AS UKRAINIANS FIGHT FOR THEIR LIVES and many national governments put a financial and diplomatic squeeze on the invading Russians, a lot of groups have come together to raise money for humanitarian aid. Coming up Sunday, April 10, is Voices Raised for Ukraine, a benefit concert from the women’s singer/songwriter organization She’s Speaking.
The 7 p.m. live show at Artichoke Community Music is sold out, but you can watch and hear it, and make a donation, via livestream. Your $20 ticket gets you performances by singer/songwriters Darka Dusty, Beth Wood, Bre Gregg of Red Bird Soul, Kristen Grainger of True North, and Kathryn Claire. Money raised from the Artichoke performance and the livestream will go to Mercy Corps, which has humanitarian-aid teams on the ground in Ukraine, Romania, and Poland.
ANOTHER BIG BENEFIT SHOW – the annual Ten Grands concert, organized by pianist Michael Allen Harrison and featuring 10 leading pianists in performance – is racing toward showtime, which will be 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland. The show benefits Harrison’s Play It Forward music organization, which offers instruments, instruction, and performance opportunities to children “regardless of income, ability, proximity or any other barrier.”
This year’s group of players includes Harrison, Tom Grant, Robert O’Hearn, Dr. Andrea Johnson, Colleen Adent, Mac & Hailey Potts, Marc Salman, William Chapman Nyaho, and John Nilsen. They’ll be joined by vocalist Julianne Johnson, Harrison’s frequent vocal collaborator. You can get tickets here, then settle in for 880 keys worth of piano music and song.
THE NEWEST FACE AT THE FIVE OAKS MUSEUM is a familiar one in Washington County cultural circles. Scott Palmer has joined the board of the historical and cultural museum, which is on the campus of Portland Community College Rock Creek.
Palmer founded Hillsboro’s Bag & Baggage Productions, which sparked a theater renaissance on the West Side, and helped the company move to its permanent home at The Vault in downtown Hillsboro. He left to become executive director of the Sun Valley Museum of Art in Idaho, and later the Crested Butte Center for the Arts in Colorado, before moving back to Hillsboro.
CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE UKRAINE/RUSSIA CRISIS, as Graham Bowley reports in The New York Times, has been $46 million worth of art from Russian museums that had been on loan to museums in Italy and Japan. The artworks were being shipped back to their home museums when they were stopped at the Finnish border and seized “on suspicion of contravening European Union sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
On Friday, as Bowley reports, the Finnish foreign ministry decided the art could cross the border and go home. What will happen long-term to collaboration between Russian museums and institutions in other countries isn’t clear.
The situation reminded me of an afternoon in June 1999 at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, when the situation was the other way around: How to get Russian art out of Russia and safely on its way elsewhere – in this case to the Portland Art Museum, where it would go on display in an exhibition of art collected over several centuries by members of the Stroganoff family. And not just a piece or two, but 61 crates’ worth from the Hermitage’s collections.
Vitaly Kalabush, fine art manager of Khepri, the company that crated and shipped everything that went out of the State Hermitage Museum, was explaining how it would work.
This, in part, is what I wrote at the time:
“Leading the way to a massive woodshop and construction studio facing an interior plaza at the Hermitage, he shows off some crates in process: Russian birch and pine, sophisticated plastics and other materials from Finland.
“… The crates’ long journey will take them slowly from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, Finland, on to Lubeck, Germany, and then to the airport in Frankfurt. ‘At Frankfurt it must all be palletized,’ Kalabush says. ‘This takes five, six hours. At least.’ Then on the jumbo jet and, on day four, the long flight to San Francisco. Finally, overnight trucks head to Portland. At every step of the way, a courier from the Hermitage will be on board.
“And for the first step, even more: state police guards from inside the Hermitage courtyard to the Finnish border. One on the truck, one in a Jeep behind. ‘Heavy armed,’ Kalabush says. ‘Yeah. They are really armed. Machine guns.’
“And after they reach the border?
“’They see everything is OK, they go back.’ If there’s any heisting to be done, it’s not going to happen in Russian territory.”
Twenty-three years later, everything is not OK, and the armed officers are not going back. A massive and violent attempted heisting is in process, complete with machine guns and more. But as traumatic and criminal as it is, it still isn’t happening in Russian territory.