Tag Archives: Third Angle

Trouble in Tahiti: Witness for the persecution

Jose Rubio as Sam and Daryl Freedman as Dinah in "Trouble in Tahiti."  Photo: Portland Opera/Cory Weaver

Counsel, call your next witness.

Your honor, Leonard Bernstein calls Claudio Monteverdi to the stand. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Mr. and Mrs. Scatter went to the opera over the weekend, where Bernstein’s 1952 Trouble in Tahiti followed Monteverdi’s Il Ballo delle Ingrate (The Dance of the Ungrateful Women) from 1608 and Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (The Battle of Tancredi & Clorinda) from 1624, and it got Mr. S to thinking about observers. It was pretty hard not to. There they were, he observed, skulking about the stage: gray, grotesque, kind of creepy, very sad. Tormented souls stuck somewhere between the passions of the flesh and the soul-sucking chill of the Underworld.

Claudio Monteverdi, circa 1597, by an anonymous artist, (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Thought to be the earliest known image of Monteverdi, at about age 30, painted when he was still at the Gonzaga Court in Mantua. Wikimedia CommonsWitnesses — those “I alone am escaped to tell you” chroniclers of catastrophe and adventure — are crucial figures in the world of the imagination. From the cautioning choruses of Greek tragedies to Melville’s wide-eyed sailor Ishmael, we’re used to the idea of the witness as a cornerstone of civilized life.

What really happened? Who saw it? How can we determine the truth? What does it mean?

 Leonard Bernstein, conductor and musical director of New York City Symphony, 1945. Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. Fred Palumbo, World Telegram staff photographerFrom the lofty perch of the present we stand as witnesses to time, looking back on history, rewriting it as we gain new reports from the trenches and rethink what we’ve already seen. We judge, revise, rejudge: In the courtroom of culture, the jury never rests.

But what if the past looks forward and witnesses us? What does it see? What can it mean?

That’s what happens in Portland Opera‘s new production of these three short works, which span roughly three and a half centuries in their composition and many more — back to the cavortings of the classical Greek gods — in their subject matter. Stage director Nicholas Muni, whose last visit here resulted in a hair-raisingly good version of Benjamin Britten‘s The Turn of the Screw, has linked these seemingly alien pieces audaciously in time and space, rendering them chapters in a neverending story of misbegotten love. And those gray grotesque observers are the key.

David Stabler and Mr. Mead have filed insightful reviews (with very different conclusions), and Mr. Scatter does not wish to add a formal review to territory they’ve covered well. But he does want to think a little about those witnesses.

Continue reading Trouble in Tahiti: Witness for the persecution

The dirty little secret behind the dirty little secret martinis

Dirty little secret martini/Wikimedia CommonsI have a dirty little secret. It’s so dirty I don’t even add commas between adjectives.

It starts out innocently enough. I poke around the fridge and come across a jar with a few floaty thingies and a bunch of brine. And I realize the fridge is full of jars with a few floaty thingies and a bunch of brine. And then I determine to do something about it.

“Honey, are you thirsty?”


“We have too many floaty thingies.”

Mr. Scatter gives me that look through his eyebrows. He mildly shakes his head.

“We have a problem here!” I get a little defensive. I’m a bit sensitive about My Issue and I’m looking for some sympathy. Mr. Scatter knows I have a dreadful disability. Making fun of such an acute condition is not humane.

Continue reading The dirty little secret behind the dirty little secret martinis

The meaning (or not) of Tick Tack Type


What’s it all about, Alfie?

After a Friday evening of loosely organized chance in the company of Third Angle New Music Ensemble (the program included Terry Riley‘s endlessly mutable In C; California composer Mark Applebaum‘s similarly open-ended exploration of alternative musical “reading,” The Metaphysics of Notation; and Portland composer David Schiff‘s exhilaratingly jazz-charged Mountains/ Rivers, which takes inspiration from In C) we’re feeling a bit unmoored.

Since we’re in free-float anyway, this seems like a good time to check in on Imago.

