Suzi's Blog

Suzi Steffen is the Performing and Visual Arts Editor for the Eugene Weekly and an adjunct instructor at the UO's School of Journalism and Communication.
She can also be found on Twitter.

Artist Marina Hajek with her sculptures.

Cure the Winter Blues
By Rachel Coussens
Images courtesy of Kelly Tavares

Do not settle for having the winter blues, have the greens, yellows and reds too. Visit the Mills International Center Art Exhibition for the Winter Blues... and Greens Yellows Reds… show going on now until March 19th. View art from seven different artists including Samuel Becerra, Jean Foss, William Golino, Marina Hajek, Joan Miligan, Kelly Tavares and Jessica Zapata.

Artist Joan Miligan at the January 22nd opening reception.

“By community demand, they (Mills International Center) opened the idea of a gallery,” artist and art coordinator Kelly Tavares says. “The intent is to put everyone together, including people outside the university.” The show features artists from Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala and America giving a cultural perspective to the pieces. “We brought both art and outside experience to a university activity,” artist Joan Miligan says.

Jessica Zapata creates photographs that focus on doors and windows from the colonial times in Mexico. “With my photos I hope I can show what you can learn and see in Mexico. You can learn about the life people had from the past,” she says.

“My work is perfect for a show about lighting up winter gloom,” Miligan says. He paintings encompass light and energy that capture more of a summer season. “Everything I paint is an expression of who I am and who I want to be,” she says.

Artist Marina Hajek creates clay sculptures that she wants to use to challenge people to think. “It’s a way for me to express myself. I grew up in a society that was afraid of expressing themselves,” she says of Guatemala.

Painting by Joan Miligan

“When you surround yourself in other cultures, ideally, you are hungry to understand and appreciate what is enjoyable to you,” Miligan says. According to Tavares, the Mills International Center plans on putting on one art exhibit per academic term. The Winter Blues…and Greens Yellows Reds… will be showing until March 19th at the Mills International Center located in the Erb Memorial Union on the University of Oregon Campus.

I have so much to say about Monday night's rehearsal, and a whole lot more video to edit and work with, but it's taken several hours and tech consults (thanks, James!) and interventions to get this one short video up here. We WILL speed up the process!

This is at the end of rehearsal; other kids are rehearsing "NYC" in the dance studio about 15 feet away, and backstage, there's costume fitting. Here, the two Annies (Asa's in Cast A; Jaya's Cast B) rehearse their big songs. More coming soon!

March, Candlelight Vigil, Rally, etc. etc. etc. (Thanks for the tip, Monica Christoffels!)

From the LGBTQA's Facebook events, a list of things, after the jump.

UPDATE IV: LGBTQA co-director Alex Esparza said that a candlelight vigil starts at 6 pm tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 2) in the LGBTQA office. He said no one department or student group is sponsoring it but that "it's all of us, coming together."

Esparza said that right now, people are bringing to the office rainbow ribbons with UO President Richard Lariviere's email message on them, and tying them up around the office. He said that an offer of financial support came in about 20 minutes ago.

Esparza added, "Although it’s a scary experience, it’s done nothing but iron my resolve and embolden me to fight against this kind of hatred. I won't stand for this any longer, and I don’t feel our campus community will any longer either."

The U of O's Department of Public Safety is looking at this "as a bias crime," and the Eugene Police Department is investigating the vandalism as well, according to Julie Brown, director of media relations in the UO's Department of Media Relations. "It's an ongoing investigation," she said. "They're calling it criminal mischief and intimidation."

UPDATE III: Email from our news intern, Deborah Bloom, and photo of the swasktika'd carpet itself, after the jump. In her notes, she writes, "ASUO Legislative Affairs Rep Robert Greene says, 'My biggest fear is that this is only the beginning.'"

UPDATE II: Text of a letter to the Daily Emerald from the ASUO Women's Center is also below the jump.

UPDATE: Our new news intern, Deborah Bloom, has gone to campus to investigate further. Monica Christoffels, UO student and Oregon Daily Emerald receptionist, took a photo of the ASUO-support poster that covers the bare place where the swastika was painted on the carpet. (UPDATE: That portion of the carpet was removed. Photo of it and the swastika after the jump.)

Image by Monica Christoffels, available at

Just got several emails in rapid succession about a swastika painted on the carpet of the University of Oregon's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer Alliance office.

Though the student leaders of the LGBTQA are in a meeting with the president of the university, I spoke with Cat McGraw, program assistant at the LGBT Education and Support Services Program.

