Creative (Ex)Change: Talking with Luis Alfaro Before Ashland’s First Oregon Arts Summit
Luis Alfaro is a renowned artist and activist, his creative legacy is substantial and potent, and his conversation is filled with tales of travel and casual literary name-dropping. He’s exactly the kind of person you want to see representing your region at a yearly conference focused on community and the arts. He talks about Southern Oregon as a community dense with artistic possibility and actuality, about living in a place waiting to be creatively counted alongside the rest of the state. Finally, we have our chance—The Oregon Arts Summit takes place on October 1-3 in Ashland, the Summit’s first occurrence in Southern Oregon.
“There is an energy that exists in this region, an environment that welcomes you in,” says Alfaro. “[The Rogue Valley] is ready to show the rest of the state the scope of what we have to offer.”
The Oregon Arts Summit, our state’s most significant coming-together of the arts-minded each year, has been organized by the Oregon Arts Commission annually since 2009. Alfaro is one of three keynote speakers alongside Roberto Bedoya and Susan Howlett, and he is a treasure chest of knowledge and creative verve.
On Friday, October 2, Alfaro, who is currently OSF’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence and dramaturg for the current production Happiest Song Plays Last, will join writer and arts advocate Roberto Bedoya in conversation engaging, among other things, “creative exchange,” the theme for this year’s Summit. This is not only the focus of the weekend but also the format: in addition to topical keynote talks are visits to such local arts darlings as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Schneider Museum of Art, as well as an evening of small-group dinners at hot spots around Ashland. Friday’s more formal conference line-up will be surrounded by these casual Thursday and Saturday events, which will allow participants to exchange ideas and resources in many venues and with a variety of creative engagement, as well as engaging with the region itself.
“More people travelling farther [means] more interest in satellite events,” says David Huff, Assistant Director of the OAC, pointing to the history of Summit, which spent its early years in Portland and has only recently started migrating around the rest of the state. “This is a good opportunity for people to see what’s happening in Southern Oregon, [including] cultural offerings beyond the [Oregon Shakespeare] Festival.”
Though OSF is certainly a draw for the Summit, Huff agrees that there is wealth of art in Southern Oregon yet to be discovered by our neighbors to the north.
While the summit will bring in arts-focused people from all over Oregon, the unique perspective our own Alfaro has to offer at the Oregon Arts Summit is a grounding in many urban art centers alongside a recent engagement with the Southern Oregon arts scene—he is two years into his three year artist’s residency and making big strides to expand the reach of Southern Oregon arts programming beyond the Ashland city limits. For more information, or to register for the event, please visit Regoline.com/oac2015.
Oregon Arts Summit
October 1 – 3
Ashland Hills Hotel and Suites, 2525 Ashland Street, Ashland