One of the terrific side benefits when Jerry Mouawad develops a new show is that he thinks long and hard about what he’s doing, and then he writes about it online. Anyone who wants to take a peek can get an inside look into one of Portland’s most fertile creative minds. Mouawad, Imago’s co-founder with Carol Triffle, spills his thoughts on the company blog. The spilling isn’t always easy, because, ever aware of the virtues of theatrical suspense, Mouawad really wants to hold onto the beans.

“I assume this blog is vague since I am not divulging any of the action,” he writes about his new show, Tick Tack Type. “I apologize for this, but I am doing this for your sake (that is if you plan to see the work.) By discussing the action I am robbing you of the experience of it. What I see in an action may not be what you see. I can say this about Tick Tack Type: in many ways it’s about “seeing” or “not seeing.”
Continue reading The meaning (or not) of Tick Tack Type

39 steps to a new and better Mr. Scatter

Leif Norby on the lam in "Alfred Hitchcock's 'The 39 Steps'" at Portland Center Stage. Photo: OWEN CAREY

It’s been a busy few days around Scattertown.

First, on Thursday night, Mr. and Mrs. Scatter took a break from the gala festivities of Science Night at Irvington Elementary School to scoot up the hill to Talisman Gallery on Alberta, where their friend Cibyl Shinju Kavan was having an opening of new assemblages. Scrolls, bamboo, feathers and rocks figure into the work, which is quite pleasing.

Cibyl Shinju Kavan at Talisman GalleryThen, at midday Friday, the Scatter duo showed up at the Gerding Theater in the Armory to see dancer Linda Austin and her cohort J.P. Jenkins tear up the joint with a fascinating visual, musical and movement response to Mark Applebaum‘s elegant series of notational panels, The Metaphysics of Notation, which has been ringing the mezzanine railings above the Gerding lobby for the past month. Every Friday at noon someone has been interpreting this extremely open-ended score, and this was the final exploration. California composer Applebaum will be one of the featured artists this Friday at the Hollywood Theatre in the latest concert by Third Angle New Music Ensemble, the band of contemporary-music upstarts for whom Mrs. Scatter toils ceaselessly.

Austin and Jenkins began by racing around the mezzanine and literally playing the hollow-steel guard rail, which was quite fun. They moved from pre-plotted base to pre-plotted base, always coming up with surprises, as the small crowd followed like Hamelin rats mesmerized by a piper’s tune. Mr. Scatter enjoyed the red fuzzy bargain-store microphone and the Sneezing Chorus and especially the shower of discarded clothing items floating down from the mezzanine into the path of the startled flower-delivery guy in the lobby below. Mr. Scatter took no photos, partly because the little camera doohickey on his cellular telephone is pretty much useless for anything more complicated than an extreme closeup snapshot of an extremely still object, and partly because he was just having too much fun to bother. But Lisa Radon of ultra was more disciplined and took some fine shots which you can ogle on her site.

On Friday evening
it was back to the Gerding for opening night of Portland Center Stage‘s comedy Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The 39 Steps,’ which takes the 1935 movie thriller and blows it to preposterous proportions.

Continue reading 39 steps to a new and better Mr. Scatter

Missing blogger found in woods near Obscurity, Oregon

St. Serafim of Sarov and a bear in a fragment from the 1903 lithograph "Way to Sarov." Wikimedia Commons

Yes, it’s true. Mr. Scatter has been missing from action for some time now. Perhaps you’ve noticed. He doesn’t go out, he never calls his friends, he ignores his children, he lets the dirty dishes sit in the sink, he NEVER WRITES. Yada yada yada.

Truth is, he did not go to meditate in the woods, and the bears didn’t eat him. It’s just that he’s been carrying this thing on his back — let’s call it the Modestly Big Project, or MBP — that’s been screaming for his attention and keeping him from his normal rounds. Or at least, keeping him from writing about his normal rounds.

So let’s catch up.

Yesterday Mr. Scatter tucked the MBP’s head on a pillow for a much-needed rest and took a whirl in his modest white automobile to the grocery emporium. On the way he realized he wouldn’t mind a cup of coffee — a nice cafe au lait crossed his mind — and maybe a little pastry-ish thingie to go with it. He spotted a likely-looking spot in a Neighborhood of Aspiring Hipness and swung in.

