Anne Richardson

Crash Course: Tim Smith

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Tim Smith, with his trusty Bolex H16

When Tim Smith began making films in 1968, he was in junior high school. The quintessential independent, he wrote, directed, produced, edited & sound edited his own work. Should we call the films he made for the next eight years “student films”? One problem with that – he had no teacher. He taught himself.

Fifty years later, Tim Smith is having a moment.

In early November 2018, the 45th Northwest Filmmaker’s Festival is screening THIS IS PORTLAND (1971), from Smith’s high school filmography.

A month after that, the 20th international AMIA Conference will screen THE CASE OF THE KITCHEN KILLER (1976), a film Smith made shortly after graduating high school.

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James K. Angell III, as Dwayne Dwight, in Tim Smith’s THE CASE OF THE KITCHEN KILLER (1976)

Smith’s very first films experimented with stop motion animation. When he moved to live action, he chose parody, a genre well matched with his limited resources and non-professional, although very game, actors. In a quartet of no-budget shorts made between 1970 and 1976, each cheekier than the last, he sent up biker films, travelogues, drug scare films and true crime films. His “look, Ma, no shooting permits!” camera roams the city, while his sound design, increasingly complex over the years, adds a layer of sophistication to filmmaking which, purely on a visual level, was already restless, improvisational, ambitious, and cinematically astute.

Smith’s informed ridicule of genre is immensely entertaining. In DRUGS: KILLERS OR DILLERS, all drug users, from the beginning of time, jump off the same bridge. In THE CASE OF THE KITCHEN KILLER, a mother threatens her son with a rolling pin, and he fights back with an eggbeater. In THIS IS PORTLAND, a close up of a nose inhales an empty rose bush. If it sounds silly, it is. Wonderfully silly is difficult to achieve, and fun to watch, in much the same way skateboarding is.

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Tim Smith’s SALMON STREET SAGA (1970) “greasers”, in costume 

Bemused by our interest in his high school work, Tim Smith tolerated our questions about it for a 2006 TBA Festival project, The Portland That Was. He sat for an interview for that project, and donated, uncredited, his labor as cameraman for another interview in the project, with musician James Hawthorne.

Q: How do Tim Smith’s high school films fit into Oregon’s overall film history?

A: His choice to work with actors is distinctive. Animation was the more popular choice among Portland independents. The two most popular genres for beginning filmmakers in Portland at that time were animation and documentary. Tim chose neither. His location shooting preserves on film the scuzzy downtown Portland which predates the bus mall, the streetcar, and MAX. In Tim Smith’s Portland, Pioneer Square is still a parking lot. Gus Van Sant later would re-create this time period via careful art direction in DRUGSTORE COWBOY (1989).

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Young Smith scowls at the camera. 

TIM SMITH / TIMELINE OF PDX INDEPENDENT FILM

THE GREAT TURN ON (1967), PSU yearbook advertisement Dir: Bill Plympton; DP: Bob Summers. Animated short.

PSU’s Center For The Moving Image opens, 1969. Founding director: Andries Deinum; film production instructor, Tom Taylor.

NEA’s first media funding panel, 1970. Panelist Sheldon Renan (Cleveland HS ’59), with the support of fellow panelist James Blue (Jefferson HS ’49), secures funding for a brand new nationwide network of regional film centers.

SALMON STREET SAGA (1970) Dir: Tim Smith; DP: Tim Smith. Live action short.  

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THIS IS PORTLAND (1971) Dir: Tim Smith; DP: Tim Smith.  Live action short. 

Northwest Film Center opens, 1971. Founding co-directors Brooke Jacobson and Bob Summers, both Andries Deinum students, receive funding from Sheldon Renan’s NEA initiative.

THE CIRCLE (1972) Dir: Tom Moyers, Jr. DP: Will Vinton. Live action feature.

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DRUGS: KILLERS OR DILLERS (1972)   Dir: Tim Smith & Matt GroeningDP: Tim Smith Live action short.

CLOSED MONDAYS (1974) Dir: Will Vinton & Bob Gardiner, DP: Will Vinton. Oscar winning animated short.

THE CASE OF THE KITCHEN KILLER (1976) Dir: Tim Smith; DP: Tim Smith. Live action short. 

PROPERTY (1977) Dir: Penny Allen, DP: Eric Edwards, Sound: Gus Van Sant. Live action feature.

Tim Smith’s films are now part of the Oregon Historical Society’s Davies Family Research Library. A musician himself, Tim Smith transitioned into a career as a sound editor before retiring from the film business entirely. He is currently working on a comic book – in German!

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Founded in 2007 by Anne Richardson and Dennis Nyback, Oregon Cartoon Institute uses new media, archival film, research, networking, and cross disciplinary discussion to explore Oregon film, animation, and print cartooning history.  It has no brick and mortar presence, and always works in partnership with organizations which do.

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OCI/FAQ

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Bill Crawford, OCI secretary-treasurer, looms over a model of 1970s Portland.

Q: What is Oregon Cartoon Institute?

A: Oregon Cartoon Institute is a two person think tank, comprised of director Anne Richardson and film archivist Dennis Nyback. We investigate Oregon’s film, animation and print cartooning history, using every possible tool we can lay our hands on.

Q: What do you do?

A: We ask questions, and share the process of pursuing answers.

Q: What questions?

A: We’re interested in “Who makes Pop?” Exploring this question sometimes makes us wonder “Where is the West?” or even “Is there a West?”

Q: Why are these questions important?

