Out of the Closet With Female Rapper JenRo

Jen Ro’s video CLOSET opens the film weekend Friday, Oct. 5

JenRo is an out, proud female rapper.

If that sounds like that might be unusual and downright tough in the rough and tumble world of the rap music business, it is. But don’t tell her that. JenRo is just doing what comes naturally, making music, something she has done her entire life.

JenRO’s first time rapping on stage was at the age of 10 years old. She’s never stopped.

Today, JenRO has released four independent albums under her own successful indie label RO Records. She has toured numerous cities across the country with a dedicated and growing fan base that follow her every beat. Her music videos have been featured on the lgbt-focused network, LOGO, along with a documentary she is featured in, “Pick up the Mic.”

But The Astoria Queer Film Weekend will be one of the only places to see her new music video, “Closet.” The music video details the struggles JenRo faced after she came out as a lesbian and what many might see as a very young age. HipFish spoke to JenRo about her latest project and here is what she had to say:

JenRo, where did you grow up?
I was born and raised on the West Coast in the Bay Area of California.

When did you come out?
When I was 13, in 7th grade. Pretty damn young, but I was proud and it made me who I am.

When did you get involved with music?
I grew up around music all my life. My dad was a DJ and my older sister is a musician. I started playing drums for jazz band in 6th grade until high school. Got my first beat machine when i was 15 and been writing music at young age. I’ve been involved in music dam near all my life.

Did you ever get bullied as a kid?
I never really got bullied, but I was more like the bully. I had a lot of anger when I was young and just wanted to punk everyone, including the boys. It was fun to me back then, but I look back and found better ways to take out aggression,

Do you find it difficult to be a queer musician?
Not really, because I accept myself for whom I am. That’s where it has to start: within yourself. God gave me this gift to share with the world.

Why did you make “Closet”?
I made it to share with everyone my experience on coming out and to let people out there who haven’t came out, that they are not alone.

How personal is this music video to you?
Closet is very personal; coming out is a big deal when you’re young and finding yourself. So I wrote this with my heart and people have told me that I have changed their life.

What are your hopes for “Closet”?
I want it to influence those who may feel alone in this world. I want them to know that I went through a similar situation growing up.

Would you like to make more films/videos that deal with subject matter such as bullying?
Most definitely. I have done some other bullying PSA with youth and plan to do more,

What is the message that you would like young kids to learn from your video?
Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Don’t be afraid to be different and learn to love yourself no matter what.


In The Garden With The Marble Faun

Filmmakers Jason Hay and Steve Pelizza (left to right) at the Maysles Brother’s Theater in NYC.

The Astoria Queer Film Weekend will be the West Coast premiere of The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens.

There are very few documentary films as worshiped (especially by gay men) and analyzed (specifically by film buffs and critics) as the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens.

This is the true story of two very quirky and reclusive socialites/hoarders (much like Astoria’s own Flavel family) who also just so happened to be relatives of a First Lady named “Jackie.” The lives of the these two “Edies,” as told by acclaimed documentary filmmakers David and Albert Maysles, have gone on to influence film, fashion and pop culture. Everyone from photographer Bruce Weber to director Gus Van Sant have found inspiration in this film. An instant art house classic The Beales; story has been adapted for the stage and as an Emmy-award winning feature for television.

This seminal documentary may focus on the story of a quirky mother and daughter, but within that tall tale, filmmaker Jason Hay was intrigued by another person in that “cast,” a particular character who he believed might be worthy of a documentary film of his own: Jerry Torre, aka “The Marble Faun.”

“I had come to the end of my personal research of Grey Gardens, and it stood out that there was this really missing story about Jerry,” says Hay, who lives and works in Portland, Oregon. “Not much was known about his life before or after. With very few living links to Grey Gardens, I wanted to help fill in more of the story. What we found was that the original documentary wasn’t even the most amazing part of his life, and the film grew and developed from there.”

Torre, a native New Yorker born and raised in Brooklyn, was given the nickname “The Marble Faun” by Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale. He is now a New York-based sculptor and spends his time pursuing his lifelong ambition, carving stone at the Art Students of League of New York.

“Not only does Jerry have a phenomenal story to tell, but he is also an enthralling raconteur,” says Hay. “His story unfolds as a classic American tale. A compromising childhood, then a dash for freedom leading him indirectly to Grey Gardens, a formative event in his life. Later awakening to his sexuality in the 1970′s in New York City, going on to travel in Europe and the Middle East under unique circumstances, and sadly falling into some of the darker passions in life. Eventually pulling himself up and dusting himself off, he decides to heed a lifelong call to carve stone and discovers his love for the craft. Jerry Torre’s sculptures help free him, and he fully develops into the beloved individual he is today.”

So how did Hay initially track down The Marble Faun?

“After researching where to find Jerry, I connected with him through email and he then reached out by phone,” says Hay. “We met up in New York to discuss the project I had in mind. Shortly after, I met up with a long-time friend, Steve Pelizza, and we started working on the film together.”

The real two Edies and Jerry Torre the “Marble Faun.”

Filming of “The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens” first stared in 2009. Both Pelizza and Hay were living in New York City at the time and shooting as much as possible. “It is 100-percent natural with no second takes. The cinema verite style is as much of a tribute to the original documentary by the Maysles, as it is a story about Jerry. Since this was our first film, everyone, including Jerry, was really involved with every aspect.”

This includes filling in the blanks left out in the original documentary.

Says Hay: “The nature of Jerry’s stories at first was Grey Gardens focused. As we went on, he got comfortable that we were telling his whole story and topics got a lot more personal. He was very forthcoming about being a runaway child, his troubles with addictions, and medical concerns. Very little was left out.”

According to Hay, from a cinematic standpoint, Pelizza developed a slow and methodical way of dealing with the camera and Jerry as a subject. This method worked well for both the subject and the filmmakers.

“It lends well to what we encountered; Jerry, the mansion, the stonework. Taking a careful, close look at Jerry’s many facets, the viewer is invited to explore all of these stories, instead of being overwhelmed by the whole picture at once” says Hay. “We shot 30 hours of film over the course of a year. There were a lot of sculptures completed and filmed during the time. We could do a whole documentary about his 300-pound marble sculptures.”

After returning to Oregon from the Maysles Institute, in New York’s Harlem neighborhood, where they first premiered this film, Hay and Aggregate Pictures’ main focus is getting through the final stages of production.

“This story is far from being just about Grey Gardens. Jerry’s story encompasses many personal issues of social relevance, making him very identifiable. It also makes for an engrossing film. To that end, we are getting it seen at festivals, such as the one in Astoria, which will be the West Coast premier,” says Hay. “The final goal being theatre and DVD releases.”

And did Torres get under their skin, much like the Beales did for the Maysles brothers?

“Jerry impacted both Steve’s and my life incredibly,” says Hayes. “We formed a life long friendship, working together for 3 years. During the whole process, we knew that we were making a friend as well as a movie.”






In the Garden With The Marble Faun

Out of the Closet With Female Rapper JenRo

Q-Film Dance Celebration and Cocktail Party

QFOLK/HIPFiSHmonthly proudly presents “Astoria Q-Film Weekend,” Friday and Saturday, October 5 – 6 at KALA Performance Space. The first time event features three separate screenings, (Friday night, a Saturday matinee and Saturday night), including two short features and a selection of short films. Event programmer Sid Deluca, in collaboration with the South Texas Underground Film Festival (LGBT programming) has assembled a wide spectrum of works; from documentary to drama, comedy, music video and even science fiction, all from the queer perspective and experience. Low-budget D.I.Y. to big studio quality, the program also includes two west coast premiers.

Deluca, a recent transplant to Astoria, coincidently screened his own short film Poison Oaks last October 2011 at the Big Fat Gay Movie Night at the Columbian Theater.

Poison Oaks is a comic, B&W homage (mockumentary) to the original 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens (directed by filmmakers The Maysle Brothers — Gimme Shelter, Salesman), which chronicled the declining years of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter “Little Edie,” who were the wildly eccentric paternal aunt and first cousin of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. In 2009, HBO aired the film Grey Gardens on the life of the Beale women starring Drew Barymore and Jessica Lange.

Now back to one of QFILM Weekend’s exciting west coast premiers, The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens Filmmakers. Jason Hay and Steve Pelizza are presenting their doucumentary based on the life of Jerry Torre, who at the time of the original Grey Gardens film, was a 17 year old gardener/handyman on the Beale’s East Hampton, condemned and crumbling estate. Torre became an accidental celebrity, who then disappeared from the public eye. Filmmaker Jason Hay took interest in Jerry’s story with the result, his new documentary. (see the accompanying feature for the rest of the story)

It was Jerry Torre that connected Sid Deluca with the Portland-based Jason Hay after seeing and loving Deluca’s Poison Oaks. This past June, “Marble Faun” debuted in NYC at The Maysle Brothers theater – and now makes its west coast premier right here in Astoria.

Equal parts the genesis of Astoria Q-Film Weekend, is Deluca’s association with South Texas Underground Film Festival and its programmer Mariella Sonam-Perez. Deluca’s film won two awards at the South Texas 2011 festival; Spirit of The Underground and Original Soundtrack, and will screen again at the 2012 festival. Deluca turned to Sonan-Perez for her participation in the development of a film screening event in Astoria, after being impressed by the diversity of her programming in the LGBT arena. Sonan-Perez was excited to help plant seeds for a future festival, beginning with the concept of Q-Film Weekend. While films have been selectively chosen to represent a broad spectrum of topic and style, Q-Film Weekend is in the spirit of a film festival — it did not do a submissions call, but worked directly with the South Texas Festival and various film and video makers directly. A multi-venue LGBT film festival, supported by a filmmaker submission call is a future vision.

“I didn’t know just how open and arts-loving this town was until I moved here, and my film was shown at Big Fat Gay Movie Night at the Columbian Theater. It was a pleasant surprise and it made me realize how an event like Q-Film would certainly be a success. We’ve got great films, we’ve got a great venue, we’ve got a great town. I hope that this intimate-style mini-film fest will be an exciting new event that offers film as a socially aware medium as well as entertainment,” says Deluca.

Although the seating for each screening is limited, we look forward to this opportunity to present an LGBTQ film event of this caliber. The schedule of films offers a diverse look at the many issues facing the lives of LGBTQ peoples. We welcome all film lovers with respect and dignity. Get your tickets folks.


Amongst the current 12 films slated (also with a TBA list in progress), on the schedule is yet another west coast premier, SALTWATER, the Friday night short feature which explores the issue of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” in the life of a former Navyman, in addition to his personal challenges of coming out. The film also marks the acting debut of openly gay Australian rugby star, Ian Roberts.

  • Poignant short film, EMBRACING BUTTERFLIES from the Czech Republic, reunites two older women on a chance meeting, and rekindles childhood memories of a crush between them, and a possible future love affair.
  • Bollywood love story, YOU CAN’T CURRY LOVE, lushly filmed in Indian and co-starring Indian soap star Rakshak Sahni who finds surprising love on a business trip back to his homeland.
  • And jumping right off the screen, is Oakland, CA rap star Jen Ro, with her music-driven biographical coming out film, called CLOSET. Portland Queer Band Mattachine Social, who played earlier this year at KALA, filmed a music video in Astoria, featuring the pre-boarded Flavel House.

Friday and Saturday nights present Film Shorts and one 80 minute feature oer night. The 4pm Saturday matinee features all Film Shorts. Each screening presents new films. Please see page 13 for ticket buying info. Film goers can purchase all three screenings for a discount. Each screening event is $15. All three screening events is $40.