Almost immediately Mr. Scatter realized he did not meet the establishment’s cool-factor code. Despite his flannel-lined jeans and disintegrating shoes, he was insufficiently slack. His head was conspicuously neat from a two-day-old haircut, and not only was the shirt he happened to be wearing tucked in, it also had a collar with little brown buttons at the tips. They were actually buttoned.

“You gonna have that for here?” the whelp at the counter inquired, in a tone that conveyed his sincere hope otherwise. Mr. Scatter stood his ground, and found a table, and picked up a copy of a small local publication called Willamette Week. Soon he found himself chuckling.

He was reading a review by Aaron Mesh of the new Harrison Ford/Brendan Fraser movie Extraordinary Measures, which was apparently filmed in Portland, and Mr. Mesh had struck an exquisite balance between gentle appreciation and the art of poking fun. He noted with approval Mr. Ford’s tendency to shout in irritation at pretty much any and everything. Mr. Scatter had already witnessed Mr. Ford doing just that, in television commercials for the movie, and it was a pretty scary sight. Reading about it was probably more fun than actually sitting through the film. And a whole lot more fun than the little coffee shop Mr. Scatter will not be visiting again.

Mr. Mesh’s review made Mr. Scatter feel a little better about the fate of dead trees, a gloomy topic that had come to mind earlier in the morning when he picked up his Oregonian and discovered, for the second time in four days, a front-page wraparound (it’s called a spadea in the biz) trumpeting the newspaper’s editorial-page objections to state Measures 66 and 67. We’re getting used to this form of advertising. If it’s a Fred Meyer ad, Mr. Scatter checks to see if there are any sales on things he usually buys, then dutifully deposits the thing in the recycling bin.

But this ad, featuring headlines and copy from The Oregonian itself, looked at first and even second glance not like an advertisement at all but like a front-page editorial endorsement. Mr. Scatter was actually shocked, if far from awed.

Wednesday’s version put the words “Paid Advertisement” in bigger and bolder print at the top, but it didn’t amount to much more than a better grade of wallpaper over the gaping hole in the newspaper’s ethical wall. The publisher’s argument that the spadea space was just as available to proponents as to opponents of the measures was disingenuous. Newspapers make qualitative decisions every day about what is and is not acceptable in advertising copy. At least, they used to. Nothing is more important to a newspaper than its reputation for integrity, which must be guarded zealously.

Mr. Scatter understands that these are difficult times for newspapers, but what these wraparounds cost The Oregonian in reputation was not worth the quick paycheck.

The answer is simple. Keep the spadea, but for commercial advertisers. Make the front-page wraparound unavailable for any political advertising, of any stripe, on any issue, from any source, at any time. Just say no.


Since we last talked at any length Mr. Scatter has spent a little time in a town some miles south of Portland known to locals as “San Francisco.”

A small corner of curliques at the Queen Anne HotelHe found it a pretty little place, with lots of hills and a pleasant small-town feel, and he particularly enjoyed a local delicacy of deep-fried crabmeat shaped into something like a drumstick and attached to a claw. Rumor has it that the dish has Chinese origins, although the crab itself was definitely Dungeness. In the evenings Mr. Scatter found himself shacked up in the shabby-chic splendor of the Queen Anne Hotel, near the crest of Sutter Street. The interior is like a giant overstuffed spangly cat toy that’s been knocked around a bit, and in its own way it’s really quite splendid. Mr. Scatter took a few shaky snapshots with his cell phone and sent them to Mrs. Scatter, who was amazed and envious.


Several evenings ago Mr. Scatter escorted himself to the Newmark Theatre to see iChange, the latest show by the lively Polaris Dance Theatre. Polaris has been around quite a while but this was the first time Mr. Scatter had seen the company perform, and all in all it was a pleasant experience. Polaris has some good dancers who are dedicated to what they do, which is a highly accessible, very pop culture-oriented contemporary style of dancing, a little sexy but not raunchy, and just the sort of thing to attract enthusiastic initiates. Sort of like Fame a few years after graduation. Before and between performances the audience was invited to whip out its cell phones and send Tweets and other instant text messages, which were then posted on a large screen on the stage. Mr. Scatter refrained, but he didn’t mind the activity, which seemed quite popular in other seats.