A: Once upon a time there was a decaying blue collar town one thousand miles from Hollywood, and two thousand miles from New York, which produced artists who changed American culture. What happened? Where did Portland’s film, animation, and print cartooning artist-entrepreneurs come from? Pursuing a deeper understanding of this strand of our regional identity illuminates American history and culture, not just our own.

Q: Who are your colleagues?

A: So many! We’ve received guidance, encouragement, information, and occasional collaboration on live events from radio historian Craig Adams, artist Carye Bye, economist Larry Bissett, political scientist Richard Blue, archivist Libby Burke, producer David Cress, poet Walt Curtis, cinematographer Harry Dawson, filmmaker/inventor Walt Dimick, musician Tim DuRoche, UX designer Damon Eckhoff, pillar of moral support Bill Failing, historian Gus Frederick, journalist Richard Gehr, educator Lisa Groening, pop genius Matt Groening, writer Gretchen Harmon, historian Maurice Isserman, filmmaker James Ivory (thank you, James!), scholar Brooke Jacobson, historian Robert Johnston, radio historian Ronald Kramer, archivist Michele Kribs, film preservationist Gary Lacher, bookstore owner Fred Nemo, archivist Elizabeth Peterson, scholar Heather Petrocelli,  artist-entrepreneur Mike Richardson, comics historian Patrick Rosenkranz,  graphic journalist Joe Sacco, urban designer Tad Savinar, journalist Norman Solomon, theater historian Steve Stone, educator Ellen Thomas,  filmmaker Will Vinton (thank you, Will!), librarian Rich Wandschneider, filmmaker Chel White, graphic designer Josh Winsor, artist Monte Wolverton, technician Robert Zurcher, and untold others.

Q: Who runs OCI?

A: Our board of directors is comprised of Portland historian Carl Abbott, urbanist Bill Crawford (see above), designer/Design Week co-founder Eric Hillerns (president); educator Anne Richardson, and Southern Oregon historian Ben Truwe.

Q: Who advises OCI?

A: Artist David Chelsea, animator Bill Plympton, and writer Sheldon Renan, longtime informal advisors, recently became our advisory board.

Q: What does OCI bring to knowledge production?

A: We open the definition of Oregon film history to include films made by Oregon artists outside state boundaries, and we research that history from a statewide perspective. We access two new data sources: oral histories from artists and archival films, sometimes on loan from private sources. These shifts/expansions in data collection lead to a deeper, more accurate understanding of our regional strength.

Q: Who supports OCI projects?

A: OCI’s public history/arts education events have been supported since 2010 with grants from Kinsman Foundation and the James F. and Marian L. Miller Foundation. And with the skilled labor of many volunteers!

In 2018, Oregon Film, Oregon Film Museum, Dark Horse, James Blue Alliance, and UO Knight Library/Special Collections supported OCI’s annual Oregon Film History Conference, held in UO’s White Stag Auditorium in Portland.

Q: What’s next for OCI?

A: OCI became a 501c3 non-profit organization in 2017. We’re looking to add a paid, professional, non-profit administrator to our staff. If you are interested in our mission, and can see yourself in this role, contact us and tell us everything you’d like us to know, including your salary requirements.

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Founded in 2007 by Anne Richardson and Dennis Nyback, Oregon Cartoon Institute uses new media, archival film, research, networking, and cross disciplinary discussion to explore Oregon film, animation, and print cartooning history.  It has no brick and mortar presence, and always works in partnership with organizations which do.

Oregon Cartoon Institute@League of Historic American Theaters Fall Regional Conference, Sept. 12-13, 2018

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Interior of Elsinore Theatre in Salem, Oregon. Built in 1926. Restored in 2004.

Thank you, Restore Oregon, for scholarships for Dennis Nyback and myself to attend the 2018 Fall Regional Conference of the League of Historic American Theaters. The conference theme, Making The Case For Historic Theatres, is a subject dear to Dennis Nyback’s heart.

Dennis Nyback operated five movie theaters of his own. Three in Seattle (The Rose Bud Movie Palace, 1979-1981; the Belltown Film Festival at the Jewel Box Theater, 1988-1992; Pike Street Cinema, 1992-1995), one in New York (Lighthouse Cinema, 1996), one in Portland (Clinton Street Theater, 1999-2002, with Elizabeth Rozier). To read more about his adventures as an exhibitor, see Jack Stevenson’s Land Of A Thousand Balconies.

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Dennis at the Lighthouse Cinema, 116 Suffolk Street, NYC

In 1999, Dennis returned to Portland to save one of the oldest theaters in the city, the Clinton Street Theater, which had been serving audiences since 1915. The Clinton was about to go under when Dennis and Elizabeth Rozier stepped in to restore it. Today it does a healthy business. Current owners Roger and Lani Jo Leigh emphasize independent cinema and offer a full calendar of community based events.

In 2009, Dennis custom created his sixth micro-cinema, the James Ivory Theater at Marylhurst University, to serve the 35mm and 16mm projection needs of the ten day Oregon Sesquicentennial Film Festival. In 2010,  Dennis drew on his knowledge of Seattle’s downtown movie theaters to write the chapter “Art and Grind in Seattle” in Robert G. Weiner and John Cline’s  From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow Transgression in Cinema’s First Century (Scarecrow Press, 2010).

Dennis’ interest in movie theater preservation plus my interest in Oregon film history led to our 2016 Oregon Heritage Conference talk + tour of Salem’s Elsinore Theatre titled Shakespeare Is Oregon Territory: Ellis Lawrence Designs the Elsinore Theatre.

