The ArtsWatch Calendar: February 14-28/Rothko, “Giselle,” more

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1957, oil on canvas, (c) 2011 Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko

This week, ArtsWatch is starting something new, a two-week calendar of arts events, mostly in Portland, but stretching out to the rest of the state for some key events, such as the start of the new season at Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

We know that lots of more exhaustive calendars are out there. We list many of them on our home page. We’re not trying to duplicate them or provide yet more events than they provide. But we have heard from readers that some sort of “curated” list might be valuable, so that’s what we’re taking a shot at doing — a quick sketch of things for the next couple of weeks, just so you know what’s going on, even if you aren’t going to it all (which you couldn’t possibly do!).

If we were going to pare it down to the bone? Well, the city’s mini-Rothko celebration is about to start, with a Portland Art Museum-generated retrospective of the one-time Portlander’s career supported by a production of “Red,” at Portland Center Stage, which depicts Mark Rothko in 1958-59 as he prepares a famous set of murals for the Four Seasons restaurant. Throw in the four hours of the Rothko-inspired Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 2, and bang, you’ll be fully drenched in Rothko.

We should also point out that the Portland International Film Festival is roaring right along and that the Portland Jazz Festival comes honking into life on Friday, but we’re betting you knew that already.


Elizabethan Oregon

“Romeo and Juliet” and others, Feb. 17-Nov. 4, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland: The venerable OSF begins another attractive season under innovative artistic director Bill Rauch with this core Shakespeare tragedy, and the other three plays that open the season are alluring for various reasons, too — “Animal Crackers,” “Seagull” and “The White Snake.” Previews begin Feb. 17, opening night is Feb. 24.

“Twelfth Night,” Feb. 17-March 4, Portland Actors Conservatory, 1436 SW Montgomery St. (previews Feb. 15-16): With “Shakespeare’s Amazing Cymbeline” now playing at Portland Center Stage and OSF starting up, you may want to have yourself a mini-Shakespeare fest, especially if you’re thinking of heading to Twilight Repertory Theatre’s “The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice.” Especially since “Cymbeline” corrupts (or at least borrows) from all of them. Portland Actors Conservatory is an actors training school, so you’ll be able to see tomorrow’s Shakespeareans today under the direction of Michael Fisher-Welsh, who once made a fine “Hamlet” himself.

We are fertile ground: World premiere

“Day of the Docent,” Feb. 17-March 10, CoHo Theatre: Ebbe Roe Smith, who more or less invented the “angry white man,” with his screenplay for the 1993 film “Falling Down,” is a writing and acting double threat, and as the title implies, “The Day of the Docent” is a noir parody about a couple of down-outers who want to change their lives by writing a movie script, and of course, kidnap a screenwriter to help them out. Laura Faye Smith and Casey McFeron star with Smith. World premiere.

Really big shows

“Red,” Feb. 21-March 18, Portland Center Stage: John Logan’s bio-play (and winner of 6 Tony awards) about Mark Rothko, one of the many Western artists who migrated to New York and founded Abstract Expressionism, has special resonance here, because Rothko was born in Portland, and the Portland Art Museum is opening a show of his work. The fabulous Daniel Benzali stars as Rothko. Want to keep up with our Rothko festival? Here’s the link.

“Griot New York,” Garth Fagan Dance, Feb. 22, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, White Bird: Fagan dancers are always beautiful, athletic and sinuous, and “Griot New York,” a collaboration between Fagan, Wynton Marsalis and sculptor Martin Puryear, takes them through a variety of dance forms — African, jazz, ballet, Caribbean and modern. And it’s been considered a masterpiece since it premiered in 1991.

“Giselle,” Feb. 25-March 3, Oregon Ballet Theatre: “Giselle” has been with us since 1841, proving just how much staying-power a spooky, romantic ghost story can have. (A lesson Hollywood has adapted to its own purpose$.) For this version of the ballet, Romantic-era ballet expert Lola de Avila will be creating a world premiere staging of the story on a lush set from Florence with the full OBT orchestra in support.


Honoring the alt.godfather

“One Hundred Years of John Cage, Feb. 17, FearNoMusic, YU, 800 SE 10th Avenue: The veteran new music ensemble celebrates composer/cultural change agent John Cage’s centennial with performances of some of his most intriguing and provocative works, occurring simultaneously in different spaces. Audience members are free to roam the art center and perhaps chance upon some of the 20th century’s most pro-/con-found (ing) music.

Classic Itzhak

Oregon Symphony, Feb. 18-9, 25, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. On the 18th and 19th, eloquent pianist Jeffrey Kahane is the soloist in Mozart’s grand Piano Concerto #25, and the program also includes music by English composers Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams. One of the world’s legendary violinists, Itzhak Perlman, joins the orchestra in Mendelssohn’s popular second Violin Concerto in the Feb. 25 concert, which also includes music by Brahms and Schubert.

