Monday is for catching up: ArtsWatch over the weekend

The Drying of August may have entered its last week, but that didn’t keep the ArtsWatch team from delivering cool spring water to the thirsty!  O no, ArtsWatch was busy and not just extending unnecessary metaphors. But maybe you missed something of burning interest to you? Here’s a little Monday reset.

Princess Grace winner Franco Nieto/Photo: Katie Schurman

Bob Hicks considered the three Princess Grace Award winners with Oregon connections, especially Northwest Dance Project’s Franco Nieto. “Nieto, smiling in an unbeastly manner, agrees. “There’s something animalistic I love about tearing up the stage,” he says. “When it comes to dancing I’m more of a creature.” Still, he says, lately he’s begun to appreciate the advantages of broadening his perspective and reaching for the sensitivity in the beast: “I’m learning, sometimes if you pull it back a bit, you’re more aware of the things around you.””

Brett Campbell gets to more events than seems humanly possible for his Weekend MusicWatch column, and this week he has the snapshots to prove it! Campbell is indispensable for fans of classical/alt.classical music, and ArtsWatch hopes you’re tuning in every week to catch his column: “At another Portland church Friday, I heard a pulsating new work, Corvallis composer Dana Reason’s Pauline’s Polka, dedicated to her mentor, the great American composer Pauline Oliveros, on her 80th birthday.”

Spot On is Patrick Collier’s peripatetic art column, and this week he wandered all the way to… Northeast Alberta! Seriously, from his farm outside Salem that is a bit of trek for his oxen cart, but as he points out, it was worth the extra ration of oats: “It may be that the Albers book was foremost in my mind upon a second return visit, for it was Cotterell’s photo, “Stir Stick” that pulled me in. On one hand, a simple exercise in color and geometry, it also contains a more complex narrative of process.”

The Underscore Orkestra performs at
Saturday’s Portland Farmers Market.

Portland pianist Maria Choban has written a couple of essays for ArtsWatch. Her most recent is a remembrance of her friend David Wood, the co-owner of the classical music hub, Sheet Music Service, who died earlier this month. Thank you for this, Maria:  “When I felt like I totally failed as a pianist, having quit music for the fourth or fifth time, humiliated by my own inability to stick to it, David hauled me off to a bar and plied me with alcohol and stories of his own setbacks until I was at least able to smile, and then together we planned my work schedule at the store so that I could still maintain health-insurance coverage, come in later, and spend the morning hours practicing piano.  Whatever magic he worked stuck.  I have continued to make a life in music since then.”

James McQuillen conducted two separate interviews with the Oregon Symphony’s outgoing president, Elaine Calder, who finishes up in Portland at the end of this week. These are available both as podcasts and in transcript form, and they get at Calder’s contribution to the symphony as well as her description of Portland and the climate for art making here: “I don’t know, Portland likes to think it’s unique. Every time I go to a new American city and discover that you can actually take light rail in from the airport, I think, Isn’t that odd? In Portland, you kind of think that Portland is the only city that does this. You can do it in Minneapolis, you can do it in Cleveland.”

And finally, I’ve been tracking The Oregonian’s attempts to argue the arts education tax out of existence (or at least to defeat at the polls in November). I thought their arguments were shallow, un-researched, out of context, and well, hopeless, and so I pointed a few flaws in the editorial, just for fun: “Then, the editorial takes on the “regressive” nature of the tax—specifically, that everyone eligible to be taxed will pay the same amount. They call it “breathtakingly regressive.”  I might accept this characterization from people who actually believe in progressive taxation: Naturally, The Oregonian wants to reduce Oregon’s capital gains tax, which would make a tax system that is truly “breathtakingly regressive,” even worse. The Oregonian doesn’t seem to be concerned with regressivity unless it suits them. “Inconsistency” is the nicest way to characterize this trait.”

OK, things were getting a little testy there at the end! But yes, we’ve reached a point where the culture doesn’t stop in August, any more than the dramas of  life do, the joy and sorrow and discovery. We’re glad you’re along with us for the trip!


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