The elegant Elsinore (1926) in Salem joins the miniature Elgin Opera House (1912) in Elgin, the well loved OK Theater (1918) in Enterprise, and the jaw dropping Egyptian Theatre (1925) in Coos Bay on Dennis’ list of favorite historic Oregon movie theaters. Earlier this year, he added the tiny, ancient Bungalow Theater (1911) in Woodburn, Oregon, to the list.

The 2018 Fall Regional Conference of the League of Historic American Theaters will take place on Sept. 12-13, 2018. In Portland, at Hotel Monaco.

Here’s more info: http://www.lhat.org/conferences/regional-conferences

Restore Oregon and the League of Historic American Theaters, with support from Travel Oregon and Oregon Cultural Trust, make the conference scholarship program possible. Thank you, Restore Oregon!

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Founded in 2007 by Anne Richardson and Dennis Nyback, Oregon Cartoon Institute uses new media, archival film, research, networking, and cross disciplinary discussion to explore Oregon film, animation, and print cartooning history.  It has no brick and mortar presence, and always works in partnership with organizations which do.

Crash Course: Sheldon Renan

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Sent by Ben Popp, Michelle Mathews came to me with a request for a crash course on Sheldon Renan, one of the most important figures in Oregon film history.

Here you go, Michelle!

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Sheldon Renan at the NEA, timeline

Sheldon Renan at the NEA, in MovieMaker Magazine

Interview with Sheldon Renan, on Oregon Movies, A to Z

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Sheldon’s 1967 book, An Introduction to the American Underground Film, at Issuu

“The underground film is a medium of and for the individual as explorer and artist.” Sheldon Renan

If you want to see the size of Sheldon Renan’s influence, check out this page of citations on Internet Archive.

Sheldon Renan spoke at the 2018 Oregon Film History Conference, held on May 4 in UO’s White Stag Auditorium. Here he is at the reception for speakers held the night before the conference, at Black Hat Books. Thank you, Fred Nemo!

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Sheldon is in the back, in profile, speaking with Will Vinton, seen from behind. Other conference speakers in the room: Ellen Thomas, Ben Truwe, Monte Wolverton, Dennis Nyback. Other guests pictured: Patrick Rosenkranz, Bartholomew Bott, Ira Deutchman, Janeese Jackson, Ross Lienhart, Bill Crawford, Tim Williams. Photo credit: Gretchen Harmon.

During this year’s Oregon Film History Conference, Michele Kribs, winner of the 2017 Elmer Buehler Award for Film Preservation, bestowed that honor on Sheldon Renan, the 2018 recipient.

Sheldon Renan also serves on Oregon Cartoon Institute’s advisory board.

Here’s a mini bio for people who don’t like following links:

Sheldon Renan figures into American film history because of his effectiveness as an advocate, on a federal level, for regional (what we now call “independent”) film. Even before he went to the NEA, he had impact. His 1967 book, An Introduction to the American Underground Film, shifted the paradigm for young filmmakers. You didn’t have to go to Hollywood. You could become successful in your basement/loft/backyard.

Born in Portland in 1941, graduated Cleveland High School in 1959, wrote his book in 1967. Changed the face of federal funding for film in 1970.

Sheldon’s NEA initiative funded Northwest Film Center, which was founded in 1971 by Brooke Jacobson and Bob Summers. The grant money set aside by Sheldon’s initiative also jumpstarted Pacific Film Archive (founded by Sheldon) in Berkeley, Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, and Detroit Film Theater. All are going strong.

That’s it, Michelle! That’s the OCI crash course on this influential Oregonian.

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Founded in 2007 by Anne Richardson and Dennis Nyback, Oregon Cartoon Institute uses new media, archival film, research, networking, and cross disciplinary discussion to explore Oregon film, animation, and print cartooning history.  It has no brick and mortar presence, and always works in partnership with organizations which do.

 

Oregon Film History Conference/May 4, 2018

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What is the history behind, and the meaning behind, Oregon’s regional strength in creating independent film artists? Where does this longstanding strength fit within the overall intellectual and cultural identity of the Pacific Northwest?

On Friday, May 4, 2018, Oregon Cartoon Institute presents the fourth annual one day Oregon film history conference.

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The conference is designed to showcase the complexity and diversity of Oregon film history for educators, historians, and museum professionals. It is small in size, and designed to encourage interdisciplinary engagement, open ended conversation, and professional networking.

We limit the length of each presentation to leave lots of time for Q & A and discussion.

This year’s conference focuses on the minor cinemas of Oregon: newsreels, educational films, industrial films, promotional films, scientific films, television commercials, student films, experimental films, animation, home movies. It will culminate with a conversation with an artist who began in one of the minor cinemas, experimental animation, and became one of the most important figures in Oregon film history.

Here is the list of the 2018 presenters.

THE MINOR CINEMAS: NEWSREELS

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Ben Truwe, on A. C. Allen (1875-1972)

When A. C. Allen arrived in Medford in 1904, he was not a filmmaker. In 1915, he brought his first film, Grace’s Visit To The Rogue River Valley, to the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

Ben Truwe researches Southern Oregon history, including its cultural history, and is on the board of Southern Oregon Historical Society and on the board of Oregon Cartoon Institute. His 2013 Oregon Cartoon Institute lecture, “More About Goofy: Pinto Colvig, Oregon Animation Pioneer”, was presented in partnership with ASIFA. He spoke about Pinto Colvig at the 2015 Oregon Film History Invitational, and at SOHS in October 2016.

