Liberace

OOPS. HERE IT IS A WEEK into December, and you’ve still got that shopping stuff to do. You sort of thought this would be the year you bought local – you know, support the place you live in sort of thing – but it’s all a bit confusing, and you’re really not sure where to start.

Hannah Wells 8 x 8-inch artwork in “The Big 500.”

So let us introduce you to The Big 500, an all-local, all-art, low-cost and accessible event produced by “people’s artists” Chris Haberman and Jason Brown and sprawling across the Ford Gallery in the Ford Building, 2505 Southeast 11th Avenue. Now in its ninth year, The Big 500 is actually more than that – 500+ Portland area artists, each creating 8 x 8 inch pieces on wood panels, each piece for sale for $40. More than 5,000 works will be on hand, and besides putting some cash in local artists’ pockets, the event raises money for the Oregon Food Bank, which can put it to extremely good use.

The sale kicks off at 2 p.m. Saturday and continues through December 23. It’s a pretty wild scene, with all sorts of stuff at all sorts of levels of accomplishment, and it’s more than a bit of a crap shoot: you might walk in and find ten pieces you absolutely must have for the people on your list, or you might strike out. Either way, the sheer volume of objects is pretty amazing. And what you spend here stays here. You’re welcome.

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‘Tis the season to be Liberace and Liza

Saffert and Harris team up at CoHo in a camp comedy parody of pop culture's great glitter duo

I recommend bringing a pair of sunglassses to A Liberace and Liza Christmas at CoHo Theater. It’s not the glow of the holidays that’ll strike your eyes, but the universe of sequins donned by Liberace and Liza.

The dynamic duo, performed by David Saffert and Jillian Snow Harris, pull out all the stops in a fast-paced cabaret show. Good-natured and slightly off-cuff jokes make the most of the night. When Harris’s 1970s Liza Minelli, the Liza who was a pillhead, a drunk, and stockpiling cocaine with Martin Scorsese, enters Liberace’s stage, he says in his sweetest voice: “It’s wonderful that you finally showed up.”

Snow Harris played Liza in Triangle Production’s Liza Liza Liza! earlier this year, and she has the talented emotional mess down pat. Harris’s performance this time around is the darker and wiser Liza. She’s sexy and confused. She hits her dance points like a pro, but almost trips, as Liza did when she was on her way down, joining the aged Rat Pack on tours before she became a recluse in the ’80s.

The dynamic dup. Photo: JoAnne Jardine

The dynamic dup. Photo: JoAnne Jardine

The chemistry between the imagined pair gives off the sparks of a well-programmed Vegas act that’s being prepared for a television special. Saffert’s Liberace makes plenty of eye contact and bears a wide-mouthed grin, but like the real Liberace you can tell it’s all an act. There’s some repression, some sadness, weighing down the talent. It’s the delicious sarcasm that was reined in by the good manners of the stage that made comedy what it was in the late ’60s through the ’70s. It allowed us to laugh at ourselves, but with a good-hearted kick to the pants. Where Liberace is the straight man in this act, Liza is the joke. She sings the gold hits from the musical Cabaret and in a winsome voice lets the audience know they’re her favorite Christmas songs.

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