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Ashland artists receive Career Opportunity Grants

Three Ashland artists received Career Opportunity Grants recently thanks to a partnership of the Oregon Arts Commission, the Ford Family Foundation and the Oregon Community Foundation. The awards will support Robert Arellano’s writing residency in Cuba, the premiere of David Bithell’s percussion performance work in Banff, Canada, and Anne Baxter’s exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Southern Oregon University professor and published author Robert Arellano’s stay in Cuba is sponsored by Asociación Hermanos Saíz (AHS), an arts association that focuses on youth culture. “While prohibited by a number of laws related to the U.S. trade embargo from giving material, financial support to Americans,” Arellano says, “AHS said I could base my interviews there, use their facilities to meet with people.”

But it takes more than good will to get to Cuba and live there for two months.

A Career Opportunity grant of $4,100 will fund Arellano’s two-month residency, allowing him to focus on his next book, about young Cuban rock and roll fans who in the late 1990s deliberately injected themselves with HIV-infected blood as an act of revolution. “Thanks to Oregon funding and the support of the AHS, I think it will open the door and people will speak to me.”

David Bithell is on the faculty of Southern Oregon University’s Emerging Media and Digital Arts program. His work centers on installations and performances that involve interactive design, video, music and movement. Bithell’s art is brilliant, innovative and sometimes disturbing.

For the Banff premiere, Bithell is collaborating with University of Toronto percussionist, Aiyung Huang who performs on a large concert bass drum, video projected on the drum head instead of the wall.

“As the piece (“Windward”) develops, visual forms take on narrative roles and eventually we start to see the emergence of human figures out of these shapes,” Bithell explains. “The percussionist is a godlike figure or puppet master figure and the works asks whether this person is really in control or not,” says Bithell. “There’s a back and forth between creator and created.”

Bithell received a grant of $4,500.

Ashland wire artist Anne Baxter has just returned from Italy and the opening of the Venice Architecture Biennale, “Time, Space, Existence.” The Biennale is a six-month invitational exhibit that has given Baxter access to international artists, students, collectors and critics far beyond what is possible in a local or regional forum.

Baxter’s piece is called “Infinity,” reflects human existence and is worked in her signature medium wire mesh with a copper-toned finish. It took Baxter about 6 months to complete “Infinity” and her participation in the Biennale depended on Oregon Arts Commission funding. “Shipping is very expensive,” she says. “because the work is extremely fragile.” She received a grant of $1,500.

2018 was the first time Baxter had applied for Oregon Arts Commission funding. “It wasn’t complicated but it was extremely thorough and very detail oriented,” she admits. “It took quite a bit of time to gather all the information and make it accurate.”

The Career Opportunity grants program recognizes the work of active and established artists to further the impact of their art. Grants fund timely opportunities to enhance artistic careers through skills development, expanded marketing capacity or the further development of the nature or quality of artwork. Each funding partner has slightly different guidelines, but artists make a common application to the funding pool.

The May 2018 Career Opportunity award is the second of three 2018 grant cycles. The online application and guidelines for the mid-September 2018 funding cycle will be posted soon to the Oregon Arts Commission website at www.OregonArtsCommission.org. The Career Opportunity Grants program has been in place for about 10 years and is expected to continue.

Email Ashland freelance writer Maureen Flanagan Battistella at mbattistellaor@gmail.com.

David Bithell
An image from “Windward,” Ashland artist David Bithell’s 2018 collaboration with Canadian percussionist Aiyung Huang.