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Worth Mathewson, on William L. Finley (1876 – 1952)

William L. Finley, the first Oregon independent writer-director-producer to receive international distribution, sold newsreels to Pathé. He wore other hats as well – Larry Lipin wrote about Finley’s Good Roads advocacy (work he shared with A. C. Allen) in Oregon Historical Quarterly.

Worth Mathewson is the author of William L. Finley: Pioneer Wildlife Photographer, published by Oregon State University Press in 1986.

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Ellen Thomas/on Oregon’s earliest independent filmmakers and their legacies

Portland’s appeal as a commercial film center began in the early 20th century when the city’s rail connections, varied scenery, robust theatre community and other resources combined to launch careers for local filmmakers and develop audiences for locally made films. What role did newsreel filmmaking in particular have in this setting, and how did those who made them shape the industry going forward?

Ellen Thomas published “‘Scooping the Local Field’: Oregon’s Newsreel Industry, 1911-1933” in the Fall 1989 Oregon Historical Quarterly. Her masters thesis at the UO, Commercial motion picture production in Portland, Oregon, 1910-1928, inspired other articles about early Oregon film for OUR TOWN, OREGON SCREEN MONTHLY and other publications. She is the director of education at Northwest Film Center.

THE MINOR CINEMAS: HOME MOVIES

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Monte Wolverton, on Basil Wolverton (1909 – 1978)

Basil Wolverton grew up with the movies. In home movies made after he had achieved national success as a print cartoonist, he paid homage to the silent comedy he saw in his youth. Born in Central Point, Oregon, Basil Wolverton grew up in Vancouver, Washington.

Monte Wolverton is an artist, painter, sculptor and print cartoonist. He advised the 2014 Fantagraphics biography of his father, Creeping Death from Neptune: The Life and Comics of Basil Wolverton, and the 2016 Oregon Historical Society exhibit Comic City USA.

THE MINOR CINEMAS: INDUSTRIAL FILMS

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Sheldon Renan, on Douglas Engelbart (1925 – 2013)

On December 9, 1968, Douglas Engelbart gave a demonstration of interlinked personal computers to the Association for Computing Machinery/Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in San Francisco. The demonstration, videotaped by a young technophile named Stewart Brand, became known as THE MOTHER OF ALL DEMOS because of the shockingly huge number of innovations unveiled within it. Engelbart graduated from Franklin High School in Portland in 1943.

Sheldon Renan’s An Introduction To The American Underground Film, published in 1967, influenced generations of filmmakers. He continues to write and speak about the intersection of art and technology. He grew up watching movies at the Blue Mouse in downtown Portland.

THE MINOR CINEMAS: EXPERIMENTAL ANIMATION

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Dennis Nyback & Anne Richardson, on Will Vinton

Will Vinton transformed Oregon film history when, after winning a 1975 Oscar for the animated short CLOSED MONDAYS, an honor shared with co-creator Bob Gardiner, he returned to Portland to open his own studio. Hundreds of Oregon artists, animators and non-animators alike, were inspired by Vinton’s independence and success.

Dennis Nyback will give a rapid fire tour of downtown Portland theater history, explaining how and why CLOSED MONDAYS came to be discovered in a tiny art house theater on SW Taylor. Anne Richardson will discuss the way a key assist from a vestigial remnant of Portland’s silent era filmmaking infrastructure supported Will Vinton’s emergence as an independent film entrepreneur.

Will Vinton will join us.

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Randy Finley, the Seattle based independent distributor who took CLOSED MONDAYS to Los Angeles for its qualifying run, will join us as well.

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During this fast paced day of film history immersion, we take time out to salute our heroes.

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Last year, film preservationist Gary Lacher presented the 2017 Elmer Buehler Award to Oregon Historical Society film archivist Michele Kribs. This year, Michele will make the presentation to the 2018 award winner, Sheldon Renan.

“Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say; This is my community, and it’s my responsibility to make it better.” Tom McCall

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William L. Finley, in Alaska

Oregon Cartoon Institute salutes our 2018 partner, UO Libraries. Thank you, Elizabeth Peterson.

Oregon Cartoon Institute salutes our sponsor Oregon Film. Thank you, Tim Williams.

Oregon Cartoon Institute salutes our sponsor Oregon Film Museum. Thank you, Mac Burns.

Oregon Cartoon Institute salutes our sponsor Dark Horse. Thank you, Mike Richardson.

Oregon Cartoon Institute salutes our sponsor James Blue Alliance. Thank you, Richard Blue & Dan Blue.

The fourth annual Oregon Film History Conference was made a success by the following participants:

Carl Abbott, PSU/emeritus
Gwen Asbury, City of Portland, Archives
Bill Baars, Lake Oswego Public Library
Libby Burke, Bonneville Power Administration Library
Devin Busby, Portland City Archives
Mac Burns, Oregon Film Museum
E. J. Carter, Lewis and Clark, Special Collections
David Chelsea, artist
Patricia Clark-Finley, artist
Hector Cobb, Portland Public Schools
Laurence Cotton, writer-producer
Hannah Crumme, Lewis and Clark, Special Collections
Ira Deutchman, Columbia University
Rich Dubnow, Image3D
Bill Failing, Oregon Historical Society
Randy Finley, Seven Gables Theaters
Mary K. Gallagher, Benton County Historical Society
Fellene Gaylord, Clark College
Kohel Haver, Swider/Haver
Gretchen Harmon, author
Eric Hillerns, Design Week
Kami Horton, Oregon Public Broadcasting
Brooke Jacobson, Northwest Film Center co-founder
Ron Kramer, author
Michele Kribs, Oregon Historical Society
Gary Lacher, Movie Preservation, Inc.

