IT’S THE YEAR OF THE TIGER, and what better than a Dragon Dance Parade to celebrate it? Saturday, May 7, is the day, from 10 in the morning to 1:30 in the afternoon, and the front of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, on Northwest Third Avenue and Davis Street in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown, is where it starts. From there, as the Portland Chinatown Museum notes, the Lion Dancers, other performers, and revelers celebrating the lunar new year will “pass through the China Gate, march down SW Third Avenue to SW Jefferson and Park Street, and end at the Oregon Historical Society Park Plaza,” following the Portland Chinatown History Foundation’s 150-foot-long dragon, which will glide through the streets with the aid of a lot of volunteers. (The Chinatown Museum’s looking for a hundred dragon volunteers; you can sign up here.)
While you’re there, you might also stop into the Chinatown museum (hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) to see the exhibition Carey Wong: The World Transformed, featuring the extraordinary work of the Portland native scenic designer. Writer Amy Wang and photographer Beth Nakamura produced a compelling visual piece about it a few days ago for The Oregonian/Oregon Live.
Asian Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (check this listing of events from EverOut Portland), and a lot of celebrations are in the works. A look at a few:
I AM AN AMERICAN, LIVE. This live version of The Immigrant Story‘s continuing tale of the experiences of newcomers to the United States features six Asian American storytellers in performance at Beaverton’s Patricia Reser Center for the Arts, on Friday, May 6. The evening kicks off with pan-Asian music composed for the occasion by Balamurali Balu, an Indian film music composer. The storytelling evening is part of a broader multimedia project, also called I Am an American, that explores “historic xenophobia” against Asian Americans in Oregon and the U.S., and how Asian American communities have responded. The Reser event is free, but you should make a reservation.
LAN SU CHINESE GARDEN. The garden and tea house in Old Town Chinatown has a month’s worth of events that it’s calling Celebrate Our Stories: AANHPI Heritage Month, ranging from story-sharing to music demonstrations to dance, mahjong, origami, and more. Check the link for details.
JAPANESE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF OREGON. The museum, at the Naito Center in Portland’s Old Town, has two current exhibitions. Na Omi Judy Shintani’s installation Dream Refuge for Children Imprisoned explores the trauma of child incarceration from the Japanese American detention camps of World War II to Native American children sent to boarding schools and Central American children separated from their families at the U.S. border. Oregon’s Nikkei: An American Story of Resilience is the museum’s permanent exhibition.
LaDuke in Grants Pass, Pitt in Newport
FIRE, FURY, & RESILIENCE. Longtime Southern Oregon artist Betty LaDuke‘s most recent show is on view through May 20 at the Grants Pass Museum of Art, and it looks like a good one. The pieces are all mixed media on wood, which she paints in vibrant colors and cuts into curving, frame-defying shapes that wriggle with life.
Titled Fire, Fury, & Resilience: Totem Witnesses and Turtle Wisdom, the exhibit is a continuation of LaDuke’s decades-long exploration of topics ranging from climate change to border policies and social issues, often rising from her experiences traveling from village to village in places from Africa to Borneo to Mexico to the farm fields of Oregon, focusing on women’s work around the world.
LaDuke, who was born in the Bronx in 1933 and has lived and worked in Ashland for decades (and whose daughter is the noted activist Winona LaDuke), talks about her life and work in this excellent Oregon ArtBeat interview from Oregon Public Broadcasting, below. In it, she discusses her turn to symbolic and personal approaches to her art – “it breaks every rule I learned in school” – and about the process of creating: “Paintings evolve. They’re like children. They grow up. Very seldom (do) you get something that’s mature right away. It takes a growing and living with it and thinking about it. It allows me room to breathe with it and to evolve.”
She’ll be at the Grants Pass museum 5-8 p.m. Friday, May 6, to take part in the First Friday Art Stroll.
MEANWHILE, LILLIAN PITT, the terrific Wasco and Yakama artist who’s an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, has a new show opening May 7 and continuing through May 28 at the Newport Visual Arts Center on the Oregon coast. Called Ancestors Known and Unknown, it includes multi-media works, monoprints, clay masks, and ceramic, steel and cast glass sculptures.
PassinArt and Center Stage party down
PASSINART’S LEGACY AWARDS. The Portland Black theatrical troupe PassinArt: A Theatre Company is celebrating its 40th anniversary this season, and also getting ready for its annual fundraising gala, Sweet Taste of the Arts, which traditionally is one of the more congenial such bashes in town. This year it’ll take place virtually on May 14, with catered dinners delivered to your home within an 11-mile radius of Portland.
Each year the company also chooses a handful of Legacy Award winners to be honored at the gala, and has just announced this year’s six honorees. Three – Connie Carley, Michael Grant, and Clarice Bailey, Ph.D. – are cofounders of the company. Other honorees are the notable visual artist Adriene Cruz, and Kenneth W. Berry and Michael “Chappie” Grice, both of the World Arts Foundation.
Meanwhile, the company is producing a staged reading of August Wilson’s great play Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, directed by William Earl Ray, at 7 p.m. Monday, May 2, at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center. And it’s in the home stretch of its current full production – Charlayne Woodard’s Neat, also directed by Ray – which continues through May 6, also at IFCC.
SWIRL IN THE PEARL. Portland Center Stage, the city’s biggest theater company, is also throwing a big benefit party this week, starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, at The Armory. There’ll be performances by an all-star lineup including Merideth Kaye Clark, Susannah Mars, Vin Shambry, LaRhonda Steele, Leah Yorkston, and Ken Yoshikawa, plus dining and dancing. Next up on the company’s season: Rent, Jonathan Larson’s AIDS era musical based loosely on the opera La Bohème, with previews starting May 21.
Cultural Trust board adds legislators
THE OREGON CULTURAL TRUST, with its sibling the Oregon Arts Commission, is the state’s official agency for supporting arts and culture, especially through financial grants, deciding how much state money goes to what projects and organizations around the state. And that means that the Oregon Legislature has a vested interest in how the Trust works – including representation on the board.
Last week the Trust announced two new appointments to the board, both from the ranks of the Legislature and both in ex officio, nonvoting positions. Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena) was named by Senate President Peter Courtney, and Rep. John Lively (D-Springfield) was appointed by former Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, who’s currently running for the Democratic nomination for governor. Both will serve at the pleasure of the Senate and House leaders.
Both appointees have deep experience outside the Portland metropolitan area and might be expected to encourage projects across a broad geographic base.
Lively, born in LaGrande and raised in Wallowa until his family moved to Springfield, has lived on both sides of the Cascades. “Rep. Lively’s cultural contributions include securing funding and a long-term model of sustainability for the Springfield Museum (while mayor), serving on the SRDC when the Richard E. Wildish Community Theater was refurbished and reopened and being actively engaged in the development of bike and hiking trails, additional park opportunities, concerts in the park and other forms of cultural opportunities in Springfield,” the Trust said in a release announcing the appointments.
Hansell, like Lively a graduate of the University of Oregon, and also the holder of a Harvard JFK School of Government Certificate, was born and raised in the Umatilla County town of Athena, where four generations of his family have farmed. Athena is home of Athena’s Gem, a performing arts theater that’s in the midst of an ambitious renovation project and a long community drive to fund and install an eighteen rank, 1921 Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ.