News & Notes: The importance of knowing what you’re in for

We reiterate the Maguy Marin warning, link to Alice Munro stories and a Blue Mitchell interview, more!

From Maguy Marin's "Salves"/Christian Ganet

From Maguy Marin’s “Salves”/Christian Ganet

Last night I didn’t squeeze into my seat at the Newmark Theatre for Compagnie Maguy Marin until the very end of Walter Jaffe and Paul King’s introductory remarks, about the time they said, “Please welcome from Toulouse…”, and then a guy onstage started tracking and fingering a fine filament. Pretty soon the stage was full of tracking fingerers, and we were off.

ArtsWatch’s Nim Wunnan was at the concert, and he’ll have a full review on the site soon. Still, I thought I should reiterate the “warning” of the News&Notes a couple of days ago: At no time will the company drop all that jumpy stage business and start moving deliciously to Mozart. The frequently dimly lit jumpy stage business, with all those recurring images, broken plates, crashing sculptures, falling paintings, and seemingly random characters? That’s what “Salves” (“Salvos”) is about.

It proved upsetting to some attendees. Some left early. One booed on his way out. The applause at the end was patchy. Obviously, they had not read our warning on Wednesday! Please tell your friends to read News&Notes every day the better to avoid unhappy surprises.

We also have writers on the hunt at BodyVox and Oregon Ballet Theatre at various times this weekend, so stay tuned for some serious ArtsWatch dance coverage.


OPEN CULTURE is one of my favorite sites, and it comes in handy when you want a quick taste of a new Literature Nobelist’s work, say, Alice Munro’s!

From Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls” (1968)

“My father was a fox farmer. That is, he raised silver foxes, in pens; and in the fall and early winter, when their fur was prime, he killed them and skinned them and sold their pelts to the Hudson’s Bay Company or the Montreal Fur Traders. These companies supplied us with heroic calendars to hang, one on each side of the kitchen door. Against a background of cold blue sky and black pine forests and treacherous northern rivers, plumed adventures planted the flags of England and or of France; magnificent savages bent their backs to the portage.”


Maybe you know Diffusion, the annual contemporary photography magazine produced in Portland, “an independent, contributor and reader-supported annual that highlights and celebrates unconventional photographic processes and photo related artwork.” Yesterday, LenScratch, the fine art photography daily, posted an in-depth interview with Blue Mitchell, the creative mind and energy behind the magazine, an excellent introduction to Mitchell, Diffusion, and the creative processes behind them. And it’s a photography site, so it’s lusciously illustrated.


Some arts writing of local interest from around the web!

John Motley’s short review is a good introduction to the exhibition of Josiah McElheny’s work at the Lumber Room, produced by Zena Zezza, Sandra Percival’s new arts organization.

Yesterday, I was talking a LOT about “Detroit” at Portland Playhouse. I wasn’t the only one. Here’s Alison Hallett’s review for the Mercury, which was laudatory, and Carol Wells’ account for OregonLive, which wasn’t. And Jonathan Frochtzwajg at Portland Monthly liked the first half, but not the second. Dennis Sparks landed in the plus column. Not that I think liking it or not is all that crucial, but the division about whether or not Lisa D’Amour’s Pulitzer finalist is a good play is pretty interesting. And if you’re trying to make a consumer decision at home, the critics’ vote isn’t going to help.

3 Responses.

  1. Martha Ullman West says:

    Here is a counter-warning to the warning re Maguy Marin–if you’re not interested in intellectually challenging, visually fascinating, beautifully crafted, politically critical work, under no circumstances go see Maguy Marin’s “Salves.” Ditto if extremely subtle performances by the dancers, notwithstanding all those crashes and bangs and flashing lights, doesn’t ring your chimes. And if you loathe the French and are still ordering American fries or whatever the ignorant euphemism is, don’t go either.
    Moi? I found it magnifique, start to finish.

    • Walter Jaffe says:

      Right on, Martha–
      Looking forward to Nim’s comments.

    • Erin Kraemer says:

      Yes. Thank you, Martha for pointing out the value in the work of “Salves.” As a performer of modern dance and contemporary ballet, and having been involved in a work in a similar vein of this one, it is so rewarding to witness such an intense chain of events and memorized cues performed mostly in the dark and with consistent commitment from the artists with such grace and success. You can see the work that went into this production in all areas. It’s so well developed and edited, and the performer’s maintained such amazing stamina. I was upset that there was not a more positive response from the audience. If only they were aware of what it takes to create such a work–and to bring it to another country. The ideas presented were done so well, and it really was an impressive event. (I attended opening/Thursday night.)

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