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Eugene Weekly : Culture : 09.22.05

Visual Art:

Salon des Refusés 2005

At DIVA through Oct. 14


In Family and Community

The personal is political.


It's Chappelle's Show

First rate comedy at the EMU


Double Duty

LCC's riotous play-within-a-play


Getting Sacked

New Madden game is mostly an improvement.


Trying Out the World

Whiteaker's comfy neighborhood café.



Salon des Refusés 2005

At DIVA through Oct. 14


Diversity, one of the two criteria for selection into the Mayor's Art Show, is always characteristic of its companion exhibit, the Salon des Refusés, hosted within DIVA's multiple galleries.

Arrivo a Bologna, oil portrait by Jerry Ross 

Quality, the other criterion, varies greatly, but this is almost beside the point. This is a celebration of the creative impulse in all its forms, genres and abilities. You'll find it all there, un-segregated, whether idiosyncratic or banal, subtle or obvious, matter-of-fact or sentimental, simple or overwrought, professional or amateurish.

Standing out among paintings is Salon founder Jerry Ross' oil portrait of his wife, entitled Arrivo a Bologna. Ross is a master of portraiture, and this is one of his best: subtle, tender, suggestive, spare in composition and palette (limited to reds, ochres and blacks). Yet look at the richness, for instance, of the blacks. The delicacy with which Ross captures his sitter's expression and mood is crucial, but the artist also plays here with cultural symbols. Initially, Bologna the Red owed its nickname to the coloring of its façades: orange ("Bologna red") and ochre (Modena yellow) stucco, red brick of medieval buildings. All these colors are cleverly echoed in the painting. Later, starting with its partisan resistance in World War II, Bologna, now one of the richest cities in Italy, became "red" for its socialism and communism. Hence the Soviet-style coat and hat worn by the subject.

Hoa-Lan Tran's watercolor, Seated Woman with Berries, is a more purely decorative work. It displays Trans's usual lovely sense of pattern, rhythm and color.

In terms of landscapes, Annie Saville's pastel, Coastal Landscape, caught my attention for its elegant simplicity of composition and color scheme; its contemplative, slightly melancholy, autumnal mood. The elongated horizontal format is judicious.

Still lifes abound, many of them conventional. LaVonne Tarbox-Crone's watercolor-and-pastel, Artichoke Ledge, is to be admired for its technical proficiency, though as all too often befalls still lifes, there is little life to it. Dorothy Dunn's less polished oil pastel, Clematis, in contrast, appeals for the vigor of its free-hand treatment.

Worthy of mention for its gentle humor and folksy, upbeat treatment is Judith Tamarah's Tea Reading, a small narrative watercolor, the style of which would be delightful for children's books. Eric Petersen's gouache, Dr. Razor-Clam, is in a darker, absurdist vein. Carly Bodnar's Synesthesia is a large acrylic expertly executed in an exaggerated, cartoon style. Bodnar constructs a clever juxtaposition of lips and eye to characterize the merging of sound and sight into a single organ.

Regal Rooster, ceramics by Faith Rahill

There are no anti-war statements this year (unless Jan Sjostrom's untitled tempera can be construed as a military spoof), but patriotic flags show up in a few paintings. Religious content is in, and in all manners of style and inspiration.

Three printmakers bring their art to the fore of the show. Susan Lowdermilk's exquisite wood engraving gives us a fresh take on Passion to which Connie Huston's very wry intaglio, Gravida, provides a perfect counterpart, and the two ought to be paired. Germaine Bennett's witty etching Egyptian Nora, demands a leisurely viewing of its rich details.

Sculpture is under-represented. All the more reason why A.J. Fisher's stainless steel abstraction of a Breakdancer, should be more prominently displayed. It is fun, dynamic, and structurally felicitous — one of my favorites in the show.

With Did Reason Sleep? Robert Schofield creates another of his intriguing color photographs of female nudes underwater, partially revealed through diffuse greenish-yellow light. It is a pity that the chosen matting and framing detract from the work rather than enhance it.

Under the label photography, snapshots abound, some of them poor inkjet prints, others digitally enhanced to look like paintings, a trend I fear will only grow. Sometimes the word photograph refers to a digital collage of found images — a definite misnomer. Painters, sculptors and professional photographers provide us with a precise indication of the media and methods they use. To be taken seriously, providers of digital images need to follow suit.

