We have heard the word, and the word is good. After a year of wandering in the wilderness, Wordstock‘s back in town – or it was, for a single day on Saturday, in its new digs at the Portland Art Museum and a church across the street. And it was popular, with the long lines to prove it: Portlanders love their books and authors, and they’ll put up with a lot for the chance to see and hear them.
ArtsWatch sent out two book hounds to flip through the chapters of this day-long lit-fest and report back on the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not much of the latter two, beyond the rain and the lines and a lack of ample bathrooms, as it turned out. And as our correspondent Angie Jabine put it, “If you’re going to be stuck waiting, well, at least you’re waiting at a BOOK FAIR, where you are surrounded by a bunch of other book-lovers who are probably even more introverted and agoraphobic than you are.” And here’s Jabine on Stacy Schiff and her best-selling new history The Witches: Salem 1692: Schiff “knows how to turn a phrase and evoke a bygone era in terms that will resonate inside 21st-century ears. European witches were known for doing quite spectacular things like turning men into frogs, whereas the New England witch might simply prick an innocent girl’s arm with invisible pins. ‘Even in her transgressions,’ Schiff wrote, ‘she was Puritanical.'”
Our correspondent Brian Kearney, meanwhile, found lots to like, some of it pretty funny. Then there was this, about a couple of local icons: “Other Wordstock highlights included Ursula K. Le Guin talking about the condescension of the word genre – ‘the word only the French can speak,’ she called it, in a low growl that was very pleasing to hear come from a birdlike 86-year-old – and Willy Vlautin talking about just about anything, although my favorite line of his was describing why he became a writer: ‘I wanted to live on a wrecking yard with my uncle and barbecue and steal cars, and I couldn’t find a book that did those things so I just made one up.'”
A few things to consider this week:
- The ninth annual art auction at Disjecta, the contemporary art center in Portland’s Kenton district, is Saturday. A big lineup of artists donated works for the fundraiser: Corey Arnold, Wendy Red Star, Malia Jensen, Heidi Schwegler, Whiting Tennis, Kendra Larson, Pat Boas, many more. Plus, it’s a good party.
- A busy week at Performance Works NW: On Thursday, dancer Linda Austin and experimental sound artist Judy Dunaway take up where they left off in the 1980s-90s downtown New York dance scene. On Friday and Saturday, It’s Really Hard, the latest Alembic Resident Artist Showcase, brings together Nancy Ellis, Dora Gaskill, and Stephanie Lavon Trotter.
- National Choir Festival. The pick of the national collegiate choirs, from Yale and Juilliard to our own Portland State, will be in town Thursday through Saturday to meet, greet, take workshops, and perform in six concerts around town. Ethan Sperry breaks down what’s happening for ArtsWatch readers.
- Last chance corral. A couple of good shows are nearing the end of their runs on Portland stages: Equus, with fine performances by Phillip J. Berns and Todd Van Voris, at Post5, closing Sunday; and The Realistic Joneses, Will Eno’s sweet-and-sad Chekhovian four-hander, at Third Rail, closing Saturday.
Most museums don’t have seasons. But most museums aren’t on clifftops above the Columbia River Gorge, many miles from major cities, where the winter winds blow hard and the temperatures drop harder. So the Maryhill Museum of Art shuts down every fall until spring, and Sunday is the final day of this year’s season. Last chance to hop in the car and head on out the Gorge for a day of sightseeing and art at one of America’s most idiosyncratic museums. Among the attractions: woodcuts by Andrea Rich, Raven Skywalker’s Submerge glass sculptures, early photos of native people of The Dalles region, and regular exhibitions ranging from Rodin to Orthodox icons to classic chess sets to furniture designed by one of the museum’s founding figures, Marie, Queen of Romania (who is in the news because her heart, in a silver box, has just been moved from a museum in Bucharest to Pelisor Castle, where she died in 1938 – but that’s another story). Free Veterans Day admission for vets and their families on Wednesday; free admission Saturday and Sunday if you bring two nonperishable food items for Klickitat County food banks.
Only the dead have seen the end of war. The new company Play On Words puts a tense contemporary spin on Euripides’ Greek classic Women of Troy, Christa Morletti McIntyre writes.
Embedded with Bark. You’ve heard of embedded reporters in war zones. But what about an embedded artist? Through a residency with Signal Fire, Gary Wiseman embedded himself with Bark, the Mt. Hood National Forest environmental watchdog group. Signal Fire’s Ryan Pierce talks with Wiseman about how it all worked out.
New music from old traditions. World premieres in Eugene by David Crumb and Terry McQuilken, Gary Ferrington writes, reflect the past in the music of today.
Lisa de la Salle: Joining hands. tThe young French pianist, here to perform with Portland Piano International, made a big splash in town, playing early Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, and Ravel. Jeff Winslow considers the artistry of her “sensitive yet powerful hands.”
D.E. May: In praise of care and precision. “There are some mysteries in D.E. May’s works,” Paul Sutinen writes about the veteran Oregon artist’s pared-down geometrics: how does such simple stuff work? “They are morsels of art, like a haiku is to poetry or a serving of sushi in the realm of food.”
Defunkt’s tense cockfight. “After leaving the theater I was a bit worse for wear, but in a good way,” Christa Morletti McIntyre writes of her encounter with playwright Mike Bartlett’s gender squabble Cock.
Escaping to Present Laughter. Actor Gary Powell slips into something comically comfortable in Lakewood Theater’s revival of the Noel Coward classic. As Cole Porter and our own Christa Morletti McIntyre put it, Anything Goes.
About ArtsWatch Weekly
We’ve been sending a letter like this every Tuesday to a select group of email subscribers. Now we’re also posting 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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