The Film Viewing Experience at KALA

HIPFiSHmonthly Performance Space, KALA, hosts the event. The refurbished vintage storefront will be fully curtained for optimal viewing, is equipped with professional sound and light, features cabaret table seating, cocktail specials, beer and wine, and complimentary movie snacks.

Seating is limited to 40 seats per screening. Due to the limited seating, tickets must be purchased in advance, online at Brown Paper Tickets. If access to online purchase is not available please call HIPFiSHmonthly to arrange for ticket purchase. 503.338.4878.


• Friday, October 5, 2012
Film Shorts and Feature Short
West Coast Premier
7:30pm – 9:30pm
doors open 7pm

Oakland, CA rapper Jen Ro explores her own early coming out in this emotionally charged music video. 4 Minutes.

I Need A Hero
Director – W.H. Bourne (Los Angeles, CA/New Orleans, LA)

Starting with the infamous quote by then Marvel Editor in Chief Jim Shooter, “There are no gays in the Marvel Universe”, I Need a Hero briefly follows the progress of LGBT representation in comics from Northstar coming out in the late 80’s, to Archie comics Kevin Keller, to Bunker in the New Teen Titans. It also takes a look at independent comics written by LGBT creators as well as the characters they create. Finally, the film explores the effects of LGBT characters on fans. 15 Minutes

Femmes Want Revolution
Directors: Simone and Haley Jude, San Francisco, CA.

A glittery, revolutionary romp. 4 Minutes

Polly, Jennifer, and Melissa
Director – Diego Ramirez (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia/Mexico)

An androgyne by the name of Polly recalls an episode of post coital anxiety while Jennifer confesses to a disquieting priest, and Melissa poses flirtatiously for the viewer. Mixing Sci-Fi, Queer and Horror- POLLY, JENNIFER AND MELISSA is a provocative performance-based video challenging gender roles and identity politics. 5 minutes

• 30 Minute BREAK – Complimentary Movie Snacks and No-Host libations

(West Coast Premier)
Directed by Charlie Vaughn, Los Angeles, CA

This American Indie drama follows several endearing characters as they wade through life seeking happiness, peace and ultimately, love. Will (Ronnie Kerr, Vampire Boys 2, Shut Up and Kiss Me) leaves the Navy after many years, soon reunites old friends and begins to start his new civilian life. His friend Rich (Bruce L Hart) tries to set him up with ruggedly handsome Josh (Ian Roberts-a former Australian professional rugby player, actor and model-Cedar Boys, Superman Returns, Little Fish). While there is immense chemistry between the two, timing and certain ideals never seem to align. When a shocking tragedy happens the two are paired up to pick up the pieces and sort through the after effects. Saltwater is a story about men of all ages, finding love, losing friends, navigating their way through life and knowing it’s the journey rather then the destination that’s important. 81 Minutes

• Saturday October 6, 2012
FILM Shorts Late Matinee
4pm – 6pm
doors open 3:30pm

Mattachine Social- Portland, OR

Music Video shot in Astoria featuring drag star Tammy Whynot. 3 Minutes

Director- Shani Heckman, San Francisco, CA

A moving and provocative video project focusing on LGBT foster youth who have emancipated and what their lives look like today. 23 Minutes.

Surprise Short TBA.

Directed by REID WATERER, Los Angeles, Ca.

Westernized guy Vikas has been obsessing about his straight boss Thom for years, much to best friend Amrita’s displeasure. But when a business trip sends Vikas to New Delhi and he meets handsome Sunil, the desk clerk at his luxury hotel there, everything changes for him. Amazed by Sunil’s sweetness and India’s beauty, his initial disgust at the transfer turns into a love affair with both. When a return to London and his boss inevitably arrives, Vikas must make the most painful decision of his life. A crowd-pleasing, east-meets-west, boy-meets-boy love story… with a Bollywood twist! 23 Minutes

15 minute break – Complimentary Snacks and No-Host Libations.

Directed by Sid Deluca, Astoria, OR

Shot with a $200 budget, this DIY “mockumentary” pays tribute to Grey Gardens with nods to John Waters and Andy Warhol. 27 Minutes followed by a Q&A with Director

• Saturday, October 5, 2012
Film Shorts and Feature Short
West Coast Premier
7:30 pm– 9:30pm
doors open 7pm

Embracing Butterflies
Karen Davidsen, Czech Republic.

Louise has lived her whole life in self-denial. An ordinary-seeming day takes an unexpected turn when she meets Anna, whom she went to school with as a young girl. Going down memory lane and the symbolic appearance of two girls brings up hidden emotions, insight and the thought that it’s never too late to embrace your butterflies. 8 Minutes

Daddy’s Big Girl
Directed – Reid Waterer(Los Angeles, CA)

Overweight and uninspired Millie attempts to finally reconcile with her father, but his half-dressed male companions keep getting in the way. 17 Minutes

Welcome To New York
Directed and written by Steven Tylor O’Connor- Los Angeles, CA

A comedy short film based on story by Sean David. It starring Sherry Vine, Sean Paul Lockhart, Lauren Ordair, Ashleigh Murray, Megan Kane, Matthew Watson with Casper Andreas, Trey Gerrald, Shacottha and Steven Tylor O’Connor. Welcome to New York is based on the stories of young New Yorkers, both gay and straight, and their first time experiences in New York City. 30 Minutes

• 30 minute BREAK – Complimentary Movie Snacks and No-Host Libations

The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens (West Coast Premiere)
Jason Hay (Portland, OR) and Steve Pelizza (New York, NY)

Jerry Torre is a sculptor at the Art Students League in New York City. He is best known for his appearance in the original 1975 Maysles Brothers documentary Grey Gardens. He was referred to by Little Edie Beale as “The Marble Faun.” The unique and colorful life of Jerry Torre. Join Jerry as he recounts tales from his troubled childhood, his escape to Grey Gardens, his travels overseas and learn more about this earnest man’s tumultuous life. Jerry has overcome much adversity in his life and his story is an inspiration to many who have suffered the same trials and tribulations. 80 Minutes Followed by a Q & A with Jason Hay

Q-Film Dance Celebration and Cocktail Party on Saturday, October 6, following the last screening-closing the weekend. Complimentery to ticket holders. $5 for non-ticket holders.


Astoria Q-Film Tickets must be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets. This is great service based in Seattle, WA that makes selling and reserving tickets in advance easy for small event promotors as well as large events. It is a socially-responsible company that donates a percentage of sales to charitble organizations, and charges a small service charge of .99 cents plus 3.5% of the ticket fee to the buyer.

Just go to and search Astoria Q-Film Weekend and purcahse tickets for each date of show or “season pass” if you would like to attend all three screenings at $40.00 Tickets will be on a will-call list, and you also have the option of printing the ticket at home. NOTE: If you do not have access to online purchase please call HIPFiSHmonthly to purchase your ticket. 503.338.4878


In the Mix

KALA CAFÉ to showcase eclectic regional acts.
First up? Performance poet John Kulm and hip-hop funsters, Showladies.

Showladies, Andrea Mazzarella (l) and Teresa Barnes (r).

Some of history’s great performers have found success by combining the unexpected: funk and soul plus African oral traditions begot hip-hop. Opera plus rock ‘n’ roll gave rise to the rock opera.

It’s a concept that also has strong foothold right here in Astoria, thanks to a long tradition of regional creative eclecticism. This month, KALA is gearing up to unveil a new performance medium that offers a vehicle for its continued expression.

The nascent showcase is called KALA CAFÉ, and its inaugural presentation will feature the multiform stylings of two regional acts: performance poet/humorist John Kulm and music funsters Showladies, featuring performers Teresa Barnes and Andrea Mazzarella.

KALA founder and HIPFiSHmonthly Editor and Publisher Dinah Urell is the evening’s emcee, lending a song, ‘here and there’ and in addition some sneak preview of acts to come to the KALA stage.

The KALA CAFÉ concept draws on traditional vintage variety floorshows, with a little camp, cabaret and commentary thrown in, says Urell, who has been reinventing the showcase concept through her years as a performing creative artist.

“My first entertainment inspiration was Ricky Ricardo,” she said. “And my alter ego Lucy, always conspiring to get on stage. I loved watching the Dean Martin Show with my father, I mean who the heck wants to play with dolls when the Gold Diggers are on the screen.”

It’s an ideal format for showcasing regional talent, she says, and she couldn’t be more thrilled with the opening lineup.

Both acts have a demonstrated taste for the eclectic: Showladies rap about a constellation of topics, from wolves and wizarding to club-hopping, while Kulm waxes poetic on Jungian archetypes, midlife crises and bucolic life.

John Kulm Performance Poet

Kulm is well known for his open-mic stints at the now-closed River Theatre, but he’s been working with spoken words in many forms for most of his life.

Kulm carved out a niche at poetry slams in Seattle’s heady grunge days two decades back, billing himself as a “cowboy poet” and was booked on tour, in the early days with the Lollapalooza festival.

“They liked me because it’s so odd to see a cowboy coming into that scene,“ Kulm recalled. “I picked up on a lot of the style they were using, real aggressive, free verse.”

Since, he’s tried out many creative and practical pursuits, including stand-up comedy, book writing, fatherhood, farming and postal work.

The goal is to get closer to who he really is with each incarnation.

During his two sets at KALA CAFÉ, he’ll share poetry, but he’s also got some brand new material brewing.

Lately, Kulm has been playing with archetypes – universal symbols and prototypes. He likens then to “modern fairy tales,” and he’s recently spent time teasing a few into prose.

“Archetypal work is like dreaming while you’re awake,” he said of this new process. “It’s like a storyline starts to unfold and you’re just experiencing it.”

Kulm is eager to share this more personal writing, but he remains committed to entertaining.

“I worked so many years in stand-up that I just won’t allow myself to be boring,” he said. Urell offers, “John Kulm is a unique humor experience. He utilizes the poetic form, as a vehicle to philosophize on the contradictions in life, coming in sideways, and giving us (the audience) an opportunity to laugh at our own absurdities.”

Showladies, too, is audience-centric, Barnes says. The act has gained notoriety for its off-the-wall performances, colorful costumes and colorful lyrics.

Barnes took her first stabs at songwriting a few years back, and Showladies was born when Mazzarella began performing with Barnes at venues such as the Voodoo Room, with Barnes on guitar and lead vocals and Mazzarella on bass and accompanying vocals. (A keyboard stands in as drummer.)

They’d noted a lack of what Barnes calls “rock starry, glammy” musical acts in Astoria.

“We wanted to fill more of a lady Gaga-ish place in town, bringing that element of crazy fun ridiculous danceable performance,” Barnes said.

Moving the audience – literally as well as cerebrally – is key.

Showladies draws inspiration from all over the place: ‘90s R&B and rap, YouTube videos, rhyming dictionaries.

They’ll also be performing two sets at KALA CAFÉ – a high-energy set and an acoustic set.

Heartbreaky guitar chords may seem an unexpected departure from glitzy gonzo rap, but that’s just the idea.

This is another artistic endeavor that is constantly reinventing itself, right down to the genre (hip-pop? Glam rap?) and name, which changes regularly.

The two say they don’t know what’s coming next – only that it’d better be good for a laugh.

“We really hope people have fun, and if they feel like dancing, dance,” Mazzarella said. “Hopefully people have half as good a time as we’re having.”

