Hang on tight: it’s going to be a wild week. Or, to borrow a line from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, June is bustin’ out all over. Without further ado, a few of the highlights from the next seven days:
ROSE FESTIVAL/DRAGON BOAT ART SHOW. Yes, it’s here again, the annual civic bacchanalia that, as local journalistic legend has it, an old-school reporter for The Oregonian once famously described as the season “when sailors swim upstream to spawn.” The Starlight Parade begins to wind through downtown streets at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and those who love a parade are advised to show up and snag a spot well in advance. (Those who don’t love a parade are advised to stay away from downtown at all costs.) Here at ArtsWatch we’re quite fond of the dragon boat races (we happen to know a few paddlers, and they’re a hearty lot), which splash down June 11-12 in the Willamette River. And we’re always tickled by Fire on the Water, the annual show of art inspired by the dragon boat races, which is free and always a lot of fun. This year’s version, with work by about seventy artists, opens Thursday in the rotunda lobby of the performing arts center’s Antoinette Hatfield Hall, and hangs around all summer, through August 30. You can drop in most anytime.
FIRST THURSDAY. The dragon boat show isn’t the only art show opening Thursday evening. It’s First Thursday, which means galleries around town are opening fresh exhibits. (A few open on First Fridays, a few on Last Thursdays, and some galleries open new shows when they darned well feel like it.) Among the many gallery openings we’re keeping an eye on: Daniel Robinson’s moody, almost mystical landscapes at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art; Michael Brophy’s latest clear-cut forest paintings and Margot Voorhies Thompson’s muscular geometric abstracts at Laura Russo; David Selleck’s quirky “Couch Paintings,” with their Klee-like playfulness and odd pictographic echoes of cave paintings, at Blackfish; Sage Gallery Portland’s 2016 National Juried Photo Encaustic Exhibition, in which artists combine photo images with the ancient wax process; the otherworldly “Obscured Realm” of Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley and Francesca Berrini at Waterstone; and Katherine Ace’s “Unwritten Tales,” from her immersion in the stories of the Brothers Grimm, at Froelick. And those are just a taste of what’s opening.
SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET. Sweeney, which opened on Broadway in 1979, is the great Stephen Sondheim’s greatest musical, partly because it’s driven by the passion of Hugh Wheeler’s book, which is based on Christopher Bond’s 1973 penny-dreadful style play. The book’s expressionistic, full-throttle embrace of the moral issues lurking beneath the Victorian melodrama cuts against Sondheim’s penchant for irony and introspection, opening the doors to a broader emotional and artistic sweep. Portland Opera, which has enthusiastically entered the world of classic Broadway musicals in the past few seasons, opens its newest version of Sweeney on Friday in Keller Auditorium, with additional performances on Saturday (matinee) and June 9 & 11. David Pittsinger returns as Todd, Portland favorite Susannah Mars is Mrs. Lovett (she who proudly pops people into pies), Portland Opera resident artist Katrina Galka is Johanna.
GILBERT & SULLIVAN’S RUDDIGORE. Mock’s Crest, which operates summers out of the University of Portland, feeds the city’s Gilbert & Sullivan jones with an annual production, going beyond The Pirates of Penzance to explore the entire canon. Opening Friday is the 1887 Ruddigore, which carries the fine subtitle The Witch’s Curse. Goodness: what could it be? Something about a baron forced by the fates to commit a crime every day. But not to worry, as our good friend Mr. Wikipedia explains: “Gilbert, in his customary topsy-turvy fashion, turns the moral absolutes of melodrama upside down: The hero becomes evil, the villain becomes good, and the virtuous maiden changes fiancés at the drop of a hat. The ghosts come back to life, foiling the curse, and all ends happily.” With Arthur Sullivan’s songs, little wonder of that. Through June 26.
