November Arts News

Jon Kretzu leaves Artists Rep, the NW Filmmakers' Fest announces award winners, NEA grants announced, Afrofuturism and homoerotic Harry Potter fan fiction at Disjecta, and more.

By Aaron Scott November 27, 2012

Sure, the holiday season marks the time of year when many arts organizations dust off their tinsel, break out their elf shoes, pull their nutcrackers out of the attic, and put the same shows up on the mantel that they’ve been putting on for years now, but that attention to tradition doesn’t mean things don’t change. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes and in the credits (welcome Darius Pierce to the green tights of Santaland Diaries!).

With that in mind, here’s our holiday kickoff round up of some of the latest arts news:

This just in on Wednesday, November 28: Artistic Director Christopher Stowell resigned from Oregon Ballet Theatre and will leave at the end of the year. Huge news; read more about it here.


The National Endowment for the Arts just announced its awards for the fiscal year 2013 grants, and 13 Oregon organizations are among the lucky recipients for a total state amount of $342,500. The biggest prize, $100,000, goes to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and poet B.T. Shaw wins a literary fellowship of $25,000. For our post and a complete list, go here.

Artist Repertory Theatre: Associate Artistic Director Jon Kretzu is leaving.
With Artist Rep's Artistic Director Allen Nause’s announcement late last year that he would be retiring at the end of this season after 25 years with the organization, the hunt was on for a new artistic director. Associate Artistic Director Jon Kretzu seemed like a shoe in for the job, having spent 20 years by Nause’s side directing everything from world premieres, like last year’s  (I Am Still) The Duchess of Malfi, to Portland premieres, like The Laramie Project, to Shakespeare and holiday shows, like this season’s Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol

Turns out Kretzu had already been planning to leave ART for several years and finalized it with the theater after his production of Next to Normal last May, according to ART’s PR Director Nicole Miller. But they waited until this past Friday to announce it, so as not to compete with the attention on Nause’s departure.

“I feel it is time to follow Allen and leave my position at the theatre to move on and grow artistically devoting myself fully to working on new projects in different venues and explore new cities,” Kretzu says in the release. “Allen and I are a team and I really cannot imagine continuing on as an Associate Artistic Director with anyone else.”

Lane added: “Jon has a gypsy spirit and this is going to allow him to pursue that artistic spirit.” And indeed, he already has shows lined up in Seattle, New York, and Edmonton, Canada, as well as feelers in film and TV projects in LA.

Lane says ART has chosen a new artistic director and will let the rest of us know their choice in the coming weeks. 

Hand2Mouth: A slew of good news
Defying the post T-day tryptophan coma, the experimental, multimedia performance group Hand2Mouth is on a roll. First, the company moved into its first permanent home in years—a space in the Central Eastside under the Hawthorne Bridge. Then, they welcomed a new managing director, Jenn Mitas, who comes with 16 years experience working in devised performance (i.e. theater created through often improvised collaboration) in NYC and the UK. Finally, 10 of the ensemble’s artists are headed to a residency at the technological Shangri-La that is Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy, New York to polish Something's Got Ahold of My Heart, an interdisciplinary work about love that they first workshopped at last year’s Fertile Ground new works fest and will perform in NYC before bringing back to premiere at this year’s Fertile Ground. But they need your help to cover their costs. Chip in at their Kickstarter campaign.

Northwest Film Center: Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival Audience Award Winners
Closing out the film center’s 40th anniversary season, the NWFC's Filmmakers’ Festival wrapped up its ten-day run on November 18, having screened 47 selections. Here are the audience choice award winners:

Portland Art Museum: Contemporary Northwest Art Awards
In case you missed our blog post about it, the Portland Art Museum announced the six artists selected for the 2013 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards. Read more here.

Disjecta: The rest of the exhibitions in curator-in-residence Josephine Zarkovich’s season and a call for applications to be next season’s curator-in-residence.
Putting -con on the end of a word to signify that it’s a big event might be about as tired as adding -landia, but every once in a while there’s an exception to the rule, and, um, I think Disjecta might’ve stumbled onto it with Disjectacon. It doesn’t hurt that it’s actually a relevant title, being the name of a one day exhibit of fan fiction and art, which is one of the three shows just announced to wrap up the rest of curator-in-residence Josephine Zarkovich's season.

Strongly apparent from her current show, the Ursula Le Guin inspired The Lathe of Heaven group exhibit, Zarkovich has a deep interest in the intersection of science fiction and contemporary art, and we can’t imagine a better sentence to describe such interest than this: “Inspired in part by Afrofuturism, Turkish Star Wars and Homoerotic Harry Potter Fan Fiction [Ed. Note: such a combo!], her exhibitions have and will feature artists that, while not always explicitly referencing science fiction, are nonetheless putting forth self-empowering narratives of alternate histories and possible futures.” To that effect, she’s curated three shows:

Applied Geometry—Jan 12–Mar 3
A solo show by the San Francisco artist Chris Fraser, who uses space and sculpture to focus on light.

Disjectacon—Mar 15
The aforementioned, one-day fan fiction extravaganza.

Space is the Place—Mar 23–Apr 28
A group exhibition exploring Afrofuturism that involves an exciting trio: the US Latino and Latin American performance art pioneer (and MacArthur genius grant–winning) Guillermo Gómez-Peña; the lauded, Oakland-based painter provocateur David Huffman; the Crow Indian reservation–raised photographer Wendy Red Star; and the New York multimedia artist Saya Woolfalk.

With Zarkovich’s event horizon in sight, Disjecta has also put out a call for applications for the 2013-2014 curator-in-residence with a due date of January 4.

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