MYS Oregon to Iberia

News & Notes: A trio of big Duke winners from Oregon; Wendy Red Star’s Bronson Award; Timberline art; Bargain No. 503

Esperanza Spalding, Acosia Red Elk, and Nataki Garrett win major arts awards; Red Star is the latest Bonnie Bronson fellow; Timberline Lodge art survives fire; May 3 is a discount day.

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Multiple Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding, one of a trio of 2024 Doris Duke Artist Award winners with roots in Oregon, was born and raised in Portland. Photo courtesy Andrea Mancini.
Multiple Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding, one of a trio of 2024 Doris Duke Artist Award winners with roots in Oregon, was born and raised in Portland. Photo courtesy Andrea Mancini.

Three current or former Oregon artists have won 2024 Doris Duke Artist Awards, representing half of this year’s six winners. Esperanza Spalding, the multiple Grammy-winning, Portland-born and -raised bassist, composer, and vocalist, won in the jazz category. Acosia Red Elk, enrolled member of the Umatilla Tribe who lives in Pendleton, won in dance. And Nataki Garrett, former artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, won in theater.

The Doris Duke Artist Awards are among the nation’s biggest awards to individual artists, and among the most strings-free. Each winner received an unrestricted $525,000 cash award, plus, in the Doris Duke Foundation‘s words, “an incentive of up to $25,000 to save for retirement, … (plus) support including professional development, financial planning and management services, enhanced networking and performance opportunities.”

Though her career is international, Spalding keeps close ties to Portland. She is co-founder and co-director of Prismid Sanctuary, a nonprofit residency, performance and workshop space in North Portland for BIPOC artists.

Acosia Red Elk (left) of Pendelton is a Doris Duke winner in dance, and Nataki Garrett, former artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is a winner in theater. Photos courtesy Doris Duke Foundation.

Red Elk is a 10-time world champion jingle dancer, the traditional dance performed by women at powwows. She didn’t begin to dance until she was 16, but took to it swiftly. She is also a devotee of Buti yoga, which she teaches and incorporates into her dancing.

Garrett is co-artistic director of One Nation/One Project and the national Arts and Health initiative #ArtsforEveryBody. Her tenure at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where she came after being acting artistic director of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, coincided with a rocky period for the festival. She began in 2019, a year before the Covid pandemic shut down performances and wildfires caused further shutdowns. Garrett’s commitment to modernize the festival’s offerings proved controversial in some quarters, and as a Black woman in a leadership role she received racial threats against herself and her family.

Other recipients of this year’s Doris Duke Artist Awards are Shamel Pitts (dance), Miguel Zenón (jazz), and director and playwright Chay Yew (theater), who directed Lauren Yee’s musical drama Cambodian Rock Band at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival during Garrett’s initial season as the festival’s artistic director in 2019; a scheduled 2020 production at Portland Center Stage was canceled because of Covid shutdowns.

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Wendy Red Star wins 2024 Bonnie Bronson Fellowship

Wendy Red Star, "Apsáalooka Feminist No. 4," 2016, archival pigment print, 35 x 42 inches. In this series, Red Star photographed her daughter and herself "wearing traditional elk tooth dress, representing her Crow heritage and emphasizing the matrilineality of her tribe."
Wendy Red Star, “Apsáalooka Feminist No. 4,” 2016, archival pigment print, 35 x 42 inches. In this series, Red Star photographed her daughter and herself “wearing traditional elk tooth dress, representing her Crow heritage and emphasizing the matrilineality of her tribe.”

Wendy Red Star, who lives in Portland and whose work is in permanent art collections nationally and internationally from the British Museum to the Denver, Baltimore and Portland museums of art; the Metropolitan, Whitney, and Museum of Modern Art in New York; and beyond, has been named the winner of 2024’s Bonnie Bronson Visual Arts Fellowship.

The fellowship, named for the prominent Oregon artist who died in a mountain climbing accident in 1990, is awarded annually to an artist living and working in the Northwest. It comes with a $10,000 cash prize and the purchase of a piece of art to be added to the Bonnie Bronson Collection housed at Reed College.

Red Star, a member of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation, was born in Billings, Mont., near the Crow Indian Reservation, and much of her art springs from the disparities between those roots and flawed historical narratives about Native life.

Red Star will be honored with a reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, in the Kaul Auditorium foyer at Reed College. It’s free and open to the public.

