyptus trees that you have to hike through—and never turned back,” she remembers.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


It’s a decision that continues to define her. Since co-founding the non-profit Milagro Theatre in 1985 with her husband, Jose Eduardo Gonzalez, Malán has helped transform the company into a colossus of creativity. As the artistic director of Teatro Milagro, the company’s touring arm, she’s responsible for taking Milagro’s shows to schools, colleges and universities across the country.

During a lengthy conversation (which has been edited and condensed for clarity), Malán spoke about her achievements in the 2010s, her ambitions for the 2020s and how she plans to ensure that Milagro endures beyond its looming fiftieth anniversary.

Dañel Malan. Photo courtesy Milagro

Tell me about some of your earliest memories of theater and how you became interested in performing.

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Vision 2020: Raúl Gómez

Engaging the big issues: In a troubled world, the Metropolitan Youth Symphony leader says, schools need to teach the empathy of the arts

“One of my priorities has always been to promote and empower young musicians, to give voice to living composers,” Raúl Gómez-Rojas told ArtsWatch in 2018. Now in his fourth season as music director of Portland’s Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Gómez has firmly placed MYS in the forefront of classical music’s development by connecting tomorrow’s classical musicians with today’s music — including music composed by MYS members themselves. Last year, MYS partnered with Portland new music ensemble FearNoMusic’s Young Composers Project in a commissioning program, The Authentic Voice, which gives local, student composers an opportunity to write for and hear their work publicly performed by full symphony orchestra, while giving ensemble musicians a chance to play never performed music by their peers. This year, the program includes three symphonic commissions, each receiving a world premiere at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, eight YCP student arrangements of film scores for full orchestra, and other opportunities for readings and performances of works by younger composers with other MYS ensembles.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


At MYS, the Costa Rican native  works with conductors, coaches, staff, families and more than 500 students in 15 orchestra, band and jazz ensembles. Last year, the League of American Orchestra’s 2018 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview chose Gomez as one of six conductors honored for their “experience, talent, leadership, and commitment to a career in service to American orchestras.”

Raúl Gómez conducting the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. Photo: R. Kobell

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Vision 2020: Kristin Shauck

The Clatsop Community College teacher and artist loves Astoria’s grittiness and diverse arts scene, but sees gentrification putting the squeeze on her students

Kristin Shauck teaches drawing, painting, design, watercolor, and art history at Clatsop Community College, where she also oversees the Royal Nebeker Art Gallery. Originally from Texas, Shauck grew up expecting to pursue a career in music, but while studying at Baylor University, she shifted gears and instead received her bachelor’s degree in fine art.

Early influences include an artist mother, who made sure Shauck always had art supplies available, and a mathematician father, who made history as the first pilot to make a transatlantic flight using ethanol fuel. He followed Charles Lindberg’s original flight.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


“I have always been very proud of my dad,” Shauck said. “He is brilliant and charismatic, and I admire him so much for all he has achieved throughout his lifetime.  I developed passionate love of learning from his example, and particularly of cross-disciplinary learning. He taught me that math and science are connected to everything in life, including visual art and music. ”

Kristin Schauk, shown here with self-portrait, says she cannot  imagine being an educator without being an artist, and vice versa. Photo courtesy: Clatsop Community College
Kristin Schauck, shown here with self-portrait, says she cannot imagine being an educator without being an artist, and vice versa. Photo courtesy: Clatsop Community College

After college, Shauck taught in several arts programs before answering an ad for a teacher at Clatsop Community College in 2004.  “I got to Astoria and I fell in love with the community. The campus and the faculty here are amazing.”

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

The fact that we have such a vibrant arts community is really attracting people to this area, and that’s a mixed bag. It does kind of price out local artists and locals in terms of living spaces and studio spaces, because we see that kind of gentrification happening. I’ve seen a lot of that since I first came in 2004. What I love about Astoria is it’s never lost its grittiness. It’s not too slick and too cool. Everyone here respects everyone else’s eccentricities. Especially, coming from Texas — it’s not like that. People conform. They don’t accept the individualities of people. People are much more open-minded here.