Last night Mr. Scatter attended a meeting of the board of Portland Taiko, the excellent performing organization with which he is associated, and spoke with other august personages of Important Things.

This very evening, Thursday, he will motor to the World Forestry Center for White Bird‘s dance presentation by two of Portland’s finest, the cerebral Tere Mathern and the sinuous Minh Tran, who reveals to The Oregonian that these performances, through Sunday, will be his final as a dancer; he’ll move full-time into dancemaking instead.

On Friday night Mr. Scatter’s destination is Kaul Auditorium at Reed College for the latest show by Third Angle New Music Ensemble, the splendid troupe for whom Mrs. Scatter toils night and day. This will be an evening of mostly new works by several Northwest composers, and it has a literary theme: Narrators include the actors David Loftus and Michele Mariana, plus the distinguished Ursula K. LeGuin, reading her own story A Ride on the Red Mare’s Back to a score by Bryan Johanson. This is what’s known as the payoff.

Sunday afternoon, Mr. Scatter scampers to Artists Repertory Theatre to take in the premiere production of Susan Banyas‘s performance piece The Hillsboro Story, which hurtles us back to 1954 and a key moment — one that Ms. Banyas, as a third-grader in her Ohio home town, witnessed — in America’s civil rights movement.

If you happen to be at any of these events and spot Mr. Scatter wandering about, do say hello. He promises to leave the bear in the woods.

Up against the wall: Polaris prepares to scale the heights. Photo: Brian McDonnell/BMAC Photography

Photos, from top:

  • Not Mr. Scatter, who actually never was lost in the woods. Not in recent years, anyway. This is a fragment of a 1903 lithograph, “Way to Sarov,” that depicts St. Serafim of Sarov communing with a friendly bear. Mr. Scatter would not do this thing. Wikimedia Commons.
  • One curlicued corner from the spacious lobby of San Francisco’s Queen Anne Hotel, which is curly from its overstuffed stem to its overstuffed stern.
  • Up against the wall: Polaris prepares to scale the heights. Photo: Brian McDonnell/BMAC Photography

Schlepping high culture in the Large Smelly Boymobile

Haiqiong Deng, zheng (but not Dungeons & Dragons) virtuoso

Haiqiong Deng, zheng (but not Dungeons & Dragons) virtuoso.

While my brain has been on sizzle
in other realms of the arts world, apparently a blog has been going on in my own house. The entire world can check in on what my current first husband has been up to, but I’m afraid to say I’ve been rather ignorant about it.

I feel a little sheepish about writing, actually. Recently, Mr. Scatter wisely and broadly covered America’s current fascination with Chinese culture, Martha Ullman West (otherwise known as Art Scatter’s highest paid correspondent) boldly encompassed the week’s vast dance scene and … me? Well, let me tell you about Cheez-Its.


A week ago Monday, Haiqiong Deng took a break from her concert tour to fly in from Boston and perform in Third Angle‘s China Music Now concerts.

United Airlines Boieng 767-300/Wikimedia CommonsHaiqiong (hiCHONG) is a virtuoso on the zheng (chung), an ancient Chinese instrument similar to a zither. Hers has 21 strings, each with a bridge that can be moved. For weeks it had been the big mystery instrument to me. I knew it was big, but I didn’t know how big. I couldn’t wait to hear what it sounded like.

When the Third Angle staff (I’m the managing director) were figuring who could pick her up from the airport, we had two questions to consider: Who wasn’t playing in the symphony that night, and who has a vehicle long enough to fit a zheng in it.

Guess what? I won.

A prime example of low cultureI was thrilled. And then panic set in. Did I have enough time to clean up the Cheez-Its?

Once a week, Mr. Scatter picks up six Large Smelly Sixth-Graders and schleps them to Dungeons and Dragons. You’ve heard of Soccer Moms? He’s a D&D Dad.

The boys pile in and then immediately grab for snacks and juice boxes. They’re usually pretty good about stuffing the trash into the garbage sack, but it’s six boisterous boys and crumbs fly.

