TEXT and PHOTOS by KB DIXON
“The portrait,” said legendary photographer Arnold Newman, “is a form of biography. Its purpose is to inform now and record for history.” A better, more concise summary of the genre could hardly be imagined.
As with the portraits in previous parts of this series, I have focused here on the talented and creative people whose diverse legacies are destined to become part of our cultural history.
My aspiration has remained the same: to document the contemporary cultural landscape and to produce a decent photo – a photo that is not a simple transcription but the distillation of an authentic moment; a photograph that recognizes the medium’s connection to reality and that preserves for me and others a unique and honest sense of the subject.
The environmental details have again been reduced to a minimum. The subjects have the frame to themselves and do not compete with the context for attention. This makes for a simpler, more blunt, more intense encounter with the character. It is this encounter with the character that enlivens the picture.
Showalter became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Oregon Symphony in 2014. Before moving to Portland, he served as vice president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, associate vice president of the University of Chicago, and associate dean of Stanford Law School. A classically trained pianist, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Under Showalter, the symphony has expanded its commissioning, recording and digital programming. All Classical Portland frequently broadcasts Oregon Symphony concerts, some of which are syndicated to tens of millions of homes through American Public Media.
Ross, founder and CEO of Renegade Opera, is an award-winning artist and teacher. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2019 and was named National Champion in the 2020 National Association of Teachers of Singing Classical Singing Competition. Ross has performed with the Portland Opera, Opera on Tap (Portland and Boston) and Emmanuel Music, among others. She is a founding member of In the Pocket, a choral ensemble, and has a leading role with Our Song Artists, a feminist non-profit classical music organization.
An actor, director and teacher, Mendelson was recently appointed Acting Artistic Director of the Actors Conservatory (TAC). Alongside TAC, he is Artistic Director of the Portland Shakespeare Project and longtime Resident Artist at Artists Repertory Theatre. His acting achievements include The Skin of Our Teeth, Merry Spirit, The Cherry Orchard, Othello, Three Sisters and Eurydice. His directing credits include The importance of being serious, the understudy and intimate clothing.
An award-winning poet and co-founder of Night Owls Press, DeGuzman has received grants and grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, PEN America, and the J. Paul Getty Foundation, among others. Most recently, she was awarded a 2022 Oregon Literary Fellowship. Your work appears in Atticus Review, Cimarron Review, Five:2:One, Iron Horse Literary Review, RHINO, Phoebe, Strange Horizons, Hobart, Reed Magazine and elsewhere.
A legendary singer, songwriter and guitarist, Jones is a roots artist whose work is steeped in a rich musical history. He has recorded six critically acclaimed albums and has toured nationally and internationally for more than three decades. As a member of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, Jones has received 31 Muddy Awards from the Cascade Blues Association, including Lifetime Achievement.
Earlier in the series
- The cultural landscape: 11 portraits. theater director Marissa Wolf; pianist and composer Darrell Grant; Film Center director, Amy Dotson; Actor, director and co-founder of The Red Door Project, Kevin Jones; owner of independent bookstore Emily Powell; philanthropist and art collector Jordan Schnitzer; visual artist Jef Gunn; actor and singer Ithica Tell; classical guitarist Scott Kritzer; Publisher and Editor Rhonda Hughes; Poet John Beer.
- The Cultural Landscape: Part 2. Composer Kenji Bunch; opera director Priti Gandhi; musical theater guide Dan Murphy; PICA Managing Director Victoria Frey; choreographer and dancer Shaun Keylock; Zeljka C. Kekez, Head of Architectural Landscape and Urban Design; visual artist and educator Barry Pelzner; poet and editor Susan Moore; singer-songwriter and composer Cal Scott; Author and independent filmmaker Kelley Baker.
- The Cultural Landscape: Part 3. Chris Ayzoukian, Executive Director, Patricia Reser Center for the Art; theater founder and director Samantha Van Der Merwe; Steven Bass, head of Oregon Public Broadcasting; Teresa Christiansen, photographer and director of photography at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.