Earth & Ocean Arts Festival

The Week: See you in the dock

Autumn settles in swiftly, and with it the rhythms of a new cultural season, from "In the Heights" to the sidewalks of Forest Grove

AUTUMN’S SETTLED IN EARLY ACROSS MOST OF OREGON, and with it the rhythms and traditions of a new cultural season. Music, theater, dance – each has its own history and pattern, its own set of rituals. 

Corey Brunish, the Portland and New York performer and producer who has a handful of Tony Award statuettes as a producer on Broadway, has just been named one of more than two dozen nominees for this year’s Broadway Global Producer of the Year Award, on a list that also includes the likes of Gloria Estefan, John Legend, and Jada Pinkett Smith. 

Brunish, whose nomination is for the aggregate of his Broadway work, has an abiding love for the rituals of the theater, and often expresses it in musings about the still time before the curtain rises. He wrote this one, he says, during a California run of the new musical Empire, about the building of the Empire State Building, a show that’s still trying to raise backing for a Broadway run. But, he adds, it could be any show, any time, anywhere:

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Dancing is a highlight of Portland Center Stage’s In the Heights. Above: Alexander Gil Cruz, Eddie Martin Morales, Alyssa V. Gomez, UJ Mangune. Photo: Owen Carey

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Dualing & dueling at the easel

Landscape painters Michael Orwick and Anton Pavlkenko have a friendly showdown at Cannon Beach's Earth & Ocean Arts Festival

It all started five or so years ago with one of those “what if” conversations — the kind no one really expects to go anywhere. But in this case, it did. They call it “dualing easels,” or, if you’re painter Michael Orwick, “dueling easels”: “It is a little bit antagonistic in a way,” he notes, adding, “Playfully.”

 The showdown is part of this year’s Earth & Ocean Arts Festival, a new event in Cannon Beach aimed at blending art with environmental awareness. Fifty percent of the proceeds go to five ecology-focused nonprofits.

 It’s the best of the Plein Air & More Arts Festival, which ended in 2018 after a 10-year run, with some added twists, Orwick says. Along with Anton Pavlenko, he’ll lead the “Painting Coastal Color and Light 2019” plein air workshop leading up to the festival.

Orwick and Pavlenko, at work …

“I was part of the Plein Air Festival every single year,” says Orwick. “I think there is no better way to appreciate the Oregon Coast — the wind, the sun, the smells. To be out there and letting that affect you and your image. People can tell; there is a freshness and vitality that comes through. I love painting in my studio, but there is nothing like painting on location.” You can learn more about that here.

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The Week: Art is where you look

From Eastern Oregon to a paint-out on the coast to queer opera and TBA Fest in Portland to the streets of New York, art is all around us

THE ARTS WORLD MIGHT BE FINANCIALLY FRAGILE, with a tenuous toehold on the economic stepstool, but art and culture are all around us, wherever we look – and certainly, wherever ArtsWatch’s writers look. Carnegie libraries-turned-community-art-centers in Eastern Oregon. Street art and “high” art having a deep-in-the-trenches conversation in New York. Dancers in the woods near Astoria and a landscape paint-off in Cannon Beach. Queer Opera in Portland, a virtuoso theatrical solo turn in Clackamas County, Pavarotti on the radio, contemporary performance art at PICA’s TBA Festival in Portland, a great photographer imprinted on the nation’s memory. And really, we haven’t begun to scratch the surface of things.

Pendleton Center for the Arts, in a former Carnegie Library. In the
home of the Pendleton Round-Up, Randy Gundlach’s horse statue by
the entrance adds a Western touch. Photo: David Bates

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Coast calendar: a little dancing, a little strumming

BodyVox visits the forest near Astoria, plein air painting in Cannon Beach, and Appalachian fiddle tunes in Manzanita are among upcoming offerings

Dance, music, art – there’s a bit of everything happening on the North Coast in coming weeks. 

In Astoria, Portland’s BodyVox will combine dance and theater on Saturday, Sept. 14, in a typically Oregon setting: the forest.  With the roaring Columbia River providing the backdrop, BodyVox@Big Creek performers will share their awarding-winning dance under the open skies. 

poster for BodyVox at Big Creek

In its 22nd season, the company founded by Emmy Award-winning choreographers Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland is known, according to its website, for its “visual virtuosity, distinctive wit and unique ability to combine dance, theater and film into breathtaking productions rich in imagery, athleticism and humor. … The company has a tradition of excellence with a unique voice that is equally influenced by its Northwest roots and world view.”

Bear in mind that the unique working-forest setting comes with conditions. Private vehicles are not permitted on the property, so shuttle buses will pick up ticket holders at the Knappa High School parking lot and deliver them to Hampton Lumber’s Big Creek Forest property about 13 miles east of Astoria. Best to arrive early for the 15-20 minute ride over logging roads. Shuttles will run about every 20 minutes from 4 to 5:30 p.m. You’ll be dropped off less than 100 feet from the performance area so “walking will be minimal, however, be advised that gravel roads and the natural characteristics of the landscape might present challenges for those with mobility issues,” organizers warn. 

Tickets are $20. You’ll find more details on tickets and what to and not to bring here.

ALSO IN ASTORIA, the 45th Parallel Universe chamber music collective joins with the historic Liberty Theatre in presenting a series of five musical performances, beginning Oct. 11 with Primordial Swamp. The performance features flutist Martha Conwell Long and cellist Marilyn de Oliveira performing Reza Vali’s vivid Folk Songs. 45th Parallel players complete the program with Dohnanyi’s Sextet and Martinu’s brilliant Nonet. For more on the 2019-20 lineup, and prices for individual or season tickets, go here.

CANNON BEACH DEBUTS its newest festival, the Earth & Ocean Arts Festival, Sept. 20-22. It takes the best of the former Plein Air & More Arts Festival, which ended a 10-year run in 2018, and adds a few environmentally themed twists.  Leading up to it, landscape oil painters Michael Orwick and Anton Pavlenko offer a five-day plein air workshop, beginning Sept. 16.

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