oregon historical society

VizArts Monthly: New openings and moments of nostalgia

June's art openings offer the perfect opportunity to take your newly-vaccinated self out into the world and see some art.

A shift is in the air. Summer is just around the corner, and an ever-increasing number of vaccinated Oregonians are beginning to venture outside more often. This month, many art happenings reflect this slow change. The Oregon Jewish Museum and Yale Union are both reopening with new (and, in Yale Union’s case, final) exhibitions. 1122 Gallery has reopened and rebranded as 1122 Outside. Other art spaces, like Ampersand Gallery, look backward, prompting reflection on 2020 by featuring works created during isolation. There are still virtual art-viewing opportunities and panel discussions for homebodies, too—check out the options at Blue Sky Gallery and more below!

Work by Howard Fonda, image courtesy Ampersand Gallery
Work by Morgan Rosskopf, image courtesy Well Well Projects

Color Burn
June 5 – 27, 2021
Well Well Projects
8371 N Interstate Ave, #1 (Sat-Sun 12 PM – 5 PM)

In this two-person exhibition, mixed-media artists Morgan Rosskopf and Manu Torres spin together fine art and floral design to create an aesthetic experience of opulence, maximalism, and defiant beauty. Using a combination of high brow and low brow materials—Rosskopf works primarily with paper collage, while Torres uses artificial and natural flowers—both artists abandon convention, restraint, and subtlety. Color Burn promises to cultivate a layered, textural, and celebratory sense of visual density.

Marianne Nicolson: A Feast of Light and Shadows
June 30 – August 29, 2021
Yale Union
800 SE 10th Ave (Weds-Thurs 4 PM – 8 PM, Fri-Sun 2 PM – 6 PM)

In Yale Union’s final programming before the transfer of building ownership to the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, artist Marianne Nicolson will build a site-specific installation by utilizing the abundant natural light in the Yale Union gallery to produce a “ceremonial feast of light and shadows.” Nicolson is an artist-activist of the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nations, part of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwak’wala speaking peoples) of the Pacific Northwest Coast. This is her first solo exhibition in Portland.

Lawrence Halprin
June 23 – September 26, 2021
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
724 NW Davis St (reopening for summer, Weds-Sat 11 AM – 4 PM)

Over the course of Lawrence Halprin’s sixty-year career, he brought innovative ideas to urban design and sparked a shift in landscape architecture throughout the United States. This exhibition delves deeply into Portland’s mid-century Open Space Sequence, which, under Halprin’s direction reinvented public space but also replaced a thriving Jewish immigrant community with fountain plazas and urban greenspaces. Starting in July, as part of the Architectural Heritage Center’s Walking Tours programming, they’ll offer tours of a neighborhood in South Portland that was once home to the majority of the city’s Jewish community. (The neighborhood now features Halprin-designed fountains.) The Architectural Heritage Center will also present a companion exhibition, South Portland and the Long Shadow of Urban Renewal, which “examines the rise, fall, redevelopment, and future of South Portland.”

Work by Howard Fonda, image courtesy Ampersand Gallery

Howard Fonda: Quand la cage est faite, l’oiseau s’envole
May 15 – June 20, 2021
Ampersand Gallery and Fine Books
2916 NE Alberta Street, Suite B (Fri – Sun 11 AM – 4 PM or by appointment; limited entry, masks and distancing required)

Howard Fonda’s newest painting series, Quand la cage est faite, l’oiseau s’envole (translating to “When the cage is made, the bird flies away”) is nostalgic, inspired by natural areas the artist has visited. During times of confinement in 2020, Fonda began this series of landscapes and bird imagery based on a combination of far-off and more recent memories. The results feel characteristically Fonda: dreamlike and contemplative, but comforting, too. Fonda’s small studies of birds celebrate the Pacific Northwest’s abundant varieties of birds and reflect on fleeting, fluttering moments with these creatures.

Work by Lindley Warren Mickunas, image courtesy Blue Sky Gallery

What A Body Moves Through
May 6 – June 26, 2021
Blue Sky Gallery
122 NW 8th Ave (by appointment only)

In What A Body Moves Through, three emerging photographers (Tyler Clarke, Bryson Rand, and Lindley Warren Mickunas) contend with various understandings of the body, focusing on the expansion of bodily understanding through social, political, sexual, and gendered lenses and histories. The exhibition vacillates between the traditional (in black-and-white photography styles) and the contemporary (through visuals of queerness, femininity, and moments of sexual tension). These nuances allow for plenty of self-reflection and increased bodily awareness. The exhibition includes a Zoom panel discussion on June 9th at 5 PM (register at the link to attend).

