carlton jackson

A century of Oregon painters

ArtsWatch Weekly: A book dives into the state's art history; farewell to Carlton Jackson; guts, glory & opera; academia in turmoil; more

THIS CORNER OF THE VAST ARTSWATCH CULTURAL COMPLEX has moved its desk north for a few days to the Olympic Peninsula – to Port Angeles, the seaport on the strait, where you can amble out The Hook and look in one direction across the waters at the hills and lights of Canada and the passing crawl of tankers and freighters heading for Seattle and Tacoma and Vancouver, and back the other direction at the spike of Hurricane Ridge, where the winds blow wild and the ravens roost, swooping close now and again to nab a stray sandwich crumb or three. This is what’s loosely called a vacation – I’ve even browsed a while in the excellent downtown bookstore Port Book and News, picking up an old Ivan Doig and an Agatha Christie I haven’t read since the receding depths of a previous century – but the desk, in the form of my laptop computer and the oddment of information it brings with it, has come with me.


Of course I’ve brought a bit of Oregon to the northlands. Two or three weeks ago a surprisingly big box landed on my front porch – or maybe not so surprising, considering that it contained a solid century’s worth of Oregon art. Inside was the new second edition of Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit’s book Oregon Painters: Landscape to Modernism, 1859-1959, and the title pretty much tells the tale.

Since its arrival I’ve found myself starting at the beginning, opening it in the middle, flipping back and forth and back again at random, or following a lead to an artist or mini-movement I hadn’t known about. The book’s first edition was a landmark when it was published in 1999 by the late Oregon Historical Society Press. This beautifully illustrated and much expanded new edition from Oregon State University Press is as welcoming to casual readers as to art historians, and the art history covers a lot of territory.

“Late Afternoon, California,” by Maude Kerns, the essential Eugene artist and chair of the University of Oregon art department for many years. 1935, oil on canvas, 15 3/4 x 18 5/8, gift of Dorothy S. Berg, Portland Art Museum. 


MusicWatch Weekly: Second summer chills out

Portland cools down with Montavilla Jazz Festival, two-score local bands, orchestral hip-hop, and a bunch of bleached assholes

Happy Indonesian Independence Day! Seventy-four years ago today, Indonesia declared its independence from the Netherlands after three centuries of Dutch colonialism (I’ll bet you thought they were always just about tulips and weed). To celebrate, here’s a little video (if you can’t read Indonesian, skip on down):

So in a minute I’m going to tell you where to hear a zillion local composers rock out this weekend, and Senior Editor Brett Campbell has some things to say about the Montavilla Jazz Festival starting tonight, but the gamelan band I’m in Bali with just played its freshly blessed instruments for the first time this morning, so as soon as I wipe these tears of joy out of my beard I think it’s about time to give you all a little music theory lesson.

Caution: All comparisons to Western phenomena are meant as a starting point, not an accurate description of genuine Balinese music. The present author is no expert, but only an egg. Caveat emptor.

Start at your piano, accordion, Casio, or other Western style keyboard. All those white keys make up the diatonic major scale, and if you shift around the starting pitch you get the seven so-called church modes. Music students learn about all that in first year theory and never use them again.

Start with the note E on your white-note keyboard. Play the next two white keys: F and G. Then skip one, to B, and then to C. Skip up to E and you’re done. In the West we might call that a Phrygian Pentatonic. In Indonesia they call it pelog, and it’s everywhere. Even the ubiquitous roosters crow in pelog.