ArtsWatch Weekly: vote, and other opportunities

Looking back, looking ahead: a week's worth of theater, dance, music, film, and art in and around Portland

After all that feuding and fussing it’s election day, and nothing on this week’s calendar is more important. In Oregon, with its vote-by-mail elections, that means today is last chance, not first chance. Remember, ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Tuesday, not just postmarked by today. That means it’s too late to mail your ballot: You’ll need to drop it off. You can do that at your branch library and other designated spots. If you haven’t turned your ballot in yet, stop reading this right now and get ‘er done. If your vote is safely cast, scroll on down and take a look at a few visual reminders that the United States has been doing this for a long time. Except for the Bingham painting, the images come from the Library of Congress’s 2012 book Presidential Campaign Posters: 200 Years of Election Art:

"The County Election," George Caleb Bingham, 1852, oil on canvas, 38 x 52 inches, Saint Louis Art Museum

“The County Election,” George Caleb Bingham, 1852, oil on canvas, 38 x 52 inches, Saint Louis Art Museum




Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival. The 43rd edition of the Northwest Film Center’s annual regional showcase runs Thursday through Tuesday at the Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium and Portland State University’s nearby 5th Avenue Cinema and Skype Live Studio. Shorts, features, and documentaries ranging from the battle over water rights to an internet horror tale to life in a modern medieval village.

Epoch. An evening of new dance from Samuel Hobbs (November) of push/FOLD and ArtsWatch dance columnist Jamuna Chiarini (The Kitchen Sink), with music by Hobbs and Lisa DeGrace. Friday and Saturday, BodyVox Dance Center.

Opening a space for modern piano music. Claire Sykes looks ahead to The Clearing, Portland Piano International’s four-day festival of post-World War II music, opening Thursday. PPI’s artistic leader Arnaldo Cohen tells Sykes: “When you’re clear, you’re open-minded, you can see clearly, think clearly, and play clearly, cleared of any negativity. .. For me, “clearing” also has to do with freshness. We have to clear out the old to make way for the new.”

The Last Bell Rings for You. One of Portland’s leading dance/performance experimentalists, Linda Austin, and her dancers perform a new large-scale work that will also include a host of community members, some with no dance experience but the workshops leading up to the show. Music by John Berendzen. Sunday through Nov. 20 at Shaking-the-Tree.








Go for Warhol’s Pop stylings, stay for Corita Kent’s Power Up. Paul Sutinen finds a connection in the Portland Art Museum’s big Warhol show and its much less ballyhooed show of Kent’s art from roughly the same time and a different Pop sensibility. “What Warhol did best was to find in popular culture the iconic image and to make it his own,” he writes, and then: “Kent was attuned to the world of advertising and graphic design, carefully selecting key phrases and images and combining them with quotations from sources such as Martin Luther King, Jr., e.e. Cummings, James Joyce, or Navajo prayer.”

Carole King’s Beautiful: skin deep. Brett Campbell loves King’s music and wishes the Broadway musical, which stopped in Portland last week, were more dramatic and attuned to the essence of her songs: “That’s pretty much Beautifulit brings us the songs that made Carole King a star, but it doesn’t bring us Carole King.”

Half a bright life: an unfinished tale. Marty Hughley reviews Bright Half Life, the final show in Profile Theatre’s season of Tanya Barfield plays, and likes what he sees. But where, he wonders, is the other half?

XX Digitus Duo: the sound of twenty fingers dancing. A.L. Adams celebrates the sound and attitude of the Portland piano duo: “Nerds for the four-hand form, they’ve collected hard-to-find pieces from artists all over the world who’ve experimented with it.”

The Nitemare B4 Xmas: cinema to stilts. Matthew Andrews digs beneath the whys and wherefores of the city’s fifth annual live adaptation of Tim Burton and Danny Elfman’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, a project that “elevates the beloved film’s strangeness to new heights.”

Polaris sums up fifteen years. In DanceWatch Weekly, Jamuna Chiarini chats with Robert Guitron, who founded Polaris with Sara Anderson in 2002, about how it all began, how it’s grown, and the 350-odd new pieces created along the way. (The anniversary show Reclaimed continues Thursday through Saturday.)





Oregon Symphony: heroic journeys. Matthew Andrews writes: “Unlike the closing work …, Richard Strauss’s 1898 tone poem Ein HeldenlebenAndrew Norman’s 2015 percussion concerto, Switch, is not explicitly a hero’s journey. But, invoking video games as it does, one can’t help but sense a quest theme for these concerts.”

Oregon Symphony: disappearing act. Terry Ross, reviewing the symphony’s “powerful yet always beautifully nuanced Hallowe’en concert,” discovers three treats and a trick: a guest violinist whose “notes were lost in the orchestral texture around him when they should have led the way.”

Third Angle: memory pieces. Jeff Winslow loves the performances, if not always the music itself, in the new music ensemble’s pair of concerts by “the indefatigable pianist Susan Smith” and others of works by Steve Reich, Michael Johanson, and Timo Andres.

Fangs go deep. A.L. Adams finds a lot to like in the Oregon Children’s Theatre Young Professionals’ show about werewolves, woods, and transformations: “How do you become stronger without getting crueller, and how do you pursue love without demanding a pound of flesh? High schoolers may start to wrestle these demons, but taming them is a lifelong quest.”

Bill Frisell: starstruck memories. Daniel Heila listens to When You Wish Upon a Star, the newest album by the talented guitarist, who played in Portland and Eugene a few days ago, and finds himself thinking about Henry Mancini and Peter Gunn and Jim Jarmusch and John Zorn.








Ben Shahn portrays the 1948 Truman/Dewey/Wallace race.

Ben Shahn portrays the 1948 Truman/Dewey/Wallace race.


The How and the Why, timely and dry. “Though it would be glib to say ‘vaginas are having a political moment,’ the kind of political moment vaginas are currently having is a doozy,” A.L. Adams notes in reviewing CoHo’s new show about a mother and daughter and the science of menstruation and menopause.

November surprise at Post5. As the theater company opens a good production of the tough-minded Coyote on a Fence, a bigger drama emerges: Post5’s three artistic directors have resigned, and the company is losing its Sellwood home. Christa Morletti McIntyre reports on the show and the drama behind the show.

As You Like It: when vaudeville plays it straight. A.L. Adams finds humor and pleasure in a mostly straight-ahead version of Shakespeare’s comedy in the mostly unpredictable and edgy performance space The Steep and Thorny Way to Heaven.

First date with the family. I go to The Reading Parlor’s “first date” with the Tony-winning play The Humans and experience the script for the first time at the same time the actors do. It’s kind of a party.

Reborning: a strong debut for a new theater company. A.L. Adams reviews the first production of the new company Beirut Wedding, and discovers the producers have made “some wise moves right out of the gate.”





About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this once a week to a select group of email subscribers, and also post 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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