Cascadia Composers May the Fourth be with you Bold new music for winds and piano Lincoln Recital Hall PSU Portland Oregon

ArtsWatch Weekly: Keeping the beat going

It's year-end donation time. Help us keep the arts clock ticking. Also: Whole lotta holiday shows goin' on.


AS THE HOLIDAY SEASON GETS INTO SWING and the end of the calendar year approaches, I’m turning over the top of this week’s column to Laura Grimes, ArtsWatch’s talented executive director, who says this better than I can:


I’m incredibly proud of the phenomenal work my colleagues publish every day on ArtsWatch. We never sleep. And I mean that. I wake up in the morning and new stories are up, as if elves have been working in the night. 

I work with the best editors, the best writers, the best photographers. It’s a giant labor of love to bring you quality independent arts journalism – the criticism, news, profiles, and heart-warming essays that are hard to find anywhere else as traditional news outlets continue to shrink dramatically.

Donations from you make all that possible. We’ve doubled in size in three years, and we still find it hard to keep up. This is what you can look forward to in the coming months: 

– In January we are running 20 interviews for our Vision 2020 project, which evaluates the arts scene and forecasts how it might change in the years to come. Some of the stories are already in, and they’re as telling and insightful as you might expect. We’re pretty excited to share them with you.

– We’ll have expanded Visual Arts coverage in 2020, thanks to a generous grant from the Ford Family Foundation.

– We have more deeply reported stories in the works in our occasional series about the Art of Learning – how do art and education impact each other? – and the Art of Space: In an escalating real estate market, how and where do artists and arts groups find places to make and show their work?

As I said, we never sleep. Every penny of your donations pays for stories. Please join us as we prepare for another year of essential arts journalism and donate today.

My heartfelt thanks to you,
Laura Grimes
Executive Director

Give today. Keep the stories coming.

JOIN US AT ARTSWATCH. Become a member. Make a donation. It’s easy. Just press the “donate today” button below.

Thank you!


Getting a groove on with Tears of Joy puppet theater at Hayhurst Elementary, one of the schools that works the Right Brain way. Photo courtesy Right Brain Initiative

LAURA’S TALKED A BIT ABOVE ABOUT SOME OF THE STORIES we have in the works. Just a few of the writers who are hard at it already on some of those big pieces: David Bates, Lori Tobias, visual arts editor Laurel Reed Pavic, Stephanie Littlebird, Martha Daghlian, senior editor Brett Campbell, TJ Acena, architecture and planning writer Brian Libby, theater editor and columnist Marty Hughley, Angela Allen, Bobby Bermea, Danielle Vermette. You’ll see lots from them and many others as 2020 rolls around.

In the meantime, the beat goes on. Vermette, for instance, has had two major stories published this week. In The Right Brain for learning, which is part of our Art of Learning series, she digs deeply into the ideas and actualities of the innovative Right Brain Initiative, which is helping to transform learning in schools in Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah counties by integrating the arts as a way to unlock the study of all disciplines. And in her wry and funny and insightful ZooZoo, straight from the polar bear’s mouth, she reveals from the inside, as someone who toured nationally and internationally for a decade as part of Imago’s menagerie of frogs, anteaters, penguins, and other critters, why this costume fantasy continues to delight fans young and old.


Chamber Music Northwest Imani Winds and BodyVox Beautiful Everything The Reser Beaverton Oregon

Sunday, Dec. 15: flamenco at the Aladdin Theater. Photo: Michael Miyahara

There are Nutcrackers, of course: Oregon Ballet Theatre’s lush and vivid Balanchine version, which continues at Keller Auditorium; and a version on film by the great Bolshoi Ballet; and even a Nutcracker Tea from the youth company Northwest Dance Theatre. Jamuna Chiarini’s December DanceWatch column has a lot more for the coming week, too, from flamenco at the Aladdin to Babes in Toyland in Eugene to NW Dance Project’s Winter Wonders and more. 

Käthe Kollwitz at The Getty in Los Angeles. Photo: Friderike Heuer

We’ve had our eyes this week on the wonders and inscrutabilities of the visual arts, too. In Memories of Michael, Paul Sutinen provides a loving and moving portrait of his longtime artist friend Michael Bowley, who died last month at 72. Friderike Heuer got out of town to take in a major show of work by the great German modernist Käthe Kollwitz at The Getty in Los Angeles, and also to revisit, in her photographic essay Art on the Road: Kollwitz in L.A., the cultural and architectural controversies over the Getty complex’s siting as an isolated Fortress on the Hill overlooking Brentwood and the rest of the sprawling city. And in No Human Involved: Art by sex workers tells a complex story, Kyle Cohlmia reviews a show of serious cultural and artistic intent at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

From Amanda Lee’s video Daughter, in No Human Involved. Image courtesy PICA

Music editor and columnist Matthew Neil Andrews gets all holidayish in reverent and irreverent fashion with MusicWatch Holidays: Naughty and Nice, his Christmas wrapup of concerts and cabarets from the sacred to the profane. “Portland and environs may be known for a certain sassy grouchiness, but we’re also known for having more choral ensembles than Santa has ununionized elves,” Andrews notes. “Almost all of them are celebrating the holiday season one way or another in the next few weeks.” And choral concerts are only the beginning.

Tony Starlight celebrates a quarter-century of Christmas season lounge-lizarding.

December is also, of course, a month of jollity both forced and genuine on the stages of pretty much every city across America, and in DramaWatch: Holidays for days! Marty Hughley puts his stamp on a whole lot of seasonal shows, from the new Victorian mystery The Christmas Case at the Chapel Theatre to Milagro’s A Xmas Cuento Remix (which “sneaks into your heart”) and several more. Of Jennifer Goldsmith in Broadway Rose’s musical revue It Happened One Christmas, Hughley writes: “In a fine cast of singers all around, Goldsmith’s more nuanced phrasing brings a much needed sense of personality and charm.”

The “truly engaging” Jennifer Goldsmith (and giant candy canes) in the musical revue It Happened One Christmas at Broadway Rose. Photo: Sam Ortega

And finally, just because we like the picture, ZooZoo essayist Danielle Vermette inside her polar bear suit:

The performer and writer romps in the snow. Photo courtesy Danielle Vermette


Just one way the Trust donation works: Astoria’s Liberty Theatre will receive $8,685 from the Oregon Cultural Trust in 2020 to develop a marketing plan to increase ticket sales and overall revenue. Photo courtesy Liberty Theatre

LORI TOBIAS TALKS WITH NIKI PRICE ABOUT SHOES AND SHIPS and sealing wax – or rather, saving on tax. Price wears dual hats as co-chair of the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition and vice-chair of the Oregon Cultural Trust, and in Giving that’s too good to be true she talks about the advantages of the Trust’s donation-matching program. In a nutshell, if you give money by the end of the calendar year to any on a long list of nonprofit organizations in Oregon –let’s just say, oh, Oregon ArtsWatch, for example – and match that gift to the Trust, you get back the entire amount of the Trust donation from your tax bill. “People just don’t believe it. It sounds too good to be true. I have explained the trust tax credit many times, and it’s kind of funny, really. I explain it and they say, ‘You mean a deduction?’ I say, ‘No, not a deduction, it’s a full credit.'” Happy holidays.


Cascadia Composers May the Fourth be with you Bold new music for winds and piano Lincoln Recital Hall PSU Portland Oregon

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

Portland Opera Puccini in Concert Keller Auditorium Portland Oregon
Portland Center Stage at the Armory Coriolanus Portland Oregon
Cascadia Composers May the Fourth be with you Bold new music for winds and piano Lincoln Recital Hall PSU Portland Oregon
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