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VizArts Monthly: Textiles and true stories

Lindsay Costello's monthly roundup of shows and events in October.


It’s October, a time when textiles begin to float to the forefront of our minds. When was the last time you washed your fall coat? How do you wash it, anyway? Just when we’re beginning to consider “layering” again, Portland TextileX Month waves hello. With a fresh name and dozens of events planned, Portland TextileX Month’s New Traditions Festival, held throughout October, promises to “broaden participation, diversify perspectives, and increase [its] reach to include other cities and textile communities throughout the world.” Here in Portland, exhibitions, artist talks, and interactive experiences will drive home the sociocultural significance of the medium.

Other happenings this month revolve around a broad range of personal narratives and underrepresented viewpoints—there’s a painting exhibition by Ed Quigley, 20th-century cowboy artist, and Sarah Rara’s Lavender House, which centers rent control and resistance. At the Portland Chinatown Museum, Dean Wong depicts the ongoing gentrification of West Coast Chinatowns in a series of photographs, while Elbow Room’s residency activates the Hoffman Gallery for weekly studio practices, archiving projects, and exhibitions. There’s much to see this month, so dive into the calendar below for details.

Work by Sarah Wertzberger, image courtesy of Holding Contemporary

Portland TextileX Month: New Traditions Festival. Various dates, times, and locations throughout October.

Suggested events:

  • WEAVE / REPAIR, artist talks, and a collaborative poetic weaving. Dates throughout October. Portland State University, 1825 SW Broadway St, Portland.
    PSU has plenty of textile-centric events planned, including artist talks with Srijon Chowdhury, Jovencio de la Paz, and Ellen Lesperance. WEAVE / REPAIR invites the public to weave collective tapestries, while the Collaborative Poetic Weaving workshop is influenced by Japanese Renga poetry and Surrealist Exquisite Corpse drawings.
  • Sarah Wertzberger: Heat Wave. September 10 – October 23, 2021. Holding Contemporary, 916 NW Flanders St, Portland (by appointment).
    Wertzberger blends hand-weaving and digital techniques to create a series of textiles that reference trompe l’oeil, psychedelia, and illusion.
  • TextileX Conversation Series: Blue McCall and Vo Vo. October 20, 2021 at 6:30 PM. Virtual.
    This conversation brings together artists Blue McCall and Vo Vo in discussion of the “New Traditions” festival theme. McCall works in textile and choreography, having recently made a video and performances for musician Jan Julius, while Vo is a radical educator and artist interrogating power dynamics, oppression, imperialism, white supremacy, and colonization.
  • Linen & Indigo, a Local Love Story. October 4, 2021 at 10 AM. Vibrant Valley Farm, Sauvie Island.
    Learn about Oregon’s linen movement and Vibrant Valley Farm’s plant dye initiative on Sauvie Island by visiting indigo in the VVF field and testing fibers in a vat of indigo.
  • Tikkun Olam: Mending the Social Fabric. Mending sessions throughout October. Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, 724 NW Davis St, Portland.
    This exhibition centers artist Bonnie Meltzer’s 314-foot circumference parachute, encircled by 75 handkerchiefs embroidered with text that highlights the mending motif. Throughout the exhibition, visitors can join the artist in mending sessions to gather and process the tragedies of the last year.
Work by Sarah Rara, image courtesy Sarah Rara

Sarah Rara: Lavender House

September 24 – October 17, 2021

Oregon Contemporary


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8371 N Interstate Ave, Portland (12 PM – 5 PM, Fri-Sun)

Lavender House is a presentation of LA-based artist Sarah Rara’s work curated by Asha Bukojemsky and produced by Marathon Screenings. Rara explores housing equity by narrating the life of a tenant and her evolving relationship to the empty house next door, a rent-controlled building left uninhabited for six years, held from the market by real estate investors. Set within the cultural landscape of Los Angeles, Rara’s video work functions as an embodied history of rent control, anxiety, motherhood, and resistance within themes of auto-fiction, memoir, and psychological thriller. “Eight years ago,” says Rara, “I began recording accounts of every interaction I had with landlords and developers, compiling a substantial multi-volume binder of photographs, notes, documents. I never intended for these notes to form the basis of an artwork, I was collecting evidence to protect myself and fellow tenants from illegal evictions. But after years of observing and documenting, I began adding poems to the binder as a way of processing, as a kind of power reversal. The work poured out of me in the form of a video essay entitled Lavender House.”

