The Fertile Ground festival of new works is tucked safely in bed for another year, and the city’s still tuning up for the Portland Jazz Festival, coming February 18-28 (Charles Lloyd! Dianne Reeves! Sonny Fortune! Brian Blade!). That doesn’t mean you get to relax. We’re heading into an extraordinarily busy week, from theater openings to First Thursday in the galleries to a revamped Late Now to the Oregon Symphony’s visit to The Planets, with a side trip to some piano parables by Paul Schoenfeld.
Enough with the intro. Let’s dive right in, starting with theater:
Forever at Portland Center Stage. The newest from writer/performer Dael Orlandersmith, in the intimate Ellyn Bye Studio. Marcel Proust, Richard Wright, Jim Morrison, and the legacies of family, biological and chosen. In previews; opens Friday.
What Every Girl Should Know at Triangle. It’s 1914 in a Catholic reformatory. The new girl shows up, bringing an attitude and some contraband: pamphlets on birth control distributed by Margaret Sanger. Opens Thursday.
You for Me for You at Portland Playhouse. Gretchen Corbett directs Mia Chung’s provocative drama about two sisters attempting to flee North Korea. Opens Friday.
The Call at Profile. Profile, which features the works of a single playwright each season, kicks off its season of Portland native Tanya Barfield with this play about race, family, and adoption. Opens Saturday.
The Late Now hits the web. Leo Daedalus’s underground cabaret, a hybrid of Ed Sullivan, Ziggy Stardust, and Dada Warbucks, is about to relaunch as a live show/webcast in relatively posh new surroundings. For Friday night’s kickoff, Leo’s snagged a special guest: NPR host and author Andrei Codrescu. Brian Kearney’s been following The Late Now‘s buildup to its new format for a story to run on ArtsWatch after the big reopening. We asked him to give us a preview of what’s happening, and he obliged with this mini-report: “The Late Now, Portland’s premier late night avant garde variety talk show, will be moving to a new home at Tony Starlight’s Showroom on February 5th, where it will also be recorded for the first time for broadcast on the web. The date marks the 100th anniversary of the original Dada happening, the Cabaret Voltaire, and to honor its spiritual forebear the show will be having NPR broadcaster, poet and Dada expert Andrei Codrescu along for a chat; a Dada game show with audience participation; and much more besides. There’ll also be a tribute to the late, great David Bowie with musical accompaniment from The Late Now’s new house band and an appearance from Portland composer Christopher Corbell. Tony Starlight’s is a dinner and show venue and there are a limited number of non-dinner tickets available, so early booking is advised.” Who’s your Dada? Leo’s your Dada. Consider yourselves advised.
Around and about the galleries this month:
James Luna at Blackfish. Luna, known internationally for his performance and multimedia work, is part of a February focus in town on Native American culture and art. He’ll show objects and images in his exhibition Performagraphic at Blackfish, and make several appearances, including a performance/lecture at 11:30 Wednesday at Mt. Hood Community College, an artist reception Thursday evening at Blackfish, and a gallery talk at Blackfish at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Gail Tremblay at Froelick. Tremblay, a member of the Onondaga and Micmac nations, has been a stalwart on the Northwest contemporary scene for years. Her latest show at Froelick. Unweaving the Colonial Discourse, features many of her woven baskets made from film stock, which carries ripples of old cowboys-and-Indians movies and their mythmaking.
Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy at Portland Art Museum. For close to a century, Curtis’s romantic images have shaped much of the nation’s conception of Native America. In this museum show, which opens Saturday, contemporary Indian artists Zig Jackson, Wendy Red Star, and Will Wilson interact with the Curtis mythos and bring their own experiences and perspectives to the discussion.
Northwest Art Award winners at Laura Russo. The gallery gets a jump on this year’s Contemporary Art Award winners (the show with all the winners opens February 13 at the Portland Art Museum) with this exhibit of work by three of the honorees: Dana Lynn Louis, Samantha Wall, and Akio Takamori.
Intersecciones: Havana/Portland at Hoffman Gallery. The gallery at Lewis & Clark College walks into a suddenly busy intersection with this six-artist show. “Like Havana, Portland is a small city that occupies a large place in the national imagination,” the curators write. “When the idea to curate a show of Cuban artists first emerged, we had no inkling of the historical change about to take place between the two countries. We happened to be in Havana on the day that President Obama met with Raúl Castro and announced he would take Cuba off the terrorist list.”
David Slader and Phil Sylvester at Gallery 114. Slader, a onetime student of Sylvester, is known for his vibrant, blocky, geometrical portraits. Sylvester, a well-known teacher at The Drawing Room, is having his first gallery show in 17 years, during which time he’s concentrated on making his one-of-a-kind art guitars. During that time he’s also drawn constantly on his own, and is now, at Slader’s invitation, reemerging on the gallery scene. “I primarily draw blind, glancing from time to time as I move back and forth between legibility and ambiguity, all the while engaging and observing my model and friend,” he says.
