Emerald Art Center

No news like good news

ArtsWatch Weekly: I Am MORE, Broadway Rose's 'Story of My Life,' PDX Jazz Fest, art around Oregon.

A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO MY FRIEND (AND OCCASIONAL ARTSWATCH CONTRIBUTOR) STEPHEN RUTLEDGE, who writes the Born This Day column and other stories for The WOW Report, sent along a YouTube link to an old clip of Sam Cooke singing Good News on American Bandstand. Along with the link he sent high praise for the recent movie One Night in Miami, a fictional imagining of an actual meeting in a Miami hotel in 1964 of Cooke, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and football star Jim Brown to celebrate Ali’s heavyweight-championship victory over Sonny Liston. Rutledge’s note reminded me that, yes, even in traumatic times there is good news, it’s worth singing about, and its triumphs so often are the result of hard creative work and leaps of the imagination.
 

S. Renee Mitchell (left) and, from left, Jeanette Mmunga, Justice English and Johana Amani of I Am MORE.

In Building Resiliency with the Arts, the latest chapter in our occasional series The Art of Learning, Brett Campbell relates another story of Good News, one with deep Portland roots. The poet, activist, and former Oregonian newspaper columnist S. Renee Mitchell, he writes, “had been recruited to Roosevelt High School to teach journalism. But she also helped mentor students with their personal issues; brought in fruit, day-old bagels and cream cheese; revived the Black Student Union; created a Black Girl Magic Club, and invited in community members to perform, speak, encourage and share their wisdom with the school’s low-income students.”

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Visions of work

Two photography shows on opposite sides of the Willamette offer different perspectives on labor

Dan Nelken’s current photo show HeadStrong: The Women Of Rural Uganda wastes little time with pleasantries. Coming off the stairs at Springfield’s Emerald Art Center into the second level foyer, the first photograph hits the viewer like a ton of bricks. Or perhaps “jerrycan of gravel” is a more suitable metaphor. The picture shows 19-year-old Innocent (a pseudonym?). She poses proudly for Nelken with a toddler strapped to her back, holding a sledgehammer across her shoulder, its rounded tip resting just above her child’s forehead. At her feet splay large pieces of quarry rock. Her daily job is to smash them into gravel, for which she will earn $.32 per jerrycan.

A. Innocent (Age 19) And Her Son Michael (Age 14 Months) Have Worked In Quarry For One Year. Breaking Stones To Gravel Size, Filling 10 Jerrycans Of Gravel Per Day At 1,000 Shillings per ($0.32 USD), Dan Nelken

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