art in Oregon

A dozen great reads from 2017

From a Lewis Carroll lark to a rambling Road Dog to a play about a baby to art out of ocean garbage, twelve ArtsWatch stories not to miss

A dance critic walks into an art show. A man and his dog travel the byroads of America. A pop song sinks into a writer’s soul. A jazz pianist walks into the wilderness. A play about a baby strikes a theater reviewer close to home. On the southern Oregon coast, artists make huge sculptures from the detritus that chokes the sea.

We run a lot of stories on a lot of subjects at Oregon ArtsWatch – more than 500 in 2017 alone – and a few stand out simply as stories that want to be told. Put together a good writer and a good subject and chances are you’ll get a memorable tale. Here are a dozen such stories from 2017.

 


 

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A look back at a dozen stories from 2017 you won’t want to miss:

 

Matthew Kerrigan reinterprets Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit, with a fleeting attention span ruled by a smartphone.

We’re all mad here … so let’s party

Jan. 31: “What do you do with your existential frustration? If you boil it down into its purest form, you get either despair or rage—which then has to be dealt with. But if you chill it out and mix in some humor, you end up with absurdity. And that can be played with! O Frabjous Day!” A.L. Adams got down in the existential trenches with Shaking the Tree’s We’re All Mad Here, a piece performed and largely conceived by Matthew Kerrigan in homage to the great absurdist Lewis Carroll. “Any drug-addled dodo could dream up a different world, but that wasn’t the crux of Carroll’s vision. Like his forebears Aesop and Chaucer and Jonathan ‘Gulliver’ Swift, Carroll was a satirist as well as a fabulist.”

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Yads, Torahs, history’s pointing hand

Three shows at the Oregon Jewish Museum spotlight creation, destruction, and reclamation through scrolls, Torah pointers, and the World War II home front

It’s a little stick, a stylus, a pointer. Usually long and thin, often elegant and decorative, it’s enlivened by a tiny hand at the end with a slim index finger pointing forward, leading the way. Called a yad, the Hebrew word for hand, it’s used as a place-keeper and guide while reading the Torah, the foundational stories of the Jewish faith.

A small but striking exhibition of these instruments of practicality and beauty, Pointing the Way: The Art of the Torah Pointer, is being featured through February 28 at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, along with the photo exhibit Surviving Remnants, images of Torah scrolls rescued from the Crimean city of Simferopol after the city’s Nazi occupation, but tattered beyond repair. Together these two small exhibits tell a story of creation, destruction, and reclamation, which in a way summarizes what history and culture are all about.

A relatively simple yad, pointing the way.

A relatively simple yad, pointing the way.

The yads are objects of ritual meant to protect the parchment Torah scrolls, which can be fragile, from the oils and other impurities of human touch. Their origin is obscure. Daniel Belasco, consulting curator for Pointing the Way, cites a bronze object created in the 1100s in northeastern Afghanistan as a possible starting point, or perhaps an ornate silver pointer from Ferrara, Italy, from about 1488. Examples become more numerous after about 1600.

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