McGraw said that the staff of the LGBTQA last left the office at 2:30 pm on Friday, and that the custodial staff found the door unlocked last night and "a 4 by 4 foot swastika on the carpet" about 1 am today. She said that the flat-screen TV monitor and the computer monitor in the office were also painted out, and that the damage was "well over $1,000."

"The student feel like they've been targeted," McGraw said. Apparently, some of the administrators of the LGBTQA have been active in the protests against the Pacifica Forum.

UO President Richard Lariviere issued a statement over email. Full text of the statement is below the jump.

Updates here as more information becomes available.

Full text of the UO president's statement to the university community, sent just after noon today:

Feb. 1, 2010

Dear University Community:

Early this morning, we discovered a large swastika had been painted on the carpet in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning Alliance (LGBTQA) Student Union Office in the Erb Memorial Union. It is reprehensible that such a hateful, cowardly act occurred on our campus. When one group is targeted, it threatens all of us and must be addressed directly and swiftly.

Unfortunately, these types of events can and do happen, even today. When they do, it reinforces our imperative as a community to band together against hate and intolerance of any kind.

We must do all that we can to come together as a community to fight such acts of intolerance and to provide support to those affected as we deal with the aftermath of this event.

This act of vandalism is not about exercising free speech or having challenging, difficult conversations; this is about hate and vandalism. We will vigorously pursue all avenues available to us to hold the perpetrators accountable for this cowardly act. We will continue to work with the Department of Public Safety and student leaders to ensure that we are doing all that we can to preserve the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff.

Richard W. Lariviere
President, University of Oregon

Text of the ASUO Women's Center letter to the editor of the ODE:

We, the staff of the ASUO Women's Center, wish to write a letter in solidarity with the LGBTQA in light of the recent hate crime committed in the space. Over the weekend of January 29th to February 1st, their office was broken into and vandalized with large, spray-painted swastika symbols. We acknowledge that this crime affects the student body and the larger Eugene community. In addition to violating the physical space of the LGBTQA, this is also a violation of mental and emotional well-being and sense of safety. The EMU is a student-funded space where students gather, organize, and celebrate diversity at the University of Oregon. When hate crimes like this occur, these critically important spaces become unsafe for everyone. What will it take for our community to recognize a hate crime when we see one? When will we start responding from a place of healing and solidarity in ways that will have lasting and palpable effects? We implore administration to take action to restore and ensure the future safety of this space and the students who inhabit it. We also demand that this issue is not ignored and that an appropriate educational campaign continues and that student attention and action are taken. We hope that this event is recognized not as an isolated incident but rather as a part of a system of oppression and bias that continues to affect the students on campus as well as people in our community.

The carpet, removed, with the swastika on it. Photo by Deborah Bloom

Notes from news intern Deborah Bloom after interviews with LGBTQA executive member Alex Esparza, and her photo of the swastika.

The swastika was spray-painted onto the LGBTQA's carpet sometime between Friday at 4:10 pm and 1 am today. The door was apparently left unlocked, but, Esparza says, not by LGBTQA staff. They had locked the door but since the lock does not appear to be tampered with, they think that UO facilities left the door unlocked after cleaning.

Esparza and ASUO Legislative Affairs Rep Robert Greene say that they think there is a strong correlation between the Pacifica Forum and this incident. They think they were targeted because, as Esparza says, they have been "very vocal opponents to the Pacifica Forum". They have this impression because "there have been many student-heavy protests, which as escalated the action" happening around the Pacifica Forum. Esparza thinks that "either a Pacifica Forum member, or another individual or individuals who feel strongly about the Pacifica Forum's message."

Facilities removed the 4 X 4 carpeted square at around 9 AM. Once the ASUO Executive heard about this incident, they made a poster for the LGBTQ to express their support. That poster now lies where the swastika was, taped to the bare ground.

Greene says, "My biggest fear is that this is only the beginning."


On Feb 1st, it was discovered that the LGBTQA office was vandalized over the weekend. The office was entered and a 4ft. by 4ft. swastika was spray painted across the floor. The vandals also spray painted both the television and computer monitors in the office. This action was intended to scare and intimidate us, but now more then every we need to stand strong as a community and respond to these heinous and despicable acts.

The LGBTQA in conjunction with many other student unions and organizations on campus has organized several events to respond to this incident and foster solidarity and unity with the greater campus and Eugene community.

An Attack on One is an Attack on All.

Help Create a Community United.

Love Will Triumph.

