Kristy Edmunds

Remembering Lyndee Mah

The Portland vocalist was also a crucial community resource for artists

Every culture needs at least one Lyndee Mah—an indomitably positive source of energy, compassion and commitment to art, a connector and facilitator, an advisor and advocate, someone to console us when that is necessary. Fortunately for Portland, we had Lyndee Mah herself. A gifted artist, Mah was possibly even more gifted at the creation of community, in her case, a community that included many artists.

Mah died in her sleep on April 1 from a heart attack. She was in Spokane, Washington,  caring for her brother Marshall Mah. She was born in Idaho Falls on August 29, 1958. She studied music at Mt. Hood Community College and finished her general education studies at PSU.

Lyndee Mah during her House Concert Series with her A String Ensemble./Photo by Julie Keefe

Mah was a vocalist in Portland for more than 20 years. She was a founding member of the band Pink Martini and collaborated with a host of Portland musicians and dancers over the years, including 3 Leg Torso, the late pianist Janice Scroggins, and choreographer Gregg Bielemeier. She created  “E`-Bon E`-Bon,” an original mixed-media, musical-memoir performance piece, based on her Chinese-European-American heritage, and she performed with Imago and Liminal theater companies. She touched, literally, hundreds more at her home hair salon.

Mah is survived by her partner Elahi Bradley-Muhammad and her son, Halston Mah-Minniweather.

A celebration of Lyndee K. Mah’s life will be held 7-10 pm August 4 at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everett Street. Friends, admirers and collaborators of Lyndee’s will honor her incredible artistic and cultural legacy in this community.

Editor’s Note: Choreographer Linda K. Johnson gathered remembrances of Mah from six of the people whose lives she touched. We appreciate her efforts.

Lyndee Mah performing at one of her House Concerts with guitar given to her by Kristy Edmunds/Photo by Julie Keefe

Courtney Von Drehle, musician and composer

I first got to know Lyndee when 3 Leg Torso worked with choreographer/dancer Gregg Bielemeier, and we were enlisted for the music, with Lyndee as our vocalist. Working with Lyndee, who had been Pink Martini’s first vocalist, was our first collaboration with a singer. We went over to Lyndee’s big old house, and coming into her space, with its deep purple curtains, various adornments on the walls—both stately and casual at the same time—right away I felt at home. Downstairs, in the basement, was Lyndee’s salon, where I, and many I know, would visit for Lyndee’s transformative magic. She knew how to make us look good, and chatting away while her scissors orbited our heads, with her easy going and real nature, she’d make it easy to transcend surface connection, and make us feel good in a far deeper way than just one of her glorious hair cuts alone could provide. It was natural for Lyndee to share her deep empathy and caring with all of those around her, and her home reflected the warmth that she embodied.

Arriving at Lyndee’s for rehearsal would often start with some hanging out on the porch, a fresh cup of coffee in hand, chatting with her partner, Brad, who like Lyndee has an easy ability to connect with others in a deep way. Moving inside and working on music was always relaxed and playful, qualities Lyndee would bring to her performances. I remember a particular Conduit benefit I performed where Lyndee was the MC. At one point, out of the blue, she started beating the microphone against her chest and doing a little rap, a spontaneous departure from the script that brought the room together. I’d seen her and Janice Scroggins perform as a duo at Conduit a while before that, and I was deeply moved by their music. One tune in particular, with the lyrics full of reminiscent observations from a later point of view in life, just floored me. With Janice’s always exquisite playing and Lyndee’s rich and present vocals, they were a powerful duo, two masterful musicians at play.

Lyndee was resourceful and self-reliant. From her independent hair salon, her voice lessons, teaching Body Mapping to musicians, to putting on her one-woman show, Lyndee found her own way forward.

Continues…

News & Notes: Future Pinter provocations, Kristy Edmunds returns, more!

