Rick Bartow at the Autry Museum

Rick Bartow died in 2016 in Newport, Oregon at the age of 70.  By that time he was an established American artist and an icon here in Oregon.  His influences are evident.  He was a Native American and a Vietnam War veteran.  He reached deep within his heritage and history and you can read carnage, grief, slaughter as well as monumental beauty and intimate personal narrative in his art. The personae of Native American legend – Raven, Salmon, Bear, Owl – as well as the hanging carcasses and grisly abstractions reminiscent of Francis Bacon: they all haunt the canvasses and installations of Rick Bartow.  He was mentored by his friends Charles Froelick and William Jameson (deceased), the Portland gallery owners and curators.

There is a major show of his work – Rick Bartow: Things You Know But Cannot Explain –  at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.  Charles Froelick will present a “gallery chat” there about Rick Bartow on Saturday, June 23, 2018, 1:00–4:00 p.m   After January 6, 2019, the show will go to Bend, Oregon and then to Missoula, Montana.  Read the article about the show in the Los Angeles Times.

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Award-winning cartoonist and Trump critic is fired

Art is dangerous. Art is loud. And for the powerful, that loud abrasive voice is always shouting from one side or the other of that line that should not be crossed. In America, political cartoonists are usually given a pass because of their obvious stature as the most sacrosanct embodiments of Free Speech and Freedom of the Press; kind of  a third rail if you’re a politician – touch it and you die. Usually but not always.

The Daily Kos reports that award-winning editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers has had many of his cartoons “spiked” or axed in the last several weeks by the new editorial editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Rob Rogers has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 25 years.  He was fired yesterday, June 14.

Daily Kos explains:

The past two years leading up to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette merging with the Toledo Blade’s editorial staff have seen the newspaper turn more and more Trumpservative. The merger in March was the final move in turning the newspaper into a propaganda rag for the Trump administration.

Here is a gallery of some of Rogers’ most recent work.

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An afternoon at the opera

Indulge me for a moment.  True opera aficionados will hear my comments as what you can expect when you cast pearls before swine.  My son and I saw a production of Gounod’s Faust. We went because he wanted to better appreciate the allusions to Goethe’s Faust that are laced throughout his favorite anime, Madoka Magica. We had a great time.  How could we not?  Even from the cheap seats the efforts of over a hundred people, busting their asses to entertain us could not help but enchant and there was much to recommend this show.  The Keller is a grand and comfortable venue.  In my lifetime experience  it is important to me that the cast was ethnically diverse, making this somewhat less a ritual of just rich, snobby white folks.  The sculptural art of John Frame was integrated into the production.  The effect – occasionally inscrutable – was strange, somber and dramatic.  The music, the singing, the costumes – none of that failed to enrapture the viewer.

Any discouragin’ words are my own misgivings about the venerable institution of opera itself.  I know what I like and I think either a musical or a play goes miles farther in projecting mirth, pathos or empathy into the heart of the audience participant.  My mother liked Balanchine ballets more than classical because with classical, you have a lot of people (male dancers) “just standing around”; she meant when they were props, variously supporting the ballerina.  An actor is constrained by a script, an opera singer is constrained by a libretto but – crucially – also by the score;  and there is a lot of standing around, belting it out.  Even during the songs in a musical I see far more physical engagement of the characters.  The biggest weakness in classical opera is the lack of opportunity for character development.  The characters in musicals get a chance to talk and even their pantomime and dancing promote the shape of their character.

 I saw a 20th century opera, The Turn of the Screw, which, for me, may have come close to the intended operatic experience.  The opera was based on the novel by Henry James. The score by Benjamin Britten was monumental.  The cast was smaller and this probably gave a tremendous boost in favor of individual dramatic success.  The ghosts were haunting.  The fragility and obsession of the principal characters were palpable.  The predicament of the children was menacing.  The creepy parts were creepy and scary.

Bizet’s Carmen is a 19th century classic opera.  My only experience with the opera is the 1984 movie version with Julia Migenes as Carmen and Placido Domingo as Don José.  OK, I love that movie.  I don’t know if it was the movie vehicle or superior staging and direction that succeeded where the live Faust failed.  For one thing, the music of Bizet’s Carmen is beloved by me.  With only the first pass at the music that afternoon, I can’t remember a single theme from the score of Gounod’s Faust.

Other than that, I like what I like.  I like light, tuneful, silly, pretty stuff.  I like Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte and The Magic Flute.  I like Gilbert and Sullivan.  But as I said, my son and I had a great time at the opera.

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Angel Blue is Marguerite in the Portland Opera production of Gounod’s Faust.

Graphic novel as biography

You may have noticed there is a soft spot in my heart for all things comix.  In fact … no, I won’t use this as a platform to express my remorse or my longing for contemporary artists to send in their work to Event Horizon.  Instead, as a willing conduit for Hyperallergic, I will point you to a review by Dominic Umile about Weegee: Serial Photographer, a new graphic novel by Max de Radiguès and Wauter Mannaert. Weegee highlights the career of Arthur Fellig, a newspaper photographer who covered city news – or made it up – befitting his penchant for the graphic and marketable.

