TEXT and PHOTOGRAPHS by K.B. DIXON
“The portrait,” said legendary photographer Arnold Newman, “is a form of biography. Its purpose is to inform now and to record for history.” It is hard to imagine a better, more succinct summation of the genre.
As with the portraits in the previous installments of this series, I have focused here on the talented and creative people whose various legacies are destined to be part of our cultural history.
My aspirations have remained the same: to document the contemporary cultural landscape and to produce a decent photograph—a photograph that is not a simple transcription but the distillation of an authentic moment; 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. It is this encounter with character that animates the image.
Showalter became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Oregon Symphony in 2014. Before moving to Portland he worked as Vice President of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Associate Vice President of the University of Chicago, and Associate Dean of Stanford Law School. A classically-trained pianist, he holds an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Under Showalter the Symphony has expanded its commissioning, recordings, and digital programming. All Classical Portland frequently broadcasts Oregon Symphony concerts, several of which are syndicated via American Public Media to tens of millions of households.
Founder and Executive Director of Renegade Opera, Ross is an award-winning performer and teacher. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2019 and was named National Champion of the National Association of Teachers of Singing classical voice competition in 2020. Ross has performed with the Portland Opera, Opera on Tap (Portland and Boston), and Emmanuel Music among others. She is a founding member of In the Pocket, a choral ensemble, and holds a leadership role in Our Song Artists, a feminist classical music nonprofit.
An actor, director, and teacher, Mendelson was recently selected as the Managing Artistic Director of The Actors Conservatory (TAC). In addition to TAC he is the Artistic Director of the Portland Shakespeare Project and a long-time Resident Artist at Artists Repertory Theatre. His acting credits include The Skin of our Teeth, Blithe Spirit, The Cherry Orchard, Othello, Three Sisters, and Eurydice. His directing credits include The Importance of Being Earnest, The Understudy, and Intimate Apparel.
An award-winning poet and the co-founder of Night Owls Press, DeGuzman is the recipient of fellowships and grants from, among others, the Oregon Arts Commission, PEN America, and J. Paul Getty Foundation. Most recently she was awarded a 2022 Oregon Literary Fellowship. Her work appears in Atticus Review, Cimarron Review, Five:2:One, Iron Horse Literary Review, RHINO, phoebe, Strange Horizons, Hobart, Reed Magazine, and elsewhere.
A legendary singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Jones is a roots artist whose work is steeped in a rich musical history. He has recorded six critically-acclaimed albums and toured both nationally and internationally for more than three decades. A member of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, Jones is the recipient of 31 Muddy Awards from the Cascade Blues Association, including Lifetime Achievement.
Earlier in the Series
- The Cultural Landscape: 11 Portraits. Theater leader Marissa Wolf; pianist and composer Darrell Grant; film center leader Amy Dotson; actor, director, and cofounder of The Red Door Project, Kevin Jones; independent book store owner Emily Powell; philanthropist and art collector Jordan Schnitzer; visual artist Jef Gunn; actor and singer Ithica Tell; classical guitarist Scott Kritzer; publisher and editor Rhonda Hughes; poet John Beer.
- The Cultural Landscape: Part 2. Composer Kenji Bunch; opera leader Priti Gandhi; musical theater leader Dan Murphy; PICA Executive Director Victoria Frey; choreographer and dancer Shaun Keylock; architectural landscape and urban design leader Zeljka C. Kekez; visual artist and educator Barry Pelzner; poet and editor Susan Moore; singer-songwriter and composer Cal Scott; author and independent filmmaker Kelley Baker.
- The Cultural Landscape: Part 3. Chris Ayzoukian, executive director of the Patricia Reser Center for the Art; theater founder and director Samantha Van Der Merwe; Oregon Public Broadcasting leader Steven Bass; Teresa Christiansen, photographer and head of the photography department at Pacific Northwest College of Art.