PoMo Picks: February 2014

Jazz's rising star Cécile McLorin Salvant, the reinvention of comics, the Portland Art Museum's Venice exhibition, and the rest of the month's best bets for things to see or do

February 3, 2014 Published in the February 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

Cécile McLorin Salvant


One Question for...

The Portland Jazz Festival’s lineup includes such luminaries as guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Ahmad Jamal, but also showcases 24-year-old Cécile McLorin Salvant. The rising star breathes new life into forgotten songs from the ’20s and ’30s. Her debut, WomanChild, was contending for a Grammy at press time. Read our full interview with the soulful upstart.

PoMo: People talk about you as the new Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday, but you also modernize the songs, pushing different musical boundaries—like in the overtly racist ’30s song “You Bring Out the Savage in Me.” What was your goal?
Salvant: I heard it from this wonderful [African American] trumpet player named Valaida Snow, who was this great hero of the ’30s. This idea that black people would be considered savages or apes—and the fetishism of the black woman—still exists. It’s part of our history. The song itself evokes so many of those things. And on another level, there’s the primal—if I want to use the word, “savage”—element to the music that I find is sometimes lacking. And on top of that, there’s something a bit humorous about the idea that I would not survive a day in the jungle. It’s just ridiculous. 

PDX Jazz Festival | Feb 20–Mar 2
Cécile McLorin Salvant | Feb  22 

Visual Art


Last summer, photographer Kirk Crippens’s online series Portraitlandia—images of Portlanders both eccentric and not—ignited a buzz fire across the Internet, from Wired to the UK’s Daily Mail. (His photo of mail carrier Mary Kozlov, pictured, has been hanging in an exhibition in London’s prestigious National Portrait Gallery since November.) Now, Portlanders themselves will get to see several of the works for the first time as part of a group show of Newspace’s artists in residence, cleverly titled Fresh A.i.R. Read a Q&A with Crippens and see more of his portraits.

Portraitlandia | Feb 7–Mar 2 | Newspace Center for Photography


The initial exhibition by the Portland Art Museum’s first-ever European curator, Dawson Carr, Venice: The Golden Age of Art & Music explores a period when composers like Gabrieli and Monteverdi mingled with painters such as Tintoretto and Bassano. Related programming includes a concert by Cappella Romana and the Portland Baroque Orchestra.

Venice: The Golden Age of Art & Music | Feb 15–May 11 | Portland Art Museum

Books & Talks


By incorporating elements of typography and graphic design, Chris Ware single-handedly reinvented comics. His work regularly graces the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine, and he comes to us in conversation with another giant, book designer Chip Kidd.

Chris Ware | Feb 18 |Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall


“You got your hyphen because: one, they’re British and totally sexy. And two, hyphens are all about hanging on and keeping things together.” 

That’s what Bo-Nita’s mother tells her in this one-woman hit from the 2012 JAW playwrights festival. Who knew a black comedy about a precocious 13-year-old, a floozy of a mother, abuse, step-patricide, and being poor in the Midwest could be so damn funny?

Bo-Nita | Feb 1–Mar 16 | Gerding Theater at the Armory


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