A few hours before I was to meet Haiqiong at the airport, I realized I wouldn’t have time to get the van cleaned, but I had a few minutes to give it a once-over and open up the cargo hold. It was dusk and getting hard to see, but as soon as I plunked the back seat down one brilliant-orange square Cheez-It practically glowed.

I picked it up, noticed the van’s bulging trash sack and then threw it all in a garbage can. I took note that I didn’t have a replacement bag, but I told myself I’d worry about it later.


The baggage claim area at Portland International Airport has a sign: “Many bags look alike, please check tags.”

Haiqiong and I were chatty nonstop. People were everywhere, lots of luggage was going around the conveyer belt and we were chatty chatty chatty. She stopped at one point and grabbed a big suitcase off the belt and then we went on chatting. I occasionally eyed the conveyer belt for what I knew must be a hard-to-miss large something. I was curious. This was an important piece of Third Angle’s program. We flew her in specially to play it. What did it look like?

The crowd got thinner and thinner. The luggage disappeared bit by bit. And we continued to chat.

Dungeons & Dragons miniatures: NOT high culture/Wikimedia CommonsAnd then after a while, I got this eerie feeling. I looked around. Nobody was there and not a single piece of luggage was going around the belt. Where was it?

As I tried to quell this horribly unsettled feeling, I looked everywhere and then looked some more. I finally noticed a corral of luggage in a restricted area in a far corner. I got closer. No weird overlarge bag. I got closer. Nothing but rising panic. I got closer. And finally … it came into view: Behind a mound of luggage one really long green bag sat by itself. Relief washed over me.

When I told a uniformed worker the green bag was ours, she pointed to a green suitcase and said, “You mean that one?”

“No,” I said, pointing, “THAT one.” She took one look at the bag — about one foot by two feet by six feet plus — and waved me around the barrier to get it myself.

The zheng was surprisingly light.


On Thursday morning I fired up the van, started to pull out of the driveway and then hit the brakes. I pulled back into the driveway, walked into the house and stood in front of Mr. Scatter. He looked up.

The Large Smelly Boymobile (or reasonable facsimile)“You need the van. It’s D&D day. And by the way, it doesn’t have any gas. Sorry. Gotta go.”

But early in the afternoon in the office it hit me. The van had a bunch of boxes in it that I needed, including one very important sign for the concert that night. Mr. Scatter probably wouldn’t be back from D&D in time for me to get it. And I had left the back seat folded down so that there weren’t enough seats for the Large Smelly D&D Boys.

I made a phone call. How to get the boxes? Mr. Scatter had just filled the van with gas, he had put the back seat up and would drop by the office. Gawd, I love this man.


This is not Haiqiong Deng's zheng. It's the one on Wikimedia Commons.“Can you schlep the zheng?” the Not-So-Mysterious Jane said after the concert late Friday night. “It needs to get back to the hotel.”

“Schlep the zheng? Sure.”

I walked to get the van, my heels clicking on the sidewalk. When I opened it and looked around I suddenly remembered I had never replaced the garbage sack and the whole D&D gang had been in the van the day before. The back seat was littered with empty Cheez-It bags and juice cartons. I quickly stuffed it all in the snack bag and stashed it under a console.

It would have to do. It was time to schlep the zheng and one world-class virtuoso.

— Laura Grimes

China rising: Shen Wei, Tan Dun, Third Angle, Isaac Stern, and the smashing of the Cultural Revolution

Wanfujing Street, Beijing: 100,000 visitors a day. Nggsc/Wikimedia Commons

For every now, there is a then. China, of course, has many thens, but two are on my mind right now: the then of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, which might have outdone Stalin in its attempt to eradicate culture and replace it with ideology; and the then of the big melt, which began with Mao’s death in 1976 and gave birth to China’s rapid ascent to its current level of world power and influence.

Right now, the art of China seems everywhere. And it’s not just the ancient art of terra cotta soldiers and jade figurines. There’s a sense in the rest of the world that we have entered the Chinese Century, and if Beijing is the new Athens/Rome/London/New York, we’d better figure out what’s going on in the place.