Urell hopes this mashup performance is the start of an exciting chapter for KALA – and for the creative-spirited community surrounding it.

It’s a concept that’s still developing, thanks to the hard work of a few additional key players, including KALA visual arts curator Agnes Field and sound stage man Les Kanekuni.

“As a presentation space, KALA is focusing on performance, visual art, and whatever delightfully falls under the category,” Urell said. “We’re having fun with diversity in art, and how we can shine the stage lights on the creative forces this coastal region inspires.”

Fri/Sat – AUG 17 • 18
Show @ 9pm – doors open 8:30
advance tickets at
advance tickets suggested

Beer/Wine and Cocktails available.

KALA is located at 1017 Marine Drive.
For more info call: 503.338.4878


Camp KALA – Laurel Kurtz and Sandy Sampson, Art and Social Practice

At KALA August 11, 5pm – 9pm
Astoria 2nd Saturday Art Walk


WHAT DOES it mean to camp? Sometimes as kids it means setting up a fort in our parents living room, as adults it can mean anything from setting out equipped with maps and expensive gear, to just having a sleeping bag and a cooler in an unfamiliar place. But generally it means spending the night out of your own bed, being inventive and making do with what is at hand when a need arises.

CAMP, an installation at KALA is an exploration of campsite ingenuity in a non- natural setting. The artists arrive with the barest of necessities to set up camp in the gallery and ask visitors to help them kit out their campsite by employing their own ingenuity and creativity to transform materials gleaned from the streets into useful objects that will make the artist’s camp a home away from home.

Laurel Kurtz and Sandy Sampson both graduates of the PSU Art and Social Practice MFA program, founded by Harrell Fletcher, continue to explore the rich territory of knowledge and meaning provided by “the everyperson” in the every day.

Sandy Sampson is an interdisciplinary artist with a 30-year exhibition history and is based in Portland Oregon. The main focus of her current practice is locating and framing casual pedagogy as it presents in the everyday. This translates to a profound reliance on the expression of wisdom and expertise that each individual brings about their own place within their community and their own lived experience. In addition to work on commissioned and self-initiated art projects she is an adjunct professor of art at Portland Community College. Sampson’s publicly engaged community based work includes commissioned projects for: Portland Art Museum, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art: TBA, Beton Salon, Paris, and Apex Art, New York.

Laurel Kurtz works primarily in sculpture, both physical and social. Through the collaborative process and facilitation, Kurtz offers her perspective on the converging roles of artist, artwork and audience in socially engaged work and intervention. Kurtz currently works in a woodshop that celebrates mental diversity at Port City. She has made work for the Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008, Elsewhere Artists’ Collaborative, Apex Art NYC, Oregon’s Percent for Art Program, the Portland Art Museum, and has an ongoing collaboration with Project Grow.


A Cinematic Event: “Sometimes a Great Movie: Paul Newman, Ken Kesey and the Filming of the Great Oregon Novel.” Author Matt Love in Astoria • July 28

For the past three months, author Matt Love has been making the rounds of bookstores all over Oregon, talking about his new book, “Sometimes a Great Movie: Paul Newman, Ken Kesey and the Filming of the Great Oregon Novel.” Now, Love’s Northwest book tour comes to Astoria, for a screening/signing/storytelling event at KALA@HIPFiSHmonthly, at 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria.  Doors open at 6:30pm on Saturday, July 28, the show begins at 7pm. Admission is $5, with a no-host beer and wine bar, plus trivia questions, prizes, a Q & A with the author, perusal of Love’s movie memorabilia, movie trailers, home movies of the filming production and screening of the movie.

In June 1970, the biggest movie star in the world traveled to the Oregon Coast to film an epic novel about a defiant family of loggers written by a home-grown counterculture hero. The star was Paul Newman. The author was Ken Kesey. The story was “Sometimes a Great Notion” and it has a fanatical following in the Pacific Northwest.

What ensued was a wild working vacation between Hollywood and Oregonians involving beer, sex, scotch, loggers, beaches, and perhaps, a spectacularly vandalized pool table. In “Sometimes a Great Movie,” Love documents the legend of that magical summer and presents over a 125 never-before-seen photographs, including many in color. It’s the third installment in his Newport trilogy.

Love is the author/editor of eight books about Oregon, including, the best selling “Far Out Story of Vortex I,” “Citadel of the Spirit: Oregon’s Sesquicentennial Anthology,” and “Gimme Refuge: The Education of a Caretaker.” He writes the “One Man’s Beach” column for Oregon Coast TODAY and the “On Oregon” blog for Powells, is a featured writer in the Coast Weekend, and for 8 years was a contributing columnist to HIPFiSHmonthly. In 2009, Love won the Oregon Literary Arts’ Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for his contributions to Oregon history and literature. He lives in South Beach and teaches English and journalism at Newport High School. He’s currently working on a novel about teaching in a public high school.


Paul Newman’s Double: The Dean Fillmore Story

Dean Fillmore was a logger hired to play Newman’s body double in the film. In this excerpt from the book, Fillmore recounts his unlikely brush with stardom and his relationship to Newman.

We were logging east of Taft, near Lincoln City, and here came these big stretch vans up the road. There must have been fifteen or twenty people, a bunch of college kids. They were shooting a movie and asked if I would like to be Paul Newman’s double. I said I didn’t know if I could do it, take the time. The production people just shut down part of Jepson Logging, the outfit I was working for, and paid them what they would have made during the summer. They hired the whole logging crew and the equipment.

I was thirty-eight years old and a pretty big fan of Newman. I’d been working in the woods since nineteen fifty-two.

I had to train the guys how to use a chainsaw because they didn’t know squat about chainsaws and falling trees. I got the impression that Paul had handled a saw before. He picked it up pretty good. I told him to keep a good grip on it, because those damn things, a log, can really hit the bar…it’ll kick back at you.

The highest Paul ever got in a tree was six feet.  I remember they cut about an eight-foot chunk off the top of a tree, a pole I guess, and put it on a platform. And Paul sat on top of the tree, and they had it on a dolly where they could make it swing a little bit. It was right on the edge of a canyon so it looked like he’s way up in the air. They used that shot when he was on top of the tree, which was me from far off in the picture.

One time he climbed up the pole and they filmed a bunch of outtakes, funny things, that they would show later at parties and stuff. He would climb up there and act like he fell out of the tree and the grips would catch him.

In the mornings, I’d show up at the Dunes Motel to head out to location. About ninety percent of the crew were staying there and we’d go get a load of them and go out to the set. We’d always be waiting around and there would be these women coming out of the guys’ rooms. The Hollywood guys. They had a lot of women.

They had two filming units and I did all the long shots in the second unit. All the face shots, naturally, that’s Paul, but all the long shots when you don’t see his face, that’s me. I wasn’t part of the beach scenes. I was the logging guy, the tree faller. I remember one time Paul asked me if I could drop a tree to an exact spot or something like that. I tossed my tin hat to the ground not far away and cut a tree that came right down next to it. He was pretty impressed.

Newman was just an ordinary kind of guy. I was surprised he didn’t act like a big star. He just sat there and would talk to you about whatever. I called him Paul and he called me Dean. I took my family out to the sets a couple of time and took some pictures. Nobody said a thing.

Paul asked a lot of questions about logging. He wanted to make it as realistic as he could. He asked me about rigging that tree up, where Henry Fonda got smashed up in his shoulder. He wanted to know if I could make that happen, because some trees, they do what’s called barber-chairing. That’s when the tree slabs up and it looks like a kind of barber chair. What happens is, you don’t cut a big enough piece and it can come back and whack you. It’s killed people. I tried to do it naturally, but it wouldn’t work. The spruce trees were the worst for barber-chair, so I finally took my saw and split that sucker just as high as I could reach, then they got a four-wheeler hooked on it and they pulled it to where it would start slabbing, like in the movie. It looked pretty realistic.

There was lot of partying going on with the actors and the crew, mostly beer. Paul liked Coors. Oregon didn’t have Coors at the time so they brought him a load over from Idaho. I laughed at that.

The wrap party was pretty good. It was at a supper club and bar, in Newport years ago, Jake’s High Tide. Newman was there, the whole cast. They were just partying and getting down. There was kind of a pop band if I remember right. Newman was laughing and joking and having a good time. I was partying too.

I got a regular salary, probably about fifty dollars a day for falling, and every time I climbed a tree, that was another twenty-five. I came out pretty good, but there was a lot of waiting around and I told them ‘Well, I’m getting kind of bored sitting around waiting for you. I’m about to go back to work.’ And they said, ‘How about we give you another four hundred a week?’  I didn’t really expect to get any money but I did.

When the filming was over, they gave me two of the saws, the big one twenty-five and the eighty (horsepower). They gave me five pairs of cork boots and a check for a thousand dollars and said ‘thanks.’


Necessary poisons – Performer Mindy Dillard debuts her one-woman show in Astoria

mindyapplegreenhouseIt’s taken some doing, but Mindy Dillard has learned to get comfortable with diving deep.

These days, she often finds herself plumbing the depths of the human psyche as she searches for inspiration for her performance art.
It’s murky down there to be sure, and some strange and unexpected things are apt to bubble up, but for, Dillard, exploring those fathoms can also be a life-saving act.

Dillard’s latest theatrical venture, a one-woman show titled  “How to Survive a Poison Apple,” debuts in Astoria this July.

Part magic realist musical, part neo-feminist performance art and part fractured fairy tale, Poison Apple tells the tale of an abandoned princess struggling with anorexia. As her self image evolves, she cavorts with other princesses and wise dwarves, climbs aboard submarines, and faces down one very forbidden piece of fruit.

It’s a little bit funny, a little bit tragic, and it’s definitely the most personal thing Dillard has ever written or performed.

“I call it a storyscape because I’m telling stories in the form of narration and storytelling and also in the form of the song,” Dillard said. “I switch characters. I feel that I’m a form bender.”

Dillard started writing the songs and stories that would come to comprise “Poison Apple” three years ago. Bits would come to her in odd moments, often late at night, often in dreams.

She felt compelled to tease out the bits, to understand the messages that were bubbling up from her own depths.

Dillard was teaching children’s theater classes at the time, and she’d grown dismayed by her female students’ abiding obsession with pretty princesses. She was also making her way through her own failed fairy tale ending, having recently split with a boyfriend who turned out to be less than princely, and she found herself pondering the subconscious messages society was sending to girls and women.

She thought about Snow White, and the way a bite from an enchanted apple had sent her into a sleep befitting the dead.

She thought back to a time when, in the grips of her own struggle with anorexia, she could eat nothing but apples.

She also thought about alchemy, how seemingly incompatible elements can combine in unexpected ways, and how they can be transformed by that combining, even when the pressure seems too great to bear.

“I feel I’m kind of an alchemist because I try to expose things that are hard,” Dillard said. “They’re hard for me to say and sometimes I think they’re hard for people to hear, but before a diamond gets turned into a diamond, it’s a rock. It has to be compressed.”

Someday, Dillard would love to take “Poison Apple” on the road to high schools and colleges across the country.

In the meantime, her own self-conception is evolving along with her art. She’ll still blanch at insensitive comments people make about her appearance (a man at a recent show looked her up and down and said, “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder now.”) or cringe when she sees a young girl complimented solely for her looks, but she’s learning to speak up about how she’s feeling, to say the things that are difficult to say, to share her story, over and over. (Indeed, a happy ending for her own story looks rather promising: if you catch her show, don’t forget to look for her artistic and life-partner, Eric McEuen, accompanying her musically.)

