Random notes on some recent experiences — an exhibition, a play and a hike – filled with dramatic peaks (both figurative and literal) that are rooted in history and culture, and enriched by the written word:
- In his insightful review of The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece — on view at the Portland Art Museum through Jan. 6 – Bob Hicks of Oregon Arts Watch reminds us that “it was a painted urn, after all, that inspired Keats to poetry.” And while seeing The Discobolus might conjure up memories of a long-ago art history class, Hicks notes that “You can’t bring back the past. You can only glimpse it and try to understand it, dimly. Still, The Body Beautiful reminds us that a great deal of what began in Greece is still a vital part of us.”
- Earlier this month, Hicks waxed poetic about August Wilson, who wrestles with a more recent past in Seven Guitars, part of Wilson’s 10-play cycle that illuminates the African-American experience. The terrific production at Artists Repertory Theatre runs through Nov. 11. (A quick side note for fans of Wilson: Portland Playhouse will stage King Hedley II Dec. 6-30).
- I was lucky enough to catch a Friday-night performance of Seven Guitars, followed a couple of days later by a hike in the Columbia River Gorge, where I covered a portion of the Ruckel Creek Trail. It’s a challenging climb, but one that yields a particularly nice reward, best described by the great William L. Sullivan: a “strange, hummocky, moss-covered rockslide” pockmarked with pits that “were dug at least 1,000 years ago, evidently as vision quest sites for young Indian men.” For further inspiration — plus helpful maps and deft descriptions — check out Sullivan’s indispensible guidebook, 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington.