Tim Jenison with one of the experimental optical devices he built. Photo by Shane F. Kelly, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
The luminescent quality of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings has astonished viewers for 350 years. How did he achieve such incredible photorealism a century and a half before photography was invented?
That’s the question that drives the film Tim’s Vermeer, released this spring by Sony Pictures Classics and a high point of the 37th Portland International Film Festival. The documentary focuses on a Texas inventor named Tim Jenison who is obsessed with figuring out—and duplicating—Vermeer’s secret techniques. The film has received numerous nominations and awards, including 2014 BAFTA nomination for best documentary. For Farley Ziegler ’84, who produced the film in collaboration with the magical duo Penn and Teller, the project represents the consummate synthesis of art and science.
What Jenison knew of the use by Renaissance artists of optics and lenses—primarily the camera obscura—and the supposition that Vermeer also employed them, stemmed from his reading of David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters and Philip Steadman’s Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth behind the Masterpieces. Details about Vermeer’s method and much of his life (1632–75) in Delft were left unrecorded.
Hoops frenzy is mounting at Reed in the run-up to the annual March Madness basketball tournament, which takes place in the sports center tomorrow.
The madcap tournament, which is open to students, professors, alumni, and staff, features high fashion, low humor, outright treachery, and—occasionally—actual basketball.
This year’s teams include several longstanding favorites. The House Daddies, captained by tournament founder Erik Brakstad ’89, includes several alumni from the ’80s and ’90s and is a perennial contender. They face stiff competition from last year’s winners, Just Blasé, captained by Jon Donehower ’04.
The unassuming brick building that housed Reed’s original classrooms is slated for demolition later this year, to be replaced by a gleaming 15-story apartment tower.
Located at the corner of Southwest 11th and Jefferson, the building was designed by noted architect Frederick Manson White and erected in 1911 by the Reed Institute on property donated by Simeon Reed. Here the first Reed students—24 women, 26 men—sweated over their studies under the baleful eye of the first professors (including the formidable President William T. Foster, who also taught English classes).
The developer, the Molasky Group of Las Vegas, Nevada, has purchased the building from the city of Portland and plans to build a 15-story tower with 196 market-rate residential apartments, 13,000 square feet of commercial space, underground parking, and a roof deck. It appears that the final design is still pending approval from the Portland Design Commission.
Charm School, led by Tony Fisher ’80, introduces Reed students to the art of the interview. The event was part of Working Weekend ’14, put on by the Center for Life Beyond Reed.
Do you worry about what to wear for an interview? Do you hate speaking in public? Does the thought of writing your résumé give you hives?
Tony Fisher ’80 is your man.
Fisher hosted “Charm School” last Saturday as part of Working Weekend ’14, the pan-galactic career event put on by the Center For Life Beyond Reed. Charm School is a two-hour crash course Fisher designed to share his insights into the Dark Art of presenting yourself to the world.
Reed runners beam at Heart Breaker run in Hillsboro. David Nichols
Reed’s scrappy band of self-propelled runners posted impressive results at the Heart Breaker Run in Hillsboro on Sunday, demonstrating once again that Reedies think on their feet.
Philosophy major Ki Choi ’17 blasted through the 5K in a scorching 19:40, coming in third in a field of 318. It was Ki’s first competitive run since suffering an injury last semester, and judging by his rapid recovery, he’s only going to get faster.
In the 10K, bio major Shannon Bacheller ’16 won her age division, crossing the line at 0:58:29.
Runaway 800-lb snowball puts dent in RCA #7. Math majors were involved. Photos by Reed College Community Safety Office
A giant runaway snowball crashed into a Reed dorm on Saturday evening, ripping a wall off its studs and narrowly missing a window. No one was injured in the collision.
College officials say the ball was some 40 inches in diameter and weighed from 800 to 900 pounds. “It was a big snowball,” says maintenance manager Steve Yeadon.
The episode started Saturday during a storm that dumped as much as 12 inches of snow on Portland. A couple of students decided to make a large snowball in the quadrangle formed by the Grove dorms, according to an incident report from the Community Safety Office. They rolled it back and forth across the Grove Quad in what must have at first seemed a Sisyphean undertaking. But as time went on, the frozen sphere picked up more and more snow, gained mass, and grew increasingly ponderous. Soon a rumor sprang up that the Doyle Owl was entombed in its icy heart (a report that had some historical resonance--in 2010, the Owl materialized in the Sallyport encased in a block of ice). By 8 p.m., a crowd had gathered in the Quad and was chanting “Roll it! Roll it!”
Reed student team (white jerseys) defied the odds and beat the alumni in epic grudge match.
The Old Griffs tasted the agony of defeat last Friday night, and it was flavored a bit like vanilla frozen yogurt. More on the frozen yogurt later, but suffice it to say that New Reed had its way with Olde Reed, 87–74, during the second match-up between the student and alumni teams this academic year.
