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Arts Shorts

October 26, 2017

Back when I first met him, nearly 10 years ago, Isaac Marquez was a painter showing his work in coffee houses and restaurants. He made big, fairly traditional abstracts in those days: the kind you might see in a middle-of-the-road contemporary gallery in Portland, or in the lobby of an upwardly aspiring hotel.

August 31, 2017

Once a jewel in Eugene’s cultural crown, the Oregon Bach Festival now looks as good as dead after last week’s unexplained — and inexplicable — firing of artistic director Matthew Halls.

The big problem is, no one — including Halls — seems to be clear on just why he was let go.

August 3, 2017

The numbers are in: This year’s leaner and smaller Oregon Bach Festival drew just 12,000 in total attendance, the festival says, a 33 percent drop from last year’s 18,000 and a huge drop from the total attendance in 2011 of more than 44,000.

June 22, 2017

What, you’ve never been to the Oregon Bach Festival?

That’s like living in Eugene and never once watching a track meet at Hayward Field, never cheering at a Duck game, never enjoying the Whiteaker Block Party or never getting down and dirty at the Oregon Country Fair.

What will you tell your grandchildren? That you lived in the same town with a Grammy-winning musical festival and never heard a note? You owe it to yourself to take part in this cultural experience, which this year runs June 29 through July 15.

May 25, 2017

One day in 1984, a young Taiwanese woman spotted an older American man standing at a traffic intersection in Taipei. He looked confused. “He looked like he was lost,” recalls Hue-Ping Lin. “I asked if I could help him.”

Rather than trying to give complicated directions to a foreigner, Lin ended up walking him the few blocks to his destination. “I asked where he was from. He said ‘Oregon,’” Lin says. “I said, ‘I just got admitted to graduate school at the University of Oregon.’”

April 27, 2017

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Francesco Lecce-Chong has been named the new music director of the Eugene Symphony.

Wednesday’s announcement concludes the symphony’s yearlong search to find a conductor to replace Danail Rachev, who leaves his job as music director after the season wraps up with a final concert May 11.

April 20, 2017

Did you catch Eugene Symphony’s performance of The Damnation of Faust the other evening? It was, I can’t resist saying, one Hell of a show, and if you weren’t there you should have been.

First, the basics: The symphony teamed up with the University of Oregon’s John Park and Harmonic Laboratory to put on the entire two-hour Hector Berlioz oratorio — that’s like an opera with no sets, costumes or staging — with a full-on light show inside the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall.

January 5, 2017

This Friday, Jan. 6, is the first ArtWalk of 2017. So let’s start 2017 right: Let’s make it a wildly creative, challenging, innovative year for local arts. Less schmaltz, less macaroni art, less half-rendered fairy paintings and more grit.

December 15, 2016

As the clock ticks down to the inauguration, and the president-elect continues to play fast and loose with Chinese diplomacy, it’s an apt time to go check out Proletarian Revolution: 20th-Century Chinese Propaganda at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. The exhibit features the monumental state-sanctioned puffery of China before, after and during its Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Study it, internalize it, prepare for it, because we have a new POTUS who has already shown a penchant for self-aggrandizing portraits, like the $20,000 Trump portrait paid for via his Donald J.

November 23, 2016

Avoid Black Friday like the plague: The University of Oregon Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is offering free entry for its “Be Our Guest” Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 25-27 and there are loads of exhibits to see. Check out Scrimmage: Football in American Art from the Civil War to the Present and see the sport put into a cultural context, for better and for worse.

October 20, 2016

Eugene’s art community has a proud tradition of celebrating Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, the Nov. 1-2 Mexican holiday that honors the dead in wildly colorful and mischievous ways.

That grand dame, the Maude Kerns Art Center (MKAC), for one, has been hosting an exhibit and festivities for two-plus decades. The art center opened its 23rd annual show Oct. 14, which will be bursting with frenetic ofrendas (altars to the dead) dripping in marigolds and jittering, dancing calacas (skeletons) through Nov. 4.

September 29, 2016

The Outsiders Ball — a mash-up of art, fashion, music and philanthropy — is about to celebrate its third year.

“I really wanted to start helping out abuse shelters,” says Tracy Sydor, host and local photographer (and occasional EW photo contributor), of the benefit’s origins. Sydor discovered Womenspace, a local nonprofit working to end domestic violence, and proceeds from the event have gone to the organization every year.

September 15, 2016

In a state like Oregon, where art classes are absent from a stunning portion of public schools, art nonprofits fill the gaps, tasked with cultivating communities and our youth in culture beyond football season. These art bodies are typically scrappy and chronically underfunded. To survive a decade is commendable. But to endure 40 years? That is nearing immortality. Lane Arts Council, Lane County’s arts nonprofit stalwart seated in Eugene, celebrates its ruby anniversary 6 to 9 pm Friday, Sept. 16, at the International Cafes at Fifth Street Public Market.