“… the point is that some of Weegee’s pioneering photojournalism, developed for wire services in the darkroom of a car trunk (craftily shown here within a stretch of wordless panels), was often staged. His unscrupulous practices became well-known over the years. More surprising is the comic’s portrayal of a vulnerable man starved for fame.”


PDX music announcements

Here are a couple of announcements for Portland, passed on from Vortex.

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With fireworks on the banks of the Willamette, the Waterfront Blues Festival (July 4-7) is the largest celebration of blues, soul, funk and more west of the Mississippi. This year features Robert Randolph, The Revivalists, Beth Hart, Marc Broussard, George Thorogood, and The Motet alongside NW talent like Curtis Salgado, Polyrhythmics, Kevin Selfe, Dirty Revival, Worth and many, many more!


Mark your cal for the 15th annual PDX Pop Now! (July 21-22) featuring dozens of local bands, Rigsketball and so much more beneath the Hawthorne Bridge. It’s free, all-ages, and curated by volunteers to take a yearly snapshot of our scene’s sights and sounds. BONUS: The summer issue of Vortex drops on July 21 at the fest!





Foundwork, a New Online Artist Platform

If you are a working artist you might be interested in Foundwork, “a new platform designed to help connect artists with curators, gallerists, and other collaborators across the global contemporary art community. We aim to support the practices of artists and exhibitors, increase visibility for artists, and enable new collaborations between people who might not have met otherwise.”


Event Horizon Blog and One-Man Bands

I have not contributed to this blog in about a month.  That will never do but sometimes .. it has to.  My layout artist (that would be me) is already configuring Issue 4 which will come out June 21 – summer solstice.  My social media manager (me) has also been very distracted.  I/we went on a wonderful “vision quest” around the Olympic Peninsula.  I did not connect with my spirit animal but I did learn about art of the Coastal Salish and Northwest Coast art in general.  Read about it in upcoming Issue 4.

The mission of Event Horizon is primarily to serve as a platform for expression for live working artists.  To all of you, I welcome your submissions.  If you work in a medium not usually reproduceable in a print medium – which Event Horizon mostly imitates – I’m still very interested in your music, dance, theater, or other performance-based art.  I am looking for creative ways to showcase these genres as well.

Attached is the illustrated list of possibilities for consideration in Event Horizon which I posted to Twitter and Instagram today.   Please send in your work.bierstadt submmisions

A chronicle of Portland’s musical vortex

I was lucky enough to pick up a free copy of Vortex Music Magazine at a tattoo parlor on Foster. I found valuable connections and insight into music less than 30 years old which I simply don’t have.  I also found wisdom; scan following of Fred Cole’s Indie Rock Dos & Donts:

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The article in Issue 15 is a memorial to Portland band Dead Moon.  Drummer Andrew Loomis died of lymphoma on March 8, 2016.  Fred Cole was front man and guitarist. His death on November 9, 2017- also by cancer – was reported in an obituary in the New York Times.  A separate Vortex article spoke convincingly about the importance of community.

Women Olympians: Reimagining Greek Vases

As a rule, women were excluded from participation in society of ancient Greece outside the home.  There are a very few individual exceptions.  For a few years in the 6th century BCE there were the  Heraean Games, dedicated to goddess Hera. They were the first official women’s athletic competition to be held in the Olympic stadium at Elis. Spartan women were more highly esteemed than in the rest of Greece; they were not prevented from learning hunting, riding and other physical activities; they were encouraged to take part in the same physical activities as their male counterparts.

By 396 BCE Olympic rules were relaxed just enough to allow women to compete in the less-esteemed equestrian events. Cynisca – a Spartan woman – won the four-horse chariot race twice, in 396 as well as 392 BC and in doing so became the first woman champion of the Olympics.

Male participation in the Olympics is a frequent subject in the decoration of classical Greek vases.  Shown below is an exception to the rule, a vase from the  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, labeled ‘Jar (stamnos) with female athletes bathing’, dated 440-430 BC.

Karen Chernick of Hypoallergic describes how  Mary Frances Dondelinger was inspired to expand upon this dearth in the archaeological record:

Two years ago, Mary Frances Dondelinger, a conceptual artist, stumbled across a website claiming that then-First Lady Michelle Obama was a man. Simultaneously horrified and intrigued, she was amazed at how easy it was to pass off fiction as reality. The encounter inspired her to create a new series. She aimed to one-up online fabrications by inventing a wildly alternative history of ancient art. …
The resulting series, titled M.Flandia (a composite of the artist’s first two initials and the word ‘land’), consists of new pottery designed to look like a cache of recently-excavated vases, bowls, and statues.

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