Brian Lord, Portland Film Office/Prosper Portland
Christopher Lucas, Southern Oregon University
Roberta Margolis, photographer
Worth Mathewson, author
Teresa McQuisten, Eltrym Theater
David Millholland, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission
Nancy Niland, Oswego Heritage Council
Dennis Nyback, Dennis Nyback Films
Phil Oppenheim, Scripps TV/Panopticon Communication
Erik Palmer, Southern Oregon University
Elizabeth Peterson, University of Oregon/Curator of Moving Images
Heather Petrocelli, Manchester Metropolitan University
Ben Popp, Northwest Film Center
Sheldon Renan, independent scholar
Anne Richardson, Oregon Cartoon Institute
Brad Robison, Jacknife-Zion-Horseheaven Historical Society
Hunter Shobe, Portland State University
Larry Telles, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
Ned Thanhouser, Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.
Ellen Thomas, Northwest Film Center
Ben Truwe, Southern Oregon Historical Society
Will Vinton, filmmaker
Tim Williams, Oregon Film
Monte Wolverton, artist
Precious Yamaguchi, Southern Oregon University

Thank you all!

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Founded in 2007 by Anne Richardson and Dennis Nyback, Oregon Cartoon Institute uses new media, archival film, research, networking, and cross disciplinary discussion to explore Oregon film, animation, and print cartooning history.  It has no brick and mortar presence, and always works in partnership with organizations which do.

 

 

Writing the West: Tim Barnes on CES Wood’s A Book Of Tales (1901)/Jan. 18, 2018, 7:00 PM

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On Thursday, January 18, 2018, at 7:00 PM, Tim Barnes comes to Black Hat Books to continue the discussion of fiction vs non fiction, imagination vs memory, oral histories vs written ones, when it comes to understanding the West.

Poet Tim Barnes is author of Mother and the Mangos (a one-poem book illustrated by Angelina Marino-Heidel, M Kimberly Press and Charles Seluzicki Fine Books, 1991), Star Hill Farm and the Grain of What is Gone (Skookum’s Tongue Press, 1994), Falling through Leaves (Marino Press, 1995), Of Almonds and Angels (Skookum’s Tongue Press, 2007), Definitions for a Lost Language (Skookum’s Tongue Press, 2010, 2014).

Very fitting that the life of poet C. E. S. Wood would be documented by a poet! Tim is co-author, with Edwin Bingham, of Wood Works: The Life and Writings of Charles Erskine Scott Wood

On January 18, Tim will discuss Wood’s A Book Of Tales: Being Some Myths of the North American Indians a 1901 collection of Pacific Northwest Indian oral literature, with Anne Richardson, director of Oregon Cartoon Institute/Oregon Movies, A  Z. Together, they hope to shed some light on Wood’s love of fine press printing as well as on his decision to collect and transcribe Pacific Northwest Indian oral literature.

Who was Wood?

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Lt. Charles Erskine Scott Wood arrived in Oregon in 1874 to fight Indians. A recent West Point graduate, he had been forbidden by his father to follow a literary career. Two Indian Wars and one law degree later, Wood was a well respected member of Portland’s business community, pursuing (and achieving) financial success with a large side order of social and political activism. In Wood Works ,Tim Barnes and Edwin Bingham write “Soldier, poet, attorney, satirist, anarchist, reformer, bon vivant, painter, and pacifist — —-C. E. S. Wood was all of these.”

Wood was one of the founding fathers of Portland Art Museum, an institution which educated generations of Oregon artists, some of whom chose to become filmmakers. If PAM’s early start date is important to Oregon film history, then Wood, who pushed for that early start date,  is important to Oregon film history as well.

Re-issued in 1929 by Vanguard Press in New York City, the first edition of C. E. S. Wood’s A Book Of Tales was hand set and hand printed here in Portland in 1901.

Who writes the West? Tim Barnes, Anne Richardson and Fred Nemo, the owner of Black Hat Books, will pool their thoughts on January 18, 2018, at 7:00 PM.

Thank you, Fred Nemo, for providing a home for this conversation.

Please join us!

What: Tim Barnes, Anne Richardson & Fred Nemo discuss fiction vs non fiction, imagination vs memory, oral histories vs written ones, when it comes to understanding the West.

Where: Black Hat Books, 2831 NE MLK Bvld

When: Jan 18, 2018, 7:00 PM

Admission: Free

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Tim Barnes’ discussion of C. E. S. Wood’s A Book Of Tales: Being Some Myths of the North American Indians is the second in the Writing The West series at Black Hat Books. The first conversation, in October 2017, featured Rich Wandschneider and Richard Etulain discussing Daniel Sharfstein’s book Thunder In The Mountains: Chief Joseph, O. O. Howard, and the Nez Perce War.

Oregon Cartoon Institute + World Affairs Council Receive Arab Language Cartoonists@Black Hat Books/Oct. 31, 3:00 PM

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On Oct 31st, at 3:00 PM, Oregon Cartoon Institute joins World Affairs Council of Oregon in welcoming a group of Arab language political cartoonists who are touring the country as part of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Project.