Deaths in the family. Portland’s arts scene has lost two well-loved members. In Remembering Robert Huffman, Gavin Larsen pays tribute to the longtime ballet rehearsal pianist, who died at 78: “Pianist, accompanist, performer, comedian, friend, confidant, mentor, and inspiration to many generations of dancers and teachers, Robert leaves us poorer, yet richer for the wisdom, characteristic wit, vibrancy and love that defined his life.” And Signe Anderson, the bluesy Portland belter who moved to San Francisco and became the original lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane before returning to Portland to raise a family and sing around the Northwest, died at 74, on the same day that fellow Airplane founder Paul Kantner also died.
The candidates and the arts. A forum on the arts featuring five prominent candidates for Portland mayor or City Council (several lesser-known candidates were not invited) was a tame affair, Barry Johnson writes. On one hand, they all agreed that supporting the arts is a good thing. On the other, “no one had exciting new programs to propose or striking new formulations about how the arts and the culture in which they are embedded serve each other now and might serve each other better in the future.”
TV needs J.Lo, not the other way around. Starring as a cop on NBC in the midseason replacement Shades of Blue, Jennifer Lopez brings a wealth of advantages to the small screen, Courtney Parenteau writes for ArtsWatch: “Lopez, like Neil Patrick Harris, Cher, and Frank Sinatra, has discovered the balance between personality (American Idol), spectacle (Vegas) and talent (Shades) that makes her an icon.”
Wendy Given and Ryan Pierce: mysteries in the wilderness. The two Oregon artists bring the outside in at PSU’s Autzen Gallery, Grace Kook-Anderson writes: “Though both artists are inspired by nature, their work doesn’t idealize the natural world, and neither takes on romantic notions of the untrammeled landscape. Rather, both Given and Pierce are concerned with nature in its present condition through an historic lens—a contentious landscape, rife with the consequences of modernity.”
Fertile Ground review: Solo Showcases. Brett Campbell wraps himself around four solo shows at the festival: Baba Yaga, Dear Committee Members, Noise in the Waters, and 1,000 Tongues.
Fertile Ground review: Welcome to the Night Side. Maria Choban on the festival’s The Adventures of Dex Dixon: Paranormal Dick: “I seem to always come to the same conclusion about shows I love: It comes down to IQ, and this is one of the smartest teams I’ve seen in a long time.”
Dido & Aeneas: Sweet musical treat. “Damn chocolates!” Bruce Browne laments in his review of The Ensemble’s performance of the great early English opera. “We might have had another decade or two of Henry Purcell, had he not indulged in recently unloaded chocolates from a ship’s hold, in 1695.” Still, the singing was sweet: “In this case, we got the bon-bon with extra sprinkles.”
I put a beeline spell on you. Broadway Rose celebrates its 25th anniversary with the musical comedy The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Christa Morletti McIntyre spells out her response: F-U-N.
Falko Steinbach, dancing around the piano. Jeff Winslow writes about the German/American pianist and composer, in town to perform at Portland Piano Company: “If you’re in the mood for something serious in a good way, something old, and something new, all in a package offered with warmth and dramatic zing, check him out.”
fEARnoMUSIC review: incomplete conversation. Is new enough? “The power of new local music is that we are the intended audience,” Tristan Bliss writes, “and while I didn’t love everything about fEARnoMUSIC‘s second annual Locally Sourced Sounds concert last Friday, I was glad for the conversation — but hope that fEARnoMUSIC will eventually extended the conversation past those already engaged with new music.”
Herve Koubi’s transcultural spin. Nim Wunnan writes about the the French-Algerian composer and his company’s packed-house performance for White Bird: with hints of Sufism’s whirling dervishes, it was a “difficult group performance for men in a changing world of tensions, where religion and tradition are fading, identity becomes fluid, and the options of expression are greater than ever.”
The Butoh Beat. In her weekly dance column, Jamuna Chiarini writes about her own immersion in butoh (she performed over the weekend with other students of Meshi Chavez) and records an intriguingly frank interview with Chavez about his past (“I was fleeing for my life”) and the essence of the art form (“the moment you define butoh it ceases to be butoh”).
Charlotte Rampling and me: an awkward talk about a great performance. The veteran film star gave an Oscar-nominated performance opposite Tom Courtenay in 45 Years, then got in trouble for some inflammatory comments about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Her prickly approach to life spilled over into an interview with Marc Mohan, which is a fascinating ArtsWatch read. Whatever the game is, Rampling doesn’t play it.
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