Oregon Cultural Trust

News & Notes: A prize for Dana Lynn Louis

The Portland artist and activist is the winner of this year's Bonnie Bronson Visual Arts Fellowship. Also: a master painter and calligrapher at the Portland Chinatown Museum.

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Left: “Weave,” 2019/20. An exhibition based on Dana Lynn Louis’s work at the Thread artists residency in Senegal, West Africa, and at the Portland creative collaborative Gather:Make:Shelter. Right: The artist.

Portland artist Dana Lynn Louis has just joined an exclusive club: She’s the 2023 winner of the Bonnie Bronson Visual Arts Fellowship, awarded once a year since 1992 to an artist living and working in the Pacific Northwest. The award comes with a $10,000 cash prize and the purchase of a work to be added to the Bonnie Bronson Collection, which is housed and displayed at Reed College. The honor is so exclusive that nobody even knows they’ve been nominated: As the Bronson Award website explains it, “Artists may not apply for this award and the new Fellow is informed with a simple phone call from the selection committee.”

Louis’s art is multidisciplinary, including drawings, paintings, textile and sculptural artworks, public installations, and interdisciplinary collaborations. And it is almost always socially engaged. She was a founding board member of the environmental education and art group Orlo, and she has been involved deeply in houselessness issues–in 2017 she founded Gather:Make:Shelter, an organization that seeks to engage people experiencing houselessness and poverty “in collaborative, skill-building projects in creative fields, connecting houseless and housed people together to empower each other.”

In Artful solutions to foster community, his 2020 story on Louis’s project Ripple Effect, in which she wove photographic-image “privacy screens” into a chain-link fence surrounding emergency outdoor shelters along Portland’s Water Avenue, Sebastian Zinn discusses several aspects of her activist art. Also in 2020, ArtsWatch’s Laurel Reed Pavic wrote about a Louis exhibit at Portland’s Russo Lee gallery. “(T)he work is undeniably pretty, but it would be an error to underestimate the work’s potential because of this,” Reed Pavic wrote in part. “Louis is clearly committed to understanding art as a means of community building and social connection. It fits exactly with the utopian ideals of the Bauhaus.”

The annual award is named for Bonnie Bronson, the prominent Portland painter and sculptor who died at age 50 in 1990 in a mountaineering accident on Mazama Glacier on Mount Adams. The first Bronson Fellowship was awarded two years later to Christine Bourdette, beginning something of an all-star lineup of Northwest artists.

Following Bourdette, chronologically, have been artists Judy Cooke, Rona Neuenschwander, Fernanda d’Agostino, Carolyn King, Lucinda Parker, Judy Hill, Adriene Cruz, Helen Lessick, Ann Hughes, Malia Jensen, Christopher Rauschenberg, Kristy Edmunds, Paul Sutinen, Bill Will, Laura Ross-Paul, MK Guth, Marie Watt, David Eckard, Nan Curtis, Pat Boas, Wynne Greenwood, Vanessa Renwick, Cynthia Lahti, Lynne Woods Turner, Susie Lee, Kristan Kennedy, Tannaz Farsi, Ed Bereal, Dawn Cerny, Samantha Wall, and Louis.

Wing K. Leong’s six decades of art

Wing K. Leong, “Three Friends in Winter,” 38 x 25,” at the Portland Chinatown Museum.

Through May, the Portland Chinatown Museum is offering a retrospective on the career of a master Portland artist working in centuries-old traditions. Wing K. Leong, 60 Years: Paintings and Calligraphy celebrates the long and fruitful career of Wing K. Leon, who was born in Canton, China, in 1934, earned a degree in fine arts from the New Asia College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and immigrated with his family to the United States and Portland in 1962. He and his wife, Yet Sim, owned the Chinese Art Studio from 1967 to 1996, and the Chinese Art Gallery in Southeast Portland from 1974 to 2003. He was also active as a teacher, at Mt. Hood Community College, Portland Community College, and Clark College in Vancouver, Wash.

The museum, at 127 N.W. Third Ave., Portland, is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

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