PPH Passing Strange

The Cultural Landscape: Part 3

K.B. Dixon continues his series with five fresh photographic portraits of people who help define the shape of Portland's culture.


Text and Photographs by K.B. DIXON

As with the portraits in the previous installments of this series, I have focused on the talented and creative people whose various legacies are destined to be part of our cultural history.

My aspirations remain the same: to document the contemporary cultural landscape and to produce a decent photograph—a photograph that acknowledges the medium’s allegiance to reality and that preserves for myself and others a unique and honest sense of the subject.

The environmental details have again been kept to a minimum. The subjects have the frame to themselves and do not compete with context for attention. This provides for a simpler, blunter, more intense encounter with character.


Seattle Repertory Theatre Fat Ham


Chris Ayzoukian

Ayzoukian is the Executive Director of the recently opened Patricia Reser Center for the Arts, in Beaverton. He previously served in various roles at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Hollywood Bowl. He headed the production of more than 200 concerts annually. During his tenure at the LA Phil he led the planning and execution of radio and recording projects as well as the critically acclaimed LA Phil Live in-cinema, a broadcast series transmitted live to 450 movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada. A classically trained pianist and composer, he holds an undergraduate degree in Music Theory and Composition and an MBA from Loyola Marymount University.


Samantha Van Der Merwe

Van Der Merwe is the Founder and Artistic Director of Shaking the Tree Theatre: “Among Portland’s best theatre companies, putting on a wonderful mix of classic and contemporary with an emphasis on the visual.” ~ DeAnn Welker, The Oregonian

Founded in 2003, Shaking the Tree melds the boundaries of theater and visual art, presenting audiences with an unconventional theatrical experience in a nontraditional warehouse space. 


Steven Bass

Bass has been President and CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting since 2006. He is the recipient of two Northwest Emmy Awards and has numerous national programming credits to his name. As founding President & CEO of Nashville Public Television, he oversaw that station’s transition from government ownership to an independent, nonprofit public television station. He has served as Vice President & Manager of Television Stations for WGBH/Boston and spent nearly ten years with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in Washington, D.C. He also has served as Chairman of the Board of the Association of Public Television Stations and as a member of the Board of Directors of NPR. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Public Radio International, the Oregon Symphony, and the Oregon East Symphony. In 2008, after a nearly 30-year hiatus, Bass rekindled his musical career: He is a clarinetist with the Vancouver (Washington) Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as Principal Clarinet for the Oregon East Symphony.


PPH Passing Strange


Teresa Christiansen

Christiansen is Head of the Photography Department at Pacific Northwest College of Art. She received her MFA in photographic studies from ICP-Bard and worked as an Assistant Photographer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for nine years. She has exhibited work in New York, Philadelphia, and Seattle and is a winner of PDN Photo Annual, a Regional Arts & Culture Council grant recipient, and a summer Wassaic Artist Resident. Her work is in the collection of the Portland Art Museum.


Peter Franc

Franc is a dancer, a teacher, a choreographer, and the Interim Artistic Director of Oregon Ballet Theatre. Following eight years with Houston Ballet and three with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Franc joined OBT as a Soloist in 2015 and was promoted to Principal Dancer at the end of his first season. He has choreographed, produced, and directed original works for OBT and OBT2.


Previously in the series:

  • The Cultural Landscape: 11 Portraits. Theater leader Marissa Wolf, musician Darrrell Grant, museum film leader Amy Dotson, Red Door Project leader Kevin Jones, bookstore owner Emily Powell, philanthropist and art collector Jordan Schnitzer, visual artist Jef Gunn, actor and singer Ithica Tell, guitarist Scott Kritzer, publisher Rhonda Hughes, poet John Beer.
  • The Cultural Landscape: Part 2. Musician and composer Kenji Bunch, opera leader Priti Gandhi, actor and theater director Dan Murphy, contemporary art leader Victoria Frey, dancer and choreographer Shaun Keylock, landscape and urban design leader Zeljka C. Kekez, visual artist Barry Pelzner, poet and editor Susan Moore, musician and composer Cal Scott, writer and indie filmmaker Kelley Baker.

Be part of our
growing success

Join our Stronger Together Campaign and help ensure a thriving creative community. Your support powers our mission to enhance accessibility, expand content, and unify arts groups across the region.

Together we can make a difference. Give today, knowing a donation that supports our work also benefits countless other organizations. When we are stronger, our entire cultural community is stronger.

Donate Today

Photo Joe Cantrell

K.B. Dixon’s work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals. His most recent collection of stories, Artifacts: Irregular Stories (Small, Medium, and Large), was published in Summer 2022. The recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship Award, he is the winner of both the Next Generation Indie Book Award and the Eric Hoffer Book Award. He is the author of seven novels: The Sum of His SyndromesAndrew (A to Z)A Painter’s LifeThe Ingram InterviewThe Photo AlbumNovel Ideas, and Notes as well as the essay collection Too True, Essays on Photography, and the short story collection, My Desk and I. Examples of his photographic work may be found in private collections, juried exhibitions, online galleries, and at K.B. Dixon Images.

CMNW Council
Blueprint Arts Carmen Sandiego
Seattle Opera Barber of Seville
Stumptown Stages Legally Blonde
Corrib Hole in Ground
Kalakendra May 3
Portland Opera Puccini
PCS Coriolanus
Cascadia Composers May the Fourth
Portland Columbia Symphony Adelante
OCCA Monthly
NW Dance Project
Oregon Repertory Singers Finding Light
PPH Passing Strange
Imago Mission Gibbons
Maryhill Museum of Art
PSU College of the Arts
Bonnie Bronson Fellow Wendy Red Star
PassinArt Yohen
Pacific Maritime HC Prosperity
PAM 12 Month
High Desert Sasquatch
Oregon Cultural Trust
We do this work for you.

Give to our GROW FUND.