ArtsWatch Weekly: wine divine, proscenium live, Comic City USA

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

It’s the middle of August, the temperature’s flirting with triple digits, and the city sidewalks are getting hot enough to grill a veggie burger on. Time to get out of town. And if you’re going to get out of town, why not to wine country? This weekend marks the beginning of another Oregon summer music festival – a small one, but with some fine musicians and refreshing repertoire. It’s also a great excuse, if you really need one, to hit some good wineries.

The brand new Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival kicks off Friday night with a concert in the barrel room at J. Christopher Wines (think cool, like a cave) near Newberg, continues with free open rehearsals noon-3 p.m. Saturday at Artisanal Cellars in downtown Newberg, and concludes with a Sunday afternoon concert at Elk Cove Vineyards, one of the region’s most picturesque, near Gaston.

Music at the wineries: a new Oregon chamber festival goes for the gusto.

Music at the wineries: a new Oregon chamber festival goes for the gusto.

Who’ll you hear? Violist Kenji Bunch, one of Portland’s busiest composer/performers; Boston violinist (and Portland native) Sasha Callahan and her husband, cellist Leo Eguchi, who’s worked with the likes of William Bolcom and Lukas Foss; and violinist Megumi Stohs Lewis, who grew up in Portland and, among other credits, has performed with Yo-Yo Ma and toured with Jethro Tull. What’ll you hear? Two different programs including works by Bunch, Zoltan Kodaly, the contemporary Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov, and, just to keep things grounded, Schubert’s Rosamunde string quartet and Beethoven’s Op. 18 No. 1 string quartet.

Plus, of course, there’ll be wine.

 


 

PROSCENIUM LIVE. Then again, if you stick around town, this is a very good bet: some of the city’s top actors doing staged readings of a hefty handful of new plays by writers including Amy Freed, noted for the likes of Freedomland, The Beard of Avon, and The Monster Builder. Sponsored by Proscenium Journal in partnership with Portland Shakespeare Project, it runs for four days starting Thursday at Artists Repertory Theatre, and it’s free – which, as the late, great Portland TV pitchman Tom Peterson used to proclaim, “is a very good price.”

The full-length plays: C.S. Whitcomb’s Dracula’s Father, Freed’s Them That Are Perfect, Ellen Margolis’s Pericles Wet. Friday night’s one-act showcase includes pieces by Freed, Wei He, Simon Fill, and others.

Reading frenzy: good actors, new scripts at Proscenium Live. David Kinder, kinderpics photography, www.kinderpics.com

Reading frenzy: good actors, new scripts at Proscenium Live. David Kinder, kinderpics photography, www.kinderpics.com

 


 

TBA 16. The fourteenth edition of Time-Based Art Festival, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s annual feeding frenzy of the new, the brash, the edgy, and the provocative from the worlds of performance art, visual art, film & video, dance, and multidisciplines, doesn’t run until September 8-18. But tickets and passes go on sale starting today (Tuesday, August 16), and some shows go fast: time to check the attractions, make your plans, and score your seats.

 


 

EVERYDAY BALLERINA. Former Oregon Ballet Theatre principal dancer Gavin Larsen’s twelve-part series on the life and times of being a dancer goes all the way back to the beginning, when she was 8 years old and shyly entering a highly regarded ballet school in New York City, and will carry on beyond her performing career. It began on Sunday and continues daily for another week-plus, and it’s a fascinating tale, with many more revelations to come. Elegant dancer, elegant writer: she knows how to tell a tale.

What we’ve run so far:

Gavin Larsen in Val Caniparoli's "Lamberena" at Oregon Ballet Theatre. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

Gavin Larsen in Val Caniparoli’s “Lamberena” at Oregon Ballet Theatre. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

 


 

COMIC CITY, USA. Oregon has a long, deep history as a center of cartooning, from Joe Sacco’s ambitious political and social books to the powerhouse Dark Horse empire to Matt Groening’s The Simpsons and stretching back to the likes of Basil Wolverton’s work for Marvel Comics, Mad magazine, and the old Powerhouse Pepper comics, and even farther to the 19th and early 20th century political cartoons of Homer Davenport, who among other things created a memorable image of the Tammany Hall tiger. The Oregon Historical Society has just opened this exhibit taking a long look at the state’s place in the world of comics and political cartooning. It continues through January 31, 2017. Take a look, and, well, draw your own conclusions.

Cartoonist Basil Wolverton at his drawing table, about 1950. © Basil Wolverton Estate

Cartoonist Basil Wolverton at his drawing table, about 1950. © Basil Wolverton Estate

 


 

ArtsWatch links

Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins and Hugh Grant as St Clair Bayfield in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS by Paramount Pictures, Pathé and BBC Films

Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins and Hugh Grant as St Clair Bayfield in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS by Paramount Pictures, Pathé and BBC Films

Florence Foster Jenkins: making sour notes sweet. Eric D. Snider, reviewing the Meryl Streep/Hugh Grant flick about quite possibly the worst singer ever to solo at Carnegie Hall, declares himself “susceptible to cheerful, funny movies about colorful characters, especially characters who act out of love (mostly) rather than self-interest,” and the movie itself charming.

Music Man: Strike up the band. It’s right here in River City, or at Clackamas Repertory Theatre. Christa Morletti McIntyre takes in the latest revival of this classic of musical-theater Americana and discovers, among other things, that “(t)he River City kids ensemble pack a powerful punch of energy.”

Andy Ahiko: music for strings, color, and percussion. Fellow percussionist Matthew Andrews takes in the young composer’s Chamber Music Northwest concerts and describes his close encounter: “young man, clean shaven, intense and relaxed in the manner of most serious percussionists; gracefully virtuosic at his instrument, the steelpan of Trinidad …; nervous and self-effacing at the microphone when introducing his music and his collaborators; precise, complex, groovy, modern, and fun as hell as a composer.”

Chamber Music Northwest: Brahms reinvigorated. The summer music festival’s premiere of the theatrical/musical hybrid An Unlikely Muse: Brahms and Mühlfeld was so ambitious that ArtsWatch sent two reviewers to check it out. Jeff Winslow and Brett Campbell came back not entirely in agreement.

 


 

About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this once a week 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.

 


And finally…

We end with a couple of requests. First, if you have friends or family members who you think would enjoy our cultural writing online, could you please forward this letter to them? The bigger our circle of friends, the more we can accomplish. Second, if you’re not already a member of ArtsWatch, may we ask you to please take a moment and sign on? What you give (and your donation is tax-deductible) makes it possible for us to continue and expand our reporting and commenting on our shared culture in Oregon. Thanks, and welcome!

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