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News & Notes: ‘Everyman’ art collector Duane Snider dies

Also: Japanese American Museum's new leader, springtime for taxes (and donations), sprucing up the libraries.

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Duane Snider, at home with art in Waldport in October 2022. Photo: Lori Tobias

Duane Snider, who began to build an impressive collection of works by contemporary Oregon artists 40 years ago while he was working as a modestly paid eyeglass lens technician in Portland, has died following a lingering illness.

“My darling husband, Duane Snider, passed over on Friday afternoon, May 26, 2023,” his wife, Linda Dies Snider, posted on his Facebook page. “He loved the arts, bird-watching and animals. If you would like to honor Duane, please donate to your local arts or animal organization. Friends & loved ones rallied around Duane in his final days. He was surprised he touched so many lives. Thank you, dear ones, he felt very loved. His legacy lives on with the Snider/Dies Art Collection. ‘The way to greater light leads through the darkness.’ The Tao.”

In her story The Collection of a Lifetime, ArtsWatch’s Lori Tobias wrote in October 2022 about Snider’s quest to find a home for his collection after doctors had initially told him his disease was fatal. At the time Tammy Jo Wilson and Owen Premore of the nonprofit arts organization Art in Oregon were helping to catalog and seek a landing spot for Snider’s collection of more than 240 works.

“The singular things that are unique about the collection (are) the length of time it covers for Oregon artists in such a wide scope,” Wilson told Tobias. “And just Duane’s own collector voice as far as leaning toward the surreal, kind of magical, but then also just wanting to capture the Oregon art feeling and artists that are important to the state as a whole.”

Snider, who moved with his wife from Portland to Waldport in 2018, had a good eye, and followed his instincts. Working on a tight budget, he looked for art that appealed to him and bought what he could afford. He didn’t buy out of financial speculation — he was not a wealthy man — but out of pleasure, and he liked to make connections with the artists whose work he bought. “In time,” Tobias wrote, “his collection grew to include Todd Walker, Jock Sturges, Holly Andres, Katherine Ace, Kevin Kadar, Zoe Keller, John Frame, Frank Boyden, Terry Toedtemeier, Robert Nelson and Jose Sierra and on and on and on.”

From Snider’s collection, one of his favorites: Chuck E. Bloom, “We Will Keep In Touch,” 2007, acrylic, 30 x 30 inches. Snider’s collection includes 33 works by Bloom.

In his own Facebook post, Premore called Snider an “art collector, historian, writer, friend, and unmatched advocate of Oregon art and artists.” Premore continued: “His favorite artist was unquestionably Chuck E. Bloom. Duane loved Chuck and his paintings. Chuck and Duane stayed in contact to the end. Duane’s dying wish was for the Hallie Ford Museum of Art to acquire at least one of Chuck E. Bloom’s paintings. Art in Oregon will be working with Linda and Hallie Ford in the near future on the Snider/Dies Collection estate planning.

“Many of the programming ideas Art in Oregon and Duane explored were simply bigger than Tammy and I’s ability to realize, unfortunately. Regardless, the function of the brainstorms with Duane served more to shape our understanding of collectors/patrons and how to encourage other art lovers of modest means to engage with pride and respect in the joys of art ownership.”

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Japanese American Museum names a new leader

Hanako Wakatsuki-Chong at the Manzanar National Historic Site. Photo courtesy Hanako Wakatsuki-Chong

Portland’s Japanese American Museum of Oregon has named Hanako Wakatsuki-Chong as its new executive director. She joins the museum in June, succeeding Lynn Fuchigami Parks, who retired as executive director at the end of 2021 and has stayed on as a consultant and member of the museum’s executive transition team.

Wakatsuki-Chong moves to Oregon from Honolulu, where, the museum says, “she was the first Superintendent of the Honouliuli National Historic Site of the National Park Service. Prior to her superintendency, she served on special detail as the Acting Chief of Interpretation for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.” She also spent six months in 2022 in the Office of the Chief of Staff at the White House, as policy advisor to the deputy assistant to the president on issues and policies affecting the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.

The new museum leader “has devoted the last 16 years of her personal and professional life preserving the history of the Japanese American incarceration experience during World War II,” the museum said.