Alumni captain Erik Brakstad ’89 talked up the game in the trashiest terms and prepared his team for the renewed energy of the the Young Griffs, a team buoyed by the return of its star point guard, Gabe Zinn ’15 (progeny of Prof. Nathalia King and Chris Zinn), from Paris. The geriatric set got off to a forceful start and after 10 minutes had pulled ahead thanks to a trey from Colin Daniel ’00 followed by Colin's sly assist to Chris Hallstrom ’92 for a lay-up. Gabe returned the trey and received a beautiful no-look pass from Ben Williams ’14 to turn the tables. Ben and Pierce Girkin ’16 traded steals and assists and generally provided a clinic on how to play the selfless way (not to mention how to draw fouls, FTW!). Smooth moves by Bruce Talmadge ’88 and another three-pointer by Colin nearly tied it with 11 seconds left in the half, but the students were up 39–36 when the buzzer sounded.
Reed students attended a panel on "Women in STEM" at Working Weekend ’14.
As snow fell outside, Reedies braved the cold to take part in “Women in STEM,” a panel discussion for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, on Saturday.
Attendees might have anticipated that a major theme in the discussion would be the difficulties of being female in the male-dominated STEM world, but Janet Gunzner-Toste ’93 set the tone by saying, “I didn’t know there were gender issues in science. I just plowed ahead and enjoyed it.”
Don't miss the match-up of the season . . . no, not the Seahawks vs. Broncos, the student team vs. the alumni team on Reed’s basketball court, tonight at 7 p.m.! Gabe Zinn ’15 returns from a semester of pick-up games in Paris, and the geriatric set returns from the injured list. Come out to see if “age and treachery will overcome youth and skill” (with apologies to Waylon Jennings)?!
Some pre-game scoop from Erik Brakstad ’89:
Coach Ried Woodlee scheduled two student vs. alumni games this year. The first kicked off the season at the end of October (the alumni won, handily). The second (tonight!) kicks off the second half of the season after a long layoff. Another alumni/student game was played late in the fall when a team cancelled due to weather at the last second. The alumni pulled a team together on short notice (and beat the students.)
Paideia 2014. Elaine Andersen ’16 taught a course entitled, “Riot Grrrl, the Photocopier, and You: How to Make a Zine.”
Ever wanted to try Pysanky, the art of Ukrainian egg dyeing? Take up fire dancing? Get up to speed on the history of Batman? These and more than 220 subjects were covered in this year’s Paideia, the festival of alternative learning that Reed holds each winter.
Paideia is difficult to translate, but denotes education in its broadest sense. For the ancient Greeks, this included philosophy, poetry, mathematics, physics, rhetoric, gymnastics, music, medicine, and many other disciplines. The animating idea behind Paideia is to give students a break from Reed’s rigorous curriculum and let them spend a week learning things they always wanted to know about but never had the time for. It also reverses the polarity of the classroom and gives students the chance to be teachers, sharing their mastery of the didgeridoo, High Elvish, the programming language Python, or virtually any other subject.
Chemistry major Luke Kanies ’97 is the founder and CEO of Puppet Labs, a high-tech Portland startup that employs more than 190 people. Photo by Vivian Johnson
Reedies are taking an increasingly prominent role in Portland’s high-tech sector.
CB Insights, a venture capital and angel investment database that tracks activity related to private companies, speculates that both Puppet Labs and Urban Airship are poised for an IPO, or initial public offering--a critical step in the life of a tech start-up, much like a Broadway debut for a young playwright.
An exhibition of Prof. Michael Knutson’s [art 1982–] watercolors, from his series Layered Ovoid Lattices, is on display in the office of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber in Salem through February 2014.
Selected for the Art in the Governor’s Office Program, which honors professional, living Oregon artists, Prof. Knutson’s name adds to a list of artists that includes Manuel Izquierdo, Michael Russo, and alumna Margot Voorhies Thompson ’70.
Describing the work in this series, Knutson stated: “There are various ways to read across the paintings: locating the smallest clusters of ovoids and following their expansion across a layer; looking between the ovoids at the membrane-like lattices; looking through the layers of ovoids and lattices; constructing an elastic scaffolding across the layers of lattice; sliding on and off arcs of the implicit spirals; scanning between the symmetrical elements. My paintings might lead one to consider not just what one is seeing, but how one is seeing.”
Eduardo Ochoa ’73 presented his reflections on higher education during Reunions 2013. Photo by Leah Nash
His peak intellectual experience was being a student at Reed, which also formed the foundation for everything that followed, says Eduardo Ochoa ’73. So, being asked to help lead his alma mater as a trustee was the ultimate validation, comparable to having a parent say, “You’ve done well.”
Elected to Reed’s board of trustees in October, Eduardo is president of California State University, Monterey Bay, and was the former assistant secretary for postsecondary education in the Obama administration.
A native of Buenos Aires, he attended bilingual schools in Argentina before immigrating with his family to Portland in his sophomore year in high school.
