Sweet Taste of the Arts: Culturally for You

Supporters and friends will come together virtually for a high-spirited evening of entertainment, education, and inspiration. Sweet Taste of the Arts, our annual fundraiser event, provides opportunities to support the work of PassinArt: A Theatre Company. Also, we will honor four individuals for their achievements and contributions to theatre, music, dance, and visual arts. Individuals receiving awards for excellence in cultural arts are Alan Alexander, Julianne Johnson-Weiss, Kemba Shannon, and Roberta Wong.

Exciting performances by local artists, inspiring stories by special guests, and an abundance of auction items to bid on, such as local weekend getaways, beautiful art to decorate your space, exquisite wines, and much more – to support PassinArt!

Sponsored by

Saturday, May 15, 2021

6:30 p.m. Virtual Pre-Slide Show
7:00 p.m. Sweet Taste Program

RSVP to gain free access to Sweet Taste of the Arts virtual event.

Register for FREE

The Auction is up!

View the rich selection of auction items, and place your bid. All proceeds help support the work of PassinArt: A Theatre Company.

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Entertainment Lineup

S. Renee Mitchell describes herself as a Creative Revolutionist and her poems, stories and multimedia experiences as her heARTwork. Mitchell worked for 25 years as a newspaper journalist in Seattle, Orlando and Detroit before landing in Portland where she wrote a Pulitzer-nominated Metro column for The Oregonian. She has published four books of poetry, a novel, five plays and a children’s book about courage in the face of bullying, called “The Awakening of Sharyn: A Shy and Brown SuperGyrl.” Mitchell is the 2019-2020 recipient of the Spirit of Portland award. She currently serves as the creative visionary for I Am M.O.R.E. (Making Ourselves Resilient Everyday). In response to the twin pandemics of racism and COVID, Mitchell created Spreading the Black Joy Virus which comprises an array of projects celebrating individual beauty and creative resilience in the Black community. Mitchell says her deepest desire is to use her creativity to help others “let go, gather up and move on.”

Derrell Sekou Soumah Walker is a West African dancer, drummer and educator. He’s performed and taught master classes throughout Europe and southeast Asia. Sekou is an accomplished djembefola, his roots deep in the Guinean drumming tradition mentored for him by Master Mamady Keita. Sekou founded Sebe Kan (Serious Sound) Drum and Dance in Portland 20 years ago. Since then, the company has performed and inspired audiences throughout the Pacific Northwest with its high rhythmic energy and enthusiastic choreography. In addition to performances, Sekou and members of the company are sought-out teachers of West African dance, focusing especially on young people. Currently their classes are being held virtually.

Marvin F. Cockrell is an East St. Louis-based smooth jazz pianist, composer and leader of the band, Focus. Marvin and the band have headlined Fermata Entertainment’s Annual Smooth Jazz Concert for the past 16 years. As a solo artist, he’s traveled the country playing from Chicago to New Orleans to New York. When he’s home, he participates musically in the church community. Cockrell and Focus have recorded four CDs: “Stepping Stones,” “HEAT,” “I’m Cool,” and “Red Hot Smooth Jazz.” They are also featured on two music videos, “St. Louis Bounce” and “Our World.”

Kirk Green is a passionate, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and producer who claims, “an unshakeable sense of self and the attitude to match.” Green was raised in southern California in an intensely musical environment. His music reflects the influences of traditional and contemporary gospel, pop, soul, jazz, heavy funk, hip hop, rap, neo soul, rock and roll, country, and rhythm and blues. He formed the Kirk Green Band in Portland in 1989 and has been gigging steadily ever since. Green’s albums include “Make Good Love to Me,” “Heart to Heart,” “Count Your Blessings” and “Ocean Breeze.”

Kenya Anderson began her musical training early in high school, as part of multiple music productions and choirs. She graduated with a minor in music from Southern Oregon University. She’s a charismatic performer; described as having a big voice with a unique sound and a great stage presence for classical and musical theater settings.

Special Appearance

Sami Yacob-Andrus is a veteran member of PassinArt Theatre Company’s ensemble cast; notably, she played daughter Joyce Cheeks in “The No Play” and Evelyn in “Smoldering Fires.” In addition to appearances in movies, commercials and television, Sami performed in Alan Alexander’s “Homeless (the musical),” which debuted as a new work at Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival. She’s also a Shakespearen actor – memorably playing Juliet with Portland Actors Ensemble. Sami is on the Dean’s List at Portland State University where she is majoring in liberal studies and minoring in American Sign Language.

