Big bad bear

An environmental-art group in Portland, Ore., is putting on a special birthday "roast" for Smokey Bear. On July 15, the creative group called Orlo began presenting Smoke Screen: Smokey Bear at 50, a multimedia exhibit featuring artwork and presentations by three dozen artists. The exhibit seeks to debunk 50 years of Forest Service propaganda "hypnotizing" Americans into believing forest fires are bad, says Orlo director Philip Krohn. The exhibit re-evaluates the history of fire suppression, considers the benefit of fire in healthy forests and offers perspectives on fire as a management tool. A highlight of the show features a work by artists Jennifer Davis and Greg Hahn, in which a younger, more enlightened Smokey of the "90s debates a televised, elder Smokey. Orlo, a non-profit organization, uses the creative arts to "rethink life on Earth." Previous exhibitions have included "The Promised Landfill: The Dump at the End of the Oregon Trail," and "Oregon Common Ground," a photography exhibit of rural Oregonians. Smoke Screen shows in Portland until Aug. 26. For more information and a copy of The Bear Essential, Orlo's semiannual magazine of humor, subtle advocacy and "straight-ahead news," contact Orlo, 2516 NW 29th, Portland, OR 97210 (503/242-2330).

*Alexei Rubenstein