What can you do when life keeps throwing you one crisis after another? This seems to be the time of year to hit that holiday pause button, consider where we’ve been and where we’re going. As it happens, we found three amazing artists on long journeys of their own.
Comedian Abbi Jacobson spent 2018 getting over a really challenging time: The incredible web-series-turned-Comedy-Central-smash she makes with her best friend Ilana Glazer, “Broad City,” is closing in on the end of its run. As if that weren’t a lot, life threw in a bad breakup with the first woman she’d ever dated. Jacobson’s solution? Road trip! The journal of the subsequent cross-country drive became fodder for her funny and charming new book, “I Might Regret This.” Jacobson talked about the book with “Shrill” author Lindy West at this year’s Portland Book Festival. Ready for the whole conversation? It’s on Literary Arts’ “Archive Project” this week!
Tara Westover’s new memoir, “Educated,” made a lot of critics’ best-of-the-year lists. Raised in a Mormon family with a strong anti-government survivalist world-view, she lived a childhood without formal schooling or medical care. Westover left home at 17 to attend Brigham Young University, going on to study at Harvard and Cambridge. Her memoir is a fascinating look inside her family’s world, but also offers an insightful critique of memory and memoir, as Westover interrogates her own recollections, compared with those of her brothers and parents. She spoke with OPB’s Dave Miller at Literary Arts this month.
Shayla Lawson’s Oceanography — 37:07
Poet Shayla Lawson was living overseas in the fierce grip of homesickness when she stumbled across the music of visionary singer, songwriter and rapper Frank Ocean. She began writing a cycle of poems taking Ocean lyrics as a point of departure. The resulting work manifested as her 2018 book, “I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean,” and as a series of live performances and videos with Lawson’s band, the Oceanographers. We caught up with Lawson when the book published. Since we talked, the former Portlander has since accepted a position as artist in residence at Amherst College.
PNCA and OCAC Discontinue Merger Talks — 49:14
Portland’s two big art schools, Pacific Northwest College of Art, and Oregon College of Art and Craft, are making separate New Year’s Eve plans. As you may have heard, these two schools spent the last few months in negotiations about merging. There were lots of reasons — most having to do with money. Colleges with fewer than 1,000 students have it rough. The question of whether the two art schools should become one has kicked around for decades. Late last week, word came that those talks are off. PNCA President Don Tuski told us, “We needed to focus on our strategic plan, our ongoing initiatives in design. When it came down to it, a feasible model that made sense to us with OCAC just wasn’t in the cards at the end of the day.”
OCAC’s side of the picture is less clear. A written statement says, “OCAC and PNCA have completed a due diligence and negotiations process” … and that governance boards from both organizations “made the decision that a merger at this time is not a feasible option.” OCAC, the statement says, is exploring other exciting opportunities to ensure the sustainability of our college and campus. The college declined to allow interviews with its board members or interim president. It’s hard to tell what OCAC’s next move might be, but many in the community are concerned. This has been a scary year for higher education, with the Art Institute of Portland and Marylhurst University closing. Some programs, like Marylhurst’s groundbreaking creative writing program, found new homes at PNCA. But many other galleries and assets were sold, or, in the case of the Art Gym, simply ceased to exist. We’ll keep following the story in 2019.