And suddenly it’s October. Among other things – pumpkin patches, Yom Kippur, the World Series, Halloween – that means we’re two days from First Thursday, Portland’s monthly gallery hop of new shows. This week’s visual art calendar is a doozy, from open studios to Warhol with lots between.
A few of the highlights:
James Lavadour at PDX Contemporary. It’s always a good day when new work by Lavadour, the veteran landscape expressionist from Pendleton, comes to town. This show, called Ledger of Days, furthers his exploration of the land and its mysteries. “A painting is a structure for the extraordinary and informative events of nature that are otherwise invisible,” he writes. “A painting is a model for infinity.” Lavadour is also one of the moving forces behind Pendleton’s innovative and essential Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. Watch for what’s coming up.
The new Russo Lee Gallery: 30 years. What you’ve known for years as Laura Russo Gallery is celebrating three decades with a showing of new work by its distinguished stable of artists – and with a new name. The name is a fusion of the gallery’s long tradition and current reality. After founder Laura Russo died in 2010, her longtime employee Martha Lee bought the business and continues to operate it. This show promises to be a statement of sorts, and will have a catalog available.
Michelle Ross at The Art Gym. The Desire, a large-scale solo show of new and older work by the veteran Portland artist, opens next Tuesday at Marylhurst University’s innovative art center. There’ll be an opening reception with Ross, 4-6 p.m. Sunday.
Dead Feminists From Print to Page at 23 Sandy. The East Side gallery, which specializes in photography and book arts, unveils the latest in a series from Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary, Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color.
Portland Open Studios. This is a big deal, and can be a lot of fun. For two weekends every year, about a hundred artists in and around Portland open their studios to visitors, who can see where they work (and often see them actually working), ask questions, and, if they want, buy straight from the creator. It’s a blend of artists with and without gallery representation, in all sorts of styles – a bit of a free-for-all, but a bracing one. And a lot of very good artists take part. You can get a map (or even a phone app) to show you where the galleries are, plot your path, and set out on your excellent adventure. Saturday and Sunday this weekend and next.
Day of the Dead at Guardino. The Alberta District gallery celebrates its 10th anniversary with its annual Day of the Dead group show (actual Day of the Dead is November 2, with the Day of the Innocents the day before, but this helps get you in the spirit), plus some lithe enamel-and-steel pieces by the sculptor Alisa Looney, whose work you might recognize from her courtyard steel sculpture Roll & Play at Maryhill Museum of Art.
Alec Egan’s Sanctuary House at Ampersand. Intriguing paintings of ordinary things, from stray socks to rumpled beds, by a young L.A. artist. Some have a serigraph, Japanese feel.
Sarah Fagan and Kanetaka Ikeda at Blackfish. Both artists use craft-like forms to investigate the metaphysics of space and form: what is solid about an object, and what goes beyond.
Contemporary Celadon at Eutectic. The craft-centric East Side gallery opens a group show featuring more than a dozen national and international artists working in this ceramic form distinguished by its jade-like green color (celadon pieces are often called greenware).
Andy Warhol at the Portland Art Museum. You want Warhol, you get Warhol: This is a big show, with about 250 prints drawn from the extensive collections of Portland collector Jordan Schnitzer and his family foundation, running from those soup cans to those Marilyns with a lot of iconic images between. It opens Saturday and hangs around through January 1.
LET’S DANCE. A couple of big season-openers arrive this week on Portland’s dance calendar. Grab your partner and head on down:
Diavolo at White Bird. The Birds’ newest season of national and international dance kicks off with shows Thursday through Saturday in the Newmark Theatre by the popular and extremely energetic Los Angeles troupe. They’ll include the world premiere of Passengers, in which the performers “fearlessly move around a giant morphing train.”
Giants at Oregon Ballet Theatre. By “giants,” OBT means Balanchine (Serenade), William Forsythe (the company premiere of his In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated) and a world premiere by OBT’s resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte, Giants Before Us. This is the company’s big season-opening fall show, before Nutcracker season sets in, and runs Saturday through October 15 at Keller Auditorium.
CURTAINS UP. All right: most Portland theater companies don’t use curtains anymore. Still, it’s a big weekend in town for theater openings. What to keep your eye out for:
American Hero at Artists Rep. Beth Wohl’s satirical comedy follows the adventures of three sandwich jockeys who strike out on their own after they’re stiffed by their fast-food franchise. Something maybe just a little political to chew on. Opens Saturday.
Blue-Eyed Black Boy at Triangle. One shot only at something intriguing: Triangle’s new Brown Paper Bag Series is bringing staged readings of early 20th century anti-lynching plays, most by African American women. It kicks off with a reading at 7 p.m. Wednesday of Georgia Douglas Johnson’s play, with a promising cast that includes Skeeter Greene, Josie Seid, James Dixon, and Rachelle Schmidt, directed by Andrea White.