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Vision 2020: Brenna Crotty

Women have read male-centered narratives their whole lives, says the CALYX editor: "Men would benefit a lot from reading female-centered narratives as well"

On its 25th anniversary, feminist literary publisher CALYX Press was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “a literary survivor.” It surely is – that was way back in 2001, and Corvallis-based CALYX is still in the game, even as other journals have run their course and publishing houses have closed shop.

The journal was founded in 1976 by Margarita Donnelly, Barbara Baldwin, Elizabeth McLagan, and Meredith Jenkins. In 1986, CALYX expanded into book publishing. Barbara Kingsolver, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Julia Alvarez, and Natalie Goldberg are among the writers whose careers were helped early on by CALYX. Literally thousands of writers and artists have had work published there.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


We talked with Brenna Crotty, who has worked as the senior editor for CALYX since 2015. Her book reviews and humor articles have been published in CALYX, Cracked, and College Humor. She lives in Portland.

Brenna Crotty, senior editor at CALYX, says Oregon literature has a wonderful ecological/environmental slant: “We are all, maybe a little, dreaming up our words in a William Stafford forest-soaked fever of ferns and dappled sunlight.”

Oregon is full of readers, and yet there are surely those who have never heard of CALYX Press. What would you like people to know?

Whenever people ask me this, glib excitement always leads me to say, “Oh man, CALYX is rad!” And by that, I mean that CALYX is awesome and that it is also delightfully radical. We are a nonprofit literary journal that came about in 1976 simply because four women wanted to create a space in a male-dominated industry for art and literature created by women. I’d love for that not to be a radical idea but, even now, in 2020, it is.

The most recent issue of CALYX, October 2019, features cover art “Mom,” by Ho JiaHui.

CALYX publishes two print journals a year: one in summer/fall and one in winter/spring. They are gorgeous little coffee-table books with glossy covers and a full 16-page insert of art. The other pages are filled with poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, book reviews, and occasional interviews.

We are open for submissions every year (from Oct. 1-Dec. 31) to all women and nonbinary writers. We publish material over the course of two issues, and any submissions that are held for final consideration but not accepted are given personalized feedback by our editorial collective. We also have two competitions over the course of the year, one for poetry and one for prose, and the winners receive cash prizes and publication in the journal as well. We accept art and book reviews year-round.

CALYX has published work by authors and poets such as Sharon Olds, Julia Alvarez, and Sandra Cisneros, but we have also always had a focus on publishing new and emerging writers.

What else? We are hardcore proponents of the Oxford comma.

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Vision 2020: Connie Carley and Jerry Foster

For almost four decades the leaders of PassinArt have forged a strong and steady path for Black theater in Portland

For nearly 38 years PassinArt: A Theatre Company has been passing down art, culture, and heritage to the ensuing generations. That’s a long time for a theater company, a nickel-and-dime industry at the best of times. There are other organizations, such as Artists Repertory Theatre, that have been around longer and gotten bigger. But usually (except in special cases like Milagro) those companies’ longevity has been carried on by fresh influxes of new faces at different times.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


For PassinArt, Connie Carley and Jerry Foster have been keeping the flame alive this entire time. There have been periodic breaks here and there, some longer than others, but PassinArt always comes back, its vision intact, its mission still at the forefront of its endeavors: making sure that the next generation of Black people in Portland has something solid that belongs to them.“We are responsible,” Foster says, “for the health and the vitality of our community.” Put another way (when speaking about the fact that PassinArt has always paid its artists something), Carly says, “We’ve never been community theater. But we’ve always been about the community.”

A lot has changed over the years, of course. PassinArt has been around since 1982. At the time they were Connie Carley, Clarice Bailey, and Michael Grant. They had their first performance at the Matt Dishman Center in 1983. PassinArt gained its nonprofit status in 1986. Jerry Foster came on board as artistic director in 1995. In those days, they paid for every show out of their own pockets. Board members were expected to act or direct or work backstage or in the front of house. And they never started a project until a good percentage of funding was in hand.

George Hendricks and Jerry Foster in 2014’s “Two Old Black Guys Just Sitting Around Talking.” Photo courtesy PassinArt

In the old days, surprisingly (to me, at least) PassinArt wasn’t the only game in town if you wanted to see Black theater. There were also Portland Black Repertory Theatre and Sojourner Truth. BRT was a more classic theater company and Truth specialized in historical works. PassinArt was a combination of both. The three companies would work together to make sure that year ’round, Black people could find themselves on stage if they needed to.

