Leading a group of seven Oregon performing artists awarded 2023 Individual Artists Fellowships, jazz musician and educator Darrell Grant is the recipient of the Oregon Arts Commission’s honorary 2023 Joan Shipley Award.
The other artists awarded 2023 Fellowships are David Bithell, Laura Cannon, Crystal Cortez, Samuel Hobbs, Gitanjali Hursh and Joe Kye. All 2023 Fellows receive $5,000 awards.
The Joan Shipley Award is named for Oregon arts leader Joan Shipley, who passed away in 2011. Shipley was a collector, philanthropist and supporter of many arts and humanities organizations. In 2005, she and her husband John received an Oregon Governor’s Arts Award. Many in the arts community also counted her as a mentor and friend.
The Arts Commission’s Fellowship program is open to more than 20,000 artists who call Oregon home. Applicants to the program are reviewed by a panel of Oregon arts professionals who consider artists of outstanding talent, demonstrated ability and commitment to the creation of new work(s). The Arts Commission reviews and acts on the panel’s recommendations for fellowship recipients. A total of 62 applications were received for 2023 Fellowships. Performing and visual artists are honored in alternating years.
The review panel for 2023 Fellowships was Meagan Iverson, executive director, Sunriver Music Festival; Lydia Van Dreel, UofO professor of horn and previous Fellowship recipient; Scott Lewis, executive director, NW Dance Project; Michael Cavazos, theater maker, visual artist and previous Fellowship recipient; Akiko Hatakeyama, UofO assistant professor of music technology; and Evren Odcikin, associate artistic director and director of artistic programming, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The panel chair was Roberta Lavadour, an Arts Commissioner from Pendleton.
David Bithell is an interdisciplinary artist, composer and performer exploring the connections between visual art, music, theater and performance. Utilizing new technologies and real-time interactive environments, his work blends the precision and structure of contemporary music and audio practices with an understanding of performance, narrative and humor drawn from recent theater, live cinema and performance art. His output ranges from interactive installations, sound art and generative animation to live performance and experimental music.
Bithell’s works have been presented at major venues in the United States, Europe and Asia. Highlights include: the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (Canada); the Portland Biennial; the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland); SPARK Festival of Electronic Music and Art (Minneapolis); Ghent International Film Festival; Pixilerations [v.6]; the Seoul International Computer Music Festival; the MANCA Festival (France); the IS ARTI Festival (Lithuania); and at numerous colleges and universities in the United States. He has received grants and commissions from Meet the Composer Commissioning Music / USA, the American Composerʼs Forum, the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology and the Oregon Arts Commission.
He currently is a Professor of Art and Emerging Media at Southern Oregon University, where he chairs the Creative Arts Department and is a core faculty member of the Center for Emerging Media and Digital Arts (EMDA).
Laura Cannon is a dancer, choreographer and educator who has spent more than 20 years exploring site-specific work and innovative ways to create dance beyond the traditional boundaries of a stage. As the director of ProLab Dance, she is currently engaged in a multi-year site-specific performance study titled “Break to Build: Mapping Portland’s Landmark Shipyard at Zidell Shipyards” on Portland’s southwest waterfront. For this project Cannon has brought together a team of collaborating artists from various disciplines to explore and interpret the past, present and future of this historic site and turn those creative findings into an immersive Virtual Reality experience.
Cannon holds a BFA in Dance from the University Texas at Austin. She has performed with Sharir+Bustamante Danceworks, Deborah Hay and Blue Lapis Light among others. A prolific creator, she has received numerous awards for her choreography, performance, costume design and short films, including the prestigious John Bustin Award for Conspicuous Versatility in the Arts from the Austin Critic’s Table in 2006. With her wealth of experience in aerial harness dance techniques she launched the Echo Theatre Company’s robust harness dance programming in 2015.
Cannon founded ProLab Dance in 2019 with a mission to create and foster cross-disciplinary site-specific performances. Her short dance film, “Medusa” (2021), received an honorable mention at the Mobile Dance Film Festival at Harkness Dance Center in New York. “Garden Bed” (2021), a dance self-filmed during quarantine, has traveled the world and recently won Best Dancers at the Vesuvius International Film Festival in Italy and Best Film Shot on a Mobile Device at the Inspire International Film Festival in Sydney, Australia.
Crystal Cortez is a sound, installation artist and programmer based out of Portland, Oregon. They are also a professor of Creative Coding & Sonic Arts at Portland Community College. Under their performance moniker Crystal Quartez, they create “Restorative Noise” by organizing drones and rhythms of mechanical life, natural voices and digital timbres into texture rich electronic music. Their sonic realms are windows into shared networks of reality, often separated by borders, time and perception. Recently, their work has involved translating live biodata from plants and static data from climate change into sound as well as building custom wearable instruments. Their work has been presented at NIME, La MaMa (NYC), Southern Exposure (SF), PICA, Navel (LA), On the Boards (Seattle) and more.
