Any way the wind blows: fresh air in town

UPDATE: Barry Johnson reviews TopShakeDance’s “Gust” on Arts Dispatch.

TopShakeDance's Dana Detweiler in "Gust." Photo: Todd StephenTodd Stephen

By Bob Hicks

Feels like spring. Finally. Mr. Scatter is cavorting about town in short-sleeve shirts, anticipating the day after the Rose Festival’s Grand Floral Parade, when the rains might taper off for good and we can start thinking about summer. O gray, gray Puddletown: We’ve had about enough of you. Let the colors begin.

In this morning’s Oregonian Mr. Scatter reviews Gust, the new hour-long piece by Jim McGinn’s contemporary dance troupe TopShakeDance, at Conduit. Gust is also weather-driven: It’s about wind, which can be fierce in the skeleton of winter but really knows no season, and it’s quite good. Repeats tonight and next Thursday-Saturday, May 26-28. Tickets here.

Also recent in The Oregonian: In Friday’s A&E section Mr. Scatter reviewed the latest show by painter Jay Backstrand, one of the Oregon art scene’s grand old lions, and also provided a quick glimpse of recent work by a somewhat younger lion, Tom Cramer. Both exhibits are at Laura Russo Gallery through May 28.

The country ladder of success: Of course, around Puddletown a marginally nice day in spring is often an excellent excuse for a drive out the Columbia River Gorge, where the weather’s a little drier, the temperature’s a little warmer, and the views are slap-your-forehead spectacular. Plus, these days, there’s good coffee, good wine, and good stuff to eat.

Folks around Hood River have been busily promoting the valley’s spring charms, and one good bet looks to be Mosier artist John Maher‘s installation Running Fruit Ladders, a half-mile stretch of brightly colored 14-foot-tall orchard ladders that runs along Highway 35 (the back route to Mt. Hood) in front of the White House and Mt. Hood Winery. The ladders are continuing to run through May, so you still have a chance. Besides looking, we assume, really cool, the installation is a nice reminder of the high valley’s rich tradition of growing and harvesting some of the best fruit in the land. It’s also an obvious nod to Cristo and Jeanne-Claude‘s Running Fence, which famously rippled across Sonoma and Marin counties in the 1970s. Mr. Scatter had the great good fortune of running across that spectacular exhibition unawares, with no prior knowledge that it existed, and being utterly gobsmacked. The experience remains one of the artistic highlights of his life.

John Maher's "Running Fruit Ladders." Artist's rendition.

Photos, from top:

  • TopShakeDance’s Dana Detweiler in “Gust.” Photo: Todd Stephen.
  • John Maher’s installation “Running Fruit Ladders.” Artist’s rendition.