It feels like a home decor kind of day over on MOD, where between the new collection from Pigeon Toe Ceramics and a revamped online Sword + Fern, we're overloading on the potential of a blank wall. Click over to see what we're getting into.
There's been a hole in Portland's boutique world while Emily Baker's Sword + Fern—beloved by natives and tourists for its intelligent jumble of unique jewelry, small home goods, locally produced apothecary, and assorted treasures—has been closed for renovations. There's still about a month to go before the doors re-open, but today Baker is launching a new web site, with expanded e-commerce capabilities, and has also announced a monthly art event, curiously titled "DISCOVERe'verer."
Perhaps taking a lead from 811 E Burnside neighbor Nationale, which routinely blurs the line between shop and art space, DISCOVERe'verer will launch "a blend of guest curating and art installation" by a selected artist every First Friday, to remain up through the month. Her list of committed participants is pretty baller; another reason to anticipate the re-opening later this month:
—Claudia Meza, Musician/Composer (Stay Calm, ex-Explode Into Colors)
—Anna Korte, AK VIntage
—Jason Rens, Supermaker
—Kati Von Lehman, PLANE/Air
—Jen Oleson, ex-booker for Valentine's, AIKA music curator
—Helmy Membreno, PICA
—Valentine Freeman, Ace Hotel Creative Director/Blogger
I saw Artists Rep's farcical spy comedy Red Herring last weekend. Haven't gotten around to writing about it sooner because it's very much one of those "not for me, but other people will like it" shows—hard to muster up the energy to say "meh." Mercury readers might not be the target demo for this one, but at last Sunday's matinee, everyone in the room *fucking loved it.*
Red Herring is a spoofy thriller about a hard-boiled lady detective, her FBI-agent lover, and a hapless scientist turned spy who just happens to be engaged to Joe McCarthy's daughter. There are lots of hijinks and mistaken identities and star-crossed lovers; the whole thing can fairly be described as a "romp."
The biggest problem with Artists Rep's production, other than a frankly mediocre and needlessly sentimental script, was the pacing. What should have been a madcap piling of absurd joke upon absurd joke instead went more like "absurd joke... [pause for scene change]." The audience really shouldn't be allowed that much time to reflect on characters or plot—because those things are broad-stroked and sketchy, and don't hold up to scrutiny particularly well.
Here are a few things you can expect from the show.
Vana O'Brien stealing every single scene she's in. She's so good.
Lots of WOMEN, amirite men?? type jokes. 'Cause marriage.
Leif Norby just fucking nailing a range of bit characters. (More funny roles for him, please.)
A surprisingly miscast Michael Mendleson.
Audience members laughing so hard they begin openly weeping, while your friendly neighborhood theater critic looks on in bemusement.
Red Herring runs through March 23 at Artists Rep. More info and tickets here.
This is a sad end to a long run of not just music but extraordinarily varied arts programming at the venue. Here's hoping some of that continues on in whatever the Someday's next incarnation will be. Here follows a statement from the owners:
Through Sunday, March 17, Someday Lounge will offer its final nights of entertainment before closing its red curtains indefinitely on March 18. We are extremely proud to have played a role in the robust performance community of Portland, Oregon. Our experiences here and relationships with artists, promoters, dancers, charities,our wonderful staff and supporters are sure to remain vibrant memories for the rest of our lives. Those of us who remain in the area are excited to continue participating in various capacities as community builders and service providers to our city, the most creative city in the country. Thank you to everyone who performed here or supported us over the last six years in any way. Following is a schedule of our remaining events. We hope that you will come out and enjoy the room with us a time or two in the next couple of weeks. Be well.For a look at the events happening at the Someday before it closes, take a look at their Facebook event page.
It's two nights ago, and what do I find after a long day of slaving over a warm laptop at the Mercury? Why, a pile of discarded arts tax mailers.
That’s right. A pile of thrown-out mailers exhorting Portlanders to pay the new $35-per-income-earner arts tax was sitting in the trashcan directly beneath my apartment building’s mailboxes. A tax that was designed to fund arts programs at Portland schools and nonprofits, and a tax that, yes, 61 percent of us voted for in November.
Now, I don’t want to think of these thrown out pleas for revenue as a sign of things to come. But assuming the four discarded mailers are indeed portentous, then, as many have suspected, the city is going to have a hell of a time getting people to pay. And they really, really want people to pay. (They set up a website and everything, albeit one that doesn’t take debit cards—and charges a buck if you want to use a credit card.)