In the end, it’s a longer journey of growth and discovery Dillard is committed to – and committed to sharing with others.

“Experience is really the only thing that can grow someone,” Dillard said. “Hard things are hard but sometimes they’re necessary for transformation … All the stuff I’ve experienced has been necessary poison … So I’m going to make it into the poison that turns into medicine.”

How To Survive a Poison Apple
an electric one-woman musical storyscape
Saturday, July 7 @ KALA
Doors open 8pm, show at 8:30pm
Tickets are $10 at the door. To retain a seat for the show, advised to arrive when doors open.
Refreshments available
• Audience Suggestion: This show is created for young and old to enjoy and experience. Suggested age 10 years and up please.
• Approx. 1 hour running time.
KALA is located at 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria
View a video clip of “Poison Apple”.



Shadowboxing: Printmakers Roxanne Turner and Marcy Baker found and foraged treasures

Marcy Baker, Box Assemblage, Shimmer

Impermanent. Imperfect. Unburnished.

These might not be terms typically associated with the creation of fine art, but for Pacific Northwest-based artists Roxanne Turner and Marcy Baker, the world’s vast store of fragmented, forgotten and scattered objects is replete with creative possibility.

Both artists will exhibit the fruits of their artistic foraging at KALA this month in a show titled “In the Box.”

The show will feature almost 40 assemblages, each a multi-dimensional amalgamation of found objects and items from the natural world contained within its own repurposed box.

The seed for a two-woman show was planted when Turner and Baker began to take note of the common threads running through their work: botanical imagery and materials, refuse foraged from the modern world. And, of course, the format of the timeworn boxes themselves.

“It occurred to us that, while our assemblages – composed within the structure of reclaimed wooden boxes – share a similar aesthetic, they are developed in individual and complementary ways,” Baker said.

The Portland-based Baker began exploring the concept of art in a box when she found herself in possession of several old cigar boxes some years back. She quickly became intrigued with the artistic challenges and possibilities a box presented.

Roxanne Turner, Box Assemblage, Midori

At the time, she was living in New Mexico and experimenting with ways to combine the rusty treasures she gathered on her long rambles through the high desert with wax rubbings, block prints, old letters and sheet music.

She began to create collages within the cigar boxes and fell in love with both the process and the larger concept it seemed to reference – finding beauty in the imperfect: a forgotten page of sheet music, an old ceramic insulator cap, and especially the rusted metal scraps lying forgotten in the sand.

“They’re beautiful little treasures,” she said. “I love how they can relate to something brightly colored, like a monotype, that pop of color and how that plays off the worn surface of the metal piece.”

The task of arranging the disparate objects into a coherent whole is by nature imprecise, and requires a bit of spontaneity.

She’ll sit down before an empty, hinged box and consider its shape, its edges, its sides, even its smell. Then, she’ll begin to arrange and rearrange, to bring in and take out pieces, to consider relationships.

“For me, it’s thinking about two sides and how they relate, what they’re saying,” she said. “They could be closed, they could be open, and you can see how they’re talking back and forth, the relationships between those two sides and almost the sense of a book being read, one side to the other and back again.”

The Astoria-based Turner began creating her own boxed art pieces in 2010. She’d spent 14 years focused on capturing tree and plant imagery in two-dimensional formats before she began to explore the box format.

Turner admits to being a “compulsive forager,” especially when it comes to plant materials, and her work incorporates seed pods, branches and blossoms brought home from locations both near and far-flung: Manzanita from California, seed pods from Australia and Japan.

Why the fascination with nature’s castoffs?

“It’s the forms,” Turner said. “They’re very sculptural, they’re as beautiful as animal bones; they’re simple and they’re just gorgeous forms. They’re sort of architectural and there’s so much variety.”

She also makes use of plenty of found and handmade materials: Japanese rice papers, collograph, textured monoprints, silkscreens.

Turner uses these objects in combination to riff on themes of life and its inevitable cycles: growth, ripening and eventual decay.

Marcy Baker instructs in printmaking at Atelier Meridian studio in Portland.

She also draws inspiration from the Japanese concept of “wabi sabi,” which holds up the imperfect and the impermanent as beautiful within their own right and worthy of admiration.

As it is with nature, these assemblages will no doubt fall prey to the ravages of time, moldering, crumbling, changing irretrievably, and Baker is just fine with that.

“These plant materials will be affected by light and heat and humidity, and so they’re impermanent,” Turner said. “They’re not going to last, they’re going to change gradually over time, they’re probably already changing. So what you see today, the colors may change in a year or two. It’s kind of like performance art.”

IN THE BOX Opens Saturday, June 9, 5-9pm, in conjunction with the Astoria 2nd Saturday Art Walk.

The exhibit runs through July 8. KALA is located at 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria. Summer Gallery viewing hours beginning June 10, Sat-Sun noon to 5pm, and by appt. 503.338.4878 or 503.440.3007.


Miss Massive Snowflake: “Like a Book” But not by the book.

miss massive snowflake
At KALA, June 9, Post Art Walk. 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria. w/Dramady. $3. 9pm. No Host Bar.

The music made by Portland’s Miss Massive Snowflake – who will be gracing the Kala stage on Saturday, June 9 – is a lot like the name of the band itself: a juxtaposition of elements that, on close inspection, make little or no logical sense, but it hardly matters because it somehow sounds right. The songs on MMS’ latest album, Like a Book (available from their label’s website,, bear a passing resemblance to pop songs. Put it on as background music and it might seem unthreatening, even innocuous. You will tap your feet, nod your head, and expect it to leave nothing more behind than an errant swatch of melody or two lingering pleasantly in the memory. But pay close attention and your head may freeze in mid-bob. What kind of pop song ends with a declaration like “Takes a lot of talent/To talk a buncha shit/And not get in trouble for it”? And follow that up a couple minutes later with a reference to Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro having sex? As you struggle to get that image out of your head, you start picking up other aspects buried in the mix – odd time-signatures, abrupt shifts in tempo, a blast of dissonant brass worthy of Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” – which subtly disfigure the shiny, happy face pop music exists to put forward. At which point you realize that, underneath its passing complexion, this stuff is downright weird.

All of which suits the man behind the band to an eccentrically-crossed T. “I’ve always been kind of a clean-cut-looking person,” says Shane de Leon, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who serves as Miss Massive Snowflake’s auteur. “I don’t have any tattoos; I’ve always kept my hair pretty short. But I do have some pretty weird ideas, and I like the idea of flying in under the radar, being a freak without feeling like I have to advertise it.” No surprise, then, that de Leon’s music contains trace elements of some of pop’s greatest eccentrics, from the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne to The Artist Formerly Known As Something Other Than Prince. Like them, de Leon distinguishes himself by an inability to stand in one place long enough to be identified; just when you think you’ve figured him out, he’s already morphing into something different.

You can trace that elusiveness as far back as 1997, when de Leon followed some friends from his home state of Montana to Portland, where he joined their band Rollerball as trumpeter, clarinetist and sometime vocalist. Founded as a straightforward power pop band, they were already in the process of escaping their three-chords-and-a-straitjacket origins when he joined. Within a year, they had become something else entirely: a relentlessly experimental combo whose music pushed out in all directions at once while mysteriously remaining centered. Yet it says something about de Leon that he could be an important component of a band of infinite possibilities and still be unsatisfied. By 2004, “I was really getting into songwriting, but realized that it was hard to play trumpet and sing at the same time. I had never really played guitar, but decided to start because it seemed like a good way to accompany myself.” Thus, Miss Massive Snowflake. Conceived as “a calm, acoustic side project,” its first three releases were a series of CD-Rs with handcrafted sleeves designed by his daughter and contributions from other members of his family (including his mother on backing vocals). Far more song-oriented than Rollerball, MMS represented a step towards accessibility – “I’ve been challenging people with experimental music for over ten years now, and I’m ready not to have the audience look at me so quizzically all the time” – and a conduit for another side of his musical personality. “I’ve always liked pop music – Michael Jackson, Madonna, even Miley Cyrus. So I’m trying to make something that’s catchy, but we’ll never be too poppy, because I like to mess around with weird time signatures and strange chord changes.”

True to form, even the conventional is unconventional in his hands. Once a solo project with an ever-changing cast of supporting characters, it is now a bona-fide band: its lineup has solidified into a unit featuring bassist Jeanne Kennedy Crosby and drummer Andy Brown. “I’m trying to write more for the band now – more of a rock sound, with distortion pedals and barre chords. I’d never played feedback before! I’ve only started to use distortion and feedback the last couple of years, and I’m in my forties now – I’m starting out at a place where most people would be when they’re eleven years old! I’m way behind the curve.”

Not that Shane de Leon intends to stop moving, literally or figuratively. He continues to run his label, North Pole Records (one of whose bands, Dramady, will open for MMS on the 9th). As we spoke, he had just completed a 29-date tour of Europe (his fourth); plans are afoot to return there in the fall after playing dates throughout the US. And, of course, he intends to keep coming back to Astoria, as he has done twice a year since his Rollerball days. “I’m from a small town in Montana, and Astoria has that same kind of feeling. Especially the people. I think some of the weirdest people in the world, the people with the most creative thoughts, are in towns like this and not the big cities, and Astoria definitely has that. There’s just this great vibe here that I can’t quite define. It’s a pretty magical little city.”


Finding your place: 3 Artists

Roger & Natalie
Astoria artists Roger Hayes and Natalie Orr

Eva Kirk, Natalie Orr, Lulu Quinn
Roger Hayes Writes/Curates

Opening at KALA
April 14 – May 1

ARTISTS TEND to create micro-environments. Generally this is informed by their milieu, which creates the defining aesthetic tenets. Here in Astoria we start out with a setting that is highly conducive to the creative process, but understanding its’ characteristics is what sets it apart. The milieu is rife with art, and there is a healthy amount of cross fertilization from artists who’ve arrived here with a vision. I like to think that we are living at a particularly fecund moment, when some defining characteristics of ego are laid by the wayside, and group reflection is encouraged.

In starting this show we played with the idea of the eternal return, the attraction of our small metropolis, what brings folks back here, and what generates the first appeal that captures new comers fancy, and the rebirth of a city, which is perhaps always latent. Longing for place is a key part of the defining search of nascent growth.

Within the Romantic cannon, the eternal return could be called a longing for place. Early Twentieth-Century Expressionists, Die Brucke, and Der Blaue Reiter conveyed this effectively. This was the first kernel concept for this show, beginning with the Expressionist/ Romantic leanings of Natalie Orr’s art, as it displays an affinity for Chromatic Futurism, and a bucolic sense of the inherent power of nature.

What becomes revealed in Natalie’s art is a dialectic of external, internal, objective, and subjective, that is like a protective armor, that contains a consuming flame; again a Nietzschean reference to the poles of creation and destruction.

Landscape Use
Natalie Orr, Landscape Use

NATALIE: “The viewer is engulfed in flames. The culture ingrained in me is intrinsic. There is a hierarchical difference where sameness and difference are not as accurate. The two become balance. The artist accesses the observer of “myself”, as a type of ego solidification…an embrace of the observer…this is not ego currency. The ego receives and expels for free, a selective experience. Sameness in the flames, hiding in the flames, the same perceptual mode that can’t be measured”.

Natalie refers to both the work, and its process, as “the spark of creativity within (which) ignites, producing energy. You hide yourself in the flames, and build a bed of clues… (you) fall into the flames, recognizing (the) validity of the observant perspective. Deus ex machina”. The viewer becomes inextricably involved in the works’ existence.

