There are lots of good reasons to go to Eugene that have nothing to do with Ducks or football. Sure, the presence of the University of Oregon has a lot to do with the quality of things down the valley: two of ArtsWatch’s favorite things, for instance, the Oregon Bach Festival and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, are intimately tied to the university, and a lot of what’s good about Oregon’s new-music scene emanates from the halls and studios of the university’s music department. But the university is far from the only game in town. However you keep your cultural scorecard, Eugene – population roughly 160,000, metro area another 200,000 added to that – consistently hits above its weight.
Here at ArtsWatch we like to keep tabs on what’s happening in the Emerald City, and lately that’s been quite a bit. For starters, check out Gary Ferrington’s Arts Sampler: Eugene by train for a car-free, arts-stuffed weekend, a sort of cultural travelogue for Portlanders looking for a close-to-home adventure. Go ahead, plan an autumn getaway. And if you like, feel free to slip in a football game or a track meet on the side, too.
We’ve also picked up some good features from some top Eugene writers:
— Photographer and arts journalist Bob Keefer, author of the invaluable Eugene Art Talk online journal, has undertaken an almost year-long project of following the development of a new version of The Snow Queen for Eugene Ballet, with a fresh score by Oregon composer Kenji Bunch and choreography by EB’s longtime artistic director, Toni Pimble, who is recognized nationally as a creator of vivid and original ballets. Keefer will write about ten installments leading up to the premiere next spring, and ArtsWatch will reprint them once they’ve debuted on Eugene Art Talk. Here’s Episode 2, focusing on designer Nadya Geras-Carson.
— And we’ve picked up, this time from Eugene Weekly, Stop Motion: Eugene dance world’s shrinking borders, Rachel Carnes’s provocative piece about the disappearance of important visiting dance companies from the city’s cultural scene, and what that means to local artists and audiences. “Eugene once hosted stellar out-of-town companies,” Carnes writes, “artists with worldwide and historical significance: Martha Graham Dance Company, David Parsons, Bill T. Jones, Pilobolus, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, Nrityagram, even the Bolshoi Ballet. … So where did the national and international touring companies go? And will the stars align to leverage their return?”
A FEW GOOD BETS FROM THIS WEEK’S CALENDAR:
Little Shop of Horrors. “Feed me!” the foul fiend of a houseplant shouts, and Portland Center Stage does, opening its latest season with a revival of the campy Broadway cautionary musical with the scary dentist and the cool songs. In previews; opens Friday.
Comedy Brexit: final show at The Boiler Room. On the 20th of this month, the legendary Old Town karaoke bar and comedy club goes to that great nightclub in the sky, and that means the end of a 15-year run of regular open-mic comedy gigs. The last laugh’s this Monday, the 19th, 8 p.m. Smile through the tears.
Anne Boleyn’s Motet Book. The Portland musical ensemble known as The Ensemble (capital letters make all the difference) performs an intriguing concert of music from a songbook believed to have belonged to Anne Boleyn, who at least kept her head about her when it came to music. In Vancouver Friday, Eugene Saturday, and at The Old Church in Portland on Sunday.
Bearing Witness: James Chasse Jr. On the ten-year anniversary of the police killing of an unarmed, mentally ill man on the streets of Portland, Cerimon House screens Alien Boy, Brian Lindstrom’s remarkable documentary film about Chasse. Saturday.
Full Gallop. Former television personality and newspaper columnist Margie Boulé has also been a leading lady on Portland stages many times, and returns to Triangle Productions to star as Diana Vreeland, legendary editor of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines. Opens Thursday.
Today in politics: singing a revolution. Marty Hughley reviews 1776, the 1969 Broadway musical about the Continental Congress (yes, years and years before Hamilton) that’s being revived at Lakewood Theatre just in time to remind us of how this whole presidential election slog came about in the first place. Plus, songs!
Hughie: Mute Beauty. Brett Campbell praises what’s there in Imago’s version of Eugene O’Neill’s rarely produced, darkly comic one-act Hughie, and laments what isn’t there.
Zorá Quartet: a program that tells a story. Matthew Neil Andrews reflects on a Chamber Music Northwest concert that succeeds in part because of its smart selection of works: “There’s something quite charming about a well-programmed concert. I love it when the different elements all work together to tell a coherent story, or present familiar compositions from a new perspective.”
Roots on the Rails: secular hymns, backroads ballads, and blues. Mitch Ritter gets down in the trenches with a trainload of roots revivalists bringing it all back home at The Old Church.
Samantha Wall: painting portraits, freshly. Paul Sutinen reviews the rising young Portland artist’s exhibit of drawings of women’s faces at Laura Russo Gallery: “Some 60 years after de Kooning thought it both impossible to paint a face and impossible to avoid painting a face, Wall has found a way to depict faces that is somehow bold, restrained and, most impressively, fresh.”
The best of a bad situation. Patrick Collier reviews Elizabeth Malaska’s show of paintings When We Dead Awaken II at The Nationale: “I am reminded of Joanna Newsom’s early songs: there is a story being told, a wondrous tale, yet our expectations are thwarted, interrupted and redirected, so we’re never quite certain of the arc—yet we want to hear more.”
Julia Oldham: filming the human-animal hybrid. Jennifer Rabin goes to Astoria for a slice of Disjecta’s fanned-out 2016 Portland Biennial and discovers the cry of the Yeti.
Under the gun in Ory-gun and The great American (gun) divide, In the first of two ArtsWatch tales, A.L. Adams lays the groundwork for E.M. Lewis’s innovative play at CoHo, The Gun Show. In the second, Marty Hughley reviews the show: “We come away with a lot more to think about yet even more to feel, to let roll and rattle around in our hearts and guts. Because the subject is so difficult and the artists so honest, the work is appropriately inconclusive.”
Music@Home: desktops and devices are the new venues. Complain all you like about how everybody’s locked in on their screens: as Gary Ferrington points out, those screens have opened a wide new universe of concert possibilities to classical music lovers.
Monkey business at Artists Rep. We review Trevor, Nick Jones’s seriocomedy about what happens when a washed-up Hollywood chimpanzee star retires to a small town and stews over his lost career. It’s not all just bananas and beer, bub.
About ArtsWatch Weekly
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