Linfield University

Spring awakenings in Yamhill County

The pandemic thaw continues, with a lecture Trystan Reese, music, visual art, and a camillia fest

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story included a reference to a lecture by Dread Scott at Linfield University. That lecture, however, is not open to the public. A press release by Linfield was incorrect.

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It’s not exactly a party yet, but Yamhill County’s long pandemic thaw continues. Intriguing events coming this week and later this spring include a chance to fire up your own raku in Willamina and a virtual lecture by LGBTQ+ educator Trystan Reese. Let’s begin with the raku, then take the rest in chronological order.

EAST CREEK IS A COMMUNITY ART STUDIO and retreat on 20 forested acres in the Coast Range outside Willamina with a 40-foot anagama wood-fired kiln. Artist/host/owner Joe Robinson has filled the 2021 calendar with a wide range of workshops and camps, from beginner friendly to a family weekend to an advanced, five-day intensive. Robinson has been part of the East Creek community for 15 years and owned the property for four. He has an MFA in Applied Craft + Design from the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Oregon College of Art and Craft. Tuition is $140, plus $30 for materials. Check the website for details and COVID protocols, or email Robinson at  joe@eastcreekart.org

Mezzo soprano Julie Cross (left) will sing works by Pauline Garcia Viardot on March 25 at Linfield University.
Mezzo-soprano Julie Cross (left) sings works by Pauline Garcia Viardot (1831-1910) in a virtual recital March 25.

WOMEN’S HISTORY month at Linfield University means an opportunity to hear A Woman of Genius: The Life and Music of Pauline Garcia Viardot. The virtual recital at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 25, by mezzo-soprano Julie Cross and pianist Susan McDaniel honors the 200th birth anniversary of “one of the greatest divas and overlooked composers of the 19th century.” Check here for details and the Zoom link. Also, keep an eye on the Linfield arts and culture calendar for upcoming theater productions and podcasts, previously covered here.

LGBTQ+ educator and speaker Trystan Reese will lecture March 31 on Linfield University's YouTube channel.
LGBTQ+ educator and speaker Trystan Reese will lecture March 31 on Linfield University’s YouTube channel.

INTERNATIONAL TRANSGENDER DAY OF Visibility will be marked by Linfield University with a free and open-to-the-public lecture by Portland-based LGBTQ+ educator and speaker Trystan Reese, streaming live on the university’s YouTube Channel at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 31. Reese, a transgender man, appeared on the national stage four years ago when he went viral as “the pregnant man.” Reese will detail his experience as an activist in the fight for LGBTQ equality over the past two decades.

CURRENTS GALLERY IN DOWNTOWN McMinnville celebrates its 16th birthday next month with a  Sweet 16 Show featuring work in a wide variety of mediums by Kathleen Buck, Sharon Cook, Phyllice Bradner, Claudia Herber, Ann Durley, Ilsa Perse, and Marlene Eichner. The show runs April 13-May 16. Check the website for days and hours, which are subject to change, email currents.gallery@gmail.com or call 503-435-1316.

THE CHEHALEM CULTURAL CENTER is back in the live music business. The  Spring Boxed Show series kicked off last week with Sherry Alves and George Colligan, and subsequent concerts (with limited, socially distanced seating in the Grand Ballroom) will include the Noah Simpson Quartet on March 26, Carissa Burkett & Friends on April 23 and the Jason Okamoto Duo on May 21. Shows start at 7 p.m., and $25 tickets are available through the website. Masks required.

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Linfield University hits its streaming stride

Poetry, podcasts, theater, dance, and music are all available virtually from the McMinnville school

On any list of pre-COVID Things I Miss Most, visiting Linfield University in McMinnville ranks near the top, along with writing in coffee shops and seeing faces. The school’s panoply of cultural offerings — live theater and music, readings and lectures, and the art gallery — has been largely unavailable to the public since last March. The shift to streaming video, though well-intentioned, has been tentative and uneven. 

I haven’t caught everything Linfield has streamed into the world since COVID hit, but a free recital in February featuring the Oregon Symphony’s James Shields on clarinet and, more recently, the Zoomed appearance of acclaimed poet Ross Gay felt like the beginning of something, an optimistic hint of spring in the second half of winter.

Ross Gay, poet
Poet Ross Gay’s reading is available on Linfield’s YouTube channel.

Normally, author readings are held in the Nicholson Library, but Gay’s was live-streamed from (presumably) his living room over Linfield’s YouTube channel, and it will remain there, which is a good thing.

The prepared-for-the-press remarks by Joe Wilkins, who heads creative writing at Linfield, are as good an introduction to Gay as any: “Ross’ poems are fun, wise, and full of rhythm and sound, and reading one of his essays is like having a long talk with a good friend.” Having listened to the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award winner read excerpts from The Book of Delights and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude for 45 minutes, I’d echo those sentiments. True, streaming is not the ideal, but a publicist for Gay told me the 46-year-old poet has done nearly 30 of these things now online; he’s clearly found a rhythm.

“I’ve been pressing his book of essays, The Book of Delights, into the hands of just about everyone I know,” Wilkins said.  The book was written, Gay told the audience, as a writing prompt exercise: Write one essay a day, every day, in 30 minutes. “I learned how to write essays a lot better over the course of a year,” he said.

It’s a lively reading featuring some terrific stories and spirited commentary by the author. It’s a must-see for those who love poetry, or who want to.

THE SHOWS MUST AND WILL GO ON: Linfield Theatre’s “season like no other” heads into spring with a program of both streaming staged productions and, in a new development, podcasting. 

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