Chris Johanson

VizArts Monthly: TBA is here! Plus other happenings in September

Summer may be ending but arts programming ramps up in September with offerings in everything from performance to print to paint.

For many of us, PICA’s Time-Based Art Festival (TBA) signals an impending change in season. Inching closer to autumn, it’s again time for the iconic festival to challenge the status quo with inventive performances and panel discussions. Starting mid-September, local and global converge when artists share work that pushes boundaries, and this year, the festival offers pay-what-you-can pricing and a single-pass structure. Start planning now. Events fill quickly, and you’ll have both in-person and digital options to choose from (details below).

If you’re comfortable attending in-person events, Church of Film returns to the Clinton St. Theater with more experimental film programming this month, and several galleries are presenting exhibitions on significant themes of upheaval, hegemony, climate, and the unknown. September promises a series of art happenings that will challenge the viewer on the most pressing issues of our time.

Emily Johnson pictured, Image courtesy PICA

Time-Based Art Festival
September 16 – October 3, 2021
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA)
Various locations

Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s (PICA) annual festival of performance, film, workshops, lectures, and more has arrived! Since 2003, the Time-Based Art Festival (TBA) has gained a reputation for its commitment to intense, innovative performances and interdisciplinary artworks. This year, with additional COVID-19 precautions in place, TBA offers a robust calendar of events. Several stand out:

  • Let ‘im Move You: Intervention: jumatatu m. poe & Jermone Donte Beacham, co-presented with On the Boards and REDCAT.
    October 1 and 2, 2021, at 6 PM; exact location revealed prior to performance

    In Let ‘im Move You: Intervention, which first premiered in three Philadelphia neighborhoods in 2016, jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham seek to activate the sidewalks and alleyways of historically and/or predominantly Black neighborhoods. Drawing on the structure of J-Sette, the live outdoor performances work “to reveal the powerfully singular expression that can emerge within this highly regimented dance.” This choreographed series of works stems from the artists’ decade-long research into J-Sette performance and the performance of joy. Jermone Donte Beacham will also take part in an online panel discussion on October 1 that further explores the Black queer majorette dance community.
  • The Drift: Garrick Imatani and Travis Stewart.
    September 17, 2021, at 12 PM, and October 3, 2021, at 6 PM; PICA Resource Room, 15 NE Hancock St. Portland.

    The Drift is a “visual archive of the future, where the politics and excuses for failed Indigenous repatriation are bypassed through an inexplicable force that returns all that is lost and stolen.” Garrick Imatani, Travis Stewart, and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde collaborated on this project, which combines virtual reality, a publication and screening, digital fabrication, and photography. Stewart and Imatani will also participate in an online panel discussion on September 18, further elaborating on The Drift‘s themes of repatriation, healing, and Indigenous futures.
  • GOOD MOURNING: RITUALS FOR DISPLACEMENT: Mia Imani, curated by Wa Na Wari.
    September 19, 2021, at 12 PM; meeting locations revealed prior to performance

    Mia Imani, an international interdisciplinary artivist (art + activist) and arts writer based in Berlin, creates works that live in liminal art/science spaces to address personal and communal traumas of disenfranchised communities. Imani melds dreams, rituals, ethnography, geography, and psychoanalysis to create new visions, activated through experimental reportage and more. For Imani’s performance of GOOD MOURNING: RITUALS FOR DISPLACEMENT, the audience will move to three different locations, all accessible to those with mobility devices.
Work by Michelle Ramin, image courtesy Stumptown Coffee


Showing off in Aurora: “Bitter Cherry, Bleeding Heart”

Jeanine Jablonski of Fourteen30 Contemporary curates a group gallery show in the Courtyard House, an architectural show home in Aurora.

The Courtyard House, image courtesy Fourteen30 Contemporary

If you’ve ever fantasized about your dream home, you might have conjured up a place like the Courtyard House. Glass-walled and modernist, the house looks out onto dense greenery while also bringing it indoors via an atrium centered in the open-plan space. On the property, lush gardens of dahlias and lilies end in a two-person studio. A narrow path sheltered by a canopy of grapevines winds toward the Pudding River and further trails. I’m told there’s even a secret swimming hole. It’s all hidden in a small, unassuming neighborhood in Aurora, Oregon, known for its antiquing and historic buildings.


Converge 45: Popping up with the times

Responding to a year of crisis, Newberg's Chehalem Cultural Center hosts a show of Oregon contemporary posters for public spaces

One of the strengths of gallery programming at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg is that the deep, long-term planning that arts director Carissa Burkett packs into the calendar for as much as a year in advance is coupled with an ability to pivot when circumstances change, when new opportunities and challenges present themselves.

Like, for example, 2020 — the year, one might add, of the center’s 10th anniversary. 

The #Act for Art posters in their natural public-spaces habitat. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, Converge 45 said via Twitter, Portland has the fifth-largest concentration of artists in the nation, after Manhattan, San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles. Photo: Converge 45.

The center has already had a couple of COVID-inspired pop-ups this year, and for a few more days, visitors will find the latest of these unscheduled surprises: #ACTforART is originated as a PDX-centric project organized by Converge 45: a series of commissioned posters for public spaces that share the artists’ vision during this new, weird normal. Yes, theaters are shut down and concert halls are closed, but windows and fences and walls provide space for art, so the group has been spreading the love in lieu of its traditional programs, which typically involve exhibitions and gatherings where the six-foot rule wouldn’t work. The work is also being shared on social media platforms.