The thing is the city knows not everyone is going to pay, just like my building's trashcan kind of proves.
So let’s assume for a moment my trashcan is in fact a representative sample—it’s not, this is very unscientific and my math skills aren't much better than a third-grader's, but stay with me. There are 14 units in my building. I saw four discarded mailers. In this scenario each thrown-away mailer represents someone who either doesn't know about the tax, doesn't want to pay the tax, or thought the mailer was just more junk mail (which seems very likely). This means roughly 28 percent of my building probably isn’t going to shell out for the city.
It's another First Friday (I guess the kids are calling it 1F these days, so that's a thing), so if you're going to be out enjoying the inner east side's relatively accessible parking, parties, and art, make Union/Pine one of your stops for Art of Garment. Unlike your typical fashion show, this is a static display of "sketches and renderings, pattern pieces, and finished works" from designers Emily Katz, Heather Treadway, R.A.W. Textiles, and current Project Runway contestant Michelle Franklin. Also, if you missed Treadway's Hits of Sunshine presentation at Disjecta a while back, she'll be showing four pieces from the costumes she designed for the multimedia performance/installation. Drop in from 7-11 tonight.
Until tax season, apparently. The city's complicated $35-per-income-earner tax is coming due this April 15, and officials in Portland's revenue bureau today unveiled a new website, artstax.net, they really, really, really want you to use to pay your bill. And the city really, really, really wants you to go online by March 25, so it can scrub your name off the list of households due to receive a paper form in the mail.
As Willamette Week has reported, the city anticipates spending more than $1 million of the tax's expected $9 million in revenues collection. So, yeah, every bit saved on postage counts.
"We tried to create a convenient payment option that helps avoid the cost and environmental impact of mailing paper forms, thus maximizing the money to local schools and non-profits,” Revenue Bureau director Thomas Lannom said in a release.
The site comes a little more than a week after KATU kicked up a modest fuss by asking how things were moving along all these months after election day. The station was something would be up by March 4.
As for how much you owe and whether you have to pay or not? Good luck getting out of it. Anyone who earned taxable income in 2012—even if that income came from unemployment checks—has to pay. Unless, that is, your household income fell under the federal poverty line. Which it might have. But probably not, since the poverty line is comically low. You can also try to lie. But that would make you a bad person. So don't.
Update 5:15 PM: I've asked the Revenue Bureau about this comment from Erik...
Go do it. Now.
TAL's reporters spent five months at Chicago's Harper High, a school which last year saw 29 shootings of current and recent students. Violent gangs, the show explains, are not something these students "join": Gang affiliation is determined by which neighborhood a student's family lives in, and it's essentially compulsory. Kids walk home from school in the middle of the street because it feels safer than taking the tree-lined sidewalks; administrators must decide whether to cancel the Homecoming dance after a shooting; and counselors pour incredible amount of themselves into helping students who are profoundly traumatized by the amount of violence they've seen.
It's just ridiculously good, important storytelling set at the intersection of gun violence and the sorry state of our nation's schools. Listen to the first episode here.
I've spent the past two weeks at the coast: First Neskowin, for an annual family beach trip, and then up to Astoria for the 16th annual Fisher Poets Gathering.
I learned two things.
Thing 1: An Oregon company called Pronto Pup claims to have invented the corndog. The above poster hung in the house we rented in Neskowin. It was a source of some fascination, for obvious reasons. (Why are the tiny corn dogs wearing sombreros?) You can't quite see it, but the small text at the bottom of the poster reads "Home Office, Pronto Pup Co, Portland 12, Oregon." So we did some research:
Early in 1941, George and Vera Boyington's dreams became reality when their ingenious Pronto Pup became a nation-wide hit, revolutionizing America's fast-food industry and kicking off the franchise craze.
The Pups are plump and tasty hot dogs on a stick, coated with the special batter and deep-fried to a golden brown. Most of us have sampled and savored Pronto Pups at carnivals, county fairs and even at main street vendors. An off-brand version is commonly known to the uninitiated as corndogs.
Some casual Googling suggests that the corndog was not, in fact, "invented" in Oregon, but that Pronto Pup certainly helped to popularize it. The company is still around, selling corndog mix and other deep-fryer based foods.
