It’s been quite a week here at ArtsWatch. Busy? We’ve been racing around town like hound dogs chasing hot rods, trying to keep up. Almost to our canine surprise, we caught quite a few. But some of those wheels just keep on spinning, a little bit out of reach. The whole world’s been coming to town, at least cinematically, for the Portland International Film Festival. Plays have been popping up all over the place, from Artists Rep’s Mothers and Sons to Contigo Pan y Cebolla, Milagro’s nifty Spanish-language trip to pre-revolution Havana. We’ve seen a little dance. We’ve heard a lot of music.
And we’ve been johnny-on-the-spot for more big news on the museum front. Paul Sutinen took in the Portland Art Museum’s new exhibition for the 2016 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, and has a lot to say about them. Fallout continues from the decision to shut down the Museum of Contemporary Craft, and ArtsWatch’s Barry Johnson has been talking to a lot of the players and inside observers about what it all means: watch for his next chapter in a continuing series of reports. Meanwhile, PAM’s fascinating time trip of a photography show, Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy, continues in the special exhibitions galleries. We’ll take an in-depth look at that, too. Just as soon as we catch that car.
Sutinen’s essay on the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards praises the art and artists but wonders what the museum’s driving idea is – or if it has one. You’ll want to read to the whole thing. A quick sample: “The artists’ works are ambitious. The museum’s effort, not so much. Some version of these biennial shows have been occurring for a long time and they always have the same problem: What’s the point? … It might be good for the museum to educate itself, even if that happens only once every two years. But what does it do for the museum audience? Does this show provide a ‘deeper understanding?’ No, it provides a thin potpourri (to reiterate: the works in this exhibition are really worth seeing!), a casual glance, not a deep look.”
About that international film festival. The fest keeps rolling and reeling through February 27, and Marc Mohan has been on top of it like schmear on a bagel for ArtsWatch. He began with a tip sheet of the ten films to watch for over the run of the festival, and has been updating daily with the day’s top picks. Reading his updates is like taking a mini-crash course in contemporary world cinema. Even when the films have come and gone, it’s illuminating to read Mohan’s comments on them. What he’s done so far:
Best bets for Tuesday, Feb. 16. That’s today, of course, which includes Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room (photo above), which, Marc says, is “indulgent, nightmarish, and almost always hilarious.”
Keep your eye out for daily reports throughout the festival.
A few things to keep in mind on this week’s calendar:
biamp.PDX Jazz Festival 2016. This is the biggie: eleven days, Thursday through February 28, at venues all over town. This year’s festival, with more than 100 events, celebrates the great John Coltrane, and includes such performers as Ravi Coltrane, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Sonny Fortune, Chuck Israels, Dianne Reeves, Alicia Olatuja, Charles Lloyd, Bobby Torres, Brian Blade, and bass legend Gary Peacock. Get on your grooving shoes.
Flutist Claire Chase. Not every musician can quote the American Record Guide saying about her, “Look out, world. Here comes a monster.” Chase can. We’ve been watching a fair amount of Grimm lately, so we’re not sure how deeply we want to contemplate the concept of a monster flutist, or what one looks like when she vogues. But the New York Times also praises her “extravagant technique, broad stylistic range and penetrating musicality,” so we’re assuming she’s one of the good Wesen. She’ll be in town for Thursday and Friday performances in Third Angle New Music’s studio series.
Chapatti. Gemma Whelan directs old-pro actors Allen Nause and Jacklyn Maddux in the Northwest premiere of an Irish love story about a man, a woman, a dog, and nineteen cats. Corrib Theatre at CoHo; Saturday through March 13.
Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Stumptown Stages takes over Brunish Hall with this energetic romp through the golden pop hits of those hep cats Lieber & Stoller, from I‘m a Woman to Love Potion No. 9. Thursday through March 6.
The Late Now hits the web. Brian Kearney follows the adventures of Leo Daedalus’s antic dada variety show as it moves to a bigger venue and prepares to transform itself into a web series. Will it lose its anarchic edge in the process? Not if that lap dance with guest star Andrei Codrescu’s an indication.
The arc of ARCO. Maria Choban follows the adventures of the contemporary-music ensemble as it ventures out of the concert halls and into the places where young audiences actually hang out.
Blasted: Casualties of the never-ending war. Defunkt unveils the tender horror of Sarah Kane’s searing drama of a bleak human condition, Christa Morletti McIntyre writes.
Skinner/Kirk goes to church. The dance ensemble’s new show at BodyVox, I write, is “a sparkling blend of new and old, highlighted by [Church], this fascinating, if a little meandering, contemplation on the nature of faith and its connection to the world of dance.”
Composer Bonnie Miksch: fearless dreamer. Brett Campbell celebrates the Portland composer and FearNoMusic’s CD release concert.
You for me for you, and all of us. Mia Chung’s You for Me for You at Portland Playhouse reaches deep into the story of two North Korean sisters, one who escapes and one who doesn’t.
Chamber Music Northwest: the Beethoven summer. David Stabler checks the weather report for this summer’s festival. The forecast calls for bright playing and Beethoven’s string quartets. All sixteen of them.
Everything you wanted to know about girls … but were afraid to ask. Triangle’s What Every Girl Should Know goes to a Catholic girls’ reformatory where Margaret Sanger’s ideas are kicking up a storm. Christa Morletti McIntyre peeks in on the action.
The Set-Up: punch-drunk on stage. Cygnet’s stage adaptation of a 1928 narrative poem set in a boxing ring shows some fancy footwork, I write.
Bach Cantata Choir review: team effort. Orchestra and chorus score a touchdown on “SuperBach Sunday,” Bruce Browne writes.
Will the real La Habana please stand up? Milagro’s Spanish-language trip to pre-revolutionary Cuba, Contigo Pan y Cebolla, is a little magical and a little mysterious, Christa Morletti McIntyre writes.
About ArtsWatch Weekly
We send a letter like this every Tuesday to a select group of email subscribers, and also post it weekly on the ArtsWatch home page. In ArtsWatch Weekly, we take a look at stories we’ve covered in the previous week, give early warning of events coming up, and sometimes head off on little arts rambles we don’t include anywhere else. You can read this report here. Or, you can get it delivered weekly to your email inbox, and get a quick look at all the stories you might have missed (we have links galore) and the events you want to add to your calendar. It’s easy to sign up. Just click here, and leave us your name and e-address.
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