And suddenly it’s fall. Not on the wall calendar, but on the school calendar, by which thousands of kids across Oregon went back to their classrooms on Monday, a week before Labor Day, depriving them cruelly of a final week of summer break and no doubt dealing a sharp financial slap to the economies of towns along the coast and other tourist-reliant parts of the state.
What’s done is done, and your task is to get in a few last hurrahs in spite of the school boards’ impulse to jump the gun. Think outdoors, think Labor Day weekend, think (at least) of these three things:
Oregon Symphony Waterfront Concert. And the tradition rolls on – a big, booming, free concert along the Willamette, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Thursday (rain date Friday) and pulling out the stops into the evening with an all-star lineup of music by, this year, Wagner, Mozart, Puccini, Dvorak, Bizet, Tchaikovsky and Offenbach, along with some of John Williams’ music from the movie E.T: The Extraterrestrial and a little bit of John Phillip Sousa to punch things up. Downtown in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, near the Hawthorne Bridge at the foot of Southwest Columbia Street.
Art in the Pearl. Another longstanding tradition – this is its 20th anniversary of art, craft, music, and food sprawling along the North Park Blocks on Labor Day weekend – Art in the Pearl combines street-fair festivities with a broad range of things to buy. You can also just look, of course, and admission is free. Work by more than 130 artists in all sorts of disciplines will be on hand, and there’ll be demonstrations of blacksmithing, woodturning, boat building, fiber arts, and other forms. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 10-5 Monday, between Northwest Davis and Flanders streets.
Love’s Labour’s Lost. The 47th season of Portland Actors Ensemble’s summer Shakespeare in the Parks winds up with performances of the comedy Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at Reed College, starting at 3 p.m. each day. It’s free; keep in mind that donations keep the ship floating.
THURSDAY IS SEPTEMBER 1, which means it’s also First Thursday, which means it’s time to see the newest exhibitions opening for the monthly art walk at galleries across the city. This month we’re looking forward in particular to Froelick Gallery’s Sparrow Song, which includes many of the final works of the great Northwest artist Rick Bartow, who died earlier this year at age 69. The work is astonishing, and the gallery’s statement puts it into perspective:
“When Rick Bartow passed away at his Newport, Oregon home on April 2, 2016, the world lost a true cornerstone of Contemporary Northwest and Native art. The roughly 30-month period preceding his death was by all accounts the most productive of his artistic life. Precipitated by declining health which left him with speech impaired by a stroke, a pacemaker to counteract the effects of congestive heart failure, and an awareness that he could ‘see the end of the road,’ he got to work. Laying down on his canvases and panels a life’s worth of imagery– of deeply personal and learned stories, his study of art and of indigenous and world cultures– Bartow produced an astonishingly dynamic, fierce, emotive, confident final chapter in his artist’s story, solidifying beyond question his already estimable reputation. In these pictures he gave us wise or foolish or harrowed storytellers; dancers engaged in the healing practice of the Wiyot brush dance; birds, dogs, horses and transformative figures in the process of becoming.”
A FEW MORE GALLERY OPENINGS we’re looking forward to in September:
Andrea Schwartz-Feit and Eric Boyer. The two Portland artists – Schwartz-Feit’s What I Saw. How It Was. includes recent mixed-media organic abstracts; Boyer’s Microfauna includes sculptural pieces in wire mesh – share space this month at Butters Gallery.
Carol Benson and Michael Knutson. Benson’s fabric pieces – abstracted versions of quilting, weaving, and knitting – and Knutson’s spiraling large paintings and monotypes are at Blackfish Gallery.
Franklin, a Word Nobody Ever Seems To Say. Texas-born, Oakland-based Cedric Johnson’s brightly graphic works on paper and ceramic masks (including a Cyclops who appears to have five eyes, including the requisite one in the middle of his forehead) are at Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books in the Alberta Art District.
Ryan Molenkamp. The Washington painter’s vividly stylized works at Duplex Gallery are inspired by Northwest landscapes, volcanoes in particular, and reach back in his imagination to the eruption in 1980 of Mt. St. Helens, when he was 3 years old. Some things leave a lasting impression.
The Soul of Black Art: A Collector’s View. For its third-aniversary show, Upfor Gallery is turning over curatorial duties to John Goodwin, who’s assembled this show from his and Michael-Jay Robinson’s collection of works showing changing images of black American life in the past century. The 14 artists, not all African American, range from Romare Bearden to Marian Carrasquero, Zun Lee, Andy Warhol, Ralph Chessé, Zig Jackson, and Arvie Smith. Should be fascinating.
IMAGO MEETS O’NEILL. The theatrical heat in town this week is likely to be radiating from the stage of Imago Theatre, where Todd Van Voris stars as a small-time hustler in Hughie, Eugene O’Neill’s celebrated if rarely performed one-act drama. Sean Doran co-stars as the Night Clerk, to whom Van Voris’s Erie spins his elaborate tales, and Imago’s Jerry Mouawad directs. It’s a short run, opening Friday and closing September 18.
A biased (and glowing) review of Kubo and the Two Strings. A.L. Adams, who used to work at LAIKA, finds herself charmed by the latest feature film from the Hillsboro animation studio: “As I write this part, I swear to god, again I’m choking up. Damn you, LAIKA’s slicker-than-ever puppeteers, you got me good this time.”
Keep the fire burning. At the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Connecticut less than a month ago, ArtsWatch’s Brett Campbell saw a searing production of Running on Fire, a new play by African American writer Aurin Squire that reverberates with one of the prime issues of the day, the deluge of racially charged killings by and of police across America. Running is a workshop production. How, Brett wonders, to get it out to audiences now, when it matters deeply, instead of letting it get caught in “development hell”?
When will Brad Cloepfil buildings rise in Portland? This summer Portlanders have been able to see an exhibition of the work of the nationally prominent Portland architect at the Portland Art Museum. Yet as Brian Libby, the city’s leading architecture journalist, writes for ArtsWatch, Cloepfil’s firm does most of its work outside of the 503 area code. Will 1320 Broadway (the old Oregonian building) and other projects change that?
William Byrd Festival: fervid finale. Bruce Browne finds an ideal, and thrilling, melding of words and music in Cantores in Ecclesia’s closing concert of Portland’s annual celebration of the music of the English Renaissance composer.
In a Landscape: music, memory, and Oregon beauty. “A few years ago,” Brett Campbell writes, “Hunter Noack invited trees to an indoor concert. The Oregon-born pianist was performing Transfigured Night at London’s Barbican Center, and Arnold Schoenberg’s famous 1899 composition musically depicted a poem set in a dark forest — so Noack brought in 50 trees, playing the music as audience and actors dramatizing the story wandered through the impromptu indoor arbor.” Now Noack’s back in Oregon, bringing concert music and the great outdoors together again – this time taking the music to the trees, not bringing the trees into the concert hall.
The entire Everyday Ballerina. This story brings together in one handy place links to former Oregon Ballet Theatre principal dancer Gavin Larsen’s riveting twelve-part ArtsWatch series about living the dancing life from childhood to post-performance years, and also includes a slide show of Blaine Truitt Covert’s remarkable photographs of Larsen onstage and in the rehearsal studio.
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