Ji Ji, Hi Panda, 2006/Pole Design. Portland Art Museum's "China Design Now."The Portland Art Museum, in a show assembled by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, heralds the arrival of China Design Now. (“Now” is really then, but a recent then: The show was aimed to coincide with last year’s Beijing Olympics and to capture the wave of commercial and aesthetic design in the world’s most populous country, a wave that inevitably has since washed on.)

In New York, Carnegie Hall is hosting a Chinese cultural festival it calls Ancient Paths, Modern Voices. Chinese composers and musicians have become stars of the international scene, and several are part of the Carnegie’s extended party. Tan Dun conducts his Violin concerto The Love on Monday night at Alice Tully Hall, with soloist Cho-Liang Lin. On Nov. 4 at Carnegie, the St. Louis Symphony performs Bright Sheng‘s Colors of Crimson and Tan Dun’s Water Concerto. This weekend’s headliners are Shen Wei Dance Arts, who will be in Portland Nov. 11 as part of the White Bird season. New York’s 21-day festival concludes Nov. 10 with pianist Lang Lang and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

This “now,” this flowering of Chinese cultural achievement, is an outgrowth of the restrictions of the Cultural Revolution and the intellectual relaxation of control that followed Mao’s death. A few months ago David Barboza recalled in the New York Times violinist Isaac Stern‘s 1979 visit to China, a celebrated journey that resulted in the documentary film From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China.

Beijing's ultramodern "Egg," the National Centre for the Performing Arts. Vera & Jean-Christophe/Wikimedia CommonsI remember that film well — the extreme, almost ecstatic enthusiasm of China’s musicians; Stern’s encouragement and good will; his sense that the older students and musicians he encountered — the ones who’d spent years being “reeducated” in peasant labor and cut off from contact with Western music — seemed technically correct but lacking passion in their playing.

Mao and his functionaries had virtually outlawed anything but traditional Chinese music, forcing musicians (and all sorts of other people) into what amounted to slave labor. Times were tough, and Barboza’s story in the Times quotes one older musician saying that the psychological brutalization during the Cultural Revolution was so harsh that 17 instructors at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music committed suicide.

So it was fascinating, at Friday night’s audience talkback following Third Angle New Music Ensemble‘s superb concert China Music Now at the art museum, to hear composer Ye Xiaogang‘s reply to a question about what effect the Cultural Revolution had had on him and other musicians who went through it. Continue reading China rising: Shen Wei, Tan Dun, Third Angle, Isaac Stern, and the smashing of the Cultural Revolution

Oregon Day of Culture: Shake your arty booty!

Basic CMYK
Art Scatter has deep anthropological roots (when we say we’re cultural anthropologists, we’re not kidding) so we tend to think that every day is a day of culture.

But Cynthia Kirk of the Oregon Cultural Trust has reminded us that next Thursday, Oct. 8, is officially Oregon Day of Culture — and that, this being a government project, that “day” is actually an eight-day week that began yesterday and culminates on the 8th.

The ancient and venerable commissars of the Art Scatter Politburo know one place they’ll be packing their lunchbags of borscht and pelmini on the 8th: to The Old Church, where the sprightly Third Angle New Music Ensemble‘s string quartet will be performing a free noon concert of Ernest Bloch’s String Quartet No. 3 and selections from Zhou Long’s Chinese Folk Songs. Regular readers of A.S. may have noticed that Mrs. Scatter has recently become general manager of Third Angle.

As for today’s activities, we reprint Ms. Kirk’s press release. Go forth, and multiply across the face of the culture:

It’s October 2, National Arts & Humanities Month and the second day of a weeklong celebration of Oregon culture, culminating in Oregon Day of Culture on October 8 and marking the anniversary of Oregon’s unique cultural tax credit.

Ernest Bloch and children; date unknown. Wikimedia CommonsThe Oregon Cultural Trust organizes Oregon Day of Culture to encourage Oregonians to Celebrate! Participate! Give! in support of Oregon humanities, arts and heritage. Oregon Day of Culture asks Oregonians to consider the every day value of culture in every community.

