• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Lead Stories

Profiles of local artists Jerry Ross, Analee Fuentes, Bryan Putnam and Jenny Kroik

At 80 years old, the UO’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is one of the hippest places to see art in the city. But it’s also a cavernous place with nooks and crannies rotating thousands of pieces that can overwhelm the senses. So, where to start? Here, we asked five curators at the JSMA to pick their favorite pieces currently on view and tell us why the works are special.

Wednesday, Sept. 11: Wood chips and sawdust fly helter skelter from the grinding teeth of a chainsaw as Dutch artist Floris Brasser stands perched atop the massive trunk of a tree in the courtyard of New Day Bakery. This is not a demolition job. It is not some Paul Bunyan act, though Brasser is something of a tree whisperer.

Down by the railroad tracks that carve through the Whiteaker, graffiti art colors the walls of buildings. A large piece spray painted in white advises its audience to “Read up!” but it’s the paint drippings below that inspired local artist Josh Sands. “I saw the paint under the graffiti and thought, ‘Can I take graffiti paint and make something out of it?” he says.

The guys behind Sol Seed are the nicest kids you know. No really. While I was waiting outside their front door, under a string of fluttering prayer flags, guitarist Kenny Lewis appears from the trees in the front yard and, without saying a word, gives me a hug. After the embrace, Lewis smiles and says, “So you are …?” (I would find out later that the band is known for its “Sol Seed Hug Train.”) 

And it’s not only hugs. All six band members — Michael Lennon (vocals, guitar), Michael “Magic” Sorensen (vocals, drums), Benny Pezzano (vocals, bass), Kenny Lewis (vocals, guitar), Sky Guasco (vocals, percussion, didgeridoo) and Graeme Pletscher (saxophone) — are bursting with peace, love and good vibes. When one speaks, the others listen intently. They pat each other on the back and dole out support like it’s the new definition of cool.

Wander roads anywhere and chances are you’ll spot animal bones strewn in ditches, a feather on the ground, snake skins baked onto asphalt, even a plump frog that defied a crow’s keen senses. Maybe you’ll feel lucky to find an intact, desiccated owl carcass you just can’t leave behind. Unlike beer bottles, soda cans and other litter that careless people toss out of vehicle windows, under most circumstances it’s actually illegal to take any part of a dead animal home. 

There are an unknown number of us who are unafraid to handle a lifeless body. Some of us feel compelled to remove the dead animals lying ravaged along roadways out of respect for the animal, to offer the animal a more dignified end than to be pummeled to dust by a succession of steel-belted radials. 

Before service members leave for Afghanistan, military regulations demand that they prepare for the unpleasant possibility that they may never come home. The Navy requires that you meet with a military lawyer to fill out a will, designate an executor and assign your survivors benefits. It can seem overdramatic when you are being called back from civilian life, and jokes about who should get a favorite baseball glove or why leaving a car to a sibling would be a disaster help cut the tension.

But when you sit down to an empty page to write your last letter home — the letter to be delivered if you are killed — there is no one to whom jokes can be made to lighten the moment. As you look over the words, you are forced to imagine the next set of eyes that might read them.

Oh Eugene, you’re not happy unless you’re complaining about the heat, the rain, too little to do downtown, too many bars downtown … and the fact that it costs money to go to the Eugene Celebration, Aug. 23-25. Pony up, kids, and get ready for three days of what makes Eugene what it is: SLUG queens roaming the streets, anarchists dancing to local music while the mayor grooves nearby, good eats and good fun. 

Most people peruse the Eugene Celebration looking for things to buy, food to eat or entertainment to watch. Most don’t think of it as an opportunity to time travel. However, on 8th Avenue between Charnelton and Olive, the Show ‘n’ Shine Classic Car Show will give Eugeneans the opportunity to travel nearly 90 years in one stroll of about 100 cars. At the Celebration, you might expect to see a bike show rather than a car show, but cars still seem to be a timeless way to look at American culture. 

Gone are the days of ad hoc screenings at the McDonald Theatre; film shorts and features from eight local and regional festivals, past and future, will stay the weekend at the new Bijou Metro during the Eugene Celebration’s “FilmZone.” 

From sobering biopics to children’s animation, there’s something for everyone. Roll the dice with two “Secret Cinema” offerings or double down on a sure thing with works by Eliaichi Kimaro, Sándor Lau and E.C. (Ed) Schiessl.

On a Tuesday afternoon in the Springfield Library, a small group of science-curious “kiddos” wait for a session of the Science Program to Inspire Creativity and Excellence (SPICE) to start. A few of the librarians and teachers hint that a celebrity may be in their midst today.

Lauren Messman

 et al.

Eugene has a lot to celebrate: flourishing restaurants and breweries, a refurbished downtown area, leadership in all things green and the friendly vibe, just to name a few. Eugeneans, give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back. Since our city has so much to sing about, who better to help ring in another glorious Eugene Celebration than a smorgasbord of national and local musical acts? We’ve put together our list of must-see acts that love the city as much as we do.

