White Bird Dance Paul Taylor Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon

News & Notes: Spreading the wealth

Grants in honor of the late Ross McKeen; 45th Parallel benefit concerts for Ukraine refugees; Sabina Haque's silhouettes at Waterstone.


The late Ross McKeen, arts leader and member of the band Bourbon Jockey.

In the arts world, money in the pocket is a very good thing. And sometimes a gift means even more because of where it comes from. That’s surely the case with the newly announced Ross McKean Memorial Awards for Leadership Development, which are dividing more than $22,000 among fifteen Portland arts professionals.

The awards are named in honor of McKeen, the longtime Portland arts adminstrator who died a year ago, on March 16, 2021, from pancreatic cancer. He had held important positions at Portland Center Stage and the Oregon Cultural Trust, and for many years was managing director of Oregon Children’s Theatre, helping to bring it to national prominence. He was a genuinely beloved figure on the Portland arts scene, known for his smarts, his savvy, his wryly genial sense of humor, and for generously mentoring and supporting colleagues.

Awardees, for projects ranging from writing and arts residencies to training in skills such as video editing to professional conferences, leadership training and nonprofit professional development, are:

  • Taiko artist Kazuyo Ito; Oregon Symphony administrator Steve Wenig; Portland Center Stage development associate Emily Ryan;
  • Erin Yanke of Outside the Frame; Hand2Mouth Theatre’s Jenni Green Miller and Lucille Dawson; Michael Crenshaw of Education Without Borders, for a Tanzania cultural exchange;
  • Ben Moorad of New Room Studios and Write Around Portland; Siren Nation’s Anina Bennett and Marian Rose Lucas;
  • Emmeline Eao, Harper Quinn, and Jakelen Diaz of the Independent Publishing Resource Center; Eboni Lowell of Profile Theatre; and Cristina Marino of Cathedral Park Performing Arts Collective.

The one-time awards are funded in McKeen’s name by grants from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, the Autzen Foundation, and more than seventy individual gifts. “Ross would be so glad that such a wide variety of individuals received funding,” his wife, Robin Remmick, said. “He would be honored and grateful to have his name associated with these grants.”


Sabina Haque’s installation “(Un) Belonging” at Waterstone Gallery. Photo: Mario Gallucci 

(UN) BECOMING, AN INTERACTIVE INSTALLATION by the talented Pakistani-American artist Sabina Haque at Portland’s Waterstone Gallery, explores, as much of her work does, “the cycle of welcoming and excluding, and what it means to belong in a new community.” The installation, which I haven’t had a chance to see yet (it continues through April 3), includes video projections, fifteen suspended life-size ink paintings of silhouetted bodies, and maps of contested borderlands to engage with as you wander through.

Since I discovered Haque’s work several years ago I’ve found it to be consistently good and provocative intellectually, culturally (she has both a community and a geopolitical sense of things), and aesthetically. She’ll be giving an artist’s talk at the gallery at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13, and will be joined by writer Emily Prado and poet Andres Mendoza in a conversation led by the Portland Art Museum’s Hana Layson.


GIFTS COME LARGE AND GIFTS COME SMALL, and both can be vital. Artists and arts groups are frequent donors to a multitude of causes, often putting their artistry where their values are. In Portland, the musical group 45th Parallel Universe is donating all ticket sales from two concerts this month to Global Empowerment Mission for Ukraine refugee relief.

The concerts are: the ensemble mousai REMIX performing music by Janáček and Beethoven, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at The Old Church at the Madeleine (tickets and information here); and A Giant in the Sky, a celebration by singer Zach Galatis and pianist Maria Garcia with the Johanna Quartet of music by Stephen Sondheim, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 17, at The Old Church at the Madeleine (tickets and information here).

The music’s good. So is the cause.

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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