And also as a testimony to the worth of the work, “art is a problem solved spiritually. A journey that goes nowhere, but feels as its primary accomplishment”. We can look at “will to power”, but there seems to be a larger fabric from which the players are sewn, especially as Natalie cites “the Heraclitan cosmic child, who plays on without preference to outcomes”.

The inverse of this spectrum shows a charged cityscape, which was also a primary source of interest with Neue Berliners such as Otto Dix, Max Beckman, G. W. Pabst, et al. Lulu Quinn shows a strong affinity for this recurrent theme of urban decay, or deconstruction, through her use of nouvelle funk, similar to Phillip Guston, Kaz, Ralph Bakshi, or any graffiti artists.

Recently Lulu has stated that Astoria is the reference point, a place from which instructive and inspirational cues are taken, the over-riding goal is beauty, but as we know this is continually redefined; the eternal return of creating vision.

There is a consistent sense of the urban as fun, in Lulu’s paintings, in a highly individual and inspiring manner, again, with playfulness. This reminds me of Red Grooms. Perhaps it is the novel willfulness that makes it attractive, or maybe it is Lulu’s particular vantage point, of a Utopian interior view of what the rest of us see as grimy and hum-drum. Echoes of the cityscape reveal the artists’ personality.

Lulu describes Astoria as a catalyst from memory, a place that lacks veneer, and allows a natural and unmodified response, and a truer sense of feeling. The synchronous feeling here comes from “being yourself”, which in a media saturated culture seems a significant goal. Is this the lack of stimuli perhaps, or a true vacuum in which the artistic impulse is free to muse? Along with this comes a general underlying sense that art exists for no real purpose, at least in the sense of a commodity.

Recently Eva Kirk has presented a restless wanderlust and searching which is typical of this process that we are identifying in this show. Her search has been far reaching, and has been preceded by intensive aesthetic explorations which are experimental in nature.

Exploration by travel, gives way to exploration in art.

Eva Kirk, ek3

EVA: “it’s hard for me to say what they (the paintings) will lean towards until I start, because it always changes, (I’m) definitely picking up inspiration from my travels.“ Eva cites “the interconnections of mundane moments, finding your Heart amidst modern day confusion and meaninglessness, wisdom of the ocean, (and) goofiness”, which can’t be under estimated, because in the play of spirit one experiences loss of self, and merges with the greater zeitgeist. Again, agents of change, such as travel, maximize this effect, and help to depersonalize the search, making it more “cosmic” in scheme.

“I use a lot of different mediums but mostly collage and found things and I don’t really know why, I just see something and it either calls me to use it or it doesn’t. Sometimes I will make a piece of art, but then end up taking it apart and using pieces of it to create something else. I feel like that could somehow fit into the idea of eternal return”.

Goofing on your environment can be a healthy way to get a collective reality check. I see these artists as healthily engaged and caring, on the path to the next conversation. Certainly we are standing amidst a tradition here in Astoria. That’s defined every day you get up, and gauge the surroundings. The “return”, in so far as it works, can be seen as the nascent “seeds” that these artists bring back with them after their travels, or perambulations around the village. Getting away is searching, and inevitably it draws you back to confirm the pieces that started the search.

At the moment there seems to be a return to traditional representation, in the format of painting. Even so, it is couched in an atmosphere of experiment(s). Discord and chaos are necessary, and if you can learn to sustain dissonance, your view expands, and the search is for possibilities.

To quote Natalie, “The process involves relinquishing rightness”. That might be the entire concept currently under consideration. What I would add here is that the restless spirit of change has a healthy presence. I liken this Dionysian approach to the earliest forays of automatism of the Surrealists Robert Desnos, and Andre Masson. The edifice of empiricism may be a bed stone, but it is not the grounding wire that channels our creative energy.


Heather Christie at KALA 3/24

heather christie 2011KALA proudly presents an evening with North Coast singer/songwriter Heather Christie, on SATURDAY, MARCH 24. Doors open at 7:30pm. The night includes a pre-show reception featuring Heather’s handcrafted heatherADORN jewelry, a no-host cocktail bar and light appetizers from the Blue Scorcher Bakery and Café. Cover is $10. Show at 8:15pm.

Heather Christie certainly must be called the daughter of the coastal rock music scene. And when, as teenager, she stepped into that scene in the mid to late 90s, she came willingly to represent the fusion of spirit and music for everyone. Guitar in hand, born to a colorful Astoria musical family, a penchant for songwriting and the power and beauty of the vast pacific ocean pushing her — a beautiful young woman with a clear and stirring folk voice, and eyes to match,  gifted stages; whether that stage be the sandy beach itself, a new music venue, KMUN radio — the upper left edge, as penned by the late Billy Hults, was given its folk rock priestess.

A decade and a half later, Christie has tested the waters of country, R&B/pop, recorded three of her own albums and has dedicated much performance and recording time to the wonderful award-winning FrogTown project, driven by her partner in life and creativity Philip Pelletier.  Throwing off the acoustic folk trappings, Christie has been on the road with the multi-media LIVE, kid book musical over the course of 5 years, donning a fancier pop lady and ballad singer of the sultry and soulful song ALONE, which by now must be a favorite emotional dream catcher for many a kid and adult that has shared the experience of Frog Town. For those not informed, Frog Town is a multi-media book about a little frog guy who comes up against barriers in a musical, cultural sea. From classical to country, sax-playing Thad the tadpole can’t seem to find anyone to play with, cause nobody in his big neighborhood likes jazz improvisers (ain’t it the truth). Frog Town hosts numerous Oregon musical artists, including R&B greats, Linda Hornbuckle and Curtis Salgado. But eventually music comes to bridge the gap.

In the earlier 2000s, Christie lead her self-titled band featuring some of the coast’s soulful native musicians; guitarist Joe Patenaude, drummer Tom Peak and violinist Jeffrey Reynolds, recording LOVE Road, an analog studio album of rock originals and special nod to her rock pre-origins, Laura Nero’s Ely’s Comin’. Since the days of her more guitar driven material, you can find tracks available on myspace, like “Lady” and “Runnin,” with a pop/R&B bent, but nonetheless an extension of the early, expressive Heather Christie.

Currently Heather is working on new material in the studio, which she says “is a great way to spend the winter months!” She’ll be playing some of these new songs at KALA, including “5 O’Clock”, which is a reflection on an artist’s life challenges.

She is also collaborating with Philip Pelletier on an ambient music series inspired by the beauty of nature,  something she has been looking forward to exploring more deeply, and of which you can sample an exclusive clip, (The Stream). They are also working on a video production of the LIVE Frog Town show in HD Video, including several songs from the upcoming “Bedtime for Tadpoles” release, featuring ambient music for kids.

In addition to an upcoming gig at Mississippi Pizza in Portland, it has been several years since Heather Christie has performed as Heather Christie on an Astoria stage. Recently, an informal appearance at KALA during the holidays, she gave an inspiring performance, a strong inclination its time to get back to the singer/songwriter/performer aspect of her artistry.

And of that artistry she says, “My personal music involves allowing myself to walk deeply into the darkest parts of myself, to channel emotions that I tend to avoid in my day to day life, and to ride the wave of what I find there. Hopefully within that experience something otherworldly and beautiful is born. Not just for me, but for the listener… Music is my release, my ground and my sanity. I have to make it to stay alive, and if others enjoy it too, then lucky me.”

The KALA stage features lighting and a great acoustic/amplified sound mix, an intimate musical setting in a beautiful restored Astoria storefront. Located at 1017 Marine Drive. 503.338.4878.

Inspired by tribal elements in a modern world, heather ADORN adds sleek, delicate touches to bold, colorful designs, creating innovative, handcrafted pieces for your adornment. In these cosmic jewels, you will see gem stones combined with glass, metal, rocks, feathers, and miscellaneous findings from years of collecting. It is not unusual to discover hand gathered shells from the east or west shores, along with a sparkling piece of cut glass, from a vintage chandelier, in your favorite pair of earrings. heather ADORN was born from a desire to honor the center, ritual and sacred space of the creative spirit.  Every purchase supports the arts…



Mattachine SocialCelebrate the LOVE!
A QFolk Benefit Performance and Dance Party
Featuring Portland Electro-Pop Band
Saturday, February 11
Doors open 8pm
No Host Bar.
Complimentary EATS!
Mattachine Social 9pm.
(special guest performer Matthew Kern 8:45)
$10 at door. 21 and over please.
KALA, 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria

IN AUGUST of 2007, HIPFiSHmonthly introduced QFOLK, an LGBT visibility news and culture spot for the Columbia Pacific Region. Suffices to say, it is rare to find an LGBT section in a community newspaper in a rural region. In fact, prove me wrong, I’ve yet to find another. Hipfish albeit is an alternative newspaper, but that vehicle too is an urban construct. Though, the A&E (Arts and Entertainment sections) has found its place in almost all daily and weekly rural papers. Since the advent of printing, human activists have made use of the medium as a means of freedom of speech. The alternative newspaper today — in many smaller urban areas, in the Northwest, such as in Eugene (Eugene Weekly) and Bellingham, WA (The Cascadia Weekly), have culled what could be described as a progressive community culture and news medium, in addition to “watchdog” and investigative journalism.

What to deliver? A more upfront and inside reporting on where we live. The existence of QFOLK in HIPFiSH reflects a visible LGBT community supported by a whole community. On February 11 at KALA, we celebrate this community, The LGBT Community; friends, family and allies, please join us.


Described as the “love Child of Björk and The Jesus and Mary Chain” Portland, Oregon based MATTACHINE SOCIAL are a queer-core post-punk/pop musical project. Their songs run the emotional gamut of pop musical styling but each deal with historically important queer icons, civil rights uprisings, and a critique of modern queer culture…all while keeping your ass shaking!

Co-founders Justin Warner and Andrew Klaus are both accomplished multimedia artists with long careers in both film and music. As such Mattachine Social live shows are a heady mix of post-punk dance music and wild visuals aided by projection screens and glitter cannons all crafted by the band.

Mattachine Social also were local headliners for Portland Pride 2011 and participated in the first annual Portland Queer Music Festival. Next up they’ll be opening for Sandra Bernhardt.

Klaus has performed with lesbian punk icons The Butchies and Le Tigre before relocating to Portland in the early part of the decade pursuing a successful career as a filmmaker and internationally exhibited visual artist

Co-founder Justin Warner is an acclaimed animator and filmmaker and has had work appear on stage and in theaters from New York to Seattle, as well as mastermind behind the now defunct outfit Violet Uprising.

Warner and Klaus are joined onstage by the remarkably talented and handsome guitarist Ben Jansen, and the equally fabulous and beautiful Tammy Whynot on tambourine and backing vocals.

Mattachine Social released their debut ep in limited release in November of 2010 and expect a full album by early 2012.


In The Spirit: Word and Song

KALA proudly presents two independent Northwest women artists on Friday, January 27. Author Tricia Gates Brown and Singer-Songwriter Deb Montgomery.

Both women have recently produced new works, respectively, “Jesus Loves Women: A Memoir of Body and Spirit and a CD release “The Little Hymn Project.” Both women were raised in traditional fundamentalist Christian families, and both women have experienced and welcomed into their lives, the challenge of coming to grips with a spiritual identity, identity as woman, and personal transcendence through artistic medium, amidst the constricts of all that traditional western patriarchal Christianity has dictated to American women.   Neither artists have met (as of yet) but the North Coast has had the opportunity to know both of these women in recent times. Gates Brown a columnist for the coastal weeklies and  Hipfish, several illustrated children’s’ books, as a landscape gardener and doing recent rounds with her new book. Seattle-based Montgomery, has performed on the coast on several occasion, predominantly at LUSH Wine Bar in Cannon Beach.