Work by Georganne Deen, image courtesy Cooley Gallery

No Face, No Case: Portraiture’s Breaking

September 9 – December 5, 2021

Cooley Gallery at Reed College

3203 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland (12 PM – 5 PM Tues-Sun)

No Face, No Case: Portraiture’s Breaking, a group exhibition of painting, photography, sculpture, and video, unpacks societal issues with images of the self and others while also considering the portrait’s potential as a site of increased agency. The works featured contend with self-imagery concerns like police and government surveillance tactics and forced encounters. Students and faculty of the Reed College course “Making an Exhibition” researched and curated this exhibition. Artists featured include Laura Aguilar, Nayland Blake, Georganne Deen, Omer Fast, Ann Hamilton, Jim Hodges, Y.Z. Kami, Mariko Mori, Yasumasa Morimura, Catherine Opie, Andres Serrano, Gary Simmons, and Nari Ward. The works were donated by Peter Norton, a Reed College alumnus and philanthropist who commissioned the work of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC artists during the AIDS crisis and the Culture Wars.


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Work by Dean Wong, image courtesy Portland Chinatown Museum

Dean Wong: The Future of Chinatown

October 16, 2021 – February 6, 2022

Portland Chinatown Museum

127 NW 3rd Ave, Portland (11 AM – 4 PM Fri-Sun)

Dean Wong, a photojournalist born and raised in Seattle’s Chinatown, shares a selection of large-format, never-before-seen photographs portraying gentrification and displacement in four West Coast Chinatowns. Installed at the new Portland Chinatown Museum, The Future of Chinatown is a component of the museum’s place-based initiative Finding Chinatown. Art historian and writer Maurice Berger describes Wong’s photography as an “eloquent documentation of complex and evolving communities, neighborhoods that exist not for tourists, but as cultural, political, and historic sanctuaries for the Asian-American community.”

Work by Molly Jae Vaughan, image courtesy Fuller Rosen Gallery

Molly Jae Vaughan: After Boucher

September 11 – October 24, 2021


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Fuller Rosen Gallery

1928 NW Lovejoy St, Portland (12 PM – 5 PM, Thurs-Sun)

Molly Jae Vaughan’s solo exhibition After Boucher highlights the artist’s paintings, drawings, and lithographs, which are based on the works of 18th-century French artist François Boucher. Boucher’s technical skill is expertly replicated by Vaughan, but also rejuvenated with the inclusion of transgender bodies and mythic characters. Vaughan’s references to the opulence, aristocracy, and youthful feminine emphases of 18th century Europe fuse with her desire to articulate her gender identity. Further, Boucher’s historical imagery serves as a thematic starting point for Vaughan’s research on Western gender constructs.

Work by Elbow Room, Image courtesy Hoffman Gallery

Elbow Room Residency

September 6 – December 5, 2021

Hoffman Gallery

615 S. Palatine Hill Road, Portland (11 AM – 4 PM, Tues-Sun)


Oregon Cultural Trust

Located within Lewis and Clark College’s Hoffman Gallery, Elbow Room’s three-month residency promises weekly studio practice and programming, an ongoing archival project, and two exhibitions (dates forthcoming). Elbow Room, a “community-based progressive art studio program serving artists who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities,” was founded in 2020 to provide accessible virtual art classes while meeting social distancing requirements. Follow along with Elbow Room’s practice and programming via their Instagram, and subscribe to Hoffman Gallery’s newsletter for details on upcoming exhibitions. (You can also see Elbow Room participant Elmeater Morton’s work on view at Helen’s Costume until October 12.)

