“PDX Culture Keepers Festival”: Check out our Mini-Festival of Folk Artists and Performers at the Oregon Historical Society

Makaela Kroin

OHS has a festive afternoon planned for June 11th, 2017, 2-4 pm. Five featured Portland Metro Area folk artists will perform or demonstrate a variety of cultural traditions, from traditional Kenyan cooking techniques to Estonian folk dance. Rounding out the program will be interactive demonstrations of Oaxacan weaving, Coquille/Coos canoe paddle carving, and intricately woven nautical rope mats. The featured artists were identified by fieldworkers Nancy Nusz, Douglas Manger, and Makaela Kroin during the 2016 Portland Metro Folklife Survey.

This free, family-friendly open-house event is brought to you by the Oregon Folklife Network and is part of the Oregon Historical Society’s “Second Sunday” series.

Featured artists include:

Francisco Bautista is a fourth-generation weaver from Teotitlán del Valle, a village near Oaxaca City, Mexico, known for its weaving tradition. Bautista, who sells his stunning hand-loomed rugs at Portland’s Saturday Market, will show how he weaves colorful designs on his five-foot loom. He’ll also talk about his family’s traditional dyes and their natural sources.

Dennis Best, a retired US Coast Guard Chief Officer and Surfman, travels the world in his sailboat and makes traditional nautical rope mats of manila rope and seine net twine. Best will demonstrate his knotting techniques and invites guests to tie a few themselves.

Wambui Machua, Kenyan chef and business owner, teaches African cooking classes, caters, sells food at markets, and funds charitable projects through her Beaverton-based business, Spice of Africa. Machua will prepare typical Kenyan dishes including ugali, a corn meal based dish, and samosas.

Tulehoidjad, Portland’s Estonian folk dance troupe, has kept the Estonian language, dances, and other Baltic traditions alive for four generations in Oregon. Liina Teose leads the troupe that her mother, Estonian immigrant Lehti Merilo, founded in 1950. Both the adult and youth troupes will perform, and visitors are invited to learn some steps and join in!

Shirod Younker (Upper Coquille and Miluk Coos), is one of the keepers of his Tribe’s cultural knowledge.  A recipient of the 2017 Native Arts and Culture Foundation’s Mentor Artist Fellowship, he manages the only pre-college artists-in-residence program for Native American teens in the United States. Younker will demonstrate his canoe paddle carving and discuss the interconnectedness between spiritual wisdom and Native art aesthetics.

This event is free and open to the public—all ages are welcome—no registration required. The Oregon Historical Society is located at 1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR 97205.

For more information about the Oregon Historical Society, visit http://www.ohs.org/.

This event is the culmination of the Oregon Folklife Network’s Portland Metro folklife survey, the fourth in a series of regional surveys to identify and document folk and traditional artists in Oregon. The survey was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works, Folk & Traditional Arts Program.

OFN is administered by the University of Oregon and is supported in part by grants from the Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

To join the Twitter conversation about this event, please use #Oregonfolk. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov. Follow OFN on Twitter @OregonFolklife and follow us on Facebook at Oregon Folklife Network.

Portland Metro Fieldwork Survey Reflections

The 2016 Portland Metro Folklife Survey is the fourth in a series of OFN’s regional surveys to identify and document folk and traditional artists in Oregon. We are grateful for funding from a Folk & Traditional Arts Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as for additional support from the Oregon Historical Society. Click on the links below to read reflection essays by folklorists Nancy Nusz, Douglas Manger, and Makaela Kroin.

Multnomah County Survey Reflections

Traditional Weavers in Clackamas and Yamhill County

Washington and Columbia Counties Survey Reflections 

“Folkcraft embodies shared knowledge, passed from the wellspring on to succeeding generations. As experience is gained the emerging folk artist becomes ever more adept at accomplishing the intricacies of the work. What sets folk artists apart? In my experience their “gentle fervor” is the distinguishing factor. How many times have I left an interview deeply moved, newly enlightened, or utterly transformed. With the emphasis on excellence, adherence to form (with room to grow), and honoring those who came before them, a model for universal living is at hand for all to benefit. It is these noble attributes that allow folkways to sustain from one generation to the next. Perhaps it is for these reasons, as well, that OFN’s Folklife Surveys have brought such a positive public response.”

–Douglas Manger

 

Eastern Oregon Survey Reflections With Douglas Manger and Joe O’Connell

In the spring of this year, folklorists Douglas Manger from Texas, and Joseph O’Connell from North Carolina, took to the highways and byways of Eastern Oregon to carry out OFN’s third year of our multi-year statewide folklife survey. Thanks to funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oregon Historical Society, Douglas and Joe visited the Eastern Oregon counties of Union, Wallowa, Baker, Grant, Wheeler, Crook and Deschutes. Through this fieldwork, the OFN identifies and documents traditional artists who might later apply for our Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program or be recommended for the Oregon Culture Keepers Roster.

02_1Douglas Manger has been working as a folklorist for twenty years. Early in his career, Manger served as director of the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance in Pennsylvania, where he documented folk artists and curated exhibits and other programs. Manger later managed the folk and traditional arts program at the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in Baltimore overseeing initiatives across nine states and jurisdictions. At Mid Atlantic, Manger project managed the award-winning publication, From Bridge to Boardwalk: An Audio Journey Across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In 2007, Manger returned to his home state of Texas and founded HeritageWorks, which has been responsible for multi-year regional folklife field surveys in South and East Texas for the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, in Baton Rouge and vicinity for the Louisiana Folklife Program, in Eastern Oregon (Malheur and Harney counties in 2014; Deschutes, Crook, Baker, and Union counties, spring 2016) and the Portland Metro (fall 2016) for the Oregon Folklife Network.