Event Schedule:

---Tuesday, Feb 2-----

*Candlelight Vigil
LGBTQA and EMU Amphitheater
Meet outside the LGBTQA office at 6pm and the we will march around campus and reconvene in the EMU Amphitheater for a speakout.

---Wednesday, Feb 3---

*Solidarity March
UO Bookstore and 13th
Meet in front of the UO Duckstore/Bookstore on 13th at 11:30 and march down 13th to raise awareness of the events that have taken place and create a safer campus.

*Solidarity Rally
EMU Amphitheater
A show of solidarity withing the EMU Amphitheater against hatred and bigotry on the UO Campus. Listen to speakers and then have a chance to speak out yourself and create messages and artwork to combat hate and oppression.

---Thursday, Feb 4---

* Anti-Hate Forum, Part II
Ben Linder Room
More information TBA shortly

---Friday, Feb 5---

*Breaking Bigotry's Protest and Rally
Outside Johnson Hall
More information TBA shortly

Zombie spangers sitting on Rosa Parks. Image by Todd Cooper

Did you read the Public art story last week? If you read it in print, you may have noticed I wrote about a woman named "Eloise Barney."

Who's that? wondered the committee, the consultants and anyone else associated with public art in Eugene or Portland.

Well, that was Eloise Damrosch, only the executive director of Portland's Regional Arts and Culture Council.

Do I have any idea where the mistake came from, other than my brain? No, I do not, nor why it happened (fuzzy time period there, that cover story writing experience), and my deep apologies to Ms. Damrosch. It's correct online, and will be corrected in this week's paper as well. Meanwhile, mea culpa.

And by the way, isn't this Public Art Searchable Database just the coolest??? WANT.


Excuse me. It went down for almost four days,* It was being moved to a new server, and I couldn't access it for a couple of days; when it came back up (on the new server) this morning, I was scribbling this week's cover story like a crazed raccoon, so I couldn't blog.

Two things (I am *so* going to post my interview with Chris McVay tomorrow morning):

1. There's a PICASSO up at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. And although the PR folk assured me it wasn't just any old Picasso, allow me to tell you that no web photo, even one on a big screen, is anything like the big, beautiful thing itself.

Bust D'Homme, Pablo Picasso, courtesy Sotheby's. (c) 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

See, this is not even right. Look away from the screen, pull up your calendar and make plans to go to the J-Schnitz and see this work. I happened by J-Schnitz director Jill Hartz' office yesterday just after it went up, and she took me up to see it. The painting is HUMONGOUS and completely dominates its little (very secure) room. The colors, the brushstrokes, the confidence (and arrogance!) of the man who painted this ... I was bowled over. Hartz said, "Isn't it wonderful to be part of a museum that can have this painting!" She seemed truly appreciative to the anonymous lender and impressed by the work, which she hadn't seen yet either. So, you know, GET OVER THERE. You can see the "Amazonia" exhibit while you're there.

Read about an exciting theater-fest in Portland after the jump!

2. Theater in Portland!

Marion in Dirty Bomb. Courtesy Rob Newton

I know that the absolutely most wonderfulest thing to see in Portland this week is Portland Center Stage's newish Snow Falling on Cedars, but the second most wonderful thing is the mix of performances in Fertile Ground festival (also run by PCS' human whirlwind Trisha Mead, who handles publicity for the theater and this festival at the same time).

I saw five theatrical presentations, including two unstaged readings (fun!) and one play that was beautifully heartfelt and thankfully, closing the night I went. I'll say no more about that one.

Things I enjoyed:
Best from my five was Dirty Bomb (where I randomly, or not so randomly since he designed the set and the sound) ran into artist Jamie Newton before the play. It was my second one of the day, so I wasn't at all overloaded. The piece ran about 80 minutes, I think, and I found it intricately, intimately bleak.

Playwright and director Rob Newton (who just started a Twitter feed, and ohmigosh, I just realized that he and Jamie have the same last name; are they brothers?) recently moved to Portland from NY, and it showed in the play's deep grounding in Manhattan. The apartment where most of the action takes place was directly by Ground Zero, according to Newton (Rob), and the jokes about Jersey, Park Slope and other locales brought a smile to my face.

The play's funny, sharp, painful, especially when actors Paul Glazier (Alec) and Trish Egan (Marion) take the stage. Marion's about to turn 70, and her children – Jamie (Jason Glick, iffy early on but much better in a late scene) and Karen (Elizabeth Huffman), both failures of one sort or another, can't deal with the idea of her birthday brunch. Marion can't really either. Glazier plays Alec as a fierce con boy and fake innocent who slowly reveals layers of desire and need, who seduces both of the middle-aged siblings and knows far more about what he's doing than he pretends to. He's compellingly disconcerting, a shyster caught up more than he intended to be in the family's mess. Huffman could do far better as Karen; she's angry almost every minute onstage, and angry at the same volume and in the same tone. That grows wearisome.