Prof. Ed Segel lectured on the French Revolution, Vietnam, and practically everything in between
Reed alumni have banded together to recognize one of the college’s most influential professors—Prof. Ed Segel [history 1973-2011]—by naming a scholarship in his honor.
A native of Boston, Segel graduated from Harvard in 1960 and earned his PhD at UC Berkeley before coming to Reed in 1973. His primary interests were diplomatic history of the 19th and 20th centuries, European history, and intellectual history in the European mode. He lectured on the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, Beethoven, Vietnam, and everything in between, and made his mark on campus as teacher, scholar, mentor, pool player, parliamentarian, and lyricist.
“This scholarship is a wonderful thing and I’m very grateful to the alumni who established it,” Segel said. “I’m particularly glad that the alumni come from such diverse fields and I likewise hope that the recipients of the scholarship over the years would cover a wide range of interests and academic commitment.”
Your gift to the Annual Fund could have double the impact this year.
Gifts from alumni of $1,000 or more will be matched dollar for dollar thanks to a new initiative known as the Million Dollar Match, which provides alumni with an incentive to give to the annual fund.
To kickstart the challenge, the initiative was launched by gifts of $25,000 or more from a core of 22 generous donors (see sidebar), including Konrad Stephen Alt ’81.
“Institutions like Reed don’t exist in a state of nature,” Konrad says. “They come about because people with vision, resources and commitment want them to exist. When any of those things run out, they wither and decline.”
The undeniable curb appeal of Reed’s new Performing Arts Building (PAB) earned it a thumbs-up in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Portland awards for design excellence. The PAB won first place in the People’s Choice Award in the Portland AIA’s annual competition, open to firms, members, and associate members throughout Oregon.
The public was invited to participate by voting on their favorite of the 68 entries displayed on presentation boards for more than two weeks in the rotunda of the Pioneer Place shopping mall in downtown Portland. More than a thousand people cast their votes by going to a website or scanning a QR code.
Designed by the Portland firm of Opsis Architecture, the building celebrated its grand opening in September, when thousands of students, faculty, staff, and visitors admired the its light, airy spaces and dramatic interior. Architecture possesses a vocabulary all its own. Rather than attempt to imitate, we will quote the description Opsis used for the atrium, where:
Tribe Pictures wins a Bronze Award at the 34th Annual Telly Awards for a Reed College commissioned film. Tribe Pictures took the prize in the fundraising category for a film that thanks alumni and other donors for the success of Reed’s $200 million dollar Centennial Campaign.
Last December, Jon Huberth of Tribe Pictures traveled to Portland to film Reed’s beautiful campus and recorded heartfelt interviews with students and faculty on the effect the Centennial campaign has had on their academic lives.
Executive Creative Director, Vern Oakley, commended Reed and Tribe on their collaborative work process. “The backdrop of heartfelt moments was key in visually transporting alumni back to campus,” says Oakley. “Through Tribe’s human-first approach to storytelling, we hoped to create meaningful, human connections. Our goal was not just to thank alumni, but to effectively move, motivate, and mobilize continued alumni support.”
Prof Richard Crandall ’69 [physics 1978-2012]
At yesterday's faculty meeting, Prof. Mary James read a moving tribute to the late Prof. Richard Crandall ’69, written by Prof. Nick Wheeler ’55.
Wheeler, who was Crandall's thesis adviser at Reed during Crandall's student days, and later served alongside him on the physics faculty, calls it an "informal remembrance," but it's so good that we just had to reprint it here . . .
STEELY DETERMINATION. Alexi Horowitz ’14 nabs first place in the Williams Tournament. Tim Labarge
History major Alexi Horowitz ’14 won the 16th annual Douglas Williams Fencing Tournament last weekend, earning monster timê and a handcrafted gold pendant shaped like a foil to commemorate his victory.
The tournament took place in the sports center, with the fencers masked and garbed from head to foot in white, an odd sight amongst the milling spectators and fruit platters.
During the bouts, the students thrusted and parried with steely determination. Fencing coach Miwa Nishi ’92, who has been involved in the tournament since its inception, said that one of her favorite parts of the event is watching the fencers in a competitive mood, as opposed to just practicing. After each bout, however, once their protective face masks were lifted, the fencers gathered around to congratulate and encourage each other.
"Our Town" director Prof. Kate Bredeson and assistant director Alan Cline ’14 Photo by Leah Nash
“Does anyone ever realize life while they live it . . . every, every minute?” asks one of the characters in Our Town.
For the past two months, more than 50 Reed students have taken risks, solved problems, and put their minds and bodies to the task making Reed's production of Our Town—Thornton Wilder’s classic play—new once more.
Directed by Prof. Kate Bredeson, the production will ring in the Diver Studio Theatre, the centerpiece of Reed's new Performing Arts Building. Wilder’s stage directions call for “no scenery,” providing a marvelous opportunity to showcase the new space and its state-of-the-art technology.