Joseph O’Connell,02_2 who received an MA in Folklore from the University of Oregon in 2009, works in public folklore, public media, and independent music. After leaving Oregon, he joined the staff of Traditional Arts Indiana (TAI) as the program’s primary fieldworker.  O’Connell led several region- and topic-driven survey projects at TAI, including the first extensive cultural documentation of Indiana’s architectural stone industry.  Now living in Raleigh, North Carolina, O’Connell contributes to projects of the North Carolina Folklife Institute, local NPR affiliate WUNC-FM, and the folk-rock band Elephant Micah. He spent several weeks during April and May of 2016 working with Douglas Manger to document folk artists in Wallowa, Grant, and Wheeler counties. Continue reading

Oregon Folklife Network RFP: Seeks Folklore Fieldworkers for Portland Metro

Oregon Folklife Network RFP: Due August 5, 2016
Folklore Fieldworkers for Portland Metro
FY2017 (November 2016)

The Oregon Folklife Network seeks to hire one or two emerging/early career folklorists (1-3 years’ experience in public folklore or with non-degree focused folklife fieldwork) to work in collaboration with veteran folklorists Nancy Nusz and Douglas Manger during the month of November 2016. Folklorists will conduct folklife field surveys and documentation of cultural, occupational, regional, and religious traditions in the Portland Metro counties of Washington, Multnomah, Yamhill, Columbia, and Clackamas (fieldwork regions will be divvied up based on the experience and backgrounds of those selected). OFN Executive Director, Riki Saltzman, will supervise this project and veteran folklorists Nancy Nusz and Douglas Manger will mentor the emerging folklorists during fieldwork. This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works.

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Eastern Oregon Survey with Folklorists Douglas Manger and Joe O’Connell

IMG_4792Beginning in this spring, the Oregon Folklife Network started year three of our multi-year Statewide Folklife Survey, this time in the Eastern Oregon counties of Union, Wallowa, Baker, Grant, Wheeler, Crook and Deschutes. As part of this work, UO Folklore graduate students and OFN staff joined our contract folklorists, Douglas Manger and Joe O’Connell, to observe and apply best ethnographic practices. As a side benefit, they get to experience some of the wonders of Oregon and meet great traditional artists. This project is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works as well as by the Oregon Historical Society and the University of Oregon.

Click the links below to read reflections on those fieldwork experiences in Eastern Oregon.

Folklore Fieldwork in Wheeler County

Folklore Fieldwork in Deschutes and Crook County

Reflections from the Gorge Region Survey

During 2015-16, year two of our Statewide Folklife Survey, OFN contract folklorists Nancy Nusz and Debbie Fant traveled all over the Columbia River Gorge counties of Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Jefferson, Morrow, and Umatilla as well as to the Confederated Tribes of Warms Springs and the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla to learn about the diverse cultural traditions of this region. Both also presented the results of their fieldwork at various sites in those counties. This project was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works as well as by the Oregon Historical Society and the University of Oregon.

Click on each story head line below to read just a bit of what they learned. Many of the culture keepers they documented are or will soon be part of the Oregon Culture Keepers Roster.

Western Gorge, Oregon – Nancy Nusz

Eastern Gorge – Deborah Fant

Reflections from the Gorge Region Survey – Eastern Gorge

by Debbie Fant

Fant collageOne of the most wonderful—and humbling—things about being a public folklorist is the opportunity to explore and document other peoples’ lives. From September 2014 through September 2015, I was lucky enough to do folklore fieldwork for the Oregon Folklife Network in Morrow and Umatilla counties, where I met and interviewed amazing people—people who were generous with their time and with their stories. I encountered keepers of tradition who didn’t think what they did was anything special. So it was an honor to be able to share those stories with a wider audience in Heppner and later in Pendleton. But sharing with a wider audience—through the internet, through photos, through exhibits—is different from bringing the stories back to the people who originally told them.

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Reflections from the Gorge Region Survey – Western Gorge

by Nancy Nusz

Native American fishing platforms on the Columbia River below the John Day Dam.

From the first inhabitants to its most recent migrants, the Columbia River and its many tributaries have always provided a source of livelihood, transportation, recreation, cultural practices, creativity, and much more. A look at the folklife of the people living in the region provides a snapshot of the diversity of cultures residing there today. The five counties of north central Oregon (Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Jefferson) are alive with music, crafts, occupations, foodways, practices, stories, and beliefs that have been passed down from one person to the next over generations. The people practicing these traditions are living links between the past and the present and knowing some of them can enrich all our lives.

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Folklore Fieldwork in Wheeler County

by Vanessa Cutz (OFN intern and Folklore MA ’16) and Josh Ehlers (OFN Assistant Folklorist and Folklore BA ’13)

Riki Saltzman, Josh Ehlers, and Vanessa Cutz joined folklorist Joseph O’Connell in his survey of Wheeler County over the first weekend of May. We drove through the Ochoco National Forest to get to Mitchell, a small town along Highway 26 that once thrived through the logging industry. While the town now sits quietly amidst the rim rock, juniper, and sagebrush, it anticipates a potential tourist boom now that Travel Oregon has named the nearby Painted Hills one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon.

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