The visiting artists include:

Mr. Belkacem Lamine Mohamed Dahmane, from Algeria
Mr. Ahmed Khaleel Hadi Al Obaidi, from Iraq
Ms. Safaa Abuaathra, from Palestinian Territories
Mr. Suliman Mohammed M. Alanazi, from Saudi Arabia
Ms. Nadia Dhab Bouraoui, Mr. Hamdi Mazoudi, from Tunisia

The objectives of their tour:

“Examine the role played by political cartoonists in the United States and their influence on public opinion and government policy
Explore constitutionally guaranteed press freedoms in the United States, and the accompanying principles of editorial expression
Review and become familiar with cartoonist training in the United States
Illustrate the effective use of humor and how it supports civic activism and contributes to a dynamic and pluralistic political system”

Oregon Cartoon Institute is very interested in the role cartooning plays in promoting and maintaining the exchange of ideas essential to a democracy. Oregon’s contributions to American political cartooning include longtime cartoonist at The Oregonian, Jack Ohman (now at the Sacramento Bee), who won the Pultizer in 2016, and Matt Wuerker, who graduated from Lewis & Clark in ’79, and won the Pulitzer in 2012. They both follow the first American born political cartoonist to achieve nationwide fame, Homer Davenport (1867-1912), from Silverton, Oregon.

The award winning graphic journalism of Oregon cartoonist Joe Sacco inspired Art Spiegelman to say “In a world where Photoshop has outed the photograph as a liar, one can now allow artists to return to their original function – as reporters.”

When (Oregon born and raised) Bill Plympton says to audiences “Cartoons are powerful. They can change the way people think.”, he speaks with authority. Before he was an Oscar nominated animator, he was a political cartoonist for ten years.

To honor the visit from the International Visitor Leadership Project delegation of Arab language political cartoonists, Oregon Cartoon Institute has compiled a list of Oregon artists who interfaced with Arab culture/politics at some point in their careers.

HOMER DAVENPORT

1906
Oregon cartoonist Homer Davenport (1867-1912) travels to Syria to purchase Arabian horses

1909
My Quest of the Arabian Horse
Nonfiction book
By Oregon cartoonist (and horse breeder) Homer Davenport

JOE SACCO

1996
Palestine
Graphic journalism documenting a 1991-1992 visit to the Occupied Territories
By Portland cartoonist Joe Sacco
Winner, 1996 American Book Award

2009
Footnotes On Gaza
Graphic journalism documents Sacco’s investigative reporting about two massacres which took place in Gaza in 1956
By Portland cartoonist Joe Sacco
Winner, 2010 Eisner Award

PSU

1959
Middle East Studies Center opens at Portland State University
“The first federally supported undergraduate program for Arabic language and Middle East area studies in the nation.”

DIANA ABU JABA

2012
Birds Of Paradise
Novel
By Portland author Diana Abu Jabar, whose father is from Jordan
Winner, 2012 Arab American Book Award

PENNY ALLEN

2013
EN RETARD POUR L’ENTERREMENT DE MA MERE
French language experimental documentary, made in Algeria
By Portland filmmaker Penny Allen.

JAMES LONGLEY

2006
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS
Documentary made in Baghdad
by Eugene, Oregon filmmaker James Longley
Nominated for 2007 Academy Award

JAMES BLUE

1962
LES OLIVIERS DE LA JUSTICE
French & Arab language narrative film made in Algiers
Directed by Portland filmmaker James Blue (1930-1980)
Winner, 1962 Critics Prize at Cannes Film Festival

Here’s a brief trailer for LES OLIVIERS DE LA JUSTICE.

Here’s the entire film, uploaded by Archives Numériques du Cinéma Algérien.

Portland historian Carl Abbott joins David Chelsea, Sheldon Renan, Patrick Rosenkranz, Dennis Nyback and Anne Richardson, all veterans of Oregon Cartoon Institute’s 2016 UNDERGROUND USA symposium, to welcome the World Affairs Council delegation on Oct. 31st, 2017.  Thank you to Fred Nemo, the owner of Black Hat Books, for his hospitality!

(Ed. note, after the fact: We were lucky to have graphic journalist Joe Sacco join us as well.)

Black Hat Books, at 2831 NE MLK Blvd in Portland, will be open for business throughout the event. I am curious to see who stops in to buy a book, and ends up joining a conversation about the role of the free press in a democracy!

 

Writing the West: Rich Wandschneider, Richard Etulain at Black Hat Books/Oct 12, 7:00 PM

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On Thursday Oct 12, at 7:00 PM, long time friend of Oregon Cartoon Institute, Rich Wandschneider, comes to Black Hat Books to discuss fiction vs non fiction, imagination vs memory, oral histories vs written ones, when it comes to understanding the West.

Rich Wandschneider is the director of the Alvin M. and Betty Josephy Library of Western History and Culture, located within the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph, Oregon.

Rich will discuss Daniel J. Sharfstein’s new book “Thunder In The Mountains: Chief Joseph, O. O. Howard, and the Nez Perce War” with armchair Howard historian, Anne Richardson. Rich and Anne have been discussing the complexity of the Nez Perce War narrative, on and off, for nearly 20 years.

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“Those who know little about General Howard, other than that he was a founder of Howard University, will be especially interested in following his story to the end.”—Henry Louis Gates, Harvard University

Howard, the enigma. In the past, historians handled the one armed general’s multiple identities by not acknowledging them. In Merrill Beal’s “I Will Fight No More Forever: Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War”,  we read about Howard’s years as head of the Freedman’s Bureau in a footnote. In Alvin B. Josephy’s “The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest”, we never read about them at all.  We never learn why he was in the West.