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Vision 2020: Yaelle Amir

A promising curator makes her mark and then her job disappears. She rolls up her sleeves and begins to make her mark again.

After twelve years of curating and writing in New York, Yaelle Amir arrived in Portland in March of 2015 to be the curator of exhibitions and public programs at Newspace Center for Photography. The beloved Southeast Portland space had always provided classes, darkrooms, and studio space. Amir was hired to reenergize the exhibition programming, to make shows that people could engage with and be excited about. 

Amir organized several well-received exhibitions at Newspace, including Hidden Assembly, which considered the role of labor in contemporary culture, and In Response: Revisiting the DOCUMERICA Photography Project, which was an open call for artists to submit work based on an Environmental Protection Agency program from the 1970s.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


And then, 28 months later, in July of 2017, Newspace abruptly closed. Like many arts nonprofits, the financial situation had never been especially rosy. Amir mentions that there had been “restructuring” and “tightening up” but that it was “never on the table, from the staff perspective, that we were going to close.” It was an immediate closure. Amir was out of town and returned to find her email shut down, the organization dissolved, and herself without a job. 

This could be a terrible story: A promising young curator comes to Portland and has her ambition shaken out of her. But Amir is resourceful and has continued to enmesh herself in and endear herself to Portland art communities. She started teaching contemporary art practices in the Art + Social Practice MFA program at Portland State University in 2018. In 2019, she curated a show of Dan Paz’s work at HOLDING Contemporary and started teaching curatorial practice at Lewis & Clark College. Along with Ashley Stull Meyers and Elisheba Johnson, she curated the 2019 Biennial at Disjecta. She does not have a full-time job, but she is always working. 

Yaelle S. Amir. Photo: Kaitlin Bodiroga

I spoke with Amir about her views on curating, Newspace, and the Portland art scene. 

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Vision 2020: Sean Andries and Carissa Burkett

Leaders of Newberg's Chehalem Cultural Center look forward to more performing arts, celebrating diversity, and exploring culture through a new culinary center

The Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg would be a remarkable resource even in the culturally rich neighborhoods of Portland. That it happens to be in rural Yamhill County serves as an inspiration to any community that seeks to create space for the arts.

Sean Andries, the center’s director, has been at the cultural center for two years following previous roles with Portland Center Stage and the Circus Project. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon in theater and arts administration and a PTP Certificate from the Dell’Arte School. Carissa Burkett, curator and director of arts programs, also has worked at the Chehalem center for a little more than two years. She received her BA in studio art from Azusa Pacific University and her MFA in visual arts from Vermont College of Fine Art.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


The center is housed in a sprawling, two-story brick building just north of Newberg’s city library. Originally a school built in 1935 as a Works Progress Administration project, the building is owned by the Chehalem Park & Recreation District. The nonprofit cultural center is responsible for everything inside, including several visual art galleries and exhibition halls that have featured some stunning exhibitions over the past couple of years. There also are studios and classrooms for arts classes, clay work, and music recording; a 5,200-square-foot ballroom; and a kitchen/culinary arts studio. More is in the works, including a 250-seat theater. 

Carissa Burkett and Sean Andries are excited about the Chehalem Cultural Center’s new Cox Family Culinary Enrichment Center as an avenue to explore art and culture. “So much of our culture is wrapped up in the food we eat and the people we share it with,” Andries says.
Carissa Burkett and Sean Andries are excited about the Chehalem Cultural Center’s new Cox Family Culinary Enrichment Center as an avenue to explore art and culture. “So much of our culture is wrapped up in the food we eat and the people we share it with,” Andries says.

How would you characterize the general state of artistic and cultural life in Newberg and Yamhill County?

Burkett: Throughout the two years that I have been working at the CCC, I’ve seen exponential growth in the ways that the community engages with and is impacted by the center. 2020 will be the 10th year that the center has been running, and as with any organization, we spent a substantial amount of time establishing ourselves in the community, defining who we are and what it is that we do, and then trying to get the word out. In the past two years, our youth and adult art classes have almost doubled both in what we offer and in students signing up. The quantity and caliber of visual art exhibitions has grown and the engagement with these exhibits has taken off. Folks are excited about what is happening and there seems to be a significant impact, more than ever before.

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