At first, I didn't like the sound, the mash of staticky newscasts and noises from bad news of the past, but I think they might play a part in Marion's slow deterioration, or portray some of what's going on in her brain. I'm also not sure, and would need to see it again to know more about this, whether Jamie's monologue of trauma surrounding a blind giant on the 1 train works as well as the playwright wants it to. Didn't think it was quite as traumatic as the character wanted to suggest. Overall, I found Dirty Bomb rather rewarding (and certainly think it has possibilities for expanded production).

The other full-length play I saw was Teatro Milagro/Miracle Theatre's American Sueño, which began with a bang (and a super-hot flirtation/dance) and faded into repetitive discussions, with characters playing the same roles in arguments, over the length of the play. HOWEVER, I enjoyed the bilingual nature of the play (some untranslated from Spanish to English, much untranslated from English into Spanish) and the audience, and I thought Joaquín López's songs and singing voice added emotional and intellectual strength to the piece. López plays Augustín, the main character and a man who has to deal with the consequences of having crossed the border illegally with his parents — when he was 2 years old. He meets Mimi (Daniel Moreno), but their brief, hot flirtation is broken up by Augustín's father, who's injured and needs his son's help.

As the Oregonian's reviewer says, the play brings up "important issues" and has a lot of heart. I just wanted the two women in the play, one of whom is the play's co-writer and the other of whom is the co-writer's daughter, to measure up even briefly to the chops of the two men. Alas, it was not to be. Still, it's not a bad 70 minutes, certainly filled with conflicts that all too many people must face around health care, citizenship status, coming out to homophobic parents and more.

I see more plays this weekend — and will make a mighty effort to get to some of the associated visual art as well — and I plan to blog/tweet about them from Portland! Come on up; the festival ends Feb. 1! All of the other reviewers have loved Truth and Beauty and Willow Jade, which I won't be seeing, so perhaps y'all want to give 'em a go? Head to the Fertile Ground website for more info on tickets — and what's sold out.

* I have been informed that my "almost four days" was a fiction. It only FELT like four days. Probably it felt like four days because I *planning* to blog for two of those four days, and then CRASH and then NEW SERVER and all together? It took me *four days* to get to the blog. Apologies to our highly competent IT dude!

I'm at the Hult Center for the final public art committee meeting. We're technically in the lobby, but it's the lobby of the Lower Balcony, if you're looking for it. People on the committee are drifting in, grabbing lunch (smells good), lots of hugging etc.

KVAL is here, about to announce that they're here and do an intro, maybe. I'm setting up the live blog with CoverItLive. You can log in or comment without logging in on the blog below.

As should be obvious by now, I'm not making it to the Thursday night rehearsals. Must engage my collaborators for end-of-the-week blogging.

6:29 pm, Timothy Wilcox is playing "Maybe," and the kids are starting to sing along. The two girls playing Annie have clearly bonded somewhat. Cast list below. I'm moving to CoverItLive so I can upload photos (& if luck allows, video; yeah, I still need to figure that out) more quickly. Also, all of y'all out there can follow Annie rehearsal in real time, which you know you want to.

6:34 pm ... And away we go!

Cast List
Annie Cast 2010 –

Cast A *** Cast B ***

Logan Auxier Silas Morrison
Jordan Dahl Joya Shapla
Makayla Sullivan Caroline Robinson
Haili Williamson Franny Stevens
Maddie Lincoln Denalee Johnson
Audrey Lux Baily Schaefer
Avery Monson Gillian Berglund
Ashley Schmittle Callia Varnon Welch
Eden Ray Kylie Scott
Aurora Ray Selena Hediger
Audrey Sparrow Alethea McCormack
Ruby Sutton Haylee Joseph
Emilyann Walker Tatyana Hediger
Elizabeth Walker Francesca Thuresson
Charlie Mclkrola-Dey Alex Goss
Ruby Mclkrola-Dey Addison Hancock
Phoebe Laws Ama Mykyta
Simone Laws Abby Schaefer
Savana Lindstrom Samantha Lawson

