ArtsWatch Weekly: The prints & the Oscars, big whale, Stupid Bird, Lear

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

That’s a print. No, we’re not talking about the movies, or the end of a scene shot, or Sunday’s Oscars broadcast, which we found fascinating on all sorts of levels, including the mostly successful tightrope that the host Chris Rock and his writers pranced so nimbly across, smiling and laughing as they took the ringmasters down a notch or two. It’s tough challenging the circus from inside the big tent, but points were made. The big question, of course, remains: what, if anything, will actually be done? In a way, the trouble is less a second year running of all-white acting nominations than the system that makes such an imbalance possible: a lack of great, good, and even middling roles for black and brown actors. The tendency to think of all roles as “white” roles unless the script specifies they are for  minority actors. Projects greenlighted with an eye on white audiences, and projects stopped in their tracks because they’re too “ethnic” to guarantee a hefty profit. And although the absence of black roles was the focus of protests, we also like what the Mexican filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who won the Oscar for directing The Revenant, said in this morning’s New York Times: “The debate is not only about black and white people. We are yellow and Native Americans and Latin Americans.” And we are all of us stories, waiting to be told. If you’re running a story factory, you really ought to be aware of that.



Oops. Looks like we got to talking about the movies, after all. Let’s try this again:


George Johanson, "Magnifier Lamp," 2015, reduction linocut, 12 x 16 inches. Augen Gallery.

George Johanson, “Magnifier Lamp,” 2015, reduction linocut, 12 x 16 inches. Augen Gallery.

That’s a print. That’s a lot of prints, actually, because multiples are the name of the game. Oh, sure, people make monoprints, which are an intriguing side trip for artists: use the traditional tools and processes of printmaking, but stop at a single image and destroy the plates, so you have a unique print. But in the main, the object of printmaking as an art form is to create multiple copies of the same image, so that the image itself is original, but it exists in an edition of several pieces: not copies, exactly, but multiple originals. Things can change from the beginning of a press run to the end – color, the specificity of lines – and that in itself complicates the whole idea of uniqueness and individuality. Runs can be small (four or five or ten) or big (fifty or a hundred or more). And with big-name artists such as Salvador Dali, the runs have sometimes been so large that the images are essentially high-priced posters. But there’s something intensely democratic, and generous, about the idea of prints – the idea that singularity isn’t the point of art; sharing is: you can have a unique George Johanson or James Lavadour or Koichi Yamamoto, and ten or twenty or fifty other people can have the same unique work, too. Ideas spread out like wildflower seeds.

This week is March’s First Thursday and First Friday openings in the city’s galleries, and the walls are lined with print shows in anticipation of Flux, the conference of SGCI, the Southern Graphics Council International, coming to town March 30-April 2.

Patricia L. Giraud, "Wrapped, Running," intaglio. In "Portland Printmaking Now" at Waterstone Gallery.

Patricia L. Giraud, “Wrapped, Running,” intaglio. In “Portland Printmaking Now” at Waterstone Gallery.

Here are a few of the shows to watch for:

Upfor Gallery is showing Variable States: Prints Now, an exhibit focusing on the intersection of printmaking and new technology.

Augen Gallery is showing new linocut prints by the eminent Portland artist George Johanson, plus Nature as Metaphor, an invitational show of prints curated by Rita Robillard and Christy Wyckoff (and Wyckoff has an exhibition of his own work, Woven Prints and Other Fabrications, at the Pacific Northwest College of Art).

Butters Gallery is featuring Printed, a group exhibition focusing on printmaking techniques.

Duplex Gallery is showing works by Oregon State University faculty printmakers past and present, including the legendary Gordon Gilkey.

Waterstone Gallery is featuring Portland Printmaking Now, an invitational showing of work by thirty-five artists, including such familiar names as Tom Prochaska and (again) Christy Wyckoff, who’s all over town this month.

Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, the innovative Native American art center in Pendleton, is coming to town with a show of works produced there, Remote Impressions, including work by Crow’s Shadow’s guiding light, James Lavadour. It’ll be on view March 9-June 27 in the Lobby Gallery of Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall.