Hold These Truths at Portland Center Stage. Jeanne Sakata’s play about civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, who fought the U.S. government’s forced herding of Japanese American citizens into internment camps during World War II, opens Friday in the downstairs Ellyn Bye Studio. Read Alice Hardesty’s fascinating interview for ArtsWatch with Sakata, Truths self-evident and the camps.
Urban Tellers at the Fremont Theater. Portland Story Theatre’s season-opening show Friday night of real people telling real stories is sold out, but the big news here is that the company’s moved to a brand new theater in a new building at Northeast 24th and Fremont, with seating for about 120. It’s something of a debut for the theater, too, which has just opened and will feature music and other attractions as well. Ted Perkins of the Star News has a nice piece about the new space and the new move.
Hir at defunkt. The Portland debut of a play by the multi-talented Taylor Mac that Christopher Isherwood of the New York Times calls an “audacious dive into the dysfunctional-family playpen of American Theatre.” Defunkt likes this sort of thing, and usually does it well, and has the intimate-to-smothering space in the Backdoor Theatre to make it feel like being inside a pressure cooker. Opens Friday.
Head. Hands. Feet. Tales of Dismemberment at Shaking the Tree. That’s what they said, and that’s what they mean. Well, it is October. Director Samantha Van der Merwe and cast follow the mythic/folkloric path with the likes of Perrault’s Bluebeard, Hans Christian Anderson’s The Red Shoes, the Grimms’ The Handless Maiden, and Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis in an adaptation by Edna O’Brien. Hang onto your hat, and your other extremities. Opens Friday.
The Nether: virtual damnation. Marty Hughley digs into the virtual-reality nightmare and “subtly creepy atmosphere” of Jennifer Haley’s futuristic drama from Third Rail Rep. Is the play’s amped-up, anything-goes Internet of the future “an incitement to real-world crime? Or is it a harmless diversion, a safety valve for otherwise dangerous impulses?”
Louis Malle takes an Elevator to the Gallows. The young director’s 1957 first film, playing in a freshly restored print at Cinema 21 through Thursday, has echoes of Hitchcock and Bresson, and cool jazz by Miles Davis. It begins in “classic noir fashion,” Chris Phillips writes – and in the end, it belongs to a young actress named Jeanne Moreau: “As she walked the city to the mournful breath of a trumpet, dampened by rain and aching with longing, a star was born.”
Nordic Fiddlers Bloc: dancing with the devil. “It is a testament to the resilience of folk music, and the irrepressible need to boogie, that folk fiddling has survived centuries-long suppression by organized religion,” Daniel Heila writes in advance of Friday’s performance by these fiddlers three from the north countree at Nordia House.
Looking for Tiger Lily, finding himself. Portland’s preeminent Drag Queen Clown is not who you think she is, A.L. Adams writes: Carla Rossi/Anthony Hudson “wants audiences … to know he’s not as white as his greasepaint.” Three-eighths Native American, he’s spent his time on the Rez, and in his most recent show he grapples with life’s contradictions, including his childhood fondness for the movie Peter Pan.
Third Angle: Reich on rails. On Monday, he turned 80. On Friday and Saturday, Third Angle celebrated with performances of his music. Steve who, again? Brett Campbell replies: “If the Jeopardy answer is ‘Steve Reich,’ the proper question might be, ‘Who is the greatest living composer?’”
Layers of racism and social progress. Jennifer Rabin considers The Soul of Black Art: A Collector’s View at Upfor Gallery: “being in the gallery feels both hurtful and hopeful, as we reckon with both the slow march of racism and of progress.”
Richard III: The shape of a man. “Our winter of discontent is upon us,” Christa Morletti McIntyre notes, “judging from midnight presidential campaign Twitter outbursts and anxiety-inducing Gallup polls.” That, she adds, makes Post5’s lean and lively new production of Shakespeare’s play about power, politics, and morality a tale for our times.
Dance in Europe, dance in Portland. In her most recent DanceWatch Weekly, Jamuna Chiarini talks about the differences and similarities with Portland native Spenser Theberge, who’s danced in Europe with Nederlands Dans Theater and the Forsythe Company, and was back in town for a show last weekend with his partner, Kidd Pivot dancer Jermaine Spivey.
Cat in the Hat for President! Northwest Children’s Theater & School kicks off its season with a sassy Seuss fave and a pop-rock musical about the U.S. presidents. We take in both and cast our vote.
Rinde Eckert and Alessandro Sciarroni: scattered remains. Brett Campbell considers the TBA Festival performances by an avant-garde theatrical master and some dazzling jugglers.
In the studio: Blaine Fontana. Christa Morletti McIntyre chats with the busy muralist, public artist, and designer, who keeps his studio below the Fremont Bridge in North Portland and works from New York to London to Brazil. “When I was a graffiti writer, a lot of it, doing it illegally,” Fontana tells her, “there was graffiti and then there was public art. There was a huge separation; there’s a blur today.”
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