Converge 45

ArtsWatch Weekly: A world on fire

Trees in Trouble. Farewell, Tim Stapleton. Maryhill finally opens. Lots of music. Women in film. Pop-up posters. TBA, Street Roots & more.

NOTHING I CAN WRITE ON A DAY LIKE THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT than the story sweeping across Oregon and the West, where high winds and wildfires and crackling-dry conditions have unleashed historic devastation. Whole communities have been erased. Main highways are blocked off; others have been bumper-to-bumper crawling with people fleeing danger zones. Hundreds of people have been burned out of house and home. Complex ecosystems have been uprooted; wildlife flee with no sure place to go. In Oregon as of Thursday afternoon at least 800 square miles of land was burning, much of it out of control. 

Amid the chaos I’ve seen many small tales of courage, generosity, and resourcefulness. People in the country offering refuge for horses, livestock, pets. Parking lots and driveways offered for people escaping in their trucks or campers. Neighbors helping clear downed trees. Medical and utility and emergency workers, already stretched by the mounting catastrophes of this most extraordinary year, laboring overtime under daunting and exhausting circumstances. As I sit at my desk at 10 in the morning and look out the window the sky has turned from blood-orange to a pink-tinged gray. The acrid smell of smoke seeps through the cracks and into my nostrils. And I am deeply aware, and immensely grateful, that I am one of the fortunate ones, sitting in a stretch of Portland that’s been spared the worst of these multiple conflagrations, and that, barring a radical shift in weather patterns, is likely to remain a safe shelter. 

How did we get here? Where are we heading? In search of some answers ArtsWatch’s Barry Johnson talked with Portland writer Daniel Mathews, author of the recent book Trees in Trouble: Wildfires, Infestations, and Climate Change. Mathews takes a long view of the state of the forests, the destabilizing effects of climate change, the role of public policy, and other factors contributing to the chaos of the land. “I’m heartbroken looking at the maps and seeing so many towns and forests I visited just in reporting for this book,” Mathews tells Johnson. “This week’s fires are shocking and truly historic: it’s likely that more acres burned in the West than in any 48-hour period in written history, including the Big Blow-up of 1910. … I  guess there are a lot of disconnects between science and policy in this country, but forest fire policy is one of the most stubborn.”


TIM STAPLETON: FAREWELL TO A GREAT SPIRIT


The much loved Tim Stapleton, in transition. Photo courtesy Gary Norman

TIM STAPLETON, THE LONGTIME PORTLAND set designer, visual artist, writer of uncommonly good memoirs, and occasional actor, died at a hospice care center on Labor Day morning, Sept. 7, from the effects of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He leaves legions of friends and admirers, and an enormous hole in Portland’s artistic community. Tim, born in Kentucky coal country in 1949, constantly called in his work on memories of those days and that culture, and before he had to move to hospice care he made his home in The Holler, a stretch of country-in-the-city in a tucked-away part of northern Portland, which is where photographer Gary Norman took the portrait above. In it, Tim seems to be simply walking away, toward something, taking his soft wry voice and sometimes jagged laughter and passion and wit with him, but leaving a trail of memories behind. 

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Converge 45: Popping up with the times

Responding to a year of crisis, Newberg's Chehalem Cultural Center hosts a show of Oregon contemporary posters for public spaces

One of the strengths of gallery programming at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg is that the deep, long-term planning that arts director Carissa Burkett packs into the calendar for as much as a year in advance is coupled with an ability to pivot when circumstances change, when new opportunities and challenges present themselves.

Like, for example, 2020 — the year, one might add, of the center’s 10th anniversary. 

The #Act for Art posters in their natural public-spaces habitat. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, Converge 45 said via Twitter, Portland has the fifth-largest concentration of artists in the nation, after Manhattan, San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles. Photo: Converge 45.

The center has already had a couple of COVID-inspired pop-ups this year, and for a few more days, visitors will find the latest of these unscheduled surprises: #ACTforART is originated as a PDX-centric project organized by Converge 45: a series of commissioned posters for public spaces that share the artists’ vision during this new, weird normal. Yes, theaters are shut down and concert halls are closed, but windows and fences and walls provide space for art, so the group has been spreading the love in lieu of its traditional programs, which typically involve exhibitions and gatherings where the six-foot rule wouldn’t work. The work is also being shared on social media platforms.

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As autumn approaches, art finds a way

COVID-19 canceled much of the summer season, but with fall around the corner, arts and culture events are creeping back onto the Yamhill County calendar

Autumn is nearly upon us, and arts and culture are alive, if not exactly well, in Yamhill County. We lost most of Gallery Theater’s 2020 season in McMinnville, along with the Aquilon Music Festival, the UFO Festival, and Walnut City Music Festival. In Newberg, the Camellia Festival and Tunes on Tuesday also fell to COVID-19, along with virtually every small-town summer festival in the county. Linfield College, meanwhile, has welcomed new and returning students, but the public recitals, concerts, guest speakers, and author readings that made the campus a beacon of cultural enrichment in the community… Those are gone.

