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Oregon Artists React To A Week Of Crises

<p>A woman sheds tears as protesters demand for justice at Don't Shoot Portland's "This Can't Be Justice" solidarity march.</p>

Shirley Chan


A woman sheds tears as protesters demand for justice at Don't Shoot Portland's "This Can't Be Justice" solidarity march.

A wave of awareness has swept over America in the wake of two officer-involved shootings and Thursday’s sniper attacks in Dallas, with a national conversation deepening over race, force and accountability.

But for some Portland artists, these issues have been at the center of their experience, and their work.

Portland’s August Wilson Red Door Project is in the midst of a show of monologues reflecting black Americans’ experiences with policing and profiling. “Hands Up” has been onstage repeatedly in free performances since the spring, in community performances and at Artists’ Repertory Theatre. The show was commissioned in the wake of police shootings, beginning with Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri.

The company, under artistic director Kevin Jones, will perform the show Saturday, July 9 at Self Enhancement Inc. in North Portland. Two more performances are happening at Wieden + Kennedy next weekend.

Wieden itself raised awareness in the ad world Friday, turning its into a sober meditation of Thursday night’s tragedy and tumult.

Against a black background, text spells out a litany of responses: “We're scared for our lives, our family's lives, our friend's lives ... We are disgusted at police but telling ourselves, 'you can't hate all police.'

“Just acknowledging this,” the message reads, in closing, “because it should be acknowledged.”

Perhaps the most raw reverberations came from Portland’s hip-hop community. The artist Venture performed at a showcase just blocks from Thursday night’s protest against police brutality. Friday he tweeted, he “cannot believe what everything has come to. our nation is so corrupt. makes me want to hide away forever.”

Mic Capes, one of the most prominent MCs in north Portland, wrote on social media about the difficulty of maintaining balance in the face of the week’s events.

“Naturally I'm a positive dude,” read the post on his Facebook page, “but these times weigh heavy on my heart and conscience. It's hard to trust, hard to love, hard to have patience, hard to sleep, and hard to understand people.”

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

April Baer