Trains smack of progress, freedom and adventure. It’s said that railroads revolutionized America. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) touts the safety record of the rails: “In 2012, North American railroads safely delivered more than 2.47 million carloads of hazardous materials.” But sometimes trains leak, derail or just plain explode. 

Micah Griffin hopped freights for years. He knows the railyard in Eugene and the trains around Oregon like the back of his tattooed hand. But in all the times he was leaping aboard rail cars and riding across the Northwest and beyond, he hadn’t really known just what was in those big tank cars rolling through towns and past lakes and rivers. 

It happened on a typical school day with no warning. As the 7.9 magnitude earthquake started shaking the ground, students were crushed and killed inside their own schools when the buildings collapsed on top of them. According to CNN, 5,335 students died or went missing after the 2008 earthquake, with even more left disabled. While this particular earthquake happened in southwestern China, the same thing could happen in Lane County to old school buildings like Edison Elementary.

Summer is not over yet at the Eugene Public Library. For parents concerned about the school budget cuts affecting art and music programs in Eugene public schools, the library fills in a little by providing free summer programs every week for teenagers to express their talents. 

Toward the end of her eighth grade year, Phoebe Wihtol, now a junior at South Eugene High School, came out to family, friends and classmates. “I’m a lesbian,” she says. “People kind of knew. I hadn’t hidden it.”

Budget cuts have left Oregon schools in rough shape. Eugene’s 4J School District is no different. However, despite the financial challenges, many public education alternatives exist in the area. Kerry Delf, communication coordinator for 4J School District, says there is a long tradition in Eugene of supporting alternative education, and some of the most popular local programs offer language immersion at the elementary level.

Many obstacles can stand in the way of kids finishing high school and young adults going to college, but the 4J School District’s Early College and Career Options (ECCO) is out to give them both opportunities. The non-traditional school with an enrollment of 180 will be stationed within Lane Community College’s Regional Technical and Early College Center beginning this fall, giving people with a variety of disadvantages the chance to get their GEDs and move on to college.

On the first Saturday of each August, Eugeneans gather to celebrate the spirit of the Whiteaker, Eugene’s funkiest neighborhood. The Whiteaker Neighborhood itself is a whir of activity; as one of Eugene’s few mixed-use areas, it melds microbreweries, restaurants, artist communities, young folks, old folks and family life. Block Party exemplifies the beauty — be it messy or harmonious — of all that verve.

When many residents of the Whiteaker are sound asleep recovering from Block Party, volunteers will gather Sunday, Aug. 4, to clean up after the event. “We try to have the neighborhood look cleaner than it did before the party,” says Zoe Gadsby, the event coordinator. “It’s really hard to get volunteers the next day.” The work of the volunteers at the Block Party cleanup points to an even bigger community effort: picking up needles. 

Before books and magazines, newspapers and scrolls, e-readers, tablets, tabloids and texts, the spoken word reigned supreme. The oral tradition still exists in many forms, in almost all cultures, so it’s only fitting that our seven-year tradition, the Whiteaker Block Party, should collide with one so formidable.

Like most things in the Whit, the neighborhood style stands out from the common threads running through the rest of the city. The same can be said for the Whiteaker Block Party Fashion show. In years past, spectators have been privy to a no-holds-barred runway spectacle where parasols, antelope horns, corsets, guns (as accessories) and, of course, last year’s now notorious feather headdresses can all be de rigueur. This year will be no exception, with a new location at Uncle Brad’s Secret Stage at Cornerstone Glass, new designs, some new players and perhaps a new future for fashion in the Whit.

Silas Valentino

 et al.

Like any good block party, the Whiteaker Block Party has much to satisfy the aural senses — perhaps too much for one person to make sense of, and thus here are some (stage) handy picks to check out on this wet, hot American summer day and night. But be a good community member and check out all the stages — Blair Alley, Slash and Burn, Hostel, Uncle Brad’s Secret Stage, Territorial — and get to know your neighbors.

Block Party might be a blast for Eugeneans, but it’s even more exciting for the Whiteaker’s small local businesses. “This is our best sales day of the year!” a checker at Red Barn Natural Grocery said at midnight last year, the store still abuzz after its usual closing time.

Veteran Block Party food vendors agree. “It’s our single biggest one-day event all year,” says David Clark, owner of Cousin Jack’s Pasty Company. “We sell a little over 1,000 pies in one day.” This year Cousin Jack’s will serve its regular pasties — pesto lamb, steak and ale, potato leek and wild mushroom, among others — from a new setup; Cousin Jack’s will join 14 other food carts in the large parking lot at 3rd and Van Buren. Clark says the diversity of characters and “random wildness” are his favorite aspects of Block Party. “It’s just a lot happening in a very small area,” he says. “There are so many artistic people all gathered in one neighborhood.”