Eugene Weekly : Arts Shorts : 8.9.07

Find Your Medium & Help the Arts

If you are experiencing a philanthropic and/or creative block in your life, you can do something about it — and support local art at the same time. Local artists collaborate on Aug. 11 and 12 to benefit the Midtown Arts Center. The company is seeking funding to purchase the Midtown Arts Center facility (at 16th and Willamette) in order to offer a permanent home to its current inhabitants. They include a whole constellation of local arts organizations: Dance Theatre of Oregon, Lane Arts Council, Oregon Mozart Players, Eugene Opera, Eugene Concert Choir, Eugene School of Ballet and Eugene Ballet.

In Outshining the Sun, a theater performance, Louisa Lindsay-Sprouse produces a feast of artistic mediums. Community artists will perform a Latin American folktale through storytelling, poetry, dance, music and stagecraft. On Sunday, there will be an afternoon performance of Outshining the Sun, followed by breakout sessions where people are welcome to come in and expand their creative horizons with the Urban Arts Retreat. Local artist Jean Hanna and other seasoned teachers will help students immerse themselves in three sessions of visual arts, music and creative writing. Hanna says she is excited to volunteer her time to the benefit because she feels that art is an important part of our everyday lives. “Story and art are inspirational and can help us find that creativity within ourselves,” she said. No experience is needed; just go in ready to get your artistic flow goin’ (and help the arts organizations keep their cash flow goin’). After the lessons, which culminate in a group art piece, everyone will gather at the Midtown Marketplace for dinner and music.

The Saturday performance begins at 7:30 pm. The Sunday performance and retreat is $35 if you are pre-registered and $40 at the door. Both will be held at 1590 Willamette Street. For more information, go to www.eugeneballet.orgKatie Cornell


Flamin’ Out!

No, this isn’t a Eugene Pride arts short (check out the What’s Happenin’ page for that info), but this weekend is the Eugene Glass School FlameOff. Starting on Friday, contestants and teams will fire up their creativity and create pieces ranging from the wildly inventive to the beautifully useful. Categories include sculpture and goblet, lathe, marble and paperweight (paperweight? Do people use those anymore?), and the most fun: wearables, with bead, pendant and bracelet subcategories.

The rules, which no doubt make sense to those who stand up to 2200-degree furnaces with impunity, say things like, “Pre-made murrinis or millis by contestants is allowed.” That brought up the burning question of what the hell a murrini or a milli might be. Time to put in a call to the Eugene Glass School, where Gallery and Registrations Manager Samantha Pritchard says, “It’s millifiore, the Italian word for ‘million flowers.’ It’s premade cane, where you start from the middle and add layers to it around the outside, like Femo.”

People use the cane to add color to their pieces, she says, or draw on glass with glass: “You can heat it up and smear a little color on.” And “You can add twisty cane too.”

This is no wimpy little event. Last year, 1,500 people from all over the Pacific Northwest came, and Pritchard says there were even a few East Coasters hanging out for the FlameOff, watching the 75 competitors. This year? “We’ve got twice as many pre-registered to compete as last year,” Pritchard notes. That’s good news for the school, which is a nonprofit started because the many, many glassblowers (and pipe makers) in Eugene wanted to learn to be glass artists. It offers classes from “Dichroic Beads” to “Developing Content and Narrative in Flameworked Glass.”

And yes, it’s a warm, warm experience. “There’s a lot of sweating out there!” Pritchard says, though before the competition begins at 10 am on Friday, Aug. 10, the school is installing a “swamp cooler,” she adds. Maybe the next FlameOff should be held in February? “It’s really nice in the winter!” Pritchard agrees. Friday’s competitions will go late, she predicts, and on Saturday after the competition, there’s a big barbecue and party with a DJ (flameworker Devon Sommerville) and a bar. The whole thing’s a fundraiser for the school and looks like a whole lot of fun for spectators and competitors alike.

The FlameOff starts at 10 am Friday, Aug. 10 and Saturday, Aug. 11 and runs until it’s finished, with a party beginning at 7 pm on Saturday and an awards brunch on Sunday where over $12,000 worth of prizes will be given out. For tix ($10 per day or $25 for the entire event), call 342-2959 or head over to 575 Wilson St. on Friday morning. — Suzi Steffen