Gravida, intaglio by Connie Huston

Giclée prints of original works are becoming popular, but I feel cheated where I expect an original, as with Annette Gurdjian's Two Women Kissing, which is a reproduction of a very strong painting over a photograph. Gurdjian says the original was sold, but she likes the painting so much she made a copy, which is also more affordable for many people.

Some of the decorative arts make strong statements in this show. I particularly enjoyed the play of light, color and texture in Karen Hustwaite's Luminosity, an abstract yet sensuous study in enamel on copper. Don't miss Faith Rahill's ceramic Regal Rooster, Jae McDonald's Trillium 3, an art quilt, or Adam Wendt's musical water fountain, Kahlil's Eye, to mention a few.

Jamie Burress's original work for this year's Salon poster is for sale through a silent auction.

"Opening night this year didn't coincide with the kick-off for the Eugene Celebration," said Steve LaRiccia, the Salon's energetic exhibit coordinator. "It was crowded, but it had a different feel."

If only for symbolic reasons, I would prefer the excitement of the opening to occur during the Celebration to emphasize that a celebration of our city is also a celebration of the arts.

This 15th Salon includes 292 of the 383 works unselected for the Mayor's Art Show. Although ideally, all artists would choose to participate in the Salon, the show benefits from not being overcrowded. As always, the Salon is a must for its joyous profusion.

Fast forward: The Mayor's Show of Teen Art is showing at the Maude Kerns Art Center until Oct. 7.



In Family and Community

The personal is political.


LATE IN THE STANDOFF, stories and a novella by Tracy Daugherty. Southern Methodist University Press, 2005. Hardcover, $22.50.

My favorite story in Tracy Daugherty's brand-new collection of five stories and a novella is "City Codes." The story is set in a small, central Texas town 60 miles south of Dallas. A couple of teachers try to keep a 19th century historic house in their neighborhood from being demolished and replaced by a high-rise apartment building for college students. The husband, who is recovering from heart surgery, narrates. A reliable family man, this unnamed figure hopes to connect with his wife Jean's 8-year-old daughter, Haley, who is still conflicted about her parent's divorce and her mother's remarriage.

Daugherty skillfully follows both "City Codes" plot lines to the family's participation in a planning commission meeting, where husband and wife testify against the august Father Matt, who represents the diocese that now owns the Levin house. Daugherty's layered work follows parallel paths, the public issue of historic preservation and the intimate struggle of the narrator to recover his sexual sensitivity and create family harmony.

"Power Lines" is a coming-of-age tale, set in West Texas in the late 1960s. Two young boys, best friends, build a mock-up of the moon for a class project, complete with potential landing sites for the NASA spacecraft scheduled to land there a year later. The story becomes complicated as the outer world intrudes — the Vietnam War, a local sexual predator scare, clandestine Playboy magazines, moving to Houston, first kisses.

"Lamplighter" is about a girl whose daddy is away at war at Christmas time, set in Oklahoma in the 1940s. "The Standoff" is an endearing story about a boy and his namesake uncle, an Oklahoma legislator, whose relationship is fragile since a fight about the Vietnam War. They take a trip together in the uncle's Olds to a town where Indians wearing overalls or jeans and leather coats have staged an armed protest after a member of the tribe was arrested for poaching. The uncle's job is to settle the dispute peacefully.

"Cotton Flat Road" and the novella, "Anna Lia," are more contemporary works with adult characters. The story is the more successful of the two, a tale of grown siblings trying to learn about each other's lives and forging a tentative bond for trying. "Anna Lia," the most ambitious work in the collection, is technically well written, but its characters never touched me emotionally. The title character dies early on, and the story is about three friends of the dead woman, including her not-yet-divorced husband, who strive to understand her and her unlikely death while making a pipe bomb,

Daugherty was born in Texas, directs the MFA program in creative writing at OSU and has taught in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College outside Asheville, North Carolina. He won an Oregon Book Award for an earlier story collection, It Takes a Worried Man, and two of his four novels have been nominated for the prize. He will speak on Oct. 6 at the Mid-Valley Willamette Writers meeting in Eugene. Details below.   