Work by Linda Austin, image courtesy Performance Works NW

Linda Austin: 3 miles of possible

Dates throughout October

Performance Works NW

3 4625 SE 67th Ave, Portland (4:30 PM – 6:15 PM, tickets required)

Linda Austin’s upcoming solo performance represents the first “mile” of 3 miles of possible, exploring the poetic and functional connections of “the possible” in a world of “fluctuating personal, material, political and artistic possibilities.” Length is measured by distance in this work, so Austin travels spatial paths expressed via giant drawings, spells, and runes. The performance features choreographies, tasks, interactions with objects, and environmental sound; 3 miles of possible focuses on movement, but the supplemental visuals, sounds, texts, and discursive interventions within the performance also push her theme of “the possible.”

Work by Ed Quigley, image courtesy Oregon Historical Society

Ed Quigley: Cowboy Artist


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September 3, 2021 – January 23, 2022

Oregon Historical Society

1200 SW Park Ave, Portland (10 AM – 5 PM Mon-Sat, 12 PM – 5 PM Sun)

Ed Quigley (1895–1984) created paintings, sketches, and sculptures illustrating unpredictable ways of life in the American West of his time; his subject matter includes cattle drives and wild horse roundups with the Yakama Nation. As a young man, Quigley worked as a riveter in Portland shipyards before studying at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago. Despite success as a commercial artist after college, Quigley missed the West, and returned in the 1930s. Quigley’s lasting friendships with members of the Yakama Nation and with various Eastern Oregonian characters served as his artistic inspiration for decades.

Work by Bruce Burris, image courtesy Schneider Museum of Art

Bruce Burris: A Shrine for a Shrine

October 5 – December 9, 2021

Schneider Museum of Art


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555 Indiana St, Ashland (10 AM – 4 PM, Tues-Thurs)

Bruce Burris’s A Shrine for a Shrine presents the embellished, bright, text-based paintings, collages and assemblages for which the artist is well-known. While Burris’s works reflect serious observations of class and philosophical divides, his approach remains exuberant, psychedelic, and unruly. (Says Burris, “I wish to present viewers with paintings and drawings that are filled with a cacophony of information and layers of images and text exposing opinions of many sides. This work is an appeal to have some empathy and to listen on occasion to those of us who experience life differently than perhaps I do.”) A Shrine for a Shrine will be accompanied by essays from Bean Gilsdorf and Patrick Collier; Burris will also present a curated exhibition by self-taught neurodiverse artists titled We Take the Long Way in the museum’s Treehaven Gallery.

Work by Gina Han, image courtesy AGENDA

Gina Han: Recollection

September 18 – October 24, 2021


4505 SE Belmont, Suite A, Portland (by appointment)

Gina Han’s Recollection, a solo exhibition following the artist’s decade-long hiatus, marks her shift from two-dimensional paintings into three-dimensional sculptural installations. In this show, carefully-created cubes are on display in plexiglass jewel boxes and arranged in intricate compositions. Han’s colored cubes can be reconfigured by viewers, granting the potential to drastically shift the installation’s appearance. Recollection references rhythm and tempo, order and chaos, spontaneity, playfulness, and the inevitability of change. Han draws from Taoist philosophy and East Asian pop culture as inspiration for these works, as well as her time spent in South America.


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Photo Joe Cantrell

Lindsay Costello is an experimental artist and writer in Portland, Oregon, with an academic background in textile research at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. Her critical writing can also be read at Hyperallergic, Art Papers, Art Practical, 60 Inch Center, this is tomorrow,and Textile: Cloth and Culture, among other places. She is the founder of plant poetics, an herbalism project, and soft surface, a digital poetry journal/residency. She is the co-founder of Critical Viewing, an aggregate of art community happenings in the Pacific NorthwestHer artistic practice centers magic, ecology, and folkways in social practice, writing, sculpture, and installation.


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