Red Star joins an impressive list of Bronson fellowship winners, listed here chronologically from the first award in 1992: Christine Bourdette, Judy Cooke, Ronna Neuenschwander, Fernanda D’Agostino, Carolyn King, Lucinda Parker, Judy Hill, Adriene Cruz, Helen Lessick, Ann Hughes, Malia Jensen, Christopher Rauschenberg, Kristy Edmunds, Paul Sitinen, Bill Will, Laura Ross-Paul, M.E. Guth, Marie Watt, David Eckard, Nan Curtis, Pat Boas, Wynne Greenwood, Vanessa Redwick, Cynthia Lahti, Lynne Woods Turner, Susie Lee, Kristan Kennedy, Tannaz Farsi, Natalie Ball, Ed Bereal, Dawn Cerny and Samantha Wall (co-winners in 2022), and Dana Lynn Louis.

Timberline art survives fire and water

Paul and Babe, popular denizens of Timberline Lodge's tucked-away Blue Ox Bar, made it through the fire, smoke, and water just fine, thank you very much. "Paul Bunyan with His Blue Ox," wall mural (detail) by Virginia Darce, Charles Haller and Peter Ferrarin, 1939.
Paul and Babe, popular denizens of Timberline Lodge’s tucked-away Blue Ox Bar, made it through the fire, smoke, and water just fine, thank you very much. “Paul Bunyan with His Blue Ox,” wall mural (detail) by Virginia Darce, Charles Haller and Peter Ferrarin, 1939.

The April 18 fire that took off part of the roof of the 1930s landmark Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mt. Hood was a potential disaster that appears to have been mostly averted. Damage is still being assessed from the fire and the massive amount of water that was used to douse it, but appears to have been much less than it might have been.

That includes damage to the lodge’s large art collection, which is built on a foundation of Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps murals and other pieces from the New Deal programs of the 1930s and has added many works since: The collection now includes more than 2,000 pieces.

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Many people were concerned that heavy water seepage might have caused major damage to the collection. But as Tanner Todd reports in The Oregonian/Oregon Live, only three works of art appear to have been damaged enough to require repair by art conservationists. The works were WPA artist Howard Sewall’s 1937 mural Symbolizing Lodge Workers: Wood Work and a pair of lithographs by artist Karl Feurer that “experienced mild warping,” Todd writes. “The damage could have been far worse,” he wrote, citing Timberline art curator Lisa Riversong. “More than three items of art were soaked during the firefighting, but most of them were dried out properly.”

Look for updates at Friends of Timberline. And to get a sense of the collection that appears to have survived almost intact, check out the Timberline Art Tour on the lodge’s web page.

E.T., Phone home: Discount Day No. 503

All right, then, who doesn’t like a bargain? Even if it’s a one-day bargain — in this case, Friday, May 3, which is also “503,” which also happens to be the telephone area code for Portland and much of Oregon?

That day is being touted as the city’s first “503 Day,” during which many organizations, arts groups among them, are offering tickets and other goodies with discounts of $5.03. (My phone prefix happens to be 971, but I do not expect any discounts of that rather more elevated rate.) It’s all a bit confusing, but the new “holiday” appears to be the brainchild of City Cast Portland, which creates podcasts and sends out newsletters.

Several groups have leapt into the action, including Portland Center Stage, which on May 3 will knock off $5.03 on its tickets to its current shows NASSIM and Coriolanus, and, in its Armory Bar, sell you a $5.03 drink special. Possibly better than any discount, the company will be featuring the excellent writer and Shakespeare scholar Daniel Pollack-Pelzner in a mezzanine talk from 6:45 to 7: 15 p.m. May 3 before the company’s 7:30 performance of Shakespeare’s (updated) Coriolanus.

Center Stage also passes along this list of other companies taking part in the 503 festivities:

  • Portland Playhouse offering a $5.03 discount on tickets to Passing Strange
  • Northwest Children’s Theatre offering a Buy One, Get One for $5.03 ticket special to Go, Dog, Go!
  • Artists Repertory Theatre offering $5.03 off on their Encore Readings this May
  • Oregon Ballet Theatre offering Buy One, Get One for $5.03 for Made in Portland series
  • Cappella Romana offering $5.03 off all tickets for A Ukrainian Wedding
  • Chamber Music Northwest & The Reser offering Buy One, Get One for $5.03 for COUNCIL (use code Reser503)
  • Resonance Ensemble offering a $5.03 discount on all merch, including their latest album LISTEN, plus Buy One, Get One $5.03 deal on tickets for upcoming MISSION15 concert
  • Tomorrow Theater offering $5.03 off your ticket to see The People’s Joker on 5/3 with code TOMORROW503

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Our wallet feels happier already. Oh: But, E.T., our old friend? We’re sorry, but we’re not sure the discount applies to interstellar calls.

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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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