Darrell Grant has risen from the pianist in vocalist Betty Carter’s trio to an internationally recognized performer, composer and educator who channels the power of music to foster community, sustainability and social justice. Having performed with jazz luminaries including Frank Morgan, Tony Williams, Brian Blade, Esperanza Spalding and Nicholas Payton, he followed his 1994 New York Times Top 10 Jazz Album Black Art with seven albums receiving critical acclaim from The Village Voice and DownBeat Magazine. He has toured as a bandleader and solo artist throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe as well as in Turkey and Japan in venues from Paris’s La Villa jazz club to the Havana Jazz Festival.
Dedicated to themes of hope, community and place, Grant’s compositions include his 2012 “Step by Step: The Ruby Bridges Suite” honoring the civil rights icon. Also in 2012, he won a Chamber Music America grant for his composition “The Territory,” which explores the geographic and cultural history of Oregon. Committed to civically engaged art, Grant has driven pianos deep into state forests to support the environment, arranged protest anthems and shared the stage with Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Grant lives in Portland, Oregon, where he was inducted into the Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2017, he received a Northwest Regional Emmy for his composition in the Oregon Public Broadcasting special “Jazz Town” and was also named Portland Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalists Association. In 2019, he was named Portland Jazz Master by PDX Jazz and was awarded a MAP Fund grant for his 2022 jazz chamber opera Sanctuaries. In 2020, he received the Governor’s Arts Award, Oregon’s highest arts honor. He has served as Vice President of the board of Chamber Music America and is a Professor of Music at Portland State University where he directs the Artist as Citizen Initiative.
Samuel Hobbs is an Oregon-born multidisciplinary artist, educator, presenter and manual therapist, and is the founder and Artistic Director of the push/FOLD dance company (www.pushfold.org) and the Union PDX – Festival of Contemporary Dance. In the US and internationally, Samuel works to develop Dance, Art and movement education around concepts of Strength and Power, investigating the sensations of identity, relationships, self and gender dynamics. Working with professional artists and companies (recently Oregon Ballet Theater), immersive moodscapes, abstract storytelling and athletic dance performance with original sound compositions are the hallmarks of Samuel’s body of work. As a choreographer, Hobbs draws from their training in athletics and dance (Track, Swimming, Martial Arts, and West African, Street, Contemporary Dance and Ballet) and integrates their background in Osteopathy, creating the movement method called Visceral Movement Theory™ (VMT). Reframing functional movement via visceral biomechanics, VMT focuses on increasing career longevity and power and efficiency in athletics, dance and everyday movement.
As an arts advocate, Hobbs works with audiences, councils, foundations, directors, artists, students and educators, seeking to generate abundance-thinking that centers service and reframed leadership with the understanding that everyone is fed when we all give more than we receive. Hobbs’ generative practice grows from stewardship, challenge and the discovery of Power in simple messages.
Gitanjali Hursh is an artist who has been working in Portland since the 1990s. She made her public debut as DJ Anjali in December of 2000. Her work is primarily concerned with connecting our collective memory through songs, dance and imagery while pushing forward a working class, immigrant feminist agenda on the dance floor. She is a dancer and choreographer, blending her influences as the daughter of a classically trained Indian Kathak dancer with the powerful folk dance styles of Panjab, mainly Bhangra and Giddha. She moves between two styles of performance, from behind the decks as a DJ to the front of the stage as a dancer, all the while exploring her own identity through the power of sound and dance. She uses the dance floor as a place to build solidarity between communities of color. Music and movement have long been her tools to explore and share her unique identity as a mixed Desi immigrant daughter. With her partner, The Incredible Kid, she hosts TROPITAAL! A Desi Latino Soundclash & ANDAZ, two of the Northwest’s longest running dance parties. She also teaches weekly at The Viscount Dance Studio. Archives of her years spent as a radio host on XRAY & KBOO can be found online.
Portland-based violinist-looper, vocalist and community organizer Joe Kye discharges worlds of emotion with his lush string loops and eclectic style. From viral TikTok jingles skewering microaggressions to delivering keynote speeches about creativity, community and identity, Kye’s work taps into an inner core, inspiring audiences to compassion and empathy. Drawing upon his immigrant upbringing, Kye weaves together electronic and acoustic textures, catchy melodies and vocals to uplift and empower listeners. His band, Joe Kye & the Givers, features some of Portland’s most acclaimed musicians, supercharging Joe’s music with intensity and power. Kye’s children’s music project Hi Joe Kye! introduces families to his story of hope and joy with an electro-pop sound, embracing the creative power of looping with songs inspired by the audience. In 2022, Kye launched Tiger Tiger PDX, a festival featuring Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander artists, performers and chefs. Kye has opened for Yo-Yo Ma, recorded a Tedx Talk, and been featured on NPR.