BOOK NOTES (Sept. 22 — Oct. 6): Novelist, essayist Cynthia Ozick (Heir to the Glimmering World) speaks at 7:30 pm on 9/22, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland. $25-$5 (503/227-2583). …Don Ladigin (Lighten Up! A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultradlight Backpacking) speaks at 7 pm on 9/22 in Eugene REI. …Poet and Eugene fave Kim Adonizio (Little Beauties) speaks at 7:30 pm on 9/22, Powell's on Hawthorne, Portland. … Lydia Millet (Oh Pure and Radiant Heart) reads at 7:30 pm on 9/22, Powell's on Burnside, Portland. … Cindy Ingram (Hey Kids, Have You Seen My Backpack?) and David T. Conley (College Knowledge) speak on student success at 7 pm on 9/23, UO Bookstore. Free. …Famed novelist Salman Rushdie (Shalimar the Clown) speaks at 7:30 pm on 9/23, First Unitarian Church, Portland. …Richard Hell (Godlike), speaks at 7:30 pm on 9/23, Powell's on Hawthorne, Portland. …Linda Clare and Kristen Ingram (Revealed) speak at 2 pm on 9/24, Eugene Barnes & Noble. …Miriam Toews (A Complicated Kindness) reads at 7:30 pm on 9/25, Powell's on Burnside, Portland. …Laura Whitcomb (A Certain Slant of Light) speaks at 7 pm on 9/26, Powell's in Beaverton. …Robert Hicks (The Widow of the South) speaks at 7:30 pm 9/26, Powell's on Burnside, Portland. ….David Rakoff (Don't Get Too Comfortable) reads at 7:30 pm on 9/27, Powell's on Burnside, Portland. …Mark Anderson ("Shakespeare" By Another Name) reads at 7:30 pm on 9/28, Powell's on Burnside, Portland. …Celebration of lone goose press broadsides, including a new collaboration between Sandy Tilcock and Barry Lopez, both present, at 7 pm on 9/29 at
Raven Frame Works, 325 W. 4th, Eugene. …"Writing in the Fields of Our Memories" free six-week Eugene writing workshop begins at 7 pm on 9/29. Call David (345-2636) or Dorothy (485-7025). …Popular Southern novelist Carl Hiassen (Flush) speaks at 7 pm on 9/29, Powell's in Beaverton. …Erik Marcus (Meat Market), 7:30 pm 9/29, Powell's on Burnside, Portland. …Education writer Jonathan Kozol (The Shame of the Nation) speaks at 7:30 pm on 9/30, First Baptist Church, Portland. …Melissa Hart (The Assault of Laughter: A Daughter's Journey Back to Her Lesbian Mother) reads at 1 pm on 10/2, Books Without Borders, inside The Strand, 199 W. 8th, Eugene. …Floyd Skloot (A World of Light) reads at 7 pm on 10/5 at Knight Library Browsing Room. …Richard Krieb (We're Off to Find the Witch's House!) reads at 7 pm on 10/5, Eugene Barnes & Noble. …Former Oregon Book Award winner, novelist, OSU professor and short story writer Tracy Daugherty speaks on "The Princess in the Library: The Uses and Limitations of Narrative Form in Fiction" at 6:30 pm on 10/6, Baker Downtown Center, Eugene. $10 donation non-Mid-Valley Willamette Writers members.



It's Chappelle's Show

First rate comedy at the EMU


Dave Chappelle. 8 pm Thursday, 9/22. MacArthur Court, $38.50 stu./$43.50 gen. public

Dave Chappelle is a very funny man. While not everyone may find his brand of humor, say, fit for society, the man is damn funny. His sketch comedy show on Comedy Central makes people who are tired of programs like "Mad TV" and "Saturday Night Live" thankful that there are still comedians who, bless their hearts, do skits about Uncle Joey getting hit in the balls.

Many first discovered Chappelle on Comedy Central, but he has a pretty impressive resumé. He started doing comedy in his native D.C. area at the age of 14. Six years later he became the youngest comic to appear on "Comic Relief."

His first major movie role was in Robin Hood: Men In Tights. Fun fact: Chappelle turned down the role of Bubba in Forrest Gump because he thought the movie would be a bust. Oops.

Then came his mid-'90s classic Half Baked, which he wrote and starred in. The heartwarming story of a bunch of stoners trying to get their friend out of jail is just the thing for the Flicks & Pics cult section.

His career hit the big time in 2003 with the launch of Chappelle's Show. His laid-back style helps to relax the mind, bringing his social and racial humor to some pretty spectacular heights. He makes things look so obvious, so ridiculous, that I sometimes feel embarrassed to be white. His "reality show" skit where he switches a black man into a white family and vice versa is, as Homer says, "funny because it's true." Then there's "Black Bush" and "Black Gallagher," skits in which he becomes the African-American versions of these characters. There's plenty more. Rick James, the Sam Adams guy. High-larious stuff. It is a treat to say that he will perform at Mac Court tonight at 8. A'ight?    



