Eugene Weekly : Art Notes : 2.15.07

Tragedy for the Symphony

The Eugene Symphony musicians and board members were shocked and horrified on Monday morning when they were informed that two of the Symphony’s principals, Kjersten Oquist (viola) and Angela Svendsen (second violin), had been killed in a collision on I-5 with an allegedly drunk driver. A third Symphony principal, Kelly Gronli (oboe) was sitting in the rear of Oquist’s car and was injured. After consulting with the board and musicians, the Symphony decided to continue with Feb. 15’s sold-out concert with Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway because, the Symphony says, going forward will “honor orchestra members … who died tragically.” The evening’s program will be altered to include Edward Elgar’s Variation No. 9 from the Enigma Variations, and the Symphony will soon release information about memorial services and memorial funds for the young musicians. — Suzi Steffen


Saturated Patterns of Daily Life

An explosion of color so rich that I heard a viewer exclaim, “That makes me want to eat the painting!” marks the presence of “Proyecto Arte Maya Atitlán” now at Opus6ix. It’s not just the intense red of a watermelon or gold of corn that competes for attention; bird’s eye and ant’s eye perspectives mix with highly patterned depictions of everyday life and lore to emphasize the traditions and tales of the Tz’utuhil Maya who live in San Juan La Laguna, a town on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.

Exhibition sponsor David Mahoney, a local respiratory and massage therapist, became fascinated by the area’s art after he bought a painting in Mexico three years ago. He tracked down the provenance online and traveled to San Juan La Laguna, where he became friends with the show’s main artist, Diego Isaias Hernandez Mendez. Their friendship resulted in this show, sponsored by the Lane Arts Council and Mahoney, and Hernandez’ six-week trip to Oregon (he’s often at the show, working on new paintings). In all, 12 artists of Hernandez’ area, including his brother, sent their works to Eugene, and about 25 have already sold.

Hernandez, who worked with the English Language Learner classes of Amity Cleary-Evans at Agnes Stewart Middle School, wields color and pattern with ease. In Susto por El Fuego y La Llorona (above), he depicts villagers trying to harvest onions and catch fish at night. “It’s not a good time to be out,” he says, and so the spirit of fire from the volcano makes the villagers sick and afraid. “They need natural medicine or a shaman to help cure them,” he says, and Mahoney points out the fabled figure of La Llorona, weeping and playing the guitar. The repeated patterns of the onions, the curves of those carrying the heavy bundles and their densely colored and marked shirts, provide both frantic energy and a contrast with the paddles, canoes and scrawny dogs barking at the oppressive spirit of the fire.

Hernandez also paints luscious food displayed on depth-inducing shelves (Estanta) and the saturated colors of a woman on market day (Espalda, above left). Felipe Ujpan Mendoz’ Pescuedando Pollo Pulgadas (right) brings two older women plucking chicken into the realm of portraiture, and Domingo García Giado’s Dentista shows the agony of rural tooth removal. The show’s up through Feb. 28; don’t miss the opportunity to see these paintings or meet the warm, generous artist at the heart of the show.

More about the Mayan artists can be found at and you can see more photos of this exhibition at— Suzi Steffen


Viva La Cinéma!

Take a break from cramming for the Oscars (oh … is that just me?) with the Revolutionary Film Festival: Civil Liberties in a Time of Crisis, co-sponsored by the Civil Liberties Defense Center, American Constitution Society and the National Lawyers Guild. The two-day event takes place at the UO Law School and features an impressive list of films touching on timely and important topics. Selections include This is My Home, a documentary about still-displaced New Orleans residents; Education of Shelby Knox, about a 15-year-old girl, raised Southern Baptist, who becomes a fighter for sex education and gay rights in Texas; Forest for the Trees, about former Earth First! leader Judi Knox’s case against the FBI; and Fighting for Justice: The Coram Nobis Case, a documentary about Japanese-Americans who chose to be arrested rather than go to internment camps which will be introduced by the filmmaker, Gayle Yamada. Several other filmmakers will also introduce their works, and local civil rights attorney Lauren Regan is among the guests introducing other films. Screenings begin at 6 pm Friday, Feb. 16 and 10 am Saturday, Feb. 17 at 175 Knight Law, UO. ($2-$5 suggested donation per film.) See www.cldc.orgfor the full schedule. — Molly Templeton