Photograph by Miles Oki

New Center brings art showcases to Beaverton

On March 1, the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts opened its doors to the public in Beaverton, Ore. The building, which features a pond and a 550-seat auditorium, is the first center for performing arts located in Beaverton, and was built to bring a large performing arts venue to the west side of the greater Portland area.

The center was built to cater a wide variety of performances including dance companies, symphonies and jazz ensembles. According to the center’s website, the plan for the theater was formulated in the 1990s. Construction for the project began in 2019 after Patricia Reser contributed $13 million to the project via the Reser Family Foundation. Later, the Washington County Visitors Association contributed $500,000 in April 2019 and the state of Oregon contributed $1.5 million, allocated from the Oregon Lottery, in July 2019. The total price for the center was $55 million, according to the Portland Tribune. The center’s website states that most of this money was raised by private donors and Transient Lodging Taxes.

The center also includes a mini art gallery. The current display is titled “Celilo-Never Silenced,” and features work by Native American artists including Don Bailey and Analee Fuentes. The art describes the relationship between Native Americans and Celilo Falls, known as Wyam by Indigenous residents, that was a hub of intercultural exchange for many Pacific Northwest Tribes. The hub was once located on the Washington Oregon Border by Wasco County, Ore. The bustling exchange hub and fishery was destroyed in 1957 by the construction of the Dalles Dam after the falls and the surrounding buildings were submerged. The art collection can be visited separately Wednesday through Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Other art pieces include large installations in and around the center, such as the Ribbon, which is a large, spiraling sculpture with lights that turn on when the sun sets.

Nestled between other new buildings, the center is surrounded by restaurants and shops, meaning that if you would like to catch a show here, it is easy to go out to dinner in the area. The Center is also only a short walk from the Beaverton Central MAX stop, and the Blue Line can be taken from Portland’s Pioneer Square Courthouse for a quick, cheap and easy transportation to the Center.

I visited the Center to watch the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus perform, “Learn to Fly.” All lines ran quickly and there was staff around to help with any questions or to aid in finding seats. The auditorium itself is perfectly spaced, and all 550 seats seem to have great views of the stage. While waiting for the performance I was able to walk around the lobby, peruse the amazing art pieces and also took a look at the pond. The group sang what they call songs “about inner strength and seeking new horizons,” according to their website. I believe that their performance really captured this essence, and I left the theater feeling like it was a happy end to my spring break. If you would also like to experience a performance, see upcoming shows or learn about the artwork at the center check out their website, thereser.org.

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