Double Duty

LCC's riotous play-within-a-play


You know when you see a set designed with more than eight doors — doors for quick exits, doors for grand and not-so-grand entrances and doors for slamming — it has to be a farce. LCC's Student Productions Association launched its fourth season with Michael Frayn's riotous Noises Off. Using the stock play-within-a-play format, but with a twist, Noises Off follows the absurd backstage drama of a theater troupe performing a bad British farce on a tour through the American heartland.

The play opens at the Grand Theatre in Pittsburgh with the group in technical rehearsal one day before the show opens. Director Lloyd Dallas is losing patience with his muddled cast. Brooke keeps losing her contact lens. Frederick continually questions the plot structure. Dotty keeps mixing up the props, and Selsdon Mowbray, who has a wee bit of a drinking problem, is nowhere to be found.

But the real fun begins in the second act. The entire set has been rotated to reveal the backstage where the real-life chaos behind the scenes runs simultaneously with the farce being presented onstage. Floyd has been sleeping with both Brooke and the stage manager Poppy. Gary and Dottie are fighting because Dottie spent the night with Fredrick and Selsdon is heavily sampling the sauce from liquor bottles hidden all over the set. Belinda and Tim, the stage technician, try frantically to control the drama unfolding backstage while keeping the production rolling smoothly onstage. As the play continues, relationships deteriorate and the farce continues.

With the exception of the director and stage crew, each actor is required to play dual roles — as members of the troupe and as performers in Nothing On. Director Chris Pinto has assembled a talented group of energetic thespians for this multifaceted task. Melissa Rodriguez is animated and droll as the elderly actress Dotty Otley and in her role as Mrs. Clackett, the maid. Likewise, Steven Gott is great as her petulant, young beau Gary Lejeune/Roger Tramplemain. Megan Lutsock is terrific as the pampered ingénue, Brooke Ashton/Vicki, who spends a good deal of the show cavorting in her skimpy underwear. Scott Shirk and Kristen McLeod show off their flair for physical comedy in their respective roles as Frederick Fellowes/Phillip Brent and Belinda Blair/Flavia Brent. As the eldest member of this cast and a seasoned performer, Patrick Torelle is sheer delight as the mischievous and persistently inebriated Selsdon Mowbray. Finally, rounding out this fine cast and putting in top-notch performances as well are Parsa Naderi as director Lloyd Dallas, Michelle Nordella as stage manager Poppy Morton and Matthew Keating as Tim Allgood, the play's beleaguered stage technician.

Noises Off runs Sept. 23, 24, 30, Oct. 1, 2 and 6-8. Tickets are available at the door or by calling 463-5202.


Opening Nights

Assassins at Lord Leebrick

Opening Friday, Sept. 23

Winner of four Tony awards, this offbeat musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim examines the motives of nine individuals who either successfully assassinated or attempted to assassinate a U.S. President. From Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth to Squeaky Fromme and John Hinkley, assassins and would-be assassins from different eras meet on one stage to swap crime stories. Show dates are Sept. 21, 24, 29, Oct. 1, 6, 9, 13 and 16. Purchase tickets by 465-1506 or online at www.lordleebrick.com



Getting Sacked

New Madden game is mostly an improvement.



Publisher: EA SPORTS

Platform: PC, PS2, XBOX, GC, DS, GBA, (PSP & XBOX 360 coming soon)

Price: $49.99 for consoles, $39.99 for DS & PC, $29.99 for GBA

ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

What's cool: Playing the same franchise on both your PS2 and PSP; a vastly improved running game; and the exclusive NFL license.

What's uncool: The QB Vision Control makes passing more challenging and less fun all at the same time; graphics are less than expected; nothing spectacular in EA Trax

Gameplay 4, Graphics 3.5, Sound 4

Let me save you some time. Yes, this is a great game; but no, it's not as great as the EA publicity machine would have you believe. And that's sad. But what's really sad is that what's good about this title is not what's been advertised, and what's been advertised isn't that good. Confused? Play the game. All will become clear soon enough.