“This topic is very personal to me,” she said, “as my family was deeply affected by this trauma, which still reverberates down to me as a Yonsei/Gosei (fourth- and fifth-generation Japanese American). I am excited to return to the Pacific Northwest and have the opportunity to honor my ancestors who settled in Oregon. It is a great privilege and honor to have this opportunity to lead the efforts set forth by my predecessor, Lynn Fuchigami Parks, and to take JAMO into the next step in its evolution.”

Cultural Trust seeks spring donors

Usually you hear about Oregon’s unique Cultural Tax Credit around November or early December, near the end of the calendar year, when people are thinking about their taxes and any annual donations they might want to make. Things are different this year. If you can swing your donations by June 30, the last day of the current fiscal year, that would be a very good thing, the Oregon Cultural Trust says.

Why? Because a record number of nonprofit arts and cultural groups are looking for help. “We received a record 194 applications to our Cultural Development Grant Program this year,” said Cultural Trust Executive Director Brian Rogers. “That reveals the incredible need that arts, heritage and humanities nonprofits are experiencing. Our hope is to support as many of these projects as possible this summer.” In addition, 70 more cultural nonprofit groups have registered with the Trust recently, raising the total to more than 1,600.

Coming out of the pandemic, most groups are in financial need. And, although the tax year runs January through December, by statute the fiscal year, which begins July 1, determines how much money is available for fiscal year 2024 grants.

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The way it works: You choose which groups you’d like to donate to, make your donations, then match those donations with a donation to the Oregon Cultural Trust. Come tax time, your Trust donation is treated not as a regular deduction but as a full reduction of the amount you owe on your state income tax. There are limits: $500 for an individual, $1,000 for a couple filing jointly, $2,500 for Class-C corporations. But this year, you can make it count early, while it, well, counts. Details on how to donate are here.

Sprucing up the libraries

Left: Salomée Souag, Holgate Library. Photo: Haley Busch. Right: Kanani Miyamoto, Midland Library. Photo: Kayla Wiley

Those of you who regularly use the Multnomah County Library system know that things are up in the air right now. Construction and renovation are under way across the sprawling system, and several branches — downtown Portland’s Central Library, Albina, Capitol Hill, Holgate, Midland, North Portland — are closed while the hammers are swinging and the paint’s being applied.

Left: Tenya Rodriguez, Operations Center. Photo courtesy of the artist. Right: Crystal Meneses, Holgate Library. Photo: Alberta Akins

It’s all part of a measure approved by county voters in 2020 to upgrade and expand the system. Among other things it means building a new library in East County; a new and larger Northwest Portland library; a new Operations Center (the “heart” of the system, a sort of quick-moving warehouse for taking books in and sending them out); renovation and expansion of the Albina, North Portland, Midland, Belmont and St. Johns libraries; and improvements to the Capitol Hill, Central, Gregory Heights, Fairview-Columbia, Hillsdale, Hollywood, Kenton, Rockwood, Sellwood-Moreland, Troutdale and Woodstock branches. All projects are expected to be completed before the end of 2025, with several much earlier.

Lilyanne Pham and Paola De La Cruz, Midland Library. Photo: Keanu Narciso

And it means, for many branches, new public artwork. In a partnership with the Regional Arts & Culture Council and using money provided through the county’s Percent for Art program, which sets aside for public art 2 percent of the construction budget for county-funded improvement projects, the library system has chosen several artists to create new works throughout the system.

Those named recently to create new public art:

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  • Tenya Rodriguez, who’ll create a large-scale and colorful work on the exterior of the new Operations Center to greet staff and visitors as they enter the building. The work also will be visible to drivers and pedestrians along Northeast 122nd Avenue.
  • Lilyanne Pham and Paola De La Cruz, who’ll create artwork for the underside of a new entry canopy framing the redesigned entrance and exterior public plaza at Midland Library.
  • Kanani Miyamoto, who’ll create a wall-mounted, two-dimensional artwork to frame Midland Library’s interior Gathering Circle, which is meant to be “a communal seating area that encourages and fosters connection.”
  • Salomée Souag, who’ll create an interior and exterior wall art project at Holgate Library. The work will be etched onto exterior panels of the building’s facade, and “will be replicated inside along the full length of the ground floor lobby wall as part of a large-scale, site-specific, two-dimensional digital mural.”
  • Crystal Meneses, who’ll create a wall-mounted artwork for Holgate Library’s exterior site enclosure. Located between the new library and the new parking lot, it’ll wrap the enclosure and anchor the north entry’s outdoor patio, and be visible from Southeast 79th Avenue as visitors approach the library.

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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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