Work by Jane Schoenbrun (still from We’re All Going to the World’s Fair)

Capturing an Oneiric State: Dreams and Film with Jane Schoenbrun
June 5, 2021, 1 PM – 3 PM; $80 sign-up fee
Northwest Film Center
Virtual

Jane Schoenbrun, director of recent Sundance horror film We’re All Going to the World’s Fair and founder of the Radical Film Fair, will teach a one-day virtual workshop on the artistic use of cinematic tools to create dreamlike, ephemeral experiences. Referencing iconic surreal filmmakers like David Lynch and Maya Deren, Schoenbrun will illustrate methods of dream-making throughout film history and address ways in which contemporary artists can translate their own dreams to immerse their viewers in oneiric states.

Image courtesy Chehalem Cultural Center

Black Matter
June 22 – July 31, 2021
Chehalem Cultural Center, Parrish Gallery
415 E Sheridan St, Newberg (Tues – Thurs 9 AM – 6 PM, Wed – Sat 12 PM – 6 PM)

Curated by Oregon City-based artist Tammy Jo Wilson, Black Matter features a large group of creators including Zina Allen, Jamila Clarke, Jeremy Okai Davis, Santigie and Sapata Fofana Dura, Maya Vivas, MOsley WOtta, and many more. The exhibition aims to address representation imbalances by focusing on works by contemporary Black Oregon artists. Other goals for the exhibition include broadening cultural awareness and appreciation of Black artists without the filter of a Western art canon or requirement of a political agenda. Each artist featured expresses their personal experience of being, first and foremost, human.

Work by Noelle Herceg, image courtesy Anti-Aesthetic

Architecture of Dreams
May 21 – August 21, 2021
Anti-Aesthetic
245 W 8th Ave, Eugene (by appointment)

The group exhibition Architecture of Dreams uses modes of surrealist art-making to consider interior and exterior states. Each artist considers the unconscious alongside visuals of everyday life. Displaying works by seven artists working in varying mediums, the show also features writing components, including surrealist artist statements, collage poetry, a zine, and a day of surrealist games hosted by Kesey Farm Project. Artists showing work include Vicki Krohn Amorose, Jill R. Baker, Noelle Herceg, Wendy Heldmann, Tallmadge Doyle, Mary Evans, and Leah Howell. Set an appointment to see their diverse works in person, including sculpture, videos, drawings, anthotypes, paintings, projections, installations, and ceramics.

Work by Alyson Provax, image courtesy 1122 Outside

Alyson Provax: Into Gentle Ruin
June 11 – 30, 2021 (June 11 opening night 6 PM – 9 PM)
1122 Outside
7629 SE Harrison (masks and distancing required)

For this solo exhibition at the freshly-reopened 1122 Outside, prolific artist Alyson Provax will display a wide array of her works ranging from 2014-2021. With consideration of memory and nostalgia, the work encourages reflection on the past as well as the present. The mix of Provax’s new and older works includes letterpress on paper, animations, mirrors, and billboard vinyl.

Work by Jim Lommasson, image courtesy Oregon Historical Society

I Am My Story: Voices of Hope
May 14 – August 22, 2021
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave (Tues – Fri 12 PM – 5 PM, Sat 10 AM – 5 PM, Sun 12 PM – 5 PM; masks and distancing required)

Designed by The Immigrant Story, this exhibition focuses on the stories of six women (originally from Burundi, Congo, and Eritrea) who have immigrated to Oregon. In collaboration with acclaimed Portland photographer Jim Lommasson, the exhibition reveals pieces of each woman’s history of survival: genocide, war, prejudice, injustice, courage, and hope. In addition to large-scale portraits of each woman, Lommasson has extended his What We Carried storytelling project for this exhibition, wherein he photographs objects each woman brought with her on her immigration journey.

Derek Chauvin, George Floyd & the art of crisis

ArtsWatch Weekly: A Portland Oscar nod; Dawson Carr's big day; diving into dance; conversation with a laureate; musical BRAVO; fish tales

ON TUESDAY, THE BIGGEST CULTURAL NEWS OF THE WEEK – maybe the biggest since the January 6 insurrection in the nation’s capital – came down. Derek Chauvin, who almost a year ago, as a Minneapolis police officer, pressed the life out of George Floyd with his knee, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. It was a rare case of a police officer being held accountable in the killing of a citizen – even, as with Floyd, of an unarmed citizen – and it seems, at least for now, to have topped off a year and more of intense cultural division. Any other decision by the jury most likely would have set off a firestorm across the nation.

