Union PDX

DanceWatch Monthly: Focus on Linda Austin and Bobby Fouther

Dancers are adapting to the pandemic reality, mostly by taking performance online

For most dancers, the ability to maintain a career over a lifetime is nearly impossible. If the body doesn’t give out, the funds aren’t there to eat and pay rent. There are few opportunities, and the dance culture isn’t supportive of dancers growing families AND careers. And it definitely doesn’t take a dancer’s mental health into consideration. It really isn’t supportive of the whole dancer at all.

There are many reasons that dancers exit their dance careers to no fault of their own. It doesn’t matter how talented you are. The odds against you succeeding worsen if you are an independent dance artist working outside of a major non-profit dance organization and have to secure funding on your own. And it gets even more difficult if you are a woman and an artist of color.

But there are exceptions. And it is these folks that I look to as examples of how to carve out my own future in dance. Because there is going to be one. 

For me, Portland dance artist Linda Austin and dance and visual artist Bobby Fouther exemplify how to live as an artist FOREVER. Austin is 66 years old, and Fouther is 70. Slowing down or stopping anytime soon isn’t a consideration for either of them. And lucky for you, there are several opportunities to connect with them both this month!

Continues…

Going, going, gone: 2019 in review

A look back at the ups and downs and curious side trips of the year on Oregon's cultural front

What a year, right? End of the teens, start of the ’20s, and who knows if they’ll rattle or roar?

But today we’re looking back, not ahead. Let’s start by getting the big bad news out of the way. One thing’s sure in Oregon arts and cultural circles: 2019’s the year the state’s once-fabled craft scene took another staggering punch square on the chin. The death rattles of the Oregon College of Art and Craft – chronicled deeply by ArtsWatch’s Barry Johnson in a barrage of news stories and analyses spiced with a couple of sharp commentaries, Democracy and the arts and How dead is OCAC? – were heard far and wide, and the college’s demise unleashed a flood of anger and lament.

The crashing and burning of the venerable craft college early in the year followed the equally drawn-out and lamented closure of Portland’s nationally noted Museum of Contemporary Craft in 2016, leaving the state’s lively crafts scene without its two major institutions. In both cases the sense that irreversible decisions were being made with scant public input, let alone input from crafters themselves, left much of the craft community fuming. When, after the closure, ArtsWatch published a piece by the craft college’s former president, Denise Mullen, the fury hit the fan with an outpouring of outraged online comments, most by anonymous posters with obvious connections to the school.

Vanessa German, no admittance apply at office, 2016, mixed media assemblage, 70 x 30 x 16 inches, in the opening exhibit of the new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University. Photo: Spencer Rutledge, courtesy PSU

Continues…

ArtsWatch Weekly: old, new, always

Same old story? Brash new wave? In Oregon arts & culture this week, old and new mix it up, and it's sometimes tough to tell which is which

ART IS ABOUT STRIDING BOLDLY INTO THE FUTURE and discovering the new. The Portland Art Museum, for instance, is getting ready to open the first major retrospective of the work of American artist Hank Willis Thomas, whose photography, sculpture, video, and collaborative public art projects turn their focus sharply and sometimes satirically on the flashpoints of contemporary culture and the struggle for social justice and civil rights. Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal …, which will run Oct. 12-Jan. 12, is the museum’s big fall-season attraction, and a central part of a run of shows in the next few months about the work of artists of color: the essential Portland painter Isaka Shamsud-Din, the great Robert ColescottFrida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and the just-opened exhibition Question Bridge: Black Males.

Hank Willis Thomas, The Cotton Bowl, from the series Strange Fruit, 2011. Digital c-print. 50 x 73 inches. © Hank Willis Thomas, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Continues…