PDX weekend: embarrassment of riches

  • 25 candles for First Thursday
  • BodyVox leans horizontally
  • William Hurt and Harold Pinter duke it out
  • Wordstock throws a bookapalooza
  • Oregon Arts Watch puts on a show (times three)
  • A double feature at Oregon Ballet Theatre
  • Portland Open Studios’ peek behind the scenes

By Bob Hicks

Good lord, what a weekend. Used to be, a person who really tried could actually keep up with significant cultural happenings in Puddletown. Kiss those days goodbye. Portland’s grown up (in a lot of ways, anyway) and we’ve entered pick-and-choose time. You’ll never catch everything worth catching, so pick what looks most intriguing to you and resign yourself to missing out on some good stuff. Even Don Juan can’t sample all the pleasures in the pantry.

A few ideas:

Tom Prochaska, "So Much To Do," oil on canvas, 66" x 88", 2011. Courtesy Froelick Gallery.Tom Prochaska, So Much To Do, Froelick Gallery

Tonight is First Thursday, the mainline Portland galleries’ monthly art hop, and it happens to be the 25th anniversary of the first art walk, in October 1986. Kelly House has this story in this morning’s Oregonian about how First Thursday and the Pearl District grew together, and I have this rundown (partial, as always), also in The Oregonian, of highlights of the October visual art scene. Personal tip: If you have business in Salem, or a free day for a short trip, the double-header of Italian Renaissance drawings from the Maggiori Collection and 22 prints from Georges Rouault’s Miserere et Guerre series at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art is well worth the visit.


"Horizontal Leanings" at BodyVox

Tonight the happy optimists of the dance world, BodyVox, enter the second weekend of their show Horizontal Leanings. I reviewed the opening for The Oregonian. Keep an eye out for the sheep and the wolf (not an entirely happy ending), and for the green raves to John Smith’s pulsing pop music that seem to lift the dancers into the air.


On Friday night, William Hurt meets Harold Pinter in an up-close collision in Artists Rep’s cozy (or maybe claustrophobic — we’ll find out) 168-seat playhouse. This is the Oscar-winning actor’s fourth show at Artists Rep (he and artistic director Allen Nause were young actors together in 1975 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and each of his performances in Portland has sharply divided onlookers: Mr. Hurt is a cool-temperature actor with a very hot personality, and he upsets applecarts. (We covered some of the controversy in this post about Hurt’s last performance in Portland, in O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night.) The play this time around is Pinter’s enigmatic comedy No Man’s Land, and the guess here is that Pinter and Hurt might actually be a good match. Marty Hughley has this preview essay in this morning’s Oregonian.


You want books? Portland’s buried in books. And authors. And agents. And success stories. And hoping-to-become-a-success stories. And even book groupies. They all come together at Wordstock, the annual bookapalooza at the Oregon Convention Center Saturday and Sunday. Pretty much everyone’s going to be there, except maybe Marian the Librarian and Professor Harold Hill. They eloped.


But first, maybe you want to zip on down to the Gerding Theatre (Portland Center Stage’s home space) for Oregon Arts Watch‘s first public event, an excursion into the minds and decision-making processes of theater directors. In Behind the Curtain: The Art of the Theatre Director, three of them — Rose Riordan of Center Stage, Brian Wheeler of Portland Playhouse, and Jerry Mouawad of Imago Theatre — will direct their versions of a short love scene by Chuck Mee. Same script, same actors (Laura Faye Smith and Sean McGrath). The only variable is the director. And none of the directors will have seen what the others have done. Could be a pretty fun experiment.


Maybe taking a tip from his friend Christopher Mattaliano, Portland Opera’s general manager, who made such a hit of pairing Pagliacci and Carmina Burana on a single program, Oregon Ballet Theatre‘s Christopher Stowell is kicking off his company’s 2011-12 season with a double-header of his own: new settings of Petrouchka and Carmen. Stowell tackles Bizet’s great score for his premiere of Carmen, and OBT favorite Nicolo Fonte does the same with his rethinking of the classic Petrouchka to Stravinsky’s music.


For a lot of people, Portland Open Studios has become one of fall’s most-anticipated opportunities to peek behind the scenes of the creative world. It’s this weekend and next, October 8-9 and 15-16; check the link for maps, tickets and details. The juried event lets you choose which (and how many) of 100 participating studios you’d like to visit. They’re scattered across the metropolitan area, so you can figure out what part of town you’d like to explore and cluster a few studios. A lot of the artists involved have gallery representation and a lot don’t. Stylistically and in terms of media they’re, well, all over the map. But the fun — and it is fun — lies in getting inside the work spaces and realizing that, for all the conceptualizing and theorizing, artmaking is hands-on stuff: It’s work. To nab an old movie title, it’s practical magic — with an emphasis, when we’re lucky, on both words.

Potter Kris Paul/Portland Open StudiosPotter Kris Paul/Portland Open Studios