Kobi Flowers is a ninth grader grader at Jefferson High School. This energetic, charismatic young lady has a natural gravity towards the performing arts. She loves to sing, dance, model and act. Kobi performed in several plays with Maverick Main Stage Productions including “Saffron Supper Club,” “Between the Lines,” “Happily Ever After,” “Aftershock” and “The Greatest Show on Earth.” She performed as an understudy in PassinArt’s “Smoldering Fires.” Her performance of Matoka Cheeks in “The No Play” by John Henry Redwood received a 2019 Drammy Young Artist nomination. Outside of acting, Kobi is a professional model and an honor student.

David Meyers brought tears to everyone’s eyes with his passionate performance of Yaveni Aaronsohn in PassinArt’s 2019 production of “The No Play by John Henry Redwood”; and of course, he did. Meyers is a multi-dimensional, multi-talented professional who has worked from Cincinnati to New York, from Anchorage to San Diego, performing in and developing works including the musical “Little Miss Sunshine” with James LaPine. In Portland, Meyers has worked with Portland Repertory, Portland Center Stage, Portland Playhouse and Artists Repertory. Out of all that, David says his favorite work was in “The No Play,” “with the wonderful folks of PassinArt.”

William (Bill) Earl Ray directed PassinArt’s last hit, “The No Play” by John Henry Redwood. He also was directing “Seven Guitars” by August Wilson when the pandemic shut everything down. Nevertheless, Bill Ray and PassinArt continue to enjoy a long, creative collaboration that began back in the day and extends into our foreseeable future. (Stay tuned!) In addition to “Two Trains Running” by August Wilson, Ray also directed “Smoldering Fires” with PassinArt. Nationally, his directing and acting credits include “The Piano Lesson” and “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” “Gospel at Colonus” and Pearl Cleage’s “Blues for an Alabama Sky.” A SAG and Equity member, Ray has 40 years of experience in the business, eight of them with PassinArt.

Special Guest

Sharon Gary-Smith

Portland NAACP President Sharon Gary-Smith is an Oregonian by birth and a second-generation racial and social-justice activist and agitator by heart. By age 30, Gary-Smith had already embarked on her life’s work when she became one of the youngest executive directors and few Black female leaders in the country when she took the job of leading Portland’s anti-poverty agency, Portland Metropolitan Steering Committee.

As executive director of the MRG Foundation, Oregon’s leading social and racial-justice funder, Gary-Smith created the first multi-million-dollar joint funding collaborative when she brought MRG and Meyer Memorial Trust together to provide multi-year operating and technical support for grassroots social-justice groups. Sharon’s leadership pushed funders to be partners and critical listeners through more authentic discussions on race, equity and inclusion with measurable actions and results.
In 2017, she received the Emily G. Gottfried Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of Portland Human Rights Commission. On March 11, 2020, she was honored by Gov. Kate Brown as one of four Outstanding Oregon Women of Achievement. In January 2021, she was installed as president of the Portland NAACP.

Her work and advocacy lead to successful results in Seattle where she focused the effort to open Seattle’s Public Health Hospital to community health practitioners serving patients from marginalized communities. Health care continued to be her purpose as the National Black Women’s Health Project’s first National Self-Help Director who created an international network of self-help chapters and modeled the power of grassroots organizing for women of color.

Following social-services legislative work for the Austin Area Urban League, Sharon returned to Portland where her advocacy and activism have achieved important changes in dialogs about and funding support for racial and social justice.

Gary-Smith credits her parents, Bobbi Lou Mosley Gary and Frederick Douglas Gary, Jr, for their guiding wisdom: “They raised their four little Black girls to ‘never forget who you are and whose you are’ and ‘to those whom much is given, much is expected.’”

Enjoy the evening at home with a delicious catered meal

Miss’ipi Chefs are caterers, and personal chefs specializing in home-style cooking have created unique meal selections for Sweet Taste. They provide delivery to your home within 11 miles of Portland and Vancouver. Order meals by 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 8. Miss’ipi Chef is unable to accept orders past the due date.

Meal orders closed May 12th

Sweet Taste of the Arts Committee

  • Kenya Anderson
  • Renee Anderson
  • Bethanye Barkus
  • Jacqueline Brown
  • Glen Butler
  • Larry Peterson
  • Arrevion Peterson
  • Wanda Walden