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Oregon great Harry Widman highlights Art Beat
Photos and Story by James Hill
From wild stories to wild use of color, Oregon painter Harry Widman is never boring. This is great considering Widman has been selected to be the featured artist for the 2008 Art Beat Festival at Portland Community College.
Art Beat will spread across all three PCC campuses and the Southeast Center from May 12-16, offering students, staff, faculty and the community access to local, regional and national artists, as well as an extensive collection of visual art, dance, music, theater and literary events to help expose them to art. It is free and open to the public.
At Art Beat, Widman will put on workshops and his featured piece, titled “Mother and Daughter,” will be dedicated at the annual kickoff ceremony held this year at the Southeast Center. He is a well-known and respected exhibiting artist, juror and writer for The Oregonian. He has exhibited his work at local galleries like Blackfish and Butters; regionally in Seattle and Salem; and internationally, such as Rome, Italy. Widman has been a regular presenter and lecturer for Portland State University, Oregon College of Art and Craft, Oregon Historical Society Portland Art Museum and Cincinnati Academy of Art, to name a few, during the past 30 years.
Widman, a Cedar Hills resident, is described as having been exposed to the Willamette Valley style, which was inspired by Cezanne and based on color theory and interaction with oil and watercolor paints.
His personal history is one that writer’s love to write books about. In fact, one is. Roger Hull at Willamette University is writing a catalog on Widman for a lifetime retrospective at the Hallie Ford Museum to be held in 2009.
Born in 1929, he began his lifelong love affair with painting as a kid when he would draw copies of picture and, from there, moved to painting. He now sports a process by which every painting he does – whether big ones, 12 or so feet tall and many more wide – or small, are connected to one another.
“Doing this has its own history,” Widman said as he showed off his studio full of paintings of all sizes. “This is the culmination of years for work where pieces have connections with other pieces. The work itself becomes the history for the next piece. There are many versions and the ideas continue on to the next project.”
He has a bachelor’s degree in art from Syracuse University in 1951. Armed with the G.I. Bill, Widman wanted to move to the West to enroll in graduate school. He landed at the University of Oregon where he completed his master’s degree in art in 1956, working part-time as an instructor for the university. He used that experience to teach for the Extension Division in Roseburg, Coos Bay, Grants Pass, Port Orford and a few points in between from 1956-60.
Widman was a teacher and later dean of the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, from 1960 through 1981. When he was there, Widman established the Alumni and Friends Association to support the artists and students. He has a history of supporting all things art and his involvement with PCC’s longstanding art festival seems to be no different. And the college is happy to have him.
“Art Beat typifies the college’s mission by exposing our students and community to different art forms and cultures,” said President Preston Pulliams. “We want an agile learning environment that is responsive to the changing educational needs of our students and the communities we serve. Art Beat facilitates growth and development of our district communities by making PCC an educational resource to the community.
“But more to the point – Art Beat is always entertaining and fun,” he added. “And it would not exist without the efforts and passions of people throughout the college and community. We all work together to create this wonderful event.”
Kickoff Reception at Southeast Center
Art Beat will kick-off at an opening ceremony from noon to 12:30 p.m., Monday, May 12, in the Great Hall, Southeast Center, 2305 S.E. 82nd Ave. Widman will present his featured artwork, the painting “Mother and Daughter,” which will be permanently installed at the campus, to Pulliams. The Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers will entertain with music and refreshments will be served. Following the gala, Widman will give an artist’s talk starting at 12:30 p.m., in Room 109 of Mt. Tabor Hall, Southeast Center. It will be an illustrated lecture where he will discuss his creations, forms derived from nature and transformed through formal art processes to create visionary images.
Parking at all three campuses, plus the Southeast Center, is free during Art Beat. The events will be held at the Cascade Campus (705 N. Killingsworth), Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W. Springville Road), Southeast Center (2305 S.E. 82nd and Division) and the Sylvania Campus (12000 S.W. 49th Ave.). For a complete schedule, please visit the Art Beat Web site at http://artbeat.pcc.edu/
Art Beat 2008 Highlights
There is something for everyone at Portland Community College’s 21st annual Art Beat festival. Besides Widman, Art Beat will feature plenty of artists who will conduct workshops or host shows across the PCC district. They include:
Tears of Joy Puppet Show will perform, “Anasi the Spider,” at the Sylvania Campus’ Performing Arts Center from 11 a.m. to noon, Friday, May 16. The nationally acclaimed and award winning group’s show is based on West African mythology and is perfect for children.
Author Kathleen Halme will give a poetry reading and lead a discussion on her most recent Oregon Book Award nominated book, “Drift and Pulse,” from 10 to 11 a.m., Tuesday, May 13, in the foyer of the Performing Arts Center, Sylvania Campus.
PCC art faculty members Mark Andres and Christopher Knight will turn the Building 3 mall at the Rock Creek Campus into a huge artists’ studio. Both will collaborate on the development of two multiple-paneled paintings from 9 to 11 a.m., Monday, May 12, and Wednesday, May 14.
George Johanson will give an informative presentation on cave paintings in Lascaux, France, from 1 to 2 p.m., Wednesday, May 14, Room 102, Building 3, Rock Creek Campus.
Internationally acclaimed ceramic artist, author and illustrator Baba Wague Diakite will present a lecture on his work and Malian culture 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 14, in Room 108 of the Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building, at the Cascade Campus.
On Thursday, May 15, Yoshihiro Kitai will host an artist’s talk from 3 to 4 p.m. in Room 223 of the humanities building at Cascade. Kitai’s work is strongly rooted in a background in traditional art practices and Asian culture.
For more information, call (503) 977-4270. Those needing interpreting or other accommodations, call the Office for Students with Disabilities, (503) 977-4341 voice, (503) 246-4072 TTY.