It is a pleasure to bring a “woman focus” show together at KALA. (Men welcome, of course.) When I first returned to the region in the mid-nineties, I had the opportunity to host a “Women’s Nite” at the former Café Uniontown. What inspired me to do so was the awareness of such a strong woman presence on the coast; whether married, single, lesbian, bi, trans, straight, native or transplant. The coast of Oregon and Washington beckons fearless, creative women to its shore. The nights included a myriad of women musicians, poets, comedians and a drink menu with such titles as “Feminist Twist,” “Union Town Bitch,” and the like. And lets face it – whether you were/are a feminist, the Feminist Movement of late 60’s laid the groundwork, for what we now as women find in our everyday lives,  the means to face the challenges, the inalienable right to our intelligence, our natural trait to balance, and to choose who we want to be. A task neither easy, nor simple, but the path of self-empowerment lies ever stronger under our feet.  When women testify through art, the stories are strong and inspirational, such as Deb Montgomery and Tricia Gates Brown  . . . and I sing “Hallelujah Sisters!”

“Jesus Loves Women,” is a compelling title. TRICIA GATES BROWN, holds a PHD in Theology and in her 20’s found such a fascination with the bible, that it led her to investigate the nature of the scriptures and to eventually get to the source of “what” religion had bestowed upon her culturally as a woman. In her preface she states, “What I am drawn to . . . is the complex interplay of body and spirit, of the sensual and the spiritual, the sexual and the spiritual . . . . I choose to tell my story not only because I believe it is the truest accounting I can offer of my life, but because I believe it’s important we hear such stories. In my experience, they are hard to come by.”

Gates Brown commits a good portion of her memoir to the tribulations of puberty, to young womanhood, revealing those parts of self, the tender heart, the coming into sexuality, memories we are glad to leave behind but yet are so much a part of our whole. A back cover blurb from Susan Mark Landis, Minister of Peace and Justice says it well; “Like a late night talk with my best friend, Tricia’s book gave me intimate insights into her life, my life . . . by openly sharing secrets we typically hide.”

From the constricts of fundamentalism, to losing her self in a first marriage, an awakening to the grace of nature, a mystical friendship with a Trappist monk, a failed second marriage, a new communion with Mexican culture, and coming to a yearned place of wholeness, Gates Brown beautifully articulates in intimate detail her story; as an accomplished writer, story teller and human theorist. Her ultimate message, that the shame-bound morality on sexuality be set free, for humanity to progress to a more humane state. Whether raised in a Christian milieu or not, this book is for every woman and man, as the basic core of our culture resides within the bounds this morality.

DEB MONTGOMERY refers to herself as a vagabond, in the poetic sense of the word, not settling in any one thing or place comfortably. This she stated in email correspondence when inquiring on the “Little Hymn Project” and any personal religious background.  She then furthered, in very songwriterly response,  to grappling with a fundamental upbringing,  “At the same time, I’ve been captivated by my understanding of Jesus’ message to love one another, to love another as ourselves… the idea that love is costly, that it will perhaps ask you to go places you never imagined, that it will both break you and heal you at the same time.”

The basis for the Little Hymn Project was created in a time when Montgomery was dealing with a period of deep grief. In that process she had turned to several hymns that she had in her repertoire, “The only thing I did for a few weeks besides weep, call a friend or two, was visit some of these hymns, letting their mysteries penetrate and attempting to sing them back to the universe to sooth myself,” says Montgomery. In this space of grieving, a natural progression led to several original tunes, a series of hymns, (Psalm23, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, It is well with my Soul, Amazing Grace . . .) and cover tunes by Bruce Coburn and Coldplay. Originally recorded in her living room in Seattle, she eventually recorded the 11-track collection in Chicago, with Producer John Abbey at Kingsize Studio. But her desire was to keep the intimacy and a sense of presence that were so much a part of the process of coming to make the Little Hymn Project. The final product is Montgomery on piano and guitar, with added bass and drums. Her recording succeeds in a triumphant presence of voice, a powerful, and moving intimacy.

Montgomrey is a Canadian who lived in New York City many years, and now lives in Seattle, where she is completing a graduate degree.  Solo is not her main thing as she has mostly been a bandleader, playing with drummer Andy Stochansky (who was Ani Defranco’s tour drummer for 8 years), and drummer Sim Cain, shared band mate with Henry Rollins (the Rollins Band). Them’s good rock bones. She also played with a New York cellist and fellow Canadian artist Julia Kent for 8 years. As Montgomery’s credits reference comparison to PJ Harvey, Jeff Buckley, the core connection she has in her voice resembles to this writer, the spirit of Patti Smith. An era before emo, somewhere between punk rock and Janis! There’s a strong conviction to rock music in Montgomery. While she isn’t well known in these parts, she is certainly a cool find.

Friday, Jan 27, doors open 7pm. $10, includes complimentary wine and snacks. KALA, 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria.


Kathryn Clair & Hanz Araki

One of a Kind Celtic Concert Series Comes to Pacific Northwest
Acclaimed Irish Musicians Join Together for a Unique and Memorable Show
Kathryn Clair & Hanz Araki with a host of Celtic friends comes to the Coaster Theater and an Intimate Solstice eve at KALA.

Kathryn Clair & Hanz Araki
Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire, The Seven Joys of Mary, from their new release A WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION

Musicians Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire are proud to present a series of unprecedented concerts. These two diverse musicians lend their individual expertise and lyrical knowledge to four theme- based concerts that present some of the strongest and most beautiful elements of the Celtic tradition. This December, they are celebrating the release of the second of four accompanying albums, A Winter Solstice Celebration.
Ancient carols and foot-stomping jigs and reels share the spotlight with poetry, dance, and even a short Mummer’s play from songwriter Matthew Hayward-Macdonald.

This year’s concert features — in addition to Claire and Araki — Cary Novotny on guitar, All-Ireland harp champion Anna Lee Foster, Welsh-born bodhran (Irish frame-drum) player Matty Einion Sears, and vocalist Jody Katopothis.

“Each of us bring to the table a varied collection of songs and stories that reflect the same themes of longing, love, loss, beauty, and celebration. These concerts give us the freedom to explore some of these experiences thoroughly through the music that has arisen from the last several hundred years of human existence.”

Sunday, December 18th at the Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach, OR. Show starts at 7:30pm. Tickets are $14 for adults and $8 for students.

Tuesday, December 20 at KALA in Astoria. Claire and Araki perform an intimate candlelit eve performance. Doors Open at 7pm. Performance at 7:30pm. Come early, for a seat and enjoy a beverage. Tickets are $8 at the door. The new cd release WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION will be available. For a preview track go to

In the late winter, “As I Roved Out” welcomes better weather and represents the traditional Maying celebrations of the British Isles and beyond, while the plight of the emigrant and laborer is presented in a collection of songs and tunes in the late summer entitled “The Emigrant Song.” Some of the darker and more macabre themes found in Celtic love songs are explored in “Songs of Love and Murder,” and completing the series is the Winter Solstice Celebration; celebrate the darkest night of the year with the light of music, storytelling and wonder.

Billed as “The next generation of trad’ music,” Irish flute player and singer Hanz Araki is the quintessential world music musician. He has toured internationally with Juno award-winning The Paperboys and The Casey Neill Trio; also The Bridies, Portland’s all-star Pogues cover band KMRIA among others, and is featured on over a dozen recordings and soundtracks, along with his own acclaimed CD’s.

Kathryn Claire has asserted herself in a new generation of traditionally-inspired musicians. Her violin-playing exhibits a technical grace which is matched only by her truly captivating voice and she possesses the rare ability to move seamlessly across genres. Her deep love and respect for traditional music has long been a driving influence and those roots can be heard in her own original music.


Joey Pipia’s Magic Chamber

Check out the video:

30 Seats • 60 Minutes
One Outrageous Event
Two Shows Only
Sunday Nov 20
4pm & 6pm

“Joey Pipia’s magic is invisible,” says colleague and magician Kevin Wolfe (who appears nationally himself), adding, “he fools me. That never happens. And, his magic is completely original, so you’ll not see it anywhere else; he’s world class.”

The invisible and original world class magic of Joey Pipia is featured in The Magic Chamber: 30 seats, 60 minutes, one outrageous event,” presented for two show only, Sunday, November 20th, 4 pm and 6 pm at KALA@hipfishmonthly in Astoria.

Expect to be dazzled by this performance, honed on the road in Pipia’s successful Northwest Tall Grass Magic Tour, a recreation of the legendary cadre of traveling “Tall Grass Magicians” who haunted the earliest days of the vaudeville era; literally walking through tall grass from town to town.

“This man could hide an elephant in his coat,” said Northwest Magazine in a feature article on the magician and his show; Pipia presented The Magic Chamber for over a year to sold out houses in Port Townsend at The Chameleon Theater.

Pipia’s tour of The Magic Chamber through the Northwest this past winter culminated in a sold out, three week run in April at the Tony Award winning Intiman Theater in Seattle. The show is now on a national tour. Joey has appeared in film, on TV, and on stages across the country.

“The magic happens literally inches away from your eyes,” says Pipia. No fancy boxes, no smoke or mirrors. It’s the ultimate challenge; up close, fast paced, funny, and amazing. Pipia will create a unique intimate theater in the gallery.

Grown-ups awake, The Magic Chamber is for you. Kids will enjoy it too, but this event is probably not for six-year olds.

As for hiding an elephant in his coat? “You’ll just have to see the show,” he says.

Tickets, $20, may also be purchased in person at Lucy’s Books in Astoria, 348 12th St (503.325.4210), or by calling brownpapertickets at 800-838-3006, or online at KALA@hipfishmonthly 1017 Marine Drive, Astoria. Info: 503.338.4878 Seating is limited. Doors open half hour before shows.

If the Flying Karamazov Brothers and Harry Houdini had a child, it would be Joey Pipia. Fast, funny, and amazing, Joey has performed his unique brand of magic for over twenty years.

He started as an actual sorcerer’s apprentice in New York City when one of the 20th Century’s modern masters of magic took him under his wing. Shortly thereafter, Joey started doing stand up comedy with the likes of Jerry Seinfeld. One thing led to another, and magic has never been the same.
Joey has appeared in film, on television, and on stages across the country. His one-man show in Seattle, Delusions of Grandeur, was a critical and commercial success. He’s escaped from a straightjacket while hanging by his ankles 80 feet about the street. He’s a featured performer with the legendary The New Old Time Chautaqua. Card tricks and comedy, KALA welcomes master showman Joey Pipia.


Manzanita People’s Print Shop visits KALA 2nd Sat Astoria ArtWalk

People's Print ShopSARAH ARCHER, Director of the Manzanita People’s Print Shop, will grace gallery space at KALA for the ASTORIA 2ND SATURDAY ART WALK, displaying books and art/posters produced on a Chandler and Price 8×12 Old Style Platen press and a Vandercook No. 2. If you have an interest in these letterpress dinosaurs, Archer will be present to talk about them and what goes on at this People’s Print Shop.

People’s Print is located at the Hoffman Center in Manzanita. In spring of 2007 Archer purchased the Chandler and Price and center agreed to house it. Trained in Letterpress printing while studying book arts at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA and later assistant who taught letterpress to undergrads at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago while earning a Master of Fine Arts in Writing – an obvious passion for an old craft has resulted in Archer developing the shop and turning people on to it.

