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Monday news and notes: PICA, Jaspers, OBT, gamelans and calls for artists

By Barry Johnson
November 7, 2011
Culture, Featured

The raw space of PICA's new home, inside and out./Andrew Billing, courtesy of PICA

The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art is leaving the nest it has called home since 2000 inside the  Wieden + Kennedy Building in the Pearl District for new digs right across Burnside in the same block that houses the Ace Hotel, Clyde Commons and Kenny & Zukes, among others, and convenient to the Living Room Theater, the Crystal Ballroom and Powell’s City of Books, as
Marty Hughley reported this morning.

This isn’t exactly startling news; back in September, PICA’s Victoria Frey suggested that the producers of the Time-Based Art festival felt as though their time to leave Wieden + Kennedy had come, both because of the ad agency’s growth and because PICA saw the need to connect more closely to the public. At Wieden + Kennedy, visitors to PICA had to work through the ad agency’s front desk.

The new space is on the third floor of a curious little building at 414 S.W. 10th Ave., and the public will be able to avail itself of PICA’s resource room and a new flexible performance/lecture/informal gathering space and patio. The company’s new hub will be home base for its adventures in other Portland neighborhoods, fueled by a large grant from ArtPlace. I wrote at length about PICA’s overall strategy back in September, and this move to a more visible, accessible headquarters is simply that strategy coming to life. I’ll be getting back to this topic soon — the model is interesting and risky, and watching how it unspools should be instructive.

This week, I departed from the usual practice for my weekly post on the Arts & Life page of the Oregon Public Broadcasting website and wrote a little more about last week’s visit of the Jasper String Quartet, with some actual interviews and news involved. I think the Jaspers are onto something, and I’m not the only one, as I discovered: the maestro of the Oregon Symphony, Carlos Kalmar, agrees.

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s “other” holiday show (the “Nutcracker” is a given) is starting to take shape. Like last year, the Holiday Revue will  featuare Susannah Mars, star of stage and lounge, and the company has also added Marv and Rindy Ross for three of the six performances, and of course artistic director Christopher Stowell and the OBT dancers will be on hand.

Lewis & Clark College is firing up its Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan for a concert Saturday, Nov. 12 at the college’s Evans Auditorium. The gamelan, which was constructed in 1880 in a village in central Java, has become a focal point for the college community and a potent reminder about how complex and beautiful world music can be. Tickets are $20. (Oregon ArtsWatch contributor Brett Campbell is part of the 20-musician ensemble.)

The Regiona Arts & Culture Council is adding new work to its Portable Works Collection, which means it has issued a “call for artists.” The deadline is Dec. 16. Check the website for details, and while you’re there you can spend some time looking at the collection the city has amassed during the past 30 years.

Another call for projects has come from the Open Engagement Conference, an international conference exploring various perspectives on art and social practice, which PSU’s Art and Scoial Practice MFA program is sponsoring. The organizers are looking for “projects, tours, interventions, presentations and panel ideas,” and other presentation ideas are welcome in one of the four categories under discussion: politics, economies, education and representation. Submissions are due Jan. 2, 2012. Go to the website for details. The conference will be May 18-20, 2012, in Portland.

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