September 1, 2016

¡Viva La Cultura! If you lived in town for an extended period, you’ll notice a sort of pipeline runs between Oaxaca, Mexico, and Eugene, Oregon, with locals, snowbirds, writers and artists crossing paths back and forth across the border. Additionally, Lane County has a slow-but-steadily growing Hispanic population, increasing from 7.4 percent in 2010 to 8.5 percent in 2015, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

August 18, 2016

Mural mania: Eugene is becoming the mural mecca we always hoped it would, catching up to the flourishing walls of downtown Springfield. The Lane Arts Council hosts its 3rd Mural Bike Tour 10 am to noon Saturday, Aug. 20, spinning off at the Whiteaker Carpark South (5th Alley and Blair Boulevard).

August 4, 2016

Farewell New Zone: The New Zone Gallery opens August’s First Friday ArtWalk with its final show at its downtown location on Broadway (which it has called home for 10 years) with pieces from more than 70 artists, as well as a featured collection — Muses, Dreams and Wanderings — by artist Tom Capri. The come-one, come-all attitude of the gallery and its members has been a bright spot on Eugene’s arts horizon with beloved annual shows like the Salon du People.

July 28, 2016

Cereal and the City: New York pop artist Michael Albert is coming through Eugene with his traveling exhibition, including workshops, 1:30 to 4 pm Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the Hult Center plaza; FREE. Albert is perhaps best known for his cubist cereal box collages, or cerealisim, and his knack for using junk, from junk mail to old business labels to the Frosted Flakes box that started it all.

July 21, 2016

If you haven’t seen the work of self-taught local artist Larry Hurst, get thee to Corvallis for an opening reception of his solo exhibit, What He Sees, 4 to 8 pm Thursday, July 21, at the ArtWorks Gallery, 408 S.W. Monroe Street; FREE. His swirling landscapes and remarkable use of color could have been born out of the wild expressionism of the early-20th-century Fauves, while a fellow EW writer told me his paintings looked Van Gogh-y. Either way, his work is a breath of fresh air over the mountains.

July 14, 2016

How is the American identity defined today? When a certain Fanta-faced presidential nominee is targeting American minorities with threats of deportation or supporting heightened “security” of browner neighborhoods, the question takes on a new urgency. Two artists, Victoria Suescum and Lee Michael Peterson, tackle the question by exploring their identities as Latin@s (the gender neutral term for people of Latin American roots) within American culture in the new ¿Identity? exhibit up through Sept.

June 30, 2016

Pop surrealism descends on Eugene: Gallery newcomer the Alexi Era Gallery, tucked neatly between downtown and the Whiteaker (at 245 W. 8th Ave.), joins the festivities for First Friday ArtWalk 5:30 to 8 pm Friday, July 1. Owner and curator Aunia Kahn recently relocated the gallery from St. Louis, where it was part of the pop surrealism — a descendent of low-brow art — and new contemporary art movement. This gallery could be a huge boon for the edgier corners of the local art community, as remaining galleries in Eugene tend to show more traditional, safer works.

June 23, 2016

June 9, 2016

Purple pages: Storm Entertainment, a Portland-based comic and graphic novel company, has just released the comic book biography Tribute: Prince in honor of the late artist and his June 7 birthday. Michael Frizell wrote the 24-page comic and Ernesto Lovera and Vincenzo Sansone created the art. “His sound and lyrics defined the era for me in ways that Michael Jackson didn’t and, quite frankly, couldn’t,” Frizell says via press release.

June 2, 2016

With the sun shining more often than not these days, it’s primo mural-painting time. The Whiteaker Community Art Team has a mural going up at 4th and Blair. Half a block north, CALC (Community Alliance of Lane County) is celebrating its 50th anniversary by creating a new mural with the theme of “50 years of struggle for social justice.” Prolific local muralist Bayne Gardner will work with youth to paint that mural in CALC’s front yard, to be debuted during the Whiteaker Art Walk Aug. 26.

May 19, 2016

The Maude Kerns Art Center opens Photography at Oregon Commitment to Vision: 50th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibit 6 to 8 pm Friday, May 20. The late Bernard Freemesser, a longtime photography professor at the University of Oregon, started Photography at Oregon, a fine arts photography exhibit at the UO in 1966. The 50th anniversary show features the work of more than 80 artists including Ansel Adams, Brian Lanker, Barbara Morgan, Mary Ellen and Brett Weston.