Howard went West as a man in exile. His idealistic activism at the Freedman’s Bureau had come with a cost: political enemies.  Two congressional hearings (charges dismissed) left his career in ruins. He accepted re-assignment to the Department of the Columbia where he followed orders to force the Nez Perce off land he knew they owned. Sharfstein frames Howard’s and Joseph’s relationship, usually seen as one of mutual incomprehension, as a contest of political wills.

Howard’s back story complicates our understanding of the West. Where is the simple chessboard of cowboys vs Indians?

Joining us for the evening to help sort this out will be a longtime Oregon literary historian.

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Richard W. Etulain is a prize-winning historian specializing in the history of the American West. He has been honored as president of both the Western Literature and Western History Associations. His most recent book is about Ernest Haycox, a Portland writer who grew up alongside a brand new art form: the Western.

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Who writes the West? Rich Wandschneider, Richard Etulain, Anne Richardson, and Fred Nemo, the owner of Black Hat Books, will pool their thoughts on October 12, at 7:00 PM.

Thank you, Fred Nemo, for providing a home for this conversation.

Please join us!

What: Rich Wandschneider, Anne Richardson, Richard Etulain & Fred Nemo discuss fiction vs non fiction, imagination vs memory, oral histories vs written ones, when it comes to understanding the West.

Where: Black Hat Books, 2831 NE MLK Bvld

When: Oct 12, 7:00 PM

Admission: Free

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This evening with Rich Wandschneider and Richard Etulain is the first in a series of Writing The West conversations. The second event, in January 2018, will zero in on one specific book in Oregon literary history, C. E. S. Wood’s 1901 A Book Of Tales, with guest speaker Tim Barnes.

Timeline of independent feature film in Oregon, 1966-1990

The less expensive a film is, the more ambitious the ideas and themes can be. And the converse is true – the more a film costs, the more salary everyone makes, the more limited the subject-matter has to be. Francis Ford Coppola

Oregon independent filmmaking falls into three camps: independents from outside the state who arrive to use Oregon as a location; Oregon independents active within the state; Oregon independents active outside the state.

This list focuses solely on feature length films made by independent filmmakers who were living in Oregon at the time they made their films.

To get the best sense of this period, combine this list with the previous post, about the emergence of Oregon animation.

THE CIRCLE (1972)  Tom Moyer Jr, writer-director-producer. THE CIRCLE is the second sound era theatrically released film made by an Oregonian.  The first, made in LA in 1953, was John Parker Jr.’s DEMENTIA (1953). Tom Moyer Jr. and John Parker Jr. were both sons of Portland movie theater chain tycoons. In fact, Tom Moyer Sr. bought his movie theater chain from John Parker Sr. From what I understand, THE CIRCLE seems to have been about 1970s youth culture. Will Vinton, DP.

ROCKADAY RICHIE AND THE QUEEN OF THE HOP (1973) George Hood, director. Just as Tom Moyers Jr. was the son of the owner of a chain of Portland movie theaters, George Hood was the son of Frank Hood, the founder of Teknifilm Lab, on NW 19th. Released as STARK RAVING MAD in 1981. Don Gronquist, writer-producer.

DEAFULA (1975) Peter Wechsberg, writer-director-producer-star. The first, perhaps only, horror film shot using American Sign Language. Peter Wechsberg, DP.

PROPERTY (1977)  Penny Allen, writer-director-producer. Funded by a CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) grant, fiscally sponsored by The Northwest Media Project. Cast includes Corky Hubbert, who went on to a Hollywood career, and poet Walt Curtis, playing himself. Henk Pander, production design. Eric Edwards, DP. Gus Van Sant, sound.  Selected as an exemplary American independent film for the first year of Robert Redford’s U. S. Film Festival, soon to be renamed Sundance.

FAST BREAK (1977) Don Zavin, writer-director-producer. Free form feature length documentary of the Trailblazers’ championship season. Zavin already was a regional Emmy award winner when he made this. Score by the jazz group Oregon.

PAYDIRT (1981) Penny Allen, writer-director-producer. Set and shot in Oregon’s wine country. Famed real life vintner David Lett appears in a cameo. Tom Shaw provided the 35mm camera package. Eric Edwards, DP.

UNHINGED (1982) Don Gronquistwriter-director-producer. Slasher film set in Pittock Mansion. Richard Blakeslee, DP. Harry DawsonEric Edwards, assistant camera. Dan Biggs, associate producer.

TAMANAWIS ILLAHEE: RITUALS AND ACTS IN A LANDSCAPE (1983) Ron Finnewriter-director-producer. Feature length documentary funded by Oregon Council for the Humanities. Features poet George Venn.

THE COURIER OF DEATH (1984) Tom Shaw, writer-director-producer. Portland’s porn king goes low budget legit. John H. Schmeer, DP.

THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN (1985) Will Vinton, director-producer. Ten years and three additional Oscar nominations after making an Oscar winning short with Bob Gardiner in his Portland basement, Will Vinton makes a feature length film at Will Vinton Studios, his own Portland company. Susan Shadburne, writer. Voice artists included Dallas MacKennon, Will Vinton, Billy Scream, Craig Bartlett, Mark Gustafson. Crew included Kelley Baker, Joan Gratz, Marilyn Zornado, Jan Baross, Barry Bruce, Douglas Aberle, Mark Gustafson, Craig Bartlett, William Fiesterman, Walter Murch. In THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN we see the first return to Portland, since the silent era, of feature length filmmaking produced by a Portland studio/production company.