Thing 2: Astoria's Fisher Poets Gathering is an amazing thing. The festival, which just celebrated its 16th year, draws fisher-folk from around the world to share poetry, songs, and stories about their work. Oregon Arts Watch has a great long article which really captures the gathering's flavor and appeal. This year was my first visit, and—though I am naggingly aware that people like me will probably be the death of this thing—I will most certainly be back.
Subthing: The Columbian Cafe is the greatest place ever.
You may have seen the work of Portland surface design studio Pattern People at art events like Content or on their own on the walls of gallery spaces, or through big clients like Stussy, Nike, and Old Navy. They are scarily talented and it's no wonder everyone wants a piece. Their latest collaboration is with none other than REIF, one of the most promising and exciting small apparel companies in the city. When they get together it looks something like this:
Click over to MOD for more of the eye candy and info on the upcoming launch party.
The words I would use to explain the reason are limp in comparison to the video below and the epic NSFW photos after the jump.
Know Your City!
As announced last week at their annual fundraiser The Perfect Pickle, local history nonprofit the Dill Pickle Club has rechristened themselves Know Your City. Less memorable, sure, but also more on-message, and it would translate well to other cities, should they ever decide to branch out.
Most of the time when I talk about Julia Barbee it's in the context of fashion design. Her apparel and accessories helped to define Portland's independent design scene during the Seaplane heyday, and she currently works out of a tiny shop on the back side of 811 E Burnside. Her pieces are wonderful, wild amalgams of found and vintage materials (she was up-cycling before that was a real thing), and in recent years she's also earned a master's degree in studio art and taken up perfuming, self portraiture (her series on losing teeth following a bike accident is... bracing), and sculpture. It all melds together into a distinct aesthetic, often employing animal hides and crystals in the process. This month she's brought her touch to the window display at Demimonde—a tiny shop of jewelry, antiques, and tons of inspiring doodads that should never be overlooked—with an installation, an excerpt of which can be seen here:
Eschewing the schedule of firsts and lasts that most of the city's art world revolved around, there's a reception scheduled to officially debut the installation on Wednesday, Feb 13 (6-9 pm). It also doubles as a trunk show of some of her latest accessory designs—hop over to MOD for a look at some of what to expect.
In this week's paper, I wrote about how, as part of a general organizational overhaul, local history & activism nonprofit the Dill Pickle Club is poised to change their name to something that sounds a little bit less like a Portlandia punchline.
They're announcing the new name tomorrow at their annual fundraiser The Perfect Pickle, an all-around action-packed night featuring a pickle contest and samplings, music, presentations from Dill Pickle Club partners, and emcee A.C. Dickson.
Advance tickets to tomorrow's show are available here
I've got two pairs of tickets to give away to The Perfect Pickle. To win, email me by 3 pm today with "Dill Pickle Club" in the headline and your best suggestion for the organization's new name in the body.
The sweet jumble of home goods and vintage clothing that is eclectic shop Lowell is one of those amazing little unique local businesses that feels entirely personal and somewhat whimsical: It's less of a place to specifically go to find, like, spoons than to just wander into and see what appeals to you. It may turn out to be an antique Oaxacan vase, a rug, a vintage flight jacket or... spoons. These kind of magpie environs make it an obvious venue for art shows, but the one scheduled to debut on February 28 (reception 6-9 pm, up through March 28) reaches beyond the visual to appeal to buffs of history, film, theater, and (even) circus.
"The Long Road- Theater, Film, and Circus posters of Poland and the USSR 1950's-1970's" is a pretty self-explanatory title, but some specifics: The display is an excerpt from the private collection of Jason Leonard, who owns the Affiche Studio, which restores poster and other paper-based memorabilia for museums, galleries and collectors around the world, which is pretty fascinating in itself. The show will include, "the Polish poster for the French film LOLA (1967) by Jacques Demy, starring Anouk Aimee... the Russian film poster for The Long Road (1956)... a Polish theater poster for FAUST (1964)." If that sounds like the kind of thing you might fall in love with, know that the "private collection" part doesn't mean they're not for sale; on the contrary, they've all been restored and linen-backed for your wallet-busting pleasure.
Last Friday at the warehouse formerly known as Worksound (820 SE Alder), members of Portland's art community came together for Not So Quiet, "a curated evening of dance, music, literary readings, conversation, and hand crafted cocktails." The event marked the start of fundraising efforts for the recently-announced NOW Portland Triennale, a once-every-three-years art showcase that, according to official PR, "[aims] to bring a selection of international curators and artists to Portland for a series of exhibitions in the summer of 2015."