Taken as a whole or by community, www.oregondayofculture.org comprises a fascinating and compelling bird’s eye view of Oregon culture’s diversity and vibrancy, in just one single week.

Just a few selections from the October 1 schedule:

  • Dedication of Oaks Bottom Mural, RACC, Portland, Noon
  • Ballet Fantastique’s Visions d’Amour – 10 Ballets in Paris, Eugene, 4 PM
  • Coos Art Museum’s Fall Fling for the Arts, Coos Bay, 5 PM
  • Common Ground, outdoor Flickr projection on the OSU campus, Corvallis, 5 PM
  • Teen Mystery Night, Hillsboro Public Library, 5 PM
  • This is Our Universe exhibition, KindTree production, Eugene, 5 PM
  • Sculptor Lee Kelly at PNCA, Portland, 6 PM
  • First Friday, Columbia Center for the Arts, Hood River, 6 PM
  • Street Painting Demonstration, Firehouse Gallery, Grants Pass, 6 PM
  • Music for the Arts, Umpqua Valley Arts Center, Roseburg, 6 PM
  • Celtic Music, Salem Public Library, 7 PM
  • A Ferry Tale, Frog Pond Grange, Wilsonville, 7 PM
  • Groovin’ Hard: Buddy Rich, Portland Jazz Orchestra, 7:30 PM
  • XY&Z: A Word Art Extravaganza, Write Around Portland, 7:30 PM
  • The Dining Room, Lumiere Players, The Heritage Center, Tualatin, 7:30
  • A Chorus Line, Stumptown Stages, Jefferson High School, Portland, 8 PM
  • Jazz at Newport, Newport Performing Arts Center, 8 PM
  • Plus a multitude of evening theater, music and dance performances in Ashland, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Portland, Eugene, Oregon City, Roseburg, Salem, Tigard

Greek Festival, Portland, All Day

Caw Pawa Laakni – They Are Not Forgotten, Támastslikt Cultural Institute, Pendleton, All Day

Linn Benton Community College Hispanic Heritage Month Exhibit, Albany, All Day

Culture Inspired Art, Coos Historical & Maritime Museum, North Bend, All Day

Oregon 150 Quilt Show, Benton County Historical Museum, Philomath, All Day

and much, more! Many Oregon Day of Culture events are free!


Inset photo: Ernest Bloch and children, date unknown. The composer spent his last years at Agate Beach, north of Newport on the Oregon Coast. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Now I’ve got that job: a back-breaker before it begins

The Crooked Man, Project Gutenberg

Bent beneath the weight of sudden responsibilities and an uncooperative lower back, Mrs. Scatter staggers to the first meeting of her Important New Job. Drawing: “The Crooked Man,” from Project Gutenberg.


Did you hear I got a new job? If you missed the first two installments, read …

Part 1: The short-lived dream of running for president.
Part 2: The bizarre, twisted tale of how the job found me.

A brief recap:

  • Blissful summer.
  • No job and no plans for a job.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks.
  • A mysterious Jane nominates me for president.
  • White House hopes dashed.
  • Two Large Smelly Liabilities.
  • Love Jane.
  • Love Third Angle.
  • Love Ron.
  • Earflap hats.
  • Flying rockets.
  • Killer water fights.
  • Trick-or-treat.
  • Urinating dog.
  • FaceBook.
  • Frozen Music – City Dance.
  • Date night.
  • Sunny beach.
  • Typing into phone.
  • Junior Rose Parade.
  • Auto parts store.
  • Pickles!

I made the big announcement on FaceBook:

Say hello to the new managing director of Third Angle New Music Ensemble! I’m excited to work with my old friend Ron Blessinger. It’s the one job that could have lured me back to the work world before I had planned.

And then I had a little exchange with one of my “friends.”

Mighty Toy Cannon:
“Hey congratulations. Welcome to the arts administrators’ club.”

Miss Laura: “Will you show me the secret handshake?”

“Once I’ve learned the handshake for the League of Tough-Guy Arts Observers! I’d also be happy to pass along the code book and the secret map to hidden treasures.”

Miss Laura: “I hope finding the secret treasures doesn’t involve dark passageways filled with giant spiders and booby-trapped blades that take heads off.”

