Astoria

Uplifting spirits through clay art

Maori artists from New Zealand visit Astoria to strengthen ties with other Pacific Rim cultures and plant seeds -- both literal and figurative -- for the future

Art instructor Richard Rowland and I had plans to talk Saturday, but the time for our call came and went unanswered. Thirty minutes later, Rowland was on the line, apologetic, but with a good excuse. Rowland, a native Hawaiian and ceramics instructor at Clatsop Community College, had an important task at hand — preparing a pig for a community luau at which the guests of honor were nine visiting Maori clay artists from New Zealand, or in the native tongue, Aotearoa.

Baye Riddell, one of the Maori artists visiting Clatsop Community College, created these “Kaitiaki” or guardians of the environment.

“It is my responsibility to cook in the imu, a traditional way of Hawaiian cooking,” Rowland said. “It is my responsibility that everyone has been fed.”

Rowland expected to see 100 to 130 guests for the meal, after which his Maori friends planned to take the stage to speak, play music, or perhaps tell a story.

The public will have the chance to learn more about the artists on Wednesday, Oct. 17, during a lecture/slide presentation about the work and their home.

Continues…

Astoria show features trash-talking artists

Winners of the Coastal Oregon Artist Residency received a stipend, studio space and access to materials to create recycled works of art

On Saturday, when artists Cara Mico, Stephen Shumaker and Wenda Vorce welcome guests to their art gallery opening, they’ll be sharing their interpretations of what it means to truly turn one man’s trash into another’s treasure.

Winners of the Coastal Oregon Artist Residency — Wenda Vorce (left), Cara Mico, and Stephen Shumaker — will exhibit their work made from trash in a show that opens Saturday in Astoria. The residency is co-sponsored by Astoria Visual Arts (AVA) and Recology Western Oregon. Photo by: Agnes Field

The three are this year’s winners of the third annual Coastal Oregon Artist Residency, a collaboration between Recology Western Oregon and nonprofit Astoria Visual Arts to raise awareness of recycling and the creation of art through the use of repurposed and discarded materials.

The artists, who began their work July 2, received a monthly stipend, access to materials and dedicated studio space at Recology’s Astoria Recycling Depot and Transfer Station over three months.

Here, they talk about their passion for making the Earth a better place, one piece of trash at a time.

Cara Mico

Mico is the program director for the Cannon Beach Arts Association. Her show is called Broken Records, a reference, she said, “to all of the changes that have taken place in my lifetime.” It includes nine paintings, four sculptures, an installation piece, and “a bunch of Christmas ornaments.” All will be for sale.

Mico, who lives in Nehalem, describes herself as a “kind of a magpie.”

Continues…

High Tide in Astoria

Can extremely thoughtful, attentive urban design be art? The Tidal Rock project in Astoria may have some answers.

Tidal Rock—a green space in Astoria, Oregon, formerly overgrown and obscured from the public eye—has received a makeover courtesy of three artists, Agnes Field, Brenda Harper, and Jessica Schleif, who have rallied their community to create a space for public art in an unlikely spot. Known for its role in marking the water level for its coastal community, Tidal Rock is officially designated as a historic site. Since late 2017, the three artists have been hard at work cultivating the space as a place for temporary public art installations and community gatherings. A public art event at the site, taking place Saturday evening, September 8, is the sort of thing they have in mind.

Oddfellows dance collective at Tidal Rock; photo by Brenda Harper

When I connected with the artists to speak about Tidal Rock, I was shocked to learn that Field had severely broken her leg less than two weeks before this big event. “It’s just one of those crazy things that happens when you don’t expect it,” she said. “I was helping my friends with their new roller skates.” At this point, I let an unseemly pun slip out about rolling with the situation, to which she kindly replied, “I think that the truth. It’s the only choice you have.”

“I’m like, ‘gosh, how is she doing this?’” Schleif remarked of Field’s predicament. “She’s chipper and looks great.”

Field’s high spirits bodes well for Saturday’s event, and this pervasive positivity has likely had an impact on the progress of the project thus far. The artists talked me through some of the details surrounding how they were able to convince Astoria City Council to allow them to adopt the Tidal Rock site.

“I don’t think they had experienced anything like this before,” said Schleif. “It was a leap for them to start picturing what might happen.”

Continues…

Well, Fertile Ground happened, and while I offered a few prognostications, for the first time in many years I didn’t get out to see those shows. Can you please use the comments to tell me, and more importantly each other, what you loved? With a festival that’s so egalitarian by nature, community opinions should hold the most sway anyway.

Now then:

The word around ArtsWatch via our reviewer TJ Acena is that Magellanica, which recreates the feeling of its setting, Antarctica, with a glacially paced 5+ hour runtime, is “worth it.”  I believe it. If I had to pick a group of people to get marooned in the Antarctic wilderness with, I’d actually consider Artists Rep’s company of actors. They’re versatile and compassionate, and they can make fire.

Alisha Menon is the Girl Prince in Northwest Children’s Theatre’s “Chitra.” Photo: David Kinder

Corrib’s all-age-appropriate Lifeboat closes at Northwest Children’s Theater this weekend, making way for Chitra, The Girl Prince, NWCT’s second major collaboration with Indian dance expert Anita Menon (the first being 2015’s Jungle Book). Nice to see Ken Yoshikawa pop up in a kids’ production and what looks like a romantic lead. His earnestness will not be lost on all ages.

What else?

Continues…

DramaWatch Weekly: Double Chekhov, Ghost Hunters

It's January. Time to shake off that holidays hangover and get on with the shows.

Hello. The holidays are over and now plays can be about anything again. Next week brings Fertile Ground, brimming with homegrown theater offerings of every conceivable topic and timbre. There’ll be almost too much to mention then, so this week by comparison is short to summarize.

For those who can’t wait ’til next week, a couple of plays are opening early that you can Chekhov your list.* Northwest Classical Theatre brings Patrick Walsh’s adaptation of The Three Sisters to its old stomping grounds the Shoebox (with a familiar face from last season’s Playhouse Creatures gracing the cast). I, for one, miss the days when NWCT used to hang their collection of velvet cloaks in the Shoebox’s breezeway. Glad they’re back.

Dainichia Noreault as Irina, Elizabeth Jackson as Masha, Christy Bigelow as Olga in Northwest Classical Theatre Collaboration’s “Three Sisters.” Photo: Gary Norman

Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble presents Štĕpán Šimek‘s “visceral, in-your-face” take on Uncle Vanya at Reed College. Expect surprises. (Though in the context of Chekhov, what does that mean? A gun not firing? Who knows?)

Continues…