Imago has scheduled a second Harold Pinter play this season, Kristy Edmunds will lead a roving band in conversation

Tomorrow, we fully intend to get back to Maguy Marin’s “Salves (Salvos)”, which created quite a stir over the weekend. And maybe we’ll even take another jaunt to Lisa D’Amour’s “Detroit,” because suddenly the one informs the other. We’re so fond of ripping the scab off the Body Aesthetic to re-explore previous wounds!

Today we will start for Provocations Future, however.

Anne Sorce and Kyle Delamarter in Imago's "Beaux Arts Club"/Jerry Mouawad

Anne Sorce and Kyle Delamarter in Imago’s “Beaux Arts Club”/Jerry Mouawad

Jerry Mouawad has decided to double up on his Harold Pinter this season. Previously slated to direct Pinter’s dark classic “The Caretaker” (OK, “dark classic” describes just about ALL Pinter’s work), with Allen Nause as the homeless tramp Davies and Todd Van Voris as the man who invites him home, Mouawad has decided to bring the one-act “The Lover” to the Imago Theatre stage, as well. Anne Sorce and Jeffrey Gilpin star.

The Nause/Van Voris combination was already a highlight of the season. Nause, who recently stepped down as artistic director at Artists Repertory Theatre and is among the best actors in the history of Portland stage, starred opposite William Hurt in Pinter’s “No Man Land” two years ago, a production that stirs debate any time it comes up because of Hurt’s radical take on Spooner (or “insane take,” depending on which side you’re on). Van Voris, who has worked illustriously with Nause at Artists Rep, played in Mouawad’s previous Imago encounter with Pinter, “Betrayal.”

Allen Nause, left, with William Hurt in "No Man's Land" at Artists Repertory Theatre/Owen Cary

Allen Nause, left, with William Hurt in “No Man’s Land” at Artists Repertory Theatre/Owen Cary

I haven’t seen a production of “The Lover” in Portland, and Sorce’s comic predilections might signal that’s the direction Mouawad will go with it, though it can also play as a drama. “The Lover” plays for nine shows only, opening on December 5. “The Caretaker” opens on Feb. 27. To purchase tickets call Imago Box Office at 503-231-9581 or Ticketswest at 503-224-8499 or online at ticketswest.com. Or email imagotheatre@gmail.com.

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Kristy Edmunds, who changed the face of Portland arts by founding the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, will be back in town from her post as executive and artistic director of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA on Sunday to moderate a discussion with artists Stephen Hayes and Fernanda D’Agostino about their respective exhibitions.

The twist is that these conversations will start at 2:00 pm at The Art Gym at Marylhurst University, where D’Agostino’s installation, “The Method of Loci,” is on display. Then everyone will pack up and move to Lewis & Clark College’s Hoffman Gallery, where Hayes’s deeply engaging “Figure/Ground: A Thirty Year Retrospective” is hanging from the walls, and where the conversation will pick up at 3:30 pm.

Stephen Hayes's retrospective, "Figure/Ground' at the Hoffman Gallery.

Stephen Hayes, “Film Still,” monograph, in “Figure/Ground’ at the Hoffman Gallery.

The conversations are free, but an RSVP is requested at gallery@lclark.edu or 503-768-7687. For more information, contact The Art Gym or the Hoffman Gallery.

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Computer analysis suggests Shakespeare had a hand in three collaborative plays, the anonymous  “Arden of Faversham,” Thomas Kyd’s “The Spanish Tragedy” and the anonymous “Mucedorus” all of which were performed by his London acting company. The three will now be included in a major edition of Shakespeare’s collaborative plays.

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The ‘smart’ business guys on the NY City Opera board pretty much killed it by raiding the endowment, the New York Times reported.

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This is the 50th anniversary of John Rechy’s “City of Night,” a first novel of uncommon craftsmanship and one with an uncommon protagonist, a gay hustler in New York City who resembled Rechy himself. Charles Casillo celebrates the novel in the Los Angeles Review of Books.