Will Vinton’s and Bob Gardiner’s Oscar winning short, CLOSED MONDAYS (1974), all three of Will Vinton’s subsequent Oscar nominated shorts, RIP VAN WINKLE (1978), THE CREATION (1981), THE GREAT COGITO (1983), and the feature length THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN (1985) were stop motion animated, using clay. Will Vinton Studios trademarked the word “Claymation” in 1992.

MALA NOCHE (1985), Gus Van Sant, writer-director-producer. Based on memoir by Walt Curtis. Starring Tim Streeter, Doug Cooeyate.  John Campbell, DP. Pat Baum, sound. Gus Van Sant, executive producer. 

SHADOWPLAY (1986) Susan Shadburnewriter-director-producer. Starring Dee Wallace, Cloris Leachman. Produced by Dan Biggs, Susan Shadburne, Will Vinton. In SHADOWPLAY, we see the first return to Portland, since the silent era, of the live action independent feature starring Hollywood talent.

OPERATION: TAKE NO PRISONERS (1987) Tom Shaw, writer-director-producer John H. Schmeer, DP.

DRUGSTORE COWBOY (1989) Gus Van Sant, writer-director. Starring Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James LeGros, Heather Graham, William S. Burroughs. Based on memoir by James Fogle. Robert Yeoman, DP. Nick Wechsler, Karen Murphy, producers. Cary Brokaw, executive producer.

This timeline is the fourth in a series created for Sheldon Renan. The first illuminates the minor cinemas of Oregon, 1910-1965. The second is a timeline of three NEA advocates for regional film who were from Oregon (Sheldon was one). The third illuminates the emergence of Oregon animation, 1965-1990. For best results, mesh all four together.

Sheldon Renan himself was active as a Los Angeles based writer-director-producer during the period covered by this timeline. His filmography includes the independent feature TREASURE: IN SEARCH FOR THE GOLDEN HORSE (1984), shot on the Oregon coast.

Timeline illuminating the emergence of Oregon animation, 1965-1993

As George Hood recalls, “In 1965-68 everyone was taking one class – Deinum’s night course on the ‘Theory and History of Film’ and it included animation.”

From Rose Bond’s history of Portland animation.

During the period referenced by George Hood, Andries Deinum taught at Portland Extension Center, where he encouraged students to see the difference between films, which were an activity, a verb, a way of understanding the world, and movies, which were something you bought tickets to.

In 1969, Deinum opened PSU’s Center For The Moving Image. CMI offered access to equipment and an open horizon as far as the type of films you could make. Some students chose animation.

Art major Bill Plympton first used an animation stand at PSU in 1967. He was not a CMI student (he transferred to the School of Visual Arts in New York before CMI opened), but his friend and DP, Bob Summers, was. High school student Matt Groening attended screenings organized by CMI students, as did Berkeley graduate Will Vinton. CMI never offered formal instruction in animation. Nevertheless, it provided a meeting ground for all Portland filmmakers, including those interested in animation.

Andries Deinum, teaching film in Portland from 1957 to 1981, could never have dreamed the size of the animation careers which came out of the decaying blue collar city he entered in 1957.

I italicize films made by Oregon artists outside Oregon. Some people don’t consider these events part of Oregon film history. I do.

Films listed in Rose Bond’s history are marked with an asterisk.

PSU YEARBOOK AD (1967) Bill Plympton, future two time Oscar nominee 

*MINCE MEAT (1968) Jim Douglas

*HOME MOVIES A-Z” and PUSH BUTTON MOVIE (1968-69) John Haugse

*EDDIE’S TENNIS SHOES (1970) Jim Blashfield, future Cannes Golden Lion winner

*THE COMPUTER SAID (1970) Jan Baross

*SEA SOUND (1970) Bob Dvorak

*EYE LEVEL (1971) Jim Douglas

*AC-16 (1971),  Joan Gratz, future Oscar winner

HAND SONG (1973) Ken Butler

*CLOSED MONDAYS (1974) Will Vinton & Bob Gardiner, Oscar winner 

*WINTERLIGHT (1976) Roger Kukes, future teacher of Rose Bond and Joanna Priestley

GAIA’S DREAM (1983) Rose Bond, future director of PNCA’s Animation Institute

THE RUBBER STAMP FILM (1983) Joanna Priestley, future Queen of Indie Animation

YOUR FACE (1987) Bill Plympton, Oscar nominee, future King of Indie Animation

THE SIMPSONS on The Tracey Ullman Show (1987) Matt Groening, future 12 time Primetime Emmy winner.

FAMILY DOG on Amazing Stories (1987) Brad Bird, future two time Oscar winner 

LEAVE ME ALONE (1989) by Jim Blashfield, winner of the Cannes Golden Lion.

DRUGSTORE COWBOY (1989) Animated special effects by Chel White, future founder of Bent Image Lab.

MONA LISA DESCENDING A STAIRCASE (1993) Joan Gratz, Oscar winner

And people keep saying, “The animation genre.” It’s not a genre! A Western is a genre! Animation is an art form, and it can do any genre. You know, it can do a detective film, a cowboy film, a horror film, an R-rated film or a kids’ fairy tale. But it doesn’t do one thing. Brad Bird

This timeline is the third in a series of four, created for Sheldon Renan. The first illuminates the minor cinemas of Oregon. 1910-1965;  the second h three NEA advocates for regional film  (of which Sheldon was one),  and the fourth the return of the independent feature film, 1966-1990.