Darius Pierce (left) as Dev and Ian Holcomb as Conrad Arkadina in "Stupid Fucking Bird" at Portland Center Stage. Photo: Patrick Weishampel/

Darius Pierce (left) as Dev and Ian Holcomb as Conrad Arkadina in “Stupid Fucking Bird” at Portland Center Stage. Photo: Patrick Weishampel/

A few things to note on this weekend’s arts calendar:

Moby Dick, Rehearsed. Here’s a line you don’t see on a theater program very often: “By Herman Melville, adapted by Orson Welles.” Add “Directed by Scott Palmer” and you have the newest offering from the innovative Bag&Baggage Productions in Hillsboro. The setup, as faithfully transcribed: “A Shakespearean company meets to begin rehearsals for King Lear. The director enters and hands out scripts for a new play called Moby Dick.” And so it begins.

Stupid Fucking Bird. Known in politer circles (and in a politer century) as The Seagull. Portland Center Stage opens Aaron Posner’s brash and comic contemporary take on Chekhov’s classic. Expect variations on the theme, audaciously writ.

Bullshot Crummond: The Evil Eye of Jabar and The Invisible Bride of Death. Lakewood Theatre brings the premiere of a comedy in two parts featuring the 1920s British hero out to save the Empire. Good luck, Bullshot. Alan Shearman, a co-author of the original Bullshot Crummond, directs.

Free Outgoing. Boom Arts brings this contemporary play from India to PSU’s Lincoln Hall Studio Theater for a short run, Thursday through Sunday. Anupama Chandrasekhar’s play about generational conflict in the digital age – an indiscreet cell-phone video goes viral – gets its U.S. premiere here.


"Free Outgoing" at PSU's Lincoln Hall Studio Theater. Photo courtesy Boom Arts.

“Free Outgoing” at PSU’s Lincoln Hall Studio Theater. Photo courtesy Boom Arts.



ArtsWatch links


gudesman & Joo perform March 6 with the Oregon Symphony. Photo: © Julia Wesely

Igudesman & Joo perform March 6 with the Oregon Symphony. Photo: © Julia Wesely

Igudesman & Joo meet the Oregon Symphony. The madcap men of classical comedy (musical division) are coming out to play with the Oregon Symphony this weekend, and to mark the occasion we’re reprising Dianne Davies’ refreshing interview with the duo from last summer, when they played at Chamber Music Northwest.

Sweet tragedy: rehearsing ‘R&J.’ Martha Ullman West goes to rehearsal with Oregon Ballet Theatre and digs into the preparations for the return of James Canfield’s Romeo and Juliet, which continues this weekend at Keller Auditorium.

Dianne Davies: attachments and detachments. Yes, the same Dianne Davies who interviewed Igudesman & Joo (see above) is herself a classical pianist. Brett Campbell talks with her about her journey into the sounds and ideas of Jeff Winslow’s Ghosts and Machines, which the composer and ArtsWatch contributor began after his older brother’s death, and which, Davies says, “fit perfectly into unresolved deep grief issues I’d had for years.”

Marian Bauer shines again. Bauer’s biographer, Susan Pickett, tells the extraordinary tale of this composer and music journalist who was born in Walla Walla, graduated from high school in Portland, and had her most famous composition, Sun Splendor, performed by the New York Philharmonic under Leopold Stokowski in 1947. This Saturday, the Portland Youth Philharmonic brings that piece, and Bauer’s story, back to town.

Brian Blade: serving the music. This year’s Portland Jazz Festival is gone (just barely), but far from forgotten, and one of the excellent memories it’s left is captured by Kaleb Davies in his reminiscence and interview for ArtsWatch of the jazz drummer and bandleader.

Bleak and bristling: Post5’s ‘Lear’. At Post5, Christa Morletti McIntyre writes, Tobias Andersen “delivers his King Lear with a perfect balance of anger, regret, confusion, delirium, and torment.” That’s a good thing.

Todd Van Voris as Kent, Tobias Andersen as Lear, Philip J. Berns as the Fool at Post5. Photo: Carrie Anne Huneycutt

Todd Van Voris as Kent, Tobias Andersen as Lear, Philip J. Berns as the Fool at Post5. Photo: Carrie Anne Huneycutt



About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this every Tuesday to a select group of email subscribers, and also post 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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