Collaborations is us

“Be Gone, Dull Care,” Feb. 19, Music at Trinity, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 147 NW 19th Avenue: Lighting effects and clever staging turn the grand cathedral into a collection of installation/performance spaces featuring vocal ensembles In Mulieribus and Cappella Romana, koto (a Japanese lute) virtuosa Mitsuki Dazai, Portland Cello Project, and musicians from the Oregon Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra and other groups, plus Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen. They’ll perform words and music by Hildegard of Bingen, W.H. Auden, J.S. Bach and others.

The 4-hour string quartet? Sure!

Vertical Thoughts: String Quartet No. 2 by Morton Feldman, 2-6 pm, Feb. 24, Third Angle, Ellen Bye Studio Theater, Portland Center Stage: Nothing will prepare you for the expanses of Mark Rothko’s abstract canvases quite like listening to Feldman’s equally expansive String Quartet No. 2, all four hours of it. No need to be obsessive, though. You can come and go from the performance by Third Angle as you like.

Live, from the City of Choruses

“The Peaceable Kingdom,” Feb. 25-26, Choral Arts Ensemble, First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th Ave.: The excellent choir sings songs of peace and love by 20th century American choral composers.

Portland Vocal Consort, Feb. 25-26, Portland’s First Presbyterian Church and Pacific University in Forest Grove: In what’s one of the state’s most valuable annual concerts, some of the Portland area’s finest singers perform contemporary works by some of the Northwest’s finest living composers.

More alt.godfather

Adam Tendler, Feb. 27, Lincoln Recital Hall, Portland State University: The pianist performs one of the 20th century’s musical landmarks — John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano. Free.

Mediaeval sublime

Trio Mediaeval, Feb. 28, St. Philip Neri Church: The sublime Oslo-based trio returns with a reconstructed medieval mass, Swedish and Norwegian folk songs, and music by the great contemporary English composer Gavin Bryars.

We do jazz

Portland Jazz Festival, Feb. 17-26, various venues: Too many great concerts to list, but highlights include drum legend Roy Haynes, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, guitar greats Bill Frisell and Charlie Hunter, singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, pianist Vijay Iyer, trumpeter Enrico Rava, and a rich panoply of Portland’s own superb improvisers and composers, led by a tribute to veteran trumpeter and teacher Thara Memory.

A set from Eugene

Oregon String Quartet, Feb. 21, Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon: The UO’s faculty foursome embarks on a complete survey of Beethoven’s magnificent string quartets.

Dutch Masters, Feb. 24, Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon: Three of the legends of Baroque music arrive from the Netherlands to play music of several Bachs and a Telemann.

Eugene Concert Choir, Eugene Symphony, Feb. 25, Hult Center: The city’s top singers and players convene to perform one of history’s great pacifist works, Benjamin Britten’s 1962 War Requiem.

Visual Arts

The biggest artist with an important PDX connection

Mark Rothko, Feb. 18-May 27, Portland Art Museum: Organized for the museum by its curator of modern and contemporary art Bruce Guenther, this exhibition of 40 paintings spans Rothko’s career, from his days as a figurative painter in the ‘20s to his emergence as a Titan of Abstract Expressionism in the the ‘40s to his death in 1970. Rothko lived in Portland after emigrating from Russia at the age of 13, attended Lincoln High School and then left for Yale and the art world beyond.

The Portland art primer

Portland2012, Feb. 26-May 19, Disjecta: Curated by Prudence Roberts, this biennial exhibition by the advanced contemporary art outpost, Disjecta, spreads itself to various locations throughout the city, from Disjecta itself in Kenton to Marylhurst College and PCC Rock Creek with stops downtown, too. Look at the schedule closely, because different venues open on different days.

Installation by modern art hero

Joseph Beuys, through May 27, Portland Art Museum: Joseph Beuys features the monumental environmental work, Blitzschlag mit Lichtschein auf Hirsch (Lightning with Stag in its Glare), 1958-1985, along with select multiples.

Strange and possibly wonderful

Reinsch, Perini, fortes-schramm, and Glendening & Starin, Feb. 18, Place. This evening of performance by a handful of Portland artists includes “As-Is” by Michael Reinsch who will only perform and/or make objects if the audience pays for his time…minute by minute

Video is an art form

“Bruce Nauman, Going Solo,” Feb.17, Reed College Chapel: Robert Slifkin of the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU lectures on the film and video works of Bruce Nauman followed by a reception at the Cooley Gallery. Bruce Nauman, Basements, through March 9, The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College: Created when he was at the San Francisco Art Institute between 1967 and 1969, Bruce Nauman’s studio films (16 mm as well as video) are based on gestural exercises, drawn “scores,” and live performances.

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