Seattle Opera Pagliacci

News & Notes: Designs on PSU

A big step toward a new home for the university's School of Art + Design. "Merry Wives" sing out. In Salem, Putin on parade. Voices for Ukraine. A tribute to Lady Day. A memorial for Una Loughran. Wayne Brady in the house. Brunish takes on London.


An interior space at Meyer Memorial Trust headquarters, designed by LEVER Architecture. The Portland firm has been hired to design a new home for Portland State University’s School of Art + Design. Photo: Jeremy Bittermann

Portland State University, which added a new museum space a couple of years ago when the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU opened, has designs on yet another significant cultural splash: a new home on campus for the university’s School of Art + Design. On Monday the school chose the Portland firm LEVER Architecture to design the new space.

The new, 80,000-square-foot building will be on the South Park Blocks between College and Jackson streets, and will serve roughly 1,100 students in the School of Art + Design, which offers bachelor and/or graduate degrees in art history, art practice, graphic design, art and social practice, and studio practice. It will include, according to a university release, “collaborative spaces, classrooms, studios for sculpture, printmaking, textile arts, photography and videography, critique spaces, graphic design labs, Art History teaching spaces and offices.” Programs are currently scattered among several spaces across the campus.

Design work will begin this spring, with construction to start in 2023 and opening expected in 2025. The Oregon Legislature approved $50 million for the project last year, and PSU is seeking to raise an additional $27 million.

LEVER, which is known for its innovative mass-timber designs, has designed several high-profile projects in recent years – including Portland’s Adidas Village, the firm’s North American headquarters, and the Meyer Memorial Trust headquarters, projects that ArtsWatch contributor Brian Libby wrote about here and here for Metropolis magazine. Among its other current projects is the new home for Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre.


SPEAKING OF PORTLAND STATE, PSU Opera is getting ready to perform The Merry Wives of Windsor, Otto Nicolai’s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s bawdy romp of a comedy about the come-uppance of the irresistibly awful Sir John Falstaff. The appearances of Sir John and the Mistresses Page and Ford are significant for a couple of reasons in addition to their enduring entertainment value.

This production, at PSU’s Lincoln Performance Hall, is finally taking the stage after having been postponed in April 2020 by pandemic shutdowns. And it’s the final production overseen by Christine Meadows, the onetime New York City Opera star who helped build PSU Opera into a significant university program, and who retired last year as the university’s voice and opera program director.


Seattle Opera Pagliacci

Merry Wives will have four performances at Lincoln Hall, April 22-May 1. Ticket and other information here.

Meanwhile, Orpheus PDX, a new professional opera company led by former Portland Opera artistic director Christopher Mattaliano, begins a two-production summer residency at PSU’s Lincoln Performance Hall this year. You can read James Bash’s ArtsWatch interview with Mattaliano about his plans for the new company here.


Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (Russian, born 1952)/Jim Riswold (American, born 1957), “Putin’s Big Parade (Let’s All Go to Ukraine!), Великий парад Путіна (Поїдемо всі в Україну!),” 2022, color digital print, 24 x 34 in., courtesy Vladimir Putin

IN SALEM, PUTIN ON PARADE. As Russian troops dig in their heels in Ukraine, Salem’s Hallie Ford Museum of Art has brought one of Oregon’s finer satiric artists, Jim Riswold, into the building to show a series of staged photographic prints called Putin’s Big Parade. They’re at once toylike, absurdist, and satirical.

“Part One is more about the Russians trouncing into Ukraine,” Riswold says. “The Russian army is overrated. It’s a motley collection of outdated equipment, poor morale (due to 30% conscription rate), outdated tactics, etc. Part Two focuses more on the Ukrainians and what’s happening to them — destruction, orphans, refugees, confused cows, etc.”

The prints are also all for sale, and all money from the sales and any donations will go to the museum’s Ukrainian Relief Fund, which supports Ukrainian refugees through ICOM (International Council of Museums) Poland.

The show opens April 16 and continues through May 28. A couple of other shows open at the museum on the same date: Murmuration, the annual Willamette University Senior Art Majors exhibit; and Chelsea Couch: boots, bullets, britches, & bologna.


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VOICES FOR UKRAINE. Five excellent choirs – Cappella Romana, Portland Symphonic Choir, Oregon Repertory Singers, PSU Chamber Choir, and Grant High School’s traditionally fine A Capella Choir – are gearing up for a big concert to benefit Mercy Corps’ emergency responses in Ukraine. They’ll be singing great choral works by Ukrainian composers including Dmytro Bortnianskyi and Maksym Berezovskyi, and Arvo Pärt’s Da Pacem Domine, “Give Peace, Lord.”

It’s happening at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at First United Methodist Church, 1838 S.W. Jefferson St., in Portland’s Goose Hollow neighborhood. Ticket and other information here.


Billie Holiday at the Downbeat jazz club in New York City, ca. February 1947. Photo: United States Library of Congress Music Division / Wikimedia Commons

TRIBUTE TO LADY DAY. One of the better annual musical traditions in Portland is Siren Nation’s tribute concert to the great singer Billie Holiday, who would’ve been 107 this month. The 15th annual Lady Sings the Blues – A Tribute to Billie Holiday is coming up Saturday, April 23, at Alberta Rose Theatre, and the lineup of singers is stellar: LaRhonda Steele, Danielle M. Barker, Arietta Ward, Anandi, Emily Wilder, Marcia Hocker. Part of the ticket price will be donated to Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center and Rosemary Anderson High School. Ticket and other information here.


Una Loughran: A celebration of life.

A GATHERING TO CELEBRATE UNA LOUGHRAN. Friends, colleagues, and admirers of Una Loughran, who died from cancer on January 7 at age 58, will gather at BodyVox dance center, 1201 N.W. 17 Ave. in Portland, from 3 to 5 p.m. this Saturday, April 16, to remember her and celebrate her life. Una was the dance company’s general manager for 20 years, a key behind-the-scenes figure with a sharp business mind and, for many people who visited BodyVox, the face of the company, a benevolent presence in the lobby, meeting and greeting and making sure everything went right.


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Wayne Brady (second from left) with, from left, Chris Sullivan, Anthony Veneziale, Aneese Folds, and Kurt Crowley on keyboards, in the Broadway production of “Freestyle Love Supreme” at the Booth Theatre. Photo: Joan Marcus

WHOSE WAYNE IS IT, ANYWAY? For three shows this weekend, when he’ll rejoin the cast of Freestyle Love Supreme for its post-Broadway run at The Armory, he’s Portland Center Stage’s. Actor and comedian Wayne Brady, who was in the Broadway run, will return to this show from the makers of Hamilton in performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 15-16. Brady has deep theatrical credits, including Kinky Boots and Chicago on Broadway, and playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton in Chicago. He’s a six-time Emmy winner who’s appeared in lots of TV series and had his own Wayne Brady Show. A very funny man who can also sing, for a lot of people he’s instantly remembered as a key member of the American-version improv comedy show Whose Line Is It, Anyway? Ticket and other info here.


MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE WEST END: Broadway and Portland producer Corey Brunish is in London for a stretch, as a producer and assistant director of the London premiere of the musical Bonnie and Clyde. He served the same roles for the Broadway premiere in 2011 (and in fact met his future wife and producing partner there in the theater lobby). If things go as planned, he says, he’ll eventually direct the show for Lakewood Theatre in Lake Oswego.

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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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