NATIVE FASHION NOW. High fashion isn’t what you ordinarily think of when you think of large-scale art museum exhibitions, although design’s another matter, and the Portland Art Museum’s jumped into those waters exuberantly in recent years with big shows on bicycles and luxury cars. Native Fashion Now, which opens Saturday, pushes into potentially fascinating territory with a look at fifty years of Native American fashion. Featuring almost a hundred works from street fashion to haute couture, it emphasizes both the rich visual tradition of Indian cultures and the contemporary vitality of Native design and art. A traveling exhibition, it originated at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, which has become a significant player in Native American art under onetime PAM director Dan Monroe. Also opening Saturday is another design-based exhibit, Case Work, which will present studies and drawings by Brad Cloepfil and Allied Works Architecture, the Portland firm that now also has headquarters offices in New York. The exhibit began in Denver at the Clyfford Still Museum, which Cloepfil and Allied designed, and will travel internationally after its run at the Portland Art Museum. Both Case Work and Native Fashion Now continue in Portland through September 4.
PHILIP KAN GOTANDA & AFTER THE WAR BLUES. Theatre Diaspora, the Asian American/Pacific Islander company led by Dmae Roberts, is doing a pair of staged readings of Gotanda’s play on Saturday and Sunday in the Studio Theatre of PSU’s Lincoln Performance Hall.
After the War Blues is set in San Francisco after World War II, with Japanese Americans returned from the internment camps mixing with African Americans, Russian Jews, and white Southerners also looking for a fresh start. At a time when casting of non-Asian actors in Asian roles has become a national controversy on stage and in the movies and TV, Diaspora makes a point of providing work for Asian American and a broad range of other actors. And Gotanda, a force in Asian American theater as a playwright, will be in town to teach a free playwrighting master class, funded by the Dramatists Guild Fund, on Friday at Portland Center Stage. If you’re interested, details are here.
WANDERLUST @ 23 SANDY GALLERY. So you think the book is dead? Not so fast, friends. After years of fading against the rise of ebooks, printed books have been making a muscular comeback, along with the shops that sell them: seems like people just like the feel of actual pages. And artists continue to be enamored of paper and the physical aspect of books, creating one-of-a-kind sculptural works that are books (or inspired by books) and art at the same time. The always interesting 23 Sandy Gallery, which specializes in photography and book arts, has just opened Wanderlust, an international juried exhibition of book art that explores “the desire to travel, or the drive to discover and document place.” With more than fifty artists, that’s a lot of footloose variety to page through.
2016 PAMTA AWARDS. The annual Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards are always a good party (musical theater folks know how to put on a show) and this year’s celebration is coming up Monday, June 6, in the Dolores Winningstad Theatre downtown. It’s presented by Portland actor and Tony-winning New York producer Corey Brunish. Outstanding production nominees are Falsettos at Live On Stage, Thoroughly Modern Millie at Broadway Rose, Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Portland Center Stage, Snow White at Northwest Children’s Theatre, and Man of La Mancha at Lakewood; you can see all the nominees in all the categories by clicking the link.
ARE THE ARTS GETTING SQUEEZED OUT? ArtsWatch’s Brett Campbell reports on the City Club of Portland’s exploration of the city’s real-estate boom and its impact on artists and the spaces where they work, which are rapidly being converted to other uses or jacked up in price beyond what artists and lower-income people can afford. What does this mean to the city’s creative culture, which has been a prime economic engine, and what can be done to combat trends to price artists out of the market?
DANCE WEEKLY. Every week, Jamuna Chiarini’s column keeps ArtsWatch readers up-to-date on what’s coming up on the city’s dance scene. She often includes short interviews with dancemakers, digging inside the ideas and practicalities of new work and getting a sense of where the fresh energy’s coming from. The latest Dance Weekly (expect a new one in a couple of days) also includes a calendar of dance events, with links, through the first week of July.
MUSICWATCH WEEKLY. And music, too: Brett Campbell’s weekly column keeps readers up-to-date on what’s happening on Oregon’s lively music scene. It includes links to all of our reviews and features from the previous week, plus a guide to what’s coming up: It’s home base when you’re keeping score on the scores.
FILMWATCH WEEKLY. Heading for the flicks? Don’t leave home without consulting ArtsWatch’s weekly film guide. This one includes links to full reviews of Belladonna of Sadness, Dheepan, The Ones Below, Viva, and the “Austen-tatiously funny” Love & Friendship, plus a full slate of new openings and even some home entertainment recommendations. ArtsWatch film chief Marc Mohan and friends regularly update ArtsWatch readers with fresh reviews and features, too: keep an eye on the ArtsWatch home page.
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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