ArtsWatch Weekly: Sitka to Santa to Warhol, season’s meetings

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

Well, we got that Halloween thing taken care of, crazy rain storm and all, and we’re cruising on toward Thanksgiving. Here at Oregon ArtsWatch World Headquarters, we wouldn’t dream under ordinary circumstances of bringing up Christmas this early in the season. Really, we wouldn’t. But then this little item crossed our desk, and … all right, our powers of resistance are weak.

On Friday the Newspace Center for Photography opens an exhibit called Santa Pictures Not Picked Up: Photos from the Oregon Historical Society, and the story behind it’s pretty fascinating. One day Matthew Cowan, an archivist at OHS, stumbled across a box of negatives from photos taken in the 1950s and ’60s by Earnest Walter Rollins, a commercial photographer in Coquille, the seat of Oregon’s Coos County. They were pictures taken and ordered but for one reason or another never picked up, and all this time later, they have stories to tell. Particularly this one, a true gobsmacker, which we present to you in the spirit of the season. Happy (early) holidays, everyone:

Santa and friend, both anonymous, ca. 1950s/60s. Photo: Earnest Walter Rollins

Santa and friend, both anonymous, ca. 1950s/60s. Photo: Earnest Walter Rollins

Newspace also, by the way, is opening The Last Road North, an exhibit of photos taken by Ben Huff along the Haul Road, the continent’s northernmost, stretching 414 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Prudhoe Bay, where oil fields rub against the Arctic Ocean. It opens Friday – and, no, it won’t include photos of pre-holiday goings-on at the North Pole.


This week is First Thursday and First Friday, when lots and lots of galleries across Portland open their new monthly exhibits, and the hopping will be heavy with first-peekers. A few new shows catch our eye: Tom Cramer‘s new wood reliefs at Augen (along with some meticulous drawings by Pamela Green), some fresh garbage paintings by Robert R. Dozono at Blackfish; a neat matchup of paintings by Mark R. Smith and collages by Melody Owen at Elizabeth Leach; and EastSouthEast: Merge, in which painter Shawn Demarest has added an overlay of ghostly geometrics to her urbanscapes, at Portland Community College’s Southeast Campus, 2305 S.E. 82nd Avenue.

At Laura Russo, two Oregon artists of long standing, Mary Josephson and Lucinda Parker, are showing new work. and a photo of Parker’s Old Cherry, in particular, grabbed our attention. Parker, a master of muscular expressionism, has created something in floating figures that brings to mind some of the desert paintings of the early 20th century American modernist Marsden Hartley. Of course, Old Cherry also has Parker’s own giant scale. The spaces of her paintings tend to be vast, and, like Hartley’s much smaller desertscapes, not made for fencing. Take a look:

Lucinda Parker, Old Cherry, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 108 inches, Laura Russo Gallery. Photo: Jim Lommasson

Lucinda Parker, “Old Cherry,” 2015, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 108 inches, Laura Russo Gallery. Photo: Jim Lommasson


Many years ago, Portlander Paige Powell headed east to New York and landed a job at Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, where she eventually became associate publisher. She found herself hanging with the likes of Warhol, Keith Haring, Madonna, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was her boyfriend for a while. And she took a lot of photos – quick candids, which for years, after moving back to Portland, she kept tucked in a box beneath her bed. A multimedia selection from those shots opens Thursday at the Portland Art Museum, and Cathay Che gives it a nice brief intro in the New York Times. Don’t forget to click the link to the slide show.


Photo: Sitka Center for Ecology and the Arts

Photo: Sitka Center for Art & Ecology

It’s that time of year again: the annual Sitka Art Invitational takes over the congenial spaces of the World Forestry Center’s Miller Hall, near the Oregon Zoo, this weekend (that’s a shot from last year’s invitational, above). A host of leading Northwest artists – Hilary Pfeifer, Katherine Ace, M.J. Anderson, Dennis Cunningham, Frank Boyden, Elise Wagner, Shu-Ju Wang, Christy Wykoff, Lli Wilburn, many others – will have works on sale Saturday and Sunday. It’s the major benefit event of the year for the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, the much-loved retreat, school, and art center on Oregon’s northern coast. Get the whole scoop here.


A couple of things to look for this week onstage:

  • Profile Theatre continues its season of plays by Sarah Ruhl with 2010’s Orlando, based on Virginia Woolf’s romp of an adventure novel about a gender-switching, time-traversing poet. Opens Saturday.
  • Lakewood Theatre gives a fresh spin to Present Laughter, the sharp-toothed comedy by Noel Coward, the 20th century giant who, Blithe Spirit notwithstanding, doesn’t see the stage much these days around here. Gary Powell plays the glib matinee idol Gary Essendine. Opens Friday.



ArtsWatch links

Eowyn Emerald's I asked of you. Photo: David Krebs

Eowyn Emerald’s I asked of you. Photo: David Krebs

Eowyn Emerald’s relationship dances. And that means literally: to the surprise of almost everyone in attendance opening night at Emerald’s latest dance concert, she and dancer Jonathan Krebs got married onstage at Reed College. Oh, yes: there was dancing, too. Jamuna Chiarini writes about that.

Broomstick‘s rhyming ride. Veteran actor Vana O’Brien, starring in Artists Rep’s rhyming solo play play about a backwoods crone who may or may not be casting some wicked-powerful spells, “has great fun with this poison-apple granny of a role,” I write.

Eugene Opera turns the screw. ArtsWatch’s Gary Ferrington digs deep behind the story of Eugene Opera’s staging of Benjamin Britten’s spooky 1954 chamber work The Turn of the Screw, based on Henry James’s classic ghost tale.

magic barrel

The Magic Barrel: A reading to fight hunger. Tracy Daugherty, whose Joan Didion bio has been eliciting raves, was there. So were essayist Elena Passarello, and novelist Molly Gloss, and lots of others. But as high-profile as the writers were, Bruce Kearney explains, the stakes were more than literary, and the evening fed both minds and stomachs. In a state with the nation’s third-highest hunger level, the reading in Corvallis raised bucks to help fill the pantry at Linn Benton Food Share.

Skeleton Piano Dances: emotional disconnect. Composer and music writer Tristan Bliss stirred up a modest hornet’s nest when he reviewed a show by piano reinventor Jennifer Wright and the Agnieszka Laska Dancers and opined that the music just didn’t connect.

Fats Waller, behavin’ in style. Portland Center Stage’s up-sized production of the Waller musical revue Ain’t Misbehavin’, I write, “delivers the goods with brash and happy verve. In short, the joint is jumpin’.”

David St. Louis (left) and DeMone, misbehavin' at the Waldorf. Photo: Patrick Weishampel/

David St. Louis (left) and DeMone, misbehavin’ at the Waldorf. Photo: Patrick Weishampel/



About ArtsWatch Weekly

We’ve been sending a letter like this every Tuesday to a select group of email subscribers. Now we’re also posting it weekly on the ArtsWatch home page. In ArtsWatch Weekly, we take a look at stories we’ve covered in the previous week, give early warning of events coming up, and sometimes head off on little arts rambles we don’t include anywhere else. You can read this report here. Or, you can get it delivered weekly to your email inbox, and get a quick look at all the stories you might have missed (we have links galore) and the events you want to add to your calendar. It’s easy to sign up. Just click here, and leave us your name and e-address.

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