The political and cultural fissures of the past year have pulled the arts & cultural world into the fray, perhaps inevitably: If art reflects its culture, how can it possibly stay uninvolved? In Portland, public statues have come tumbling down and institutions have been under attack: Two men were arrested and charged with smashing another $10,000 or more worth of windows at the frequently targeted Oregon Historical Society during rioting last Friday. The window-smashing and other acts of destruction came during protests against recent national killings of Black citizens by police, and a police killing in Portland’s Lents Park of a man with a history of mental illness.

George Floyd was the focus of a Black Lives Matter mural painted by Emma Berger and others last year at downtown Portland’s Pioneer Place.

In the past year a rapid growth of public protest art has transformed the sides of many buildings in the city and the plywood covering boarded-up storefronts. Across the nation, in arts and cultural organizations large and small, racial equity has become the issue of the day, an overdue conversation in search of action, and an issue that is unlikely to be resolved by a single decision in a single courtroom on a single day.

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Songs of Love and Justice

New Portland Opera production celebrates Black composers

Damien Geter, photo by Rachel Hadiashar.
Damien Geter, curator of Portland Opera’s ‘Journeys to Justice’ program. Photo by Rachel Hadiashar.

When Portland Opera singers and staff began to discuss Journeys to Justice, a 75-minute program of art songs and opera about the American Black experience, they pleaded with Damien Geter to add to the list his “The Talk: Instructions for Black Children When They Interact with Police.”

“I would never program my own pieces,” said Geter, who is artistic advisor of Portland Opera since July, 2020. “But they wanted it.”

And so they got it. As will opera listeners.

The program will begin streaming at 7:30 p.m. April 16 and is available until May 31. You can purchase a digital pass through Portland Opera, at a $50 suggested price, though there’s a “Pay What You will Option” for as little as $5.  A ticket allows access to all the Zoom events mentioned below.

Though each of the six pieces is contemporary —  written in the late 20th and early 21st centuries — Geter chose somewhat established works as well as freshly minted ones. The better known are the lyrical “Songs of Love and Justice” by prolific composer Dr. Adolphus Hailstork set to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, and “Your Daddy’s Son” from the 1996 musical Ragtime, which Stephen Flaherty composed with Lynn Ahrens’ lyrics.

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Women on the move: These are the days, again

ArtsWatch Weekly: History moves into the forefront, a new series on Indigenous resilience, it's film fest time, a month of culture

ON SATURDAY THE DOOR BETWEEN THE PAST AND PRESENT CREAKS OPEN JUST A LITTLE BIT: After months of coronavirus shutdown and a couple of bouts of vandalism during protests in the South Park Blocks, the Oregon Historical Society reopens its downtown Portland center to visitors on a limited basis, joining such other Oregon museums and historical sites as Salem’s Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Bend’s High Desert Museum, the Grants Pass Museum of Art, and Portland’s Pittock Mansion, which has also just reopened on a limited basis. The historical society will be open noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until further notice: Know the rules before you go

Abigail Scott Duniway voting for the first time, May 5, 1913, in Portland. The sister of Harvey Scott, the conservative editor of The Oregonian, she was a leading early suffragist and his political foil. Photo: Oregon Historical Society

MARCH IS WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH, and one of the big exhibits you’ll find at OHS is Nevertheless, They Persisted: Voting Rights and the 19th Amendment, which tells the story of the fight by women to win the right to vote. One of the movement’s prime figures in Oregon was Abigail Scott Duniway, a Portland suffragist and the sister of the stolidly conservative Harvey Scott, longtime editor of The Oregonian, whose statue in Mt. Tabor Park was torn down from its pedestal in October and recently, in a mysterious guerrilla art action, replaced by a handsome bust of York, the Black man who was a slave of William Clark and traveled with Clark and Meriwether Lewis on their expedition to the Pacific Ocean in 1805. Among other things, Scott was a steadfast opponent of women’s suffrage. Sometimes, what goes around comes around.

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A new round of shutdowns

As coronavirus cases spike in Oregon and the governor orders new restrictions, museums and other art centers are closing down again

In line with Gov. Kate Brown’s new restrictions on public gatherings because of spiking coronavirus cases, several Oregon museums and arts spaces have announced temporary closures.

The shutdowns will last at least two weeks statewide, beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and running through Dec. 2. The restriction is four weeks in Multnomah County, which has seen a large surge in reported cases. And depending on how successful the restrictions are in curbing the effects of the pandemic, the shutdowns could be extended. As of Friday, Oregon has had almost 55,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and more than 750 deaths. “I want to be honest,” Brown said at a press conference on Friday, as reported in The Oregonian. “We are trying to stop this ferocious virus from spreading even more quickly and far and wide, and to save lives.”