At the helm of the team organizing NOW is former Worksound director and local educator Modou Dieng— working alongside Matty Byloos, Jane Kate Wood, Nina Reynolds, Rebecca Steele, and Jason DoizÉ— and if Friday night was evidence of what's to come, the team has a curatorial eye worth getting excited about: the evening featured paintings by Portland's Jason Traeger and video by San Francisco's Anne Colvin, readings by local poets Barry Sanders and Matthew Dickman, contemporary dance from San Francisco's Renee Rhodes, and live music by local ambient-noise gurus, Golden Retriever.
Though, as strong as Friday's lineup was, the point of NOW isn't so much to feature regional talent as it is to, in the words of NOW "committee collective" member Jane Kate Wood, "bring the rich culture of the Pacific Northwest in conversation with the international creative and intellectual community."
While local art events like PICA's Time-Based Art festival and Disjecta's Portland Biennial have broken ground in this area— TBA collects local and international artists under a single, curatorial banner, and the Portland Biennial highlights local art in a format worthy of outside attention— neither focus primarily on bringing the international art community to Portland. Which is to say, there's room to grow in terms of how Portland interfaces with the larger art world, and NOW is designed to do just that.
But what are NOW's organizers doing to make The City That Could's international art dreams come true?
In my ongoing battle to add something other than snark to the Internet I'm going to start a series about Acts of Unadulterated Awesomeness. I'll feature people, things, and ideas that are completely terrific even if everybody else already knew about them but me.
 Near a coffee shop I hang out in, there's a wifi hotspot called "Pretty Fly For a Wifi." I want to connect to it just to feel like I'm part of something great. Now I've heard tell there are other people around the world with this wifi name, but that doesn't bother me. It just means there's a tie for greatest human ever.
 Tiny horses chained to sidewalk. Old news, I know, but new ones keep popping up and every time it makes me giggle. Every. Time. Keep it up, tiny horse whisperer.
 The army of people who powerwash the sidewalks downtown every night so it doesn't always smell like urine. Keep it up, you guys. You're doing God's work.
 Succulents in weird shaped glass jars. This is also old news but I still like them. Whoever is spritzing them and finding the weird jars, good job.
 Skylines. We've got a great combination of a good looking town and a bunch of talented artists. My two current favorites are Matt Hopkin's backdrop for my show which he made using a lot of painter's tape:
and Ursula Barton's drippy ones that I first saw at Crafty Wonderland.
As I've noted before, the best part of the Tri-City Herald's website is that it has an entire section devoted to the tattoos of Tri-Citizens. They're in the "Entertainment" section!
The last time I reminded you of this important fact, the subjects of the various tattoos included everything from Captain America to lupus. But those were the Tri-City Tattoos of 2012—which means that now, those tattoos are old and busted. Now it's 2013. Now it's time for some new hotness. The Tri-City Herald knows this. Of course the Tri-City Herald knows this. Let's do this.
Also, okay, fine: Is this—presumably the first—gallery of 2013 Tri-City Tattoos as impressive as the Tri-City Herald's earlier tattoo galleries? No. Or rather: Not yet. But remember this: 2013 is young..
Portland's newest art gallery, Eutectic, is opening this Friday (6 pm) with its first show, Kelly Garrett Rathbone's "Lost Mariposas." An outlier in the west side-dominated Portland gallery world, it's located at 1930 NE Oregon, just a couple blocks north of Sandy (and spitting distance from the Mercury's former offices), and it specifically aims to showcase contemporary ceramics exclusively. Rathbone's setting the tone with a display of work that's leaps and bounds away from a roomful of minimalist vases, though, to say the least. More like this please:
I have two pairs of tickets to give away to "Russian Roulette," the newest show from the brainiacs behind Portland storytelling series Back Fence, PDX.
This marks the debut of a new format for Back Fence: A theme will be selected by the audience from a pre-determined list, and a storyteller will be chosen at random to tell a true five-minute story on that theme.
As an added bonus, it'll be the first public appearance of Sarah Mirk as a former employee of the Mercury—Sarah's joined in the storytelling lineup by graphic novelist Nicole J. Georges (who's reading from her new book tonight at Powell's), Bad Reputation Productions' Shelley McLendon, The Making of South Park: 6 Days to Air director Arthur Bradford, designer Adam Arnold, and others.
