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Guest Author | 03/29/2024 | Arts and Culture, Oregon State University

PRAx, An Arts-Fusion Experience

Get ready to be impressed!  At the Patricia Valian Reser Center for the Creative Arts (PRAx) on the campus of Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis, the convergence of the arts and humanities with the sciences and engineering creates captivating, occasionally unexpected, and truly inspiring encounters that delight every visitor. Come and immerse yourself in the wonder! Their Open House is April 6th and is filled with family-friendly free events during the day and a ticketed event for their headliner concert in the evening.

Three years in the making, this stunning building was built by award-winning, woman-owned Horst Architecture. With its modern design, it feels warm with the use of wood while reflecting the surrounding historic buildings with the use of brick accents. Making use of indoor and outdoor spaces creating multiple venues, you’ll be able to see performances by internationally touring artists, OSU student ensembles, concerts, as well as specially curated exhibitions.

Walk into the Thomas W. Toomey Lobby, where you will see a hanging permanent art installation that reflects the PRAx mission to integrate art into all the science, engineering, and humanities taught at OSU. The white, cloud-like, bioacoustics data sculpture and the projected images, called “Data Crystal : OSU,” are the result of internationally renowned digital artist Refik Anadol using AI (artificial intelligence) to transform data points. You may recognize Anadol as the artist involved with The Sphere in Las Vegas.

What makes this piece unique to OSU and Oregon is the 10,000 hours of data points created by using 1,200 microphones placed in the mountain forests recording bird songs of the Cascade and Coastal Ranges. OSU College of Forestry scientists Nina Ferrari and Matthew Betts, plus the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, collected all the data prior to the 2023 Lookout Fire. Anadol took these data and, with the magic of his computers and software, came out with the incredible art object floating in its glory proportional to the space.

Next, engage all your senses, including your sense of fun, in the Kate and John Stirek Gallery, which hosts PRAx’s curated exhibitions. Explore the inaugural show "Sonic Booms: How the Sound and Science of Technology Created Pop Music" by interacting with historical objects such as Thomas Edison’s wax cylinder player, creating your own hip-hop beats, mixing a record, or listening to the evolution of recording fidelity. This exhibition, an aural adventure enjoyed whether you are eight or eighty, was curated by Bob Santelli, former Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles and current Director of Popular Music and Performing Arts at OSU.

“We are confident that this will be one of the best acoustical halls on the West Coast,” said Peter Betjemann, Patricia Valian Reser Executive Director, when giving a tour of the 490-seat Lynne Hallstrom Detrick Concert Hall. Designed by Jaffe Holden, one of the world’s leading acoustic design firms, the concert hall will be on the same level as international icons such as The Juilliard School, the Kennedy Center, The Academy Awards Museum, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Tokyo International Forum. Don’t fret if you are alt-abled! PRAx has taken into consideration a wide variety of accessibilities and offers numerous options such as wheelchairs, companion, bariatric seating, and ASL interpreters.

The other major performance space is the Edward J. Ray Theater, a ‘black box’ space built with maximum flexibility in mind. With the ability to hold 80-200 people, performances can include intimate jazz cabaret, VR theater, and other immersive events and shows. Be sure to check out the interactive “Bombina Bombast, Slumberland VR Theatre,” which is appropriate for middle-school-age kids and up, or take advantage of PRAx’s “Date Night” program.

Excited to enjoy a performance by multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and dancer Okaidja Afroso, but don’t think your kids can sit still through a band’s tribute to Ghana fishermen? PRAx is pleased to offer you a solution through their PRAxKIDS supervised programs so parents can enjoy a date night while the kids play.

Or would you prefer to expose your children to a variety of performances? Check the calendar to see what fascinates your older child/ren. Betjemann suggests for middle-school age and older: Slumberland VR; Grammy-winning, Disney-official Mariachi Divas; and Mrs. Krishnan’s Party. Insider tip - the website’s event listings offer videos or mini-trailers to give you a better idea of the performance. Another tip for parents - if an event is not sold out, and it is after noon on the day of the performance, tickets are free for kids! Additionally, tickets for students of any level are $5 at prepurchase.

Go beyond our reputation for our town’s sporting, engineering, and agricultural feats, or our delightful downtown with a flair for foodies, and come to Corvallis for some high-caliber Arts and Culture. Whether you're a student, a parent, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of expression, there's a place for you here. Be in the center where art, science, and technology merge, and experience it all in the impressive PRAx!

PRAx Open House

Explore PRAx, and enjoy live music, tours, art installations, the opening gallery exhibition "Sonic Booms," activities for children and more. Musicians include Native Rose featuring Jan Michael Looking Wolf, Delbert Anderson and his quartet, and vocalist Julia Keefe.

Admission is free for daytime events, and $10 each for the 5 p.m. headliner performance. Learn more and buy tickets.

Article by Stacey Newman Weldon. Photos courtesy PRAx. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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113 SW 3rd Street, Alley Suite 101
Corvallis, OR 97333
(Entrance facing 2nd St public parking lot)
800-334-8118 | 541-757-1544
Monday - Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm
Closed Saturdays and Sundays