The Famous ArtsWatch link post: #3 2012

Detail of Marie Watt's "Dwelling"/Courtesy of Hallie Ford Museum

Oh, yes, we’ve been keeping track, even though this version of our Famous Links is arriving a little late to your screen. Close track, in fact. Which you would know if you would just like our Facebook page, where we gather many of these little treasures. (We’d so love it if you joined us there, too.)

The Hallie Ford Museum at  Willamette University gave us a little sneak peek of  “Marie Watt: Lodge,” which opens there on Feb. 4,  namely the stack of blankets, both new and gathered from various communities that comprise “Dwelling.”  So, we just had to show it to you and give a little praise both to Marie Watt and to the little museum that can and does.

The musicians of the Oregon Symphony have been playing without a contract since August, but the union and the symphony have now reached a 3-year agreement that involves modest pay increases. The press release issued by the symphony mentioned new arrangements that will lead to more recording opportunities for the orchestra, though those details haven’t yet been released. The symphony’s  “Music for a Time of War” CD has been something of a hit among classical music fans, and a new relationship with All-Classical radio was mentioned, so we may be hearing more of the orchestra outside of Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

How far outside the traditional “box” does theater (and other classical art forms) have to go to survive? When general interest publications take on the question, they are immediately drawn to ideas that demolish the box altogether. Craig Lambert of Harvard Magazine weighed in, and you’ll recognize some of the people they talked to (think of certain Harvard grad down in Ashland).

“The theater of the future will be one that actively engages its audiences and probably breaks not only the “fourth wall” (the imaginary “window” of the proscenium) but the other three as well. Audiences at a recent New York production of Our Town, for example, found themselves literally part of the cast. In Boston, the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, founded by Benjamin Evett ’86, an ART Institute graduate, performs Shakespeare in unusual settings like storefronts and churches, literally taking the Bard to the streets. And Bill Rauch, in a previous life, co-founded the Cornerstone Theater, which develops community-based and -produced versions of classic plays in small cities and towns.”

So, yes, experimenting with the classical arts. Maybe the way Roulette, one of New York City’s alternative, hybrid, high-art venues, does it. The NY Times couldn’t have been happier about a recent collision of Bryce Canyon, Messiaen and the Hamburg Symphony at Roulette:

“The orchestra performed “Des Canyons” at the new home of Roulette, a hotbed of contemporary-music programming that operated for years out of a TriBeCa loft but moved in September to the historic Memorial Hall at Atlantic and Third Avenues in Brooklyn, which has a simple, handsome refurbished auditorium that seats 300.

Hearing the piece there was certainly an experience of sonic saturation. But the music came through with striking clarity and no excess reverberation. And it was exciting to be so close and enveloped. As in Hamburg, Mr. Tate and his players performed the piece with a video installation by Daniel Landau, which was projected on three screens above the orchestra.”

The full schedule for the Portland International Film Festival has gone online, and it includes no fewer than 11 Oscar nominees: “including seven Short Film nominees — three Live Action (“Pentecost,” “Raju,” and “Time Freak”) and four Animated (“Sunday,” “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” “La Luna,” and “Wild Life”), three films in the Foreign Language Film category (“Bullhead,” “Monsieur Lazhar,” “Footnote”), and one in the Animated Feature Film category (“A Cat in Paris”). But you won’t have to stay on those beaten paths for satisfying movies, we’re pretty darn sure.

Joyce Carol Oates won the very first Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement from Oregon State University, which included a cool $20,000. We hadn’t heard a word about the Stone Award, so the whole thing was a surprise to us! We’re not sure that Oates needs the cast, but…

Occasional ArtsWatch contributor Trisha Mead participated in the ArtsJournal debate on whether the arts lead or follow: “Our audience cannot tell us in advance what experiences will transform them. But they will know it when they see it. We as artmakers cannot set out to create an experience that will “transform.” But we must be capable of recognizing it when it takes place.”

OK, we admit it. We’ve caught a little Gustavo Dudamel fever up here in Northwest. The leader of the LA Philharmonic has embarked on a titanic Mahler Project, and the normally reserved LA Times is even more excited than we are.

“Yet for all Dudamel’s pushing and pulling, this was a consistent and even curiously literal performance. While Mahler always found sorrow in happiness and searched for hopeful illumination in tragedy, Dudamel doesn’t question Mahler the way some of the composer’s most convincing advocates (Leonard Bernstein in particular) have. He takes Mahler’s spectacle of the soul at face value.

But what face value that is! Agitated Mahler can be sanity-threatening.Triumph is when God defeats the devil and the gates of heaven open up with absolute majesty. The symphony’s final moments were electrifying in the extreme, what with the magnificent chorus, blazing brass, hall-filling organ, stirring soloists, winds as vivid as trumpets, those many strings and a percussion section looking to make a mark on the Richter scale.”

And speaking of Southland, Ten Tiny Dances created enough of a stir for the LA Times to notice! Laura Bleiberg got it about right (and we weren’t even there!): “Each dance was a kinetic ink blot test of the artists’ creative personalities. Give a dancer a small space and surprisingly diverse reactions manifest -– acrobatics, striptease, body manipulation, madness, and, perhaps to be expected, bending the rules. Gimmickry was thankfully limited. Like National Public Radio’s three-minute fiction contest, a constraining device can unlock clever ideas. Even when it didn’t, the dance ended soon enough.”

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