Principal Orphans
Cast A Cast B
Annie Asa Clevenger Jaya Rowelle
Pepper Emma Mowry Charlie Emery
Duffy Madeline Blumm Savannah Knight Meigs
July Devan Coombes Sarah Parsons
Molly Caitley Criswell Maggie Shidek
Tessie Olivia Buss Tatum Johnson
Kate Jordan King Chloe Hendrickson

Principal Characters: ***
Hannigan Sadie Waddell Taylor Doble
Rooster Aidan Ziegler Hansen Matthew Stevens
Lily Diamond Huynh Cassie Serra
Warbucks Chad Laws Corey Dalton
Grace Stefhani Anderson Çourtney Volta
Drake Jourdan Ross Jourdan Ross
Mrs Greer Jonique Koelblin Holley Flora
Mrs. Pugh Sabrina Gross Harper Johnson
Annette Nalin Sayvongsa Taylor Dalton
Cecille Olivia Nilsen Cortney Grant

Hooverville Denizens ***
Sophie Holley Flora Olivia Nilsen
Apple Seller Grace Gibson Grace Kelly
Dog Catcher Christopher Fornshell Tyler Goss
Bundles Amitabha Sarfatl Amitabha Sarfatl
Officer Ward Amitabha Sarfatl Amitabha Sarfatl

Radio Show ***
Bert Healy Conner Criswell Devin Rowelle
Wacky Devin Rowelle Conner Criswell

Cabinet ***
FDR Tyler Knotts Tyler Knotts
Howe Amitabha Sarfati Amitabha Sarfati
Ickes Hazel Herring Hazel Herring
Perkins Leilani Walker Leilani Walker
Morganthau Clara Berglund Clara Berglund
Hull Tyson Wedoff Tyson Wedoff

UPDATE: Raw "Hard-Knock Life" snippet

Note from Suzi Steffen: Freelancer Anna Grace, who teaches history at South Eugene High School, interviewed director Fred Gorelick, who teaches at North Eugene's Academy of Arts. Photos will be up soon. Photo of Richard Leebrick as Charlie Fox below, courtesy Lord Leebrick

Changes and Challenges
An interview with Fred Gorelick, director of the Leebrick’s Speed-the-Plow
by Anna Grace

Speed-the-Plow is David Mamet’s biting comedy set in fast-paced Hollywood, where massive egos reign supreme over a festering world of ambition. I was able to grab director/educator Fred Gorelick last week between school bells and final dress rehearsal for a quick chat about his upcoming production.

No, he didn’t wake up one morning in early spring with a desire to direct this tricky Mamet piece; the reason he’s the director came after a series of artistic decisions. The Lord Leebrick was slated to stage Mamet’s American Buffalo, but that play ran into casting issues. Original director Larry Fried is now in, rather than behind, the Mamet. An email appeared in Gorelick’s inbox asking him to direct, Speed was exchanged for Buffalo — and the three-person cast fell into place. Gorelick is as enthusiastic about the challenge as he is about his cast.

Mamet is mammoth among American playwrights. Gorelick likens Mamet to Shakespeare. He believes Mamet’s work to be as challenging, intimidating and wrought with expectation as the best works of the Bard. With dialogue Gorelick calls “as musical as verse, with all attendant ticks and overlaps of conversation,” Mamet has a gift for lifting true human communication out of our offices and living rooms and placing it on the stage. The task, Gorelick says, is leading his actors to connect this heightened language to their own truth.

Gorelick says, “This cast could be doing this play at any professional theater in the country.” He says he feels strongly that the actors — Fried as Bobby Gould, Zoë Grobart as Karen and Richard Leebrick as Charlie Fox — are ideally placed in this show. Particularly close to Gorelick’s heart is the work of Grobart as Karen. Mamet has never been known for his sympathetic female characters. Gorelick says, “As with all Mamet’s women, Karen is a piece of work. But Zoë handles it with inspiration and imagination”

Gorelick enjoyed the challenge. Eugene audiences were delighted by his sharp, stylish, productions of Present Laughter and West Moon Street. This staging of Speed-the-Plow has him jumping outside of his own box. “At this point in my career, I don’t need to just direct another play,” says Gorelick, who has been directing throughout the country for 37 years now. “I’ve directed every kind of show. If people pay money in a theater to see it, I’ve directed it. At this point I’m looking for remuneration that is more than financial.”

Because it’s challenge for himself, his actors and audiences, Gorelick sees Speed-the-Plow as an opportunity to teach while pushing himself creatively and leaving audiences with a Mamet comedy.

Speed-the-Plow runs at the Lord Leebrick through Feb. 6. Tix at 541-465-1506 or on the site.

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