Most cultural and gathering spots are affected by the freeze, from the Oregon Zoo to the Portland Japanese Garden to Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden and more. Metropolitan area public libraries are affected, too, as The Oregonian reports: For the Multnomah County system the freeze extends to sidewalk-holds pickup service and wireless printing – and don’t return the books you’ve checked out. Clackamas and Washington County systems are slightly different; check the link for details.

The best advice is, before you go anywhere, check to see if it’s open: If it’s public and it ordinarily draws a fair number of people, it’s probably shut down for now. Most museums have virtual exhibitions online that can be viewed during physical shutdowns. Check their web pages for details. Meanwhile, many private art galleries remain open by appointment. Again, check before you go.

What we know so far:

OREGON HISTORICAL SOCIETY: The museum, history center, and research library in downtown Portland’s Cultural District are closed “until further notice.” Several virtual exhibitions remain available.

OREGON MUSEUM OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY: The popular attraction on the riverfront in Southeast Portland is closed beginning Sunday, Nov. 15, “through the end of the Governor’s orders for Multnomah County.” Virtual programs continue.

Adam McKinney’s installation “Shelter in Space” continues to be viewable through Nov. 20 from the sidewalk outside the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education. It was installed on the eve of the Jewish holiday Sukkot, and expands on the idea of temporary dwelling places. Photo: Mario Gallucci, Oct. 8, 2020.

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Tumbling statues, voices heard

ArtsWatch Weekly: A culture in crisis clashes over the past; a museum reopens; photos & films; singing amid the vines; a bookstore steps out

THE BIG NEWS IN PORTLAND THIS WEEK has been Sunday night’s downtown rumble through the cultural district, a highly focused and rigorously carried out protest – declared by its organizers to be an Indigenous People’s Day of Rage – in which activists toppled public statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, vandalized the Oregon Historical Society to the tune of an estimated $25,000 or more, did lesser damage outside the Portland Art Museum and at Portland State University, smashed store windows, and shot bullets inside an empty restaurant. Police declared the protest a riot, but took no action until after the damage was done. And the story was immediately picked up by President Donald Trump, who tweeted his desire to rush federal officers into the Portland fray. “Put these animals in jail, now,” he tweeted, referring to the protesters, and quickly followed up: “Law & Order! Portland, call in the Feds!”

David Manuel’s “The Promised Land” was controversial when it was installed in 1993 and is even more controversial now after months of racial and political unrest. It was removed for safekeeping from downtown Portland’s Chapman Square in July.

ArtsWatch’s Laurel Reed Pavic was working on a story about the issue of politically and mythologically charged public monuments and how to deal with them when cultural values and understandings of history shift. She quickly updated her analysis after Lincoln and Roosevelt – not the most obvious of targets, although each had specific issues about Indigenous rights – came tumbling down. The symbolic overthrow of monuments, she notes in her essay After the Statues Come Down, is nothing new: “Defacing or damaging public art has always gone hand-in-hand with putting it up in the first place. It happened in the city-states of ancient Mesopotamia and continues to happen today. The visual impact of a former leader face-down on the pavement hasn’t lessened over the past 5,000 years.”

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Museums set sail for Reopenland

ArtsWatch Weekly: The doors swing open, carefully. Plus: Black & white in America, "new normal" in the wayback machine; follow the money.

WHILE MUCH OF OREGON’S CULTURAL WORLD REMAINS FROZEN IN LOCKDOWN, the ice is beginning to thaw in the river of art. A lot of commercial galleries have been open by appointment for some time. Now Portland’s three biggest museums are also reopening their doors for visitors:

  • OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, is open already, complete with its under-the-skin exhibit Body Worlds & the Cycle of Life, although many of its popular interactive attractions are under strict control.
     
  • The Oregon Historical Society Museum reopens Saturday, July 11, with several attractions including the exhibition Nevertheless, They Persisted: Women’s Voting Rights and the 19th Amendment. 
     
  • Across the Park Block from the history center, the Portland Art Museum swings open its doors again on Thursday, July 16, with several exhibitions including its big Volcano! celebration of Mount St. Helens forty years after its explosion and its Robert Colescott retrospective Art and Race Matters. The museum will welcome visitors with free admission the first four days of its reopening.
When the Portland Art Museum reopens on July 16, so will the special exhibition “Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott.” Pictured: “George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook,” 1975, Acrylic on Canvas, 84 x 108 inches. © Estate of Robert Colescott / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of the Estate and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo. Photo: Jean Paul Torno

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