It wasn’t long after the acquisition that the antique press was put to use. The first thing Archer printed was posters for the 2007 Trash Bash at Cartm Recycling. News spread of Archer’s press, and she was approached by Travis Champ (The Cedar Shakes), of whom was ready to publish his first book of poetry (Old Nehalem Road) and did so after learning from Archer, printing and binding a 300 first edition print run on the 100-year-old press.

Champ then made an investment in the press, helping Archer finish the payments on it, and now is a c0-owner. In addition to Liz Beckman, another printer with passion, the three maintain the shop and run monthly meetings.

People's PrintNext the Vandercook No. 2 came into the picture – a press that is easier to operate and has a larger printing area, and is used for beginning workshops. Archer just taught Letterpress Fundamentals and that includes typesetting, hand inking technique, shop procedure, plus a little typography & color theory. It’s a one-day workshop for about $60, which then qualifies you to use the proof press – perfect for printing linoleum and wood image blocks as well as type. The print shop keeps weekly hours for printers’ use.

“The world of letterpress is rhizomatic,” says Archer. “A lot depends on proximity, and humidity. It falls in line with values central to the Nehalem Valley of autonomy and sustainability as – assuming you have natural light – it takes zero electricity to set type and run the press.”

MEET SARAH Archer and come talk printing on Saturday, November 12, during the Art Walk. At 8pm she also joins the stage with spoken word, opening for The Cedar Shakes. You can also contact the print shop through


The Cedar Shakes • Nov 12 @KALA

Give the Dance Floor What it Needs

Cedar ShakesAfter the tourists depart and the leaves fall from the trees, the music of The Cedar Shakes is the perfect soundtrack for the people who have remained behind, those who call the Oregon coast their home.   It is country music from the woods of Nehalem, the wise and sardonic lyrics delivered by Travis Champ’s rich baritone and driven home by the rhythm and pulse of drummer Jamie Owen Greenan and new member bassist Jon Feder.  They arrive at KALA this month to play a selection of their songs guaranteed to get you moving.

Lately, Travis has consciously been writing songs to do just that. “When we started the band a few years ago, we were playing slower paced songs.  Now we’d like to do some songs that get people moving, not just sitting there and staring at you. I actually like an inattentive audience. They may have come out to check out the music but its more of a social thing, with all these conversations.  The “hey, how’s it going?” when anyone walks through the door. “There is only so much you can do with chords E, G, and D,” Travis laughs.

But the songs of The Cedar Shakes are not your standard country fare. While broken bones, empty cans and an early grave awaits the “foolish boy” in the song Rodeo, out “between the cypress trees and the darkened lemon grove, the sons of men unsheathe their hearts like rusty swords while we listen all night to a neighbor’s radio rising through our bedroom floor.”  In the song Sandy Koufax, drummer Jamie propels the song forward like a Southbound train away from the childhood regrets, Landry McMean’s lap steel the lonesome whistle letting bygones be bygones. “Into the void, my friend, over time may we forget the taste of dollar bets, one eyed jacks and candy cigarettes.”

Travis first started writing songs when he got a guitar at 16 and, while influenced by the music he latched onto while in junior high, bands such as The Germs, Rancid, Black Flag and Green Day, he was always digging deeper to discover other music.  Country music, like punk, was a good fit.  “It was approachable; take 3 chords and write a song. You don’t have to be that great a musician. Even now I am not all that comfortable up there with a guitar but I can play what the song needs.”

His earliest musical influences, however, where the sole 3 tapes his Dad played in the family VW bus: a Dwight Yoakum album, a tape by Kathy Mattea which had some good songs especially 18 Wheels And A Dozen Roses and an album by Joe Ely called Love And Danger.  “My parents had a booth at Portland Saturday Market called Baby Snookums, selling baby clothes, bunny hats and duck ponchos.  For 18 years, we did a lot of traveling and those were the 3 tapes we had in the van.  We played them over and over and over again!”  But when we were living in a rural area of Nehalem, we didn’t have any music for years. It was just our own little world.”

A turning point came 6 years ago when Travis bought a 30 day Amtrak ticket to see the country.  At the tail end, he arrived in Austin, Texas, somewhere he always thought he should check out.  It was there he met Rich Russell and Landry McMeans of the band Lonesome Heroes. On his last night, they took him to the infamous venue A Hole In The Wall, (renowned as the place where Townes Van Zandt crashed his car into the side of the building, only to get out and order himself another drink!). That night, he saw some really great local bands and became hooked on the Austin scene. As drummer Jamie had previously lived in Austin, it became a good anecdote to Manzanita’s rainy winters for The Cedar Shakes to go there often and play and eventually record their 4 song, 10 inch record there last Spring.

The release will be available at their performance at KALA.  Take yourself down and get ready to be moved.

Saturday, November 12, Doors Open 7:30pm (post Second Saturday Art Walk). Poet Sarah Archer opens the show at 8pm. $5 cover. Beer and wine available. KALA is located at 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria.


Outsider Artist: The Work of Anne Marie Grgich

Boombox in Sky with Diamonds: a curated exhibition by Kandace Manning and Ian McMartin

The Masquerade
The Masquerade, Mixed Media on Canvas

IN RECENT years, the work of Northwest artist Anne Marie Grgich is more likely to be seen in galleries of New York City, New Orleans, Victoria, Sydney, and in Europe. However, during the next two months, over 20 of her most recent collage works will be featured at Kala in Astoria, along with the paintings, ceramics, and carvings of 7 other artists in the group show, Boombox In the Sky With Diamonds. Joining the skate bowl carvings and photography of Ian McMartin, the ceramics, quilt and paper craft of Portland’s Kandace Manning, the dense phantasmagoric graphics of Seattle’s Paul Gasoi, the comic yet naïve painted boards of Sweden’s Marcus Mårtenson, the photo realism of L. Miscoe’s painted birch panel’s to the intensely vibrant and playful drawings of Soho artist Daniel Belardinelli, the exhibition offers an opportunity to see Anne Marie Grgich’s dense and multi-layered portraits that have made her well known in the international Outsider Art movement, consisting of self taught artists who coexist for the most part outside the realm of the established art world.

Her large portraits are often paradoxical in nature; deceptively simple faces reveal, after closer examination, layer upon layer of images attached to the canvases with water based adhesive, giving them a liquid and mysterious quality. Dark color washes give the paintings a luminescence.

The images hover over each other obscuring and only partially revealing what lies beneath. Akin to the ancient practice of palimpsest where parchment or waxed tablets were scraped to rid them of the previous text and image so that the material could be reused, you can see evidence of the old text behind the whitened area. In Anne’s work, previous layers bubble up thru the paint and the thickly applied adhesive to partially reveal hidden meanings.

Collage Book
Collage Book on display at KALA

Shards of tissue paper rubber stamped and printed with baby heads and doll parts, jellyfish, Victorian garb, hieroglyphics, anatomical drawings, alchemical symbols, third eyes, old bicycles and butterflies. Seahorses used as ears. A wallpaper motif becomes a hat. Bird feathers morph into a dress. Often juxtaposing the modern with the ancient, Anne uses metaphor to play with archetypes, showing “people from the inside out”.

“It just so happens that I started painting faces. I don’t know why. Before that, I was making all these creatures out of found stuff in 1981-82. When I gave birth to my son, I felt I couldn’t have all this trash and junk around a little baby. So I got really into drawing while I was carrying him on my back”. It was Anne’s painted books that first brought her to the attention of the Jamison Thomas Gallery in Portland in 1989, and subsequent shows there catapulted her career. Old library books with each page becoming a canvas encrusted with layers of paint, magic marker, and collage until the book swells up to four times it’s size, with thick textures, fold out pages and bold, defiant faces. “I started doing collage books back when I was a punk rocker, using stuff I found, even cheese whiz! My art developed over time from poetry books to these picture books. I am a kind of visual poet. They are like journals. I could keep everything in my purse, and work wherever I went. Bring some of my books and a box of art supplies and go traveling across the country and to other countries. I’d go to New York and find a piece of wood on the street, then buy some nail polish at Woolworth’s, then find something else. Then I’d make a painting”.

At the Kalas Gallery exhibit, you can see one of her recent books. Like many of her books, it is a work in progress, adding new elements overtime. “I started this book when I had my hysterectomy. So its how I felt at the time. On this page, you can see a uterus and here a womb. I am turning it into this powerful image. I am sort of making my own icons of my feelings. When I feel frustrated or angry, I don’t want to act out how I feel. I am more likely to try to transcend that by working with it. In a way, I am creating an edifice”.

On another page, Anne has collaged the image of a human body, upon which is layered an image of electronic circuitry. On top is applied a tissue with a drawing of the human nervous system. Other layers have images of plants and antlers. “This is all under painting. Later I will re-apply a photo of the body so as to bring it back. Its like I go “In & Out”. I used to organize my collage by color but now I am really into black and white. And then doing color washes on some layers.I am using the images as form, sort of juxtaposition of meaning. Metaphor becomes an element. Like combining the nervous system with the circuitry. As I am building it, a lot of it is intuitive and the rest is just what I am experiencing in life. With my piece “Flight or Fight” which is in the show, it’s about a time in my life, whether to flee or fight it out. Sometimes my work is prophetic. I’ll do a portrait and then eventually meet that person! My art is whimsically put together. There is a lot of irony. But sometimes they have themes. My art has an overall theme”.

Anne Grgich
Anne Grgich in Seattle – profiled as an Outsider Artist in an feature article in Newsweek Magazine-1996, entitled, "Swimming to Seattle—Move There."

At one point, Anne started incorporating baby faces and dolls into her work. “I had a kid and I feel that gave my life a lot of magic, beauty and joy. For me making art is a way for me to experience magic and a way for me to have a 2nd childhood. I had a head injury in 1981 and went into a coma. Afterward, I could only remember some of my previous life. Through art, I was able to remember more and more from the past and it gave me something to do. I would just go into this other world. And create all these drawings”.

Eventually those drawings filled her journals and painted collage books and then grew into the larger canvases. In the show, you can see portraits such as Larissa, Victoria, and Rismone. Their penetrating eyes stare back defiantly but with a sort of innocence. These are eyes that have seen too much, reveal little and stare questioningly at your world. But there are new works exhibited, such as The Masquerade, Whale and The Baby (Underneath It All) that show new metaphors and multi-layer iconic images that point to new themes as well. “Lately, I have become obsessed by trees, as I walk in Forest Park, near my other studio. I have a grasp on how short a human life is compared to a tree that’s 5,000 years old. Meanwhile, art is my life”. And, if you catch her making art while at the Kala Gallery, she’s likely to throw down some Sharpie pens and push a notebook in front of you and say, “Let’s make art!”. She often teaches workshops on her techniques when she is home in Portland and her travels elsewhere.

Next month, Anne packs her typical “on the road” kit of paper, collage books, art supplies and bags of tissue paper printed with various collected images and will be creating art while running workshops and exhibiting at the International Outsider Art Fair, Gallery Bourbon Lally, NYC. And beyond that, a solo exhibit at the Barristers Gallery, in New Orleans followed by a month long artist residency and solo exhibit at the Olaf Gallery in Amsterdam.

Steve Lippincott has an online music magazine at celebrating “music that matters”. He has worked in the publishing industry for 15 years, as well as being a chef. He is currently working on a cookbook called The Harmonious Dish.