The show is tomorrow night at the Mission Theater; to win tickets, email me with "Russian Roulette" in the subject line by 10 am tomorrow. Winners will be emailed by 10:30 or so.
As the local theater community waits to find out if the Theater Communications Group will hold their 2014 conference in Portland, our visual arts scene just got a boost that's just as significant: This morning, PICA announced the formation of the Precipice Fund, a $75,000 pool funded by the Warhol Foundation which will go to support "Portland-based unincorporated visual art collectives, alternative spaces, and collaborative projects." Translation: Small, under-the-radar arts organizations that may have trouble qualifying for more traditional grants.
PICA will administer the fund in the form of 15-20 microgrants ranging from $500-$5,000. The Warhol Foundation has committed to backing Precipice for at least two years, with the possibility of extending their commitment further.
From the press release:
The Precipice Fund will deliver support to unincorporated visual artist groups, informal organizations, and initiatives based in Portland, Oregon, who are presenting new work in informal, but significant ways. Recipients must have a public presence, intersect with diverse audiences, and contribute to the vitality of contemporary art practice.
Oregon Arts Watch has a more in-depth look at the grant, including details on how it'll be administered. Application details will be available April 1—check in with PICA's website for more details as that date approaches.
Multidisciplinary artist Emily Katz, whether working in apparel design or fiber art—her two most frequented mediums, along with music, poetry, food, and beyond—has been feeling a somnambulant, balletic vibe lately, expressed in layers of pale tulle and linens marked with the erratic narratives of freehand embroidery. Her latest is art of the hang-able sort, a show called "In Dreams" at the OG Stumptown on SE Division (4525 SE Division, to be specific). In it she describes an experimental process of "cutting out shapes and forms, faces, and hands. Cutting them out of the bigger picture and displacing them. Sometimes dreams feel that way, you are in one place and it is beautiful, and then immediately you are somewhere else, with no explanation." The results are very pretty:
breaking away from the First/Last Thursday/Friday etc. crowds, Katz is having an opening reception for the new work this coming Sunday from 4-6 pm, offering something soothing for the caffeinated southeast crowds to calm themselves.
This Friday, January 18th, marks both the 3rd anniversary and farewell show for SinnSavvy Productions' Rosehip Revue Burlesque showcase—a bittersweet but nonetheless sexy occasion to be celebrated in the usual spirit at the Star Theater. Performances are promised from the reigning Burlesque Hall of Fame's King of Burlesque, Russell Bruner; Angelique DeVil; Lane Louche; and my personal favorite duo, Burlesquire (they're freaking insane, and I'm pretty sure it's impossible not to have a good time when they're onstage). This is your last chance to see one of the greatest local groups of burlesque professionals onstage together, so check it out.
And of course, I've got the hookup for you loyal Blogtown fans. One lucky reader will score two free tickets to this glorious finale, courtesy of big-time Portland burlesque sponsor Drambuie Liqueur. Just e-mail your name to our editor here with "STRIPTEASE" in the subject line (just to keep it fun) and we'll randomly pick you if you are, indeed, destined to have the free-est and best boob-filled Friday night of your life. Deadline for this contest is noon tomorrow (Thursday, January 17), so try your luck, and see you there regardless (doors at 8, and the show starts at 9). Tickets are $13 and available here or in person at Metro on SE Hawthorne at 35th. The Rosehip Revue was the first burlesque show I ever attended, and I'll always have a special place in my heart for its special brand of humor and incredible performers.
Although the question-asking really goes both ways. In fact, the piece starts with a question from Dunham. July's introduction to this Interview interview begins:
A couple of weeks ago, Lena Dunham and I met for dinner. As soon as we'd placed our orders at a French-ish cafÉ in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles, we plunged into a conversation about love between girls—both platonic and romantic. I began to describe my first real relationship, which was with a girl, and Lena immediately asked, "How did you feel about her vagina?" A few days later, I was telling this to an old friend, and the old friend said, "I've known you for 20 years and I've never thought to ask you that. . . How did you feel about her vagina?" Of course, Lena always goes straight for the most interesting thing, the thing you really want to know, even if it seems too intimate or too silly or too gross...
So how did July feel about her girlfriend's vagina? "Terrific. I felt terrific about it. I thought of it as a warm Danish from an expensive pastry shop."
Read their whole conversation right here.
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