But as illustrated by the September calendar, art continues to find a way. Here’s what’s happening in Yamhill County, currently and coming soon:

CHEHALEM CULTURAL CENTER: Two exhibits are continuing through Sept. 19 in the Newberg center. They are Cache Nine: The Hope Material (How to Feel Not Scared in a Pandemic) by Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos) and Selections From Art Studios of Yamhill County (in lieu of this year’s Art Harvest of Yamhill County Studio Tours). Plus, the Central Gallery contains a nifty surprise in a 2-week pop-up exhibit featuring art posters by Converge 45, nonprofit arts coalition founded in 2016 by influential gallery owner Elizabeth Leach. It opened Tuesday, so the clock’s running. 

George Fox University graduate Joann Boswell of Camas, Wash., will return to Yamhill County on Thursday when the McMinnville Public Library resumes poetry readings and open mic night. Photo by: MPR Photography. Courtesy of Joann Boswell
Joann Boswell will read her poetry Thursday in McMinnville. Photo by: MPR Photography. Courtesy of Joann Boswell

THE RETURN OF POETRY NIGHT: The McMinnville Public Library will resume poetry readings and open mic events this week with poet Joann Boswell, a Washington resident with deep Oregon roots. She grew up in Roseburg and attended George Fox University, where she studied music, theater, writing, and literature, graduating in 2010 with a master’s degree in teaching. Along the way, she started doing natural-light photography and writing poetry, and in June she became the poetry editor for Untold Volumes at Christian Feminism Today. Boswell will read her poetry in McMinnville’s Lower City Park west of the library at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3. Bring chairs or blankets, wear your mask, and bring a poem to share if you like. Sign up for open mic by calling 503-435-5554.

ELIZABETH CHAMBERS CELLAR: With a slew of COVID-19 protocols in place, McMinnville’s storied winery and tasting room on the south end of the Granary District, settled in brick digs that originally housed the local power company, is hosting live music. Friday Fandango events are open to the public (with reservations you can make here) after wine club members pre-reserve tables. Shows, held in a beautiful garden courtyard, start at either 5:30 or 7:30 p.m., so keep that detail in mind when planning. Starting Friday, this month features Jacob Westfall, JoAnna Lee, Ronni Kay, and Britnee Kellog.

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VizArts Monthly: Big news in various forms

Converge 45 returns for its third year, Cathy Wilkes at YU, tarot art at Union Knott

The big, big news in the Portland arts community is that soon-to-be defunct Marylhurst University’s Art Gym isn’t gone forever! According to the press release issued by the Oregon College of Art and Craft, “all Art Gym operations, collections, and upcoming exhibitions will move to the OCAC campus,” effective October 1.

That’s not all. Next, we’ve got Converge 45 entering its third year, with its first site-specific installation and the return of KsMOCA. Cathy Wilkes comes to the YU, and a whole bunch of good shows are opening at smaller galleries. There’s lots to see this hot August–stay hydrated, stay curious, stay cool.

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Art notes: new grads, old pros, big names, prison art

From Picasso to new college art grads, a quick guide to July's First Thursday and other gallery openings

First Thursday, the monthly walk of openings in the city’s art galleries, is this week, with a few holdovers and a few shows opening on slightly different dates. A few of the many new exhibits to watch for:

David Slader in the studio. His new exhibit opens Thursday at Gallery 114.

 

Erin Law, Lewis & Clark College, “Untitled 2,” 2017. Plywood, paint, plant, video loop. 84″ x 18″ x 36″. Blackfish Gallery.

Recent Graduates Exhibition 2017 at Blackfish. For the 22nd year, Blackfish presents its group showing of work by art school graduates from colleges and universities, private and public, throughout Oregon. With two each, selected by their respective schools’ art faculty at fifteen schools, that’s thirty artists. This is always a good opportunity to see the work of up-and-coming artists just entering the market. In the curious lingo of the art world, they’re known as “emerging artists,” a title that seems to be almost magically attached to young artists until at some point they mysteriously become “mid-career” artists and finally become … what? Veterans? Eminences grises? Old masters? Geezers? (Portland has, as you may know, a thriving Geezer Gallery.)

Miró and Picasso at Augen. Meanwhile, a couple of fully emerged artists – Pablo Picasso, a Spaniard who was active in France, and Barcelona-born Joan Miró, who worked in Paris and his native Spain – are showing prints and, in Picasso’s case, some ceramics, too. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re good artists to know. Paired nicely with a back room show of prints by the veteran Northwest artist Thomas Wood.

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