portland photo month

ArtsWatch Weekly: Random favors

Steven Dietz's "This Random World," Ronald K. Brown dance, Portland Photo Month, Brett Campbell's music picks of the week, Blitzen Trapper & more

Steven Dietz is one of the most famous American playwrights Broadway’s never heard of. Last year’s This Random World is his 34th produced play, and that’s not even counting his 11 adaptations – an astonishing number, approaching the total of that fellow from Stratford. Many of them have been hits on the regional theater circuit, from the Humana Festival of New Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville (where This Random World got its start) to major companies coast to coast. Except New York, where his Fiction, to make a long story short, made it to Off-Broadway’s Roundabout in 2004.

“This Random World” opens this week at Portland Actors Conservatory.

There’s little explaining a situation like this. Dietz’s plays are smart, well-shaped, actor-friendly, and on interesting topics, although they tend not to include things like falling chandeliers or singing cats. No matter. Regional audiences like them. A lot. Many of his plays have helped shape the contemporary American theater, and they move from city to city with ease: More Fun Than Bowling, Foolin’ Around with Infinity, Ten November, God’s Country, Lonely Planet, Becky’s New Car, Rancho Mirage, and more.

This weekend, This Random Life gets its West Coast premiere at Portland Actors Conservatory, and there’s reason to believe it’ll be worth a visit. This year’s class at the professional acting school has some very good talent, and it’s coming off a knockout production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ In the Blood. PAC’s talented Beth Harper is directing, and the fine veteran actor Kathleen Worley is a guest artist. Plus, it’s a secret you can keep from the Great White Way while it’s busy reliving Groundhog Day.


In the galleries: photos & more

April is Portland Photo Month, and it's a wide-angle lens: a First Thursday guide to the month's shows

Snap, crackle, pop: April is Portland Photo Month, with events and exhibitions all over town. Photolucida, which sponsors the annual celebration, has put together a handy guide to several of the photo exhibits.

Philippe Halsman, “Marilyn at the Drive-in,” 1952, gelatin silver print, 10 x 13 inches, Edition of 250. In Augen Gallery exhibit of 20th century photography.

Among the gallery shows are works by such high-profile figures as the 20th century master Minor White (in a continuing show of images of Portland 1938-1942, at the Architectural Heritage Center), Christopher Rauschenberg (photos from Poland at Elizabeth Leach), and a couple of Portland photographers who balance fine-art photography and globe-trotting photojournalism (Corey Arnold and his Aleutian Dreams at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art; Susan Seubert with Not a Day Goes By, an exploration of suicide and the choice between being and nothingness, at Froelick).


Spring has Sprung Gallery Guide

April is Portland Photo Month, but what's sculpture got to do with it?

April is Photolucida’s 5th Annual Portland Photo Month! There are many fine events and exhibitions to take part in over the next few weeks, so keep in mind the ones I mention here are only the tip of the photoberg!

Newspace Center for Photography is showing 70 portraits by Jake Shivery, North Portland native, to coincide with the release of his first monograph, which shares its title, Contact, with the exhibition series. These portraits of locals “show affection for Portland area [and its] residents.” Fittingly, the photo-oeuvre is being published by a local publishing house, One Twelve Publishing. There will be several events in conjunction with the exhibition, including an opening reception and book release on Friday, April 3. Saturday, April 18, you’ll have an opportunity to “drink with Jake” and support the Newspace mission, which will be immediately followed by a book reading artist that’s free and open to the public. Through April 26.

Re-flection by Teresa Christiansen at Pushdot Studio.

Re-flection by Teresa Christiansen at Pushdot Studio.

Natural Selections, at Pushdot Studio, will be a show of images by Teresa Christiansen from her series ‘Real Artifice.’ Her work grabbed my eye for the way she juxtaposes objects alongside and as a part of photographic backdrops and landscapes. We’re having a sculptural photography moment, but this work stands out for her use of eye-popping color and everyday objects. Opening reception is Friday, April 3 from 6-8pm. Through May 29th.

How Do I Look? isn’t a question we’ve always been able to answer with selfies. The Oregon Historical Society presents an exhibition showcasing the diversity of 19th Century photography. It’s not all pin-hole cameras and hiding under hoods, as you were taught in grade school! The exhibition will include daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, carte-de-visite, cabinet cards, and stereoviews. Don’t know what most of those words mean, and couldn’t tell someone the difference between them even if you did? Great, I’ll see you there! Through May 2.

Back to the present, Camerawork Gallery brings us works by Martin Gremm, who’s concerned with Surveillance. Photography, which originated from our desire to capture with absolute fidelity the world as we see it, also functions as a means of recording our location, dependent as the medium is on time. As our phones, cameras, games, and networks collapse even closer together, how comfortable are we with how our physical selves are increasingly tracked by remote satellite technology and represented as digital traces?  Through April 24th.

In addition, the Pacific Northwest Photography Drawers at Blue Sky Gallery presents its new crop of juried, public archive of original prints by regional contemporary photographers. And keep Thursday, April 23 open for the Photolucida Photo Walk!


Sex by Hideyuki Katsumata at Hellion

Sex by Hideyuki Katsumata at Hellion

Hellion – presents Hide in My Brain with Hideyuki Katsumata, an artist who “makes art to connect with the universe.” Whether that means something new age and spiritual, or is trendy artists speak, the work on display reflects a unique vision of alien figures that exude sexuality, and are influenced by cubism. In fact, you’re not really sure whether his figures are seducing you, or challenging you to a fight to the death, but they certainly raise the stakes and draw you in. Opening this 1st Thursday, April 2 from 6-8pm.


Florem Lacusnymphe by Hannah Newman at Pond Gallery

Florem Lacusnymphe by Hannah Newman at Pond

Pond – The notion that an eternal wilderness, a forever out-of-reach Eden, is waiting for us to arrive to pluck its lush fruit is a concept that drives our most unsustainable development. There will be more, they say, and something more beautiful than what we are destroying for strip malls. Of course they’re wrong. This life on this earth is the beautiful gem we’re supposed to be protecting, but how do we go about our lives with this knowledge and no clear way of taking a new direction? This month, Pond Gallery presents Grove, a curated, six-artist exhibition exploring these perspectives opening on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 and running through May 17th, 2015.

Floor Scraper by Mario Gallucci at OneGrand Gallery

Floor Scraper by Mario Gallucci at OneGrand

OneGrand – Earlier I mentioned that we’re in the midst of a sculptural photography moment. Counterfeit Universe is the third exhibition this month that makes my case for a pattern, and not just mere coincidence. Mario Gallucci’s work is about the copy of a copy, which is a great idea to explore in our 21st century world of endless digital repetition. How do you determine the original, or is the original passe? Do the endless copies strengthen or weaken the idea the original conveys, or is its own repetition idea enough? And how do we deal with all of this when corporations are trying to sell to us enter the picture? While you should be on the look out for “tricks and illusions,” I don’t think these are your grandfather’s trompe-l’œil paintings, even if the work is proudly work in that vein. Opening reception Friday, April 4 at 7.



Finally, here are the links to two great maps of the many galleries and art institutions of Portland that have intriguing shows beyond the scope of this brief guide:

Portland Art Dealers Association Galleries and Alliance Members

Duplex Collective’s Gallery Guide

Don’t forget to mention the shows you’re looking forward to below in the comments!