Laughing Wild

Christopher Durang’s
SEPT 30, OCT 1
@ KALA Stage
in astoria

Laughing Wild
Featuring Jenni Newton & Bill Ham, directed by susi brown, photo by dinal urell

THIS SEPTEMBER, HIPFiSHmonthly announces the opening of The KALA Stage, in celebration of the continuum of locally produced theater, and the vital theatrical community of the Lower Columbia Pacific Region.

And now a word from Susi Brown – Pier Pressure Productions:
For those of you who enjoyed this past year of thought-provoking theatre at 260 10th, Pier Pressure Productions will be presenting a play just around the corner at the headquarters of KALA/Hipfish. If you haven’t taken an opportunity to attend one of KALA’s 2nd Saturday Art Walks, perhaps you will support the arts by attending PPP’s production of Christopher Durang’s “Laughing Wild”. When PPP announced that it was closing its doors, Dinah Urell graciously extended an invitation to the theatre group to use her new space for performance opportunities. Pier Pressure’s first production was performed in 2009 at the Columbia River Coffee Roaster in the area now known as 3 Cups. In addition to Urell’s offer, PPP as also been welcomed back by Tim Hurd and TJ Lackner (CRCR & 3Cups owners). It may be that PPP will be presenting something in the 3 Cups coffee shop again someday.

Curtain Everyone! By September 30, the blacks will be hung, the lighting system set, lighting technician waiting in the wings, the house full, and the diminutive black box stage will welcome two actors to enact its inaugural performance.

When we were doing the photo shoot for the PR for Laughing Wild, I was reminded by one of the actors, Jenni Newton, that we had coincidentally first met after a performance of playwright Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy (directed by then Clatsop College theater coach Gay Preston some 10 years ago). Ms. Newton portrayed the slightly (or is it tightly) wound psychiatrist. It was her actor-onstage introduction to the community. At an after-show party, I complimented Ms. Newton on her performance, I told her, “You’re good!” And there were numerous feelings mutual amongst attendees.

Since that time, we have not seen enough of Jenni Newton on stage, because she’s too busy being an award-winning, valuable high school drama instructor at Astoria High School, and the infrequent direction of community theater. We did see her as Annie Wilkes in Misery at the River Theater. A striking performance. Newton informs she likes a character that can take her on a ride, and an audience that’s willing to go with her. Hence, her interest in the character “Woman” in Laughing Wild.

William Ham, “Man” in the show, I have told recently, “I have a Bill Ham setting on my camera.” For Mr. Ham has been exercising his acting and comedy prowess on various stages in the region since he set foot on this coast. “Bullshot Crummond,” “Almost, Maine,” “The Zoo Story,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” and “The Seafarer.” He also wrote, directed and performed three well-received one-man shows at the former Pier Pressure Productions space. Ham is a generous performer, giving us the full extent of the spirit and energy of the role, and his gift to make us laugh.

So, as we have witnessed, the theater community just keeps growing, maturing, changing, and thriving through it transitory times. It is the nature. KALA Stage embarks on its adventure, an embrace in diversity of theater and performance.

Laughing Wild is a provocative study about the perils and stresses of modern life in urban America. Jenni Newton and Bill Ham address the audience with two comic monologues which evolve into a shared nightmare and the isolation it creates. Christopher Durang’s characters battle with desperation, alienation, and life’s brutalities in his fiercely ironic comedy. See you there.

Purchase Tickets eve of show beginning 6pm at KALA.
Sept 30 – Oct 1
Doors open 7:30pm.
Show at 8pm. $15
Beer and Wine Sold. Snacks!
FMI: 503.338.4878


KALA@HIPFiSHmonthly Presents

Agnes Field
Agnes Field, repurposed Fort George Beer Cans

2nd Saturday Art Walk
Agnes Field • K.A Hughes • Brenda Harper

KALA@HIPFISHMONTHLY PRESENTS three local artists in conjunction with Astoria 2nd Saturday Art Walk, Saturday, August 13, 5pm – 9pm.  Paintings and Mixed Media by Rebecca Rubens, aka Agnes Field,  K. A. Hughes – Paintings on Mixed Media  and Brenda Harper – Video Installation. The ground floor space of the HIPFiSH production office, housed in the beautifully preserved storefront at 1017 Marine Drive, a part of the historic Occident Building,  joyfully hosts it’s second exhibit.

Visual Arts Curator of the space is Rebecca Rubens – who often signs her paintings  and writes under the non de plume, Agnes Field, a tribute to her deceased grandmother, a Quinalt Indian Tribes member. KALA this month was also a stop on the first Astoria Artist Summer Studio Tours, hosting the studio work of Rubens and Hughes. The two artist exhibits will continue through August.

Rebecca Rubens is a native Astorian who graduated from the New York University graduate art program and has lived and shown art in Portland (Chambers & Pullium Deffenbaugh), New York and Europe.  She studied art at Pacific Northwest College of Art, the School of Visual Arts in New York, and frescos and art history at SACI in Florence and Venice, Italy.  Her studio is in the Lewis & Clark area on Shweeash Bamboo Farm.  She is the Founder of Astoria Visual Arts, a non-profit arts organization, and has been affiliated with numerous non-profit arts projects in the region throughout the years.

K.A. Hughes, Royal Illumination
K.A. Hughes, Royal Illumination

The AVA Open Studio Show (July 30-31) honored Ruben’s father’s 85th birthday on July 30th.  Nemo, an elder in the Chinook Tribe belongs to an era straddled between lost tradition and new found meaning in the practice of forgotten culture.  Some of the work reflects the melding of tradition with contemporary issues–traditional iconography combined with recycled fragments of cans from Fort George Brewery, and reinterpretation of traditional practices, such as the large cedar panels found in native Long Houses.

The new paintings in the show are a continuation of work on “fresco-like” panels using mixed media and collage.  Employing a light touch over layered paint and textural material, hopefully  achieves the look of aged frescos with more airy freshness.

K.A. Hughes, having studied art and graphic design, still considers herself a self-taught painter/artist. Says Hughes, “‘ART’ in all its variant forms presides over my life; painting or two-dimensional art has been a part of my life for 25+ years — my favorite genres being Art Brut, Visionary Art and a little Pop Art thrown in for good measure.

Hughes’ recent collection of paintings on canvas and board portray nuance of fantasy. Rich royal color and shimmer are playfully majestic, emotive, as shapes and images lead to the unknown. The crown, a symbol of royalty and reverence throughout millennia appears in each work as a part of what the artist herself reveres – in this case, the feline.  Hughes’ work appears in Hipfish on a monthly basis as the illustrated mascot, named Frowny Cat, in Elia Seely’s column Foodlove.

Unique to the scene on the coast, artist Brenda Harper offers Video Installation.  Harper has exhibited work at PICA, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Astoria Visual Arts gallery, and the 12 x 16 gallery in Portland, Oregon.

Brenda Harper
Brenda Harper, "Look in the Air" video still

While sun is a hopeful for the Saturday Artwalk, and multi-celebrations throughout the city of Astoria, Harpers installation will be isolated in a viewing station, replete with couch and blackout curtains. Three videos run in a loop, the approximate length of 10 minutes, each capturing a salient feature that compels the viewer to watch again. Harper will also have stills available for sale.

‘Look in the Air’ is a slightly confusing and faux conversation and portrayal of office speculations. Next, is ‘Sculpture Yard’, a recording of an industrial waterfront in Portland, Ore; with it’s denseness of water, rock, and exploration of an empty and mysterious place on a late Sunday afternoon. Then is ‘Undiluted Bedmart’, set in a 7x 5 wooden and cement domestic structure, it shows the man who lives there as he completes a simple chore.

A vintage storefront space offers possibility. Artists have long gathered to these spaces in sections of cities that have become obsolete – such as New York’s SOHO district in the 60’s, of which by the 90’s had become overtly commercialized and condo-miniumized – leaving a lot of artists to head for Brooklyn. That was in a day, when the working class was just beginning to shine. Today, as we ponder the gap between the wealth of America’s corporate lords and the rest of the declining 99% of us,  it is a sort of forced reversed serfdom that may indeed save the farm. So just when you think you have finally thrown the baby out with the bath water, new inspiration takes you up in its arms. KALA, named for the Finnish word for fish, opens its doors to new vision.

Ruben’s as curator says this, “Coordinating art exhibits is a wonderful experience when you are able to work with an organization and individuals who support the vision, without too much control.  I always learn a great deal about the artist and the work, and consequently that informs all my experience about art.  Art is elusive, but all around us everyday, in ordinary experience and objects.  The artist filters a massive amount of sensory information and tells us about who we are, where we are, and where we might be going.  I am looking for those who see or feel the unexpected, occasionally something that is enchanted.  It could be an object, but often is an experience that is trapped in the moment waiting for extraordinary perspective to set it free.”
September Exhibition at KALA will feature Portland artists Cynthia Lahti and Justin L’Amie.

Cabell Tice + LION CO •
w/Morgan Laurence + Gatsby
Sunday, August 14, 8pm, Doors opens 7:30

Lion Co Band
Daniel, Cabell and Travis are LION CO

LOCAL INDIE-FOLK trio LION CO comes back to Astoria after a mini-tour of Northwest venues. The band marks the first music ensemble on the stage at KALA, inaugurating sonic proportions of the storefront space.  Cabell Tice and LION CO hail from the halls of Astoria High, where they first met and played together in band class. (circa 2009)

Frontman Tice, has been crafting his tunes since he was a kid in eighth grade. He gradually progressed to performing and then joining forces with his buds. Its refreshing to know that school band experiences in the hometown of Astoria fosters students inspired to make the connective leap into self-expression.

LION CO has a 6 song EP available on, recorded by local guitar wizard Manasseh Israel. The recording quality is good, and allows you to hear the passionate vocal quality that Cabell Tice can let flow.  As a youth Tice was listening to the Beatles, Beach Boys and Elvis, “in the car,” all master vocal stand-outs in the history of rock and pop, and inspiring him to probably sing along.

While the EP is TICE alone, the trio performs his tunes, and they are getting prepared to record a new set of tunes for a new EP.  “We’re playing music we love and have been fortunate enough to have toured quite a bit this year. We’d like to continue on the same path. Playing bigger stages with bigger bands, as we progress and grow, is a definite goal of ours too.”

A unique combination, sax in an indie-folk band. The band MORPHINE from the 90’s was more in the alt rock genre, but amazing sax lines, voice, string bass and drums created a minimalist sound that fully transported the songs.  Sax player Daniel Mathre does some doubling of melodies – he originally started on bass, but the group decided why waste a good sax player. Travis Dowell is on drums, percussion and glockenspiel (an instrument getting play in the chamber folk music scene). A great creative effort on LION CO’s part to incorporate and go for a diverse sound.

LION CO (pronounced just “KO” rather than company), is a band name derived from Tice’s first trip to Israel and a name given to him by his host family for his then long mane of hair, KFIR, which means Young Lion in Hebrew. When it came to naming the band says Tice, “I thought Lion Co was perfect. When I imagine young lions venturing out to new territory to start their own lives and “make their own name” so to speak, that’s something we can identify with. Travis, Dan and I are in a pretty transitional point in our lives. We’re in that stage where we are finding who we are as not only musicians, but human beings. In short, we see lions as adventurous creatures and we’d like to take a little bit of that adventure into our lives.”

A chance to take LION CO into your life, is coming up at KALA, plus a touring friend band from Albuquerque, NM in a new space in Astoria.