OK, so I didn’t fully disclose on my resume that I had once worked as a clerk in an auto parts store.

I really don’t think that’s any excuse not to be up front about the booby-trapped blades.

Everything amazingly clicked into place. My grand scheme was to take the summer off, then come up with a whole new career. So I went on vacation, drove home on Labor Day and went to a meeting that night.

It was to be my first job duty. My first impression. My first official act of my Whole New Career.

But first … the day before my big debut I woke up in a nice cottage in Ashland, walked across the hall, stepped on the cold tile floor of the bathroom and suddenly went HOLY MOTHER OF GOD I’M SORRY I WAS BORN WITH LEGS!

My entire lower back seized up and wouldn’t let go. I could hardly walk.

I thought a nice warm shower would take care of it. No such luck. I took a couple of ibuprofen. Mildly better.
Continue reading Now I’ve got that job: a back-breaker before it begins

How did I get that job? Alvin and the Chipmunks (Part 2)

Frozen Music II: The City Dance of Lawrence & Anna Halprin. Photo: Alicia J. RoseSo sorry. Art Scatter has been experiencing technical difficulties. Mr. Scatter was in the far-flung parts of the state hanging with people who raise peacocks and donkeys. His absence meant he couldn’t run interference with the Large Smelly Boys, who at times can be chihuahuas for attention.

Then Mr. Scatter got back and wrote about mules (note a trend?) and other thinky things like the League of Tough-Guy Arts Observers. There’s just no way I’m going to get in the middle of that, especially when I have upper respiratory yuck and I’m busy hamstering to get out front of my new job.

Oh, did I tell you I got a new job? How did I get it, you wonder? Let’s see … the story so far, posted way last week:

  • Blissful summer.
  • No job and no plans for a job.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks.
  • A mysterious Jane nominates me for president.
  • White House hopes dashed.
  • Two Large Smelly Liabilities.

At this point in the story, the mysterious Jane didn’t know this (and I didn’t know her), but I now considered her my new best friend.

In the meantime … on Aug. 13, Mr. Scatter posted something brainy about the National Endowment for the Arts and its new leader, Rocco Landesman. The post got a lot of thoughtful comments and then the mysterious Jane popped up again.

She said, “I think we should invite Chairman Landesman out to the provinces for a look-see. I’d be delighted to have him hear a Third Angle concert.”

I immediately put on my Sherlock Holmes hat, went to the website for Third Angle New Music Ensemble and checked out its list of board members. Sure enough, there was a Jane.

This is the point of the story where I should divulge Jane’s last name, but I think I’ve dropped enough clues that you can put on your own fancy earflaps and find out for yourself. You don’t even have to light your pipe, because I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a link.

Sherlock Holmes statue in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Siddharth Krish/Wikimedia CommonsWhen I spied Third Angle in mysterious Jane’s comments, my ears pricked up. Or at least they would have if I hadn’t been wearing the fancy earflaps. I love Third Angle. And I love Ron Blessinger, the company’s artistic director, who happens to be an old friend. We used to live a few houses apart. Our kids used to swing around in trees together.

Ron once wandered down to our house to check on his two kids and they were lined up with my two in the side yard. As I aimed a plastic hose, the four of them were taking turns jumping on an air pad that would send a plastic rocket sailing down the end of our driveway where I had parked the van sideways and opened the door. Ron looked at us and his eyes followed another flying rocket down to the van. He asked if we were trying to hit it through the door. We all nodded and grinned as another kid jumped on the air pad with both feet.

Our kids went swimming together, played on the beach together, watched parades together, had killer water fights together. Ron and I have trailed behind our trick-or-treating kids on Halloween drinking bad red wine. When he and his family were out of town, I occasionally watched their dog. She once urinated in our basement. So Ron and I were like that.

In fact, we were so close we recently became FaceBook friends.

A few days after the now-not-so-mysterious Jane weighed in on the NEA post on Art Scatter, Ron posted a status update on FaceBook that he was “wrapping up a grant while on vacation … how stupid.”

I almost posted a comment saying that he needed me. And I meant it.

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