Collaboration is key in seeing the arts thrive, which is why it’s great to see Lane Arts Council partnering with Eugene Ballet Company for First Friday ArtWalk. EBC Managing Director Riley Grannan guest hosts February’s crawl, starting 5:30 pm at The Gallery at the Watershed (321 Mill St.) for the “Winter Invitational” show featuring the work of some of its local power players — Lillian Almeida, showing the bold graffiti-esque abstracted “Forgive Me,” a departure from her figurative work; Heather Halpern and her moody, atmospheric charcoal landscapes (look for “Last Stand”); Bill Brewer with his brilliantly awkward people plopped in surreal acrylic environs (the panoramic “The Bird, The Fish, The Mineral” is a treat). Following on the guided tour are stops at Jo Morton’s shop and studio OH SO JO, MECCA, Jacob’s Gallery and OSLP’s Lincoln Gallery, where the work of renowned assemblage artist Michael deMeng will be on view. It’s worth venturing off the guided tour to see gorgeous 19th-Century Japanese woodblock prints of “famous women, courtesans and kabuki actors” at White Lotus Gallery (767 Willamette), the artwork of students from Springfield’s Academy of Arts & Academics at The Boreal (450 W. 3rd) and Sizzle Pie’s first show (in partnership with The Barn Light and Behavior Castle), “Love Bites II: The Re-entry,” with work by 25 artists including Eugene’s Katie Aaberg, Sabrina Elliott and Samuel Rules at the Broadway Commerce Center Atrium.
Arts networking: With a new board of directors, Eugene Springfield Art Project hosts the ESAP General Meeting to connect artists, introduce a new art-curating program and more 7 pm Thursday, Feb. 5, at the NEDCO Hatch Program building, Springfield (405 A St.). Meanwhile, city of Eugene Cultural Services, Lane Arts Council and Oregon Community Foundation introduce a new event series, A-L-E-S (Arts Leaders of Eugene & Springfield), for “networking, kibitzing and collaboration with other local arts leaders, workers and supporters” 4:30 to 6:30 pm Thursday, Feb. 12, at Falling Sky Pour House & Deli (790 Blair Blvd.). See facebook.com/groups/ArtsLeadersES for details.
Guard your gullets: Eugene Opera may not be presenting Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street until March 13 at the Hult, but kicking off Feb. 6, a month of Sweeney Todd-centric events are happening citywide. Venture over to the Eugene Public Library for an exhibit on the oeuvre of Sondheim, perhaps America’s most beloved musical-theater composer who, in addition to penning his version of Todd, has racked up awards for Into the Woods, Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and many more. Lane County Historical Society hosts a corresponding exhibit, History of Theatre in Lane County, Feb. 7 through March 31. Starting Feb. 15, keep your eyes peeled for Sweeney Todd-themed downtown storefronts, presented by Downtown Eugene Merchants.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but UO Architecture Professor James Tice spent a decade creating interactive online maps of the Eternal City. Tice gives the winter 2015 Presidential Research Lecture, “Mapping Rome: Portraits of a City,” 5 pm Friday, Feb. 6, at the UO’s Lawrence Hall, Room 177; free. The website Tice helped create, The Interactive Nolli Map (nolli.uroregon.edu), has garnered international attention with its illuminating search engine of maps from antiquity to today.
Need some good news in these gloomy February days? This will surely brighten Lane County: The U.S. Department of Education Arts in Education has granted $2.2 million to ArtCore, a “sustainable arts integration model” developed by Springfield Public Schools, the Educational Policy Improvement Center and Lane Arts Council, which will be implemented in five Lane County Schools — Oaklea Middle School (Junction City), Hamlin Middle School (Springfield), Kelly Middle School (Eugene 4J), Cascade Middle School (Bethel) and Network Charter School (Eugene). A press release from Lane Arts Council’s Liora Sponko says, “Each of these schools faces increasing challenges to provide arts-rich learning experiences in support of their students’ academic achievement. Nearly 2,000 students will participate in this program over the course of four years.”
In other arts-funding news, Oregon Arts Commission has announced $200,000 in Arts Build Communities Grants statewide. Local recipients include: Eugene Springfield Art Project ($3,000) to fund the second annual Chalk Fest in downtown Springfield; the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art ($5,800) for its Club de Arte para Mamás program that “offers free art workshops and childcare for Latina mothers”; Lane Arts Council ($7,000) for Fiesta Cultural — “a countrywide initiative to celebrate Latino arts and culture,” which will be “accomplished through Latino focused music and art events during four Art Walks in Lane County during September 2015.”
Eugene’s West African Cultural Arts Institute (WACAI) has debuted a shiny new website designed by local web company UplinkSpyder and made possible by a grant from Lane County Cultural Coalition’s Cultural Opportunity Fund. Visit westafricanculturalarts.org for info on classes, performances, volunteering and more.