Friday, April 16, 2010

Ossie and the Guerrilla

Ossie and Harriet's it aint! So if your looking for paintings to display over a nice living room sofa, or your still stuck in the 1950's somewhere like much of VanWa' s art patrons you will want to try another gallery.
A few of the paintings are as rough as the sawn cedar that frames the work. However this is just what VanWa needs in the ongoing evolution of our art community. VanWa needs a place where young artists can come together to fail and succeed just as it does in this opening exhibit of local artists work.

Let's be clear, the artists who are currently showing at Tryckpress Galleri and Guerrilla Gallery probably won't quit their day jobs anytime soon. But their hearts and minds are definitely in the right place. They are on the path and they believe that there is a market for the work that they are producing. Most of the work hanging in this show is in the two hundred dollar range. Much of it is worth the asking price. Some may not be, but that is hardly the point here. Everyone has their own esthetic influenced by how they value art, but all of us can understand the mechanics of patronage. Encouragement almost always is an essential component in the success of an artist long before the artistic breakout moment manifests.

Without bona-fide encouragement in the form of an Arts Commission these young artists have forged ahead to support themselves. A worthy tack, essential to surviving in VanWa: "If there is no wind in your sails...blow!"

Tryckpress Galleri (Ossie Bladine) and Guerrilla Gallery (Olin Unterwegner) have taken over nearly all the top floor of a Billy Dean (Dean Irwin, notable local arts supporter) property at 1001 Main street in downtown VanWa above the Rosemary Cafe. On a personal walk and squawk with Ossie, Olin and Mike (an investor/window washer extraordinare) I was reminded just how important it is for young artists to put themselves out there. Ossie and Olin, together with fellow artists Drew Taylor, Russ Mason and Lucas Adams "puke it out on white gallery walls", then have the “cajones” to invite facebook friends to check it out. It’s an act of social networking and gutsy guerrilla tactics. If you are just too old to appreciate this defiance, you will view this as an act of suicide. But to the youthful soul it is “the headlong rush into the bliss of making your mark in the world.” It is absolutely painful, and absolutely essential for young artists who are caught up in this need to create. The principles in this artistic venture have staked themselves with six months worth of cash in a bold move to bring their new galleries into existence. Let’s hope they make it, VanWa needs it! I for one will be curious to see how they blend it all together.

They’re in the infant stages of gathering like minds with like ambitions “who they get on with." It is part of a needed younger movement in the local arts scene that has been to long controlled by old proponents of what the arts should be like here in VanWa. This group like the new collective of artists in Uptown isn't sitting around waiting for an Arts Commission or a Center for the Arts. Their time is now and to postpone it is the real suicide!
The opening night reception is tonight Friday April 16th at 8pm

You can find them on the web at

and through the gallery listings on the Vancouver Voice search the gallery-listings

Llewellyn J. Rhoe
Founder, Arts Equity

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In memory of Jack Booch

For those of you who don't know Jack!...this will fill in a very important link in the chain of artistry that is part of our theatrical history at Arts Equity. For those of you who did know Jack you have some indication of just who we lost when Jack passed, and how important he was to the work that we did at Arts Equity.

I sit to ponder my memories of Jack Booch because he was my most senior mentorial link in my four plus decade long career. I wonder if there will ever be another with his wit and wisdom? Jack could cut to the literary chase before most even knew it was a race. He never minced words especially amongst friends. A trait and a talent that will be hard to replace.

For those of us lucky enough reach senior status in the theatre, we know all to painfully how difficult it is to forge links with an older mentors in ourcollaborative chain. At the same time, we are often overwhelmed with neophytes clammering for a "chink in the chain"... youth who want to "glean the nuggets" of what we know and the how to's of moving ahead in their quest for a misconceived piece of celebrity.

Jack would have none of celebrity. Maybe it was his birth in Birmingham, Alabama or his intellectual prowess honed as a student at Reed College that gave him his edge and his take on the art world. Jack Booch's career included directing many of the theatre's great plays and great talents. A personal friend of Edward Albee and perhaps the director of the definitive version of "A Delicate Balance" certainly qualified him as a celebrity. As the Executive Producer for The Theatre Guild Inc. in Manhattan, Jack sheparded many a work from the theatrical canon to life on the boards. As a marketing director at the Kennedy Center I came to know of Jack as The Executive Director of The Theatre Guild in the mid 1980's.

I have many memories of Jack, three that stand out above the rest. Soon after an article appeared in our local weekly paper, The Vancouver Voice, Jack invited me and my producing partner Helene M. Rasanen to lunch. Jack loved good food and he loved to laugh. A laugh that was boisterous, poignant and politically incorrect while being "dead on". Over pasta and wine we shared a love of the great playwrights and a distain for the mediocre in performance. Jack was never above telling someone: "Don't quit your day job" and always he meant it when he said it.

I asked Jack once what he thought of a particular performance and his reply spoke volumes..."The only thing I remember" he said, "was at the intermission break they told us it was time to tinkle and have a cookie." You had to know Jack.

But the third and final memory was by far the best and the most revealing. Over Jacks seventy-two year life span, he was notorious for staging his own birthday parties. An annual event he had been doing from a very early age...I am told since about eight. But as his 72 anniversary rolled around he bowed to the requests of his long time friends to let them honor him. We met at Rosemary Cafe on Main Street in Vanvouver, Washington on a Sunday afternoon in late October 2009. Jack had been battling kidney cancer for several months and despite his condition, his wit and humor were firmly intact. About forty of us took turns relating our connection to Jack and shared the gift of how we came to love him. The testiments spanned his entire lifetime including his oldest and drearest friend from childhood. What could have been a sad and sober afternoon reached a climax often emulated in the theatre but seldom reached. The great examples of comedy are built around a trio of moments. Stck that holds our focus and builds in waves to that moment when it erupts into extended waves of laughter. Here was Jack sitting with a party hat on his head. A cross between a dunce's hat and Merlin's magic...He was at ease with both in this instance. Someone had given him a prayer shawl perhaps to comfort him in this final performance and Jack would have none of it. He raised the shawl to place it over his hat and it wouldn't go, he raised it twice to see if it was playing to the house and then with a twinkle in his eye he broke the fourth wall and looked directly at me as he went for it the third time he brought down the house.

Jack Booch was as errascable as they come. He pulled no punches, and the thought of tempering his politically incorrect utterances was something he never considered. It was refreshing to hear the truth uttered from a sage of the thatre. Early in his life Jack Booch was the director of The Portland Civic Theatre from 1966-1969.

A graduate of Reed College Jack Booch was born in Birmingham, Alabama on November 14, 1936 and passed away in Portland, Oregon on February 11, 2010

Missing and Remembering Jack
Llewellyn J. Rhoe