As any real football geek well knows, Madden is the premier football franchise in the video game world. The '06 version is no slouch, offering all the fun Madden has provided in the past but with a few interesting new touches. For example, under certain circumstances during Franchise mode, you can save a key game and replay it as long as you maintain the Franchise file it came from. This is called Spawning, and can be useful for when you want to play a game with your Franchise roster against a friend but don't want to mess up your Franchise record should you lose.

But Spawning is small potatoes compared to NFL Superstar Mode. Similar to one of the modes in NCAA '06, Superstar Mode allows you to create a player from scratch and put him on the team roster of your choice. Don't want to start from scratch? Take that graduating senior you created a few weeks (and four virtual seasons) ago in NCAA '06 and turn him into this year's Pro. More of an NFL Streets fan? Created players in NFL Streets 2 can also come in, giving EA the synergy they desire.

Superstar mode is rich and deep and may make you forget about the omnipresent Franchise mode altogether. Not only do you have to play games, but you've also got to attend practices and handle the media with skill. Pick up a mentor to help you deal, and you'll get the advice you need to do well. You'll also have an agent. Now this can be a good thing and a bad thing. Your agent will do what you ask but he may involve the media and that is something that never goes over well. If you and your agent handle the media well, however, you'll end up with a sweet endorsement deal. And isn't that exactly why you started playing the game in the first place?

Now, what's really disappointing is the much ballyhooed QB Vision Control. I found it hard to get the hang of and not very fun to practice. When a component of a game is hard to master, the mastery should at least be fun. And getting sacked every time your primary receiver is covered is never any fun. Let's just say that this feature, and the rest of the passing controls, still need a bit of work.

The graphics aren't all that impressive either. They're not much better than the graphics in the college game, and those were pretty disappointing as well. Even more of a letdown is the music. EA Trax has offered us many hits over the years in their many titles, but this particular batch really seems to fall short.

Despite some of the negatives, though, this game is well worth the $50 you'll have to spend for it — just don't expect that this is the chosen game that will change your life and give it meaning. Despite all EA's advertising to the contrary, it's just a great football game.   

Adam Diamond writes for Weekly Dig (www.weeklydig.com) in Boston.




Trying Out the World

Whiteaker's comfy neighborhood café.


The bustling, cheerful courtyard of the World Café has always caught my eye when I'm on my way to Sam Bond's. Candlelight and laughter spills over appealingly into the bar parking lot next door, and the Café's variety of musical events, film screenings and gatherings piqued my curiosity. It wound up being a mellow Sunday night when I finally stepped into the café, the restaurant quiet but for a few tables and the two women singing and playing accordion, guitar and fiddle, accompanied by a small girl energetically dancing in circles.

The café is spacious and cozy at the same time: Large rooms are made comfortable with couches on one end and wooden booths at the other. The counter where customers order food is laden with bakery treats; the World Café, the menu notes, is a project of Le Petit Gourmet Bakery and the New Day Bakery.

The menu is short, simple and appealing, with a few appetizers, a variety of entrees and a page of detail on burgers and pizza. Pasta, stir fry, fish and chips and fajitas are among the choices; the night we went, spanakopita and potato tacos shared the specials board with a chicken and black bean dish.

Salads came first, perfect mixes of greens with fresh vegetables and basic but tasty dressings. The real treat was the small plate of warm, crusty bread that came with the salads — if only all bread were so fresh. My companion's burger came loaded with vegetables and settled on a homemade bun; he deemed the burger itself on par with those at High Street, but the bun far superior. (As is to be expected around here, the meat comes from grass-fed and locally raised cows.)

I opted for the baked pasta "en casserole," a decadent comfort food dish that was hearty and delicious. Penne, tomato sauce, cheese and two pizza toppings (black olives and artichoke hearts for me) arrived bubbling and luscious, the cheese turned to just the right level of crispness on top. It wasn't complicated or gourmet — most of these dishes are things you could easily recreate at home — but it was exactly the thing for a homey café with no pretensions whatsoever.

There's something about the World Café that's markedly of its neighborhood, a straightforwardness that stretches from the unfussy menu to the communal-feeling dining area and the atypical (but competent) service. It seemed to feel like home for the rest of the diners — a good sign for a cozy down-the-street sort of joint. Next time I'll have to go on a Saturday and see what all that laughter and bustle is about.

World Café. 449 Blair Blvd, Eugene. 4 pm-9 pm Sun.-Thur. 4 pm-10 pm Fri. & Sat. $-$$.