Top Things to Do This Weekend: Jan 9–11

First Thursday gets some sun, non-holiday plays finally begin to open at local theaters, and the Crystal Ballroom celebrates 101 years with a free star-studded day, including music by Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes, Stephen Malkmus, and more.

By Ramona DeNies January 8, 2015


Opening Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Saturday & Sunday, Portland Center Stage
“If everyone took antidepressants, Chekhov would have had nothing to write about,” laments a character in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Playwright Christopher Durang says the black comedy doesn’t so much parody Chekhov as run the Russian playwright’s characters and scenes through a blender. Add to that a hefty portion of pop culture references (South Park, Lindsay Lohan, Sandra Bullock), and you have the winner of the 2013 Tony Award for best play and the top-produced show in America this season. 

Sunday, World Trade Center Theatre
British playwright David Hare's Skylight brings us into the London apartment of school teacher Kyra Hollis as she fields two unexpected guests from her past—Edward Sargeant and his father Tom. Hollis had lived with the Sargeants for many years and left abruptly after Tom's wife found out about their affair. The drama contemplates life and love in the most dysfunctional of families. Carey Mulligan, of The Great Gatsby and Inside Llewyn Davis, stars as Kyra Hollis.

Opening The Seven Wonders of Ballyknock
Friday–Sunday, Lakewood Center for the Arts
The latest from longtime local playwright C. S. Whitcomb tells the tale of a young American woman exploring the Emerald Isle with (what else?) a barman as her guide. The play, which receives its world premiere from Lakewood, originated last year at Portland’s Fertile Ground festival of new works.


Movies in Black and White: Selma
Thursday, Hollywood Theatre
Movies in Black and White, a Hollywood Theater film series centered around discussing race in film, is screening Ava DuVernay's 2014 film about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Selma-to-Montgomery march for equal voting rights. There will be a post-screening discussion with David Walker, writer and creator of comic book series Shaft, as well as film critics Shawn Levy and Jason Lamb. 


Crystal Ballroom's 101st Birthday Free-For-All
Sunday, Crystal Ballroom
McMenamin's Crystal Ballroom opens its doors early (and for the whole family) to celebrate a most palindromical of birthdays. Highlights of the free, all-day event include comedy in Al's Den, an '80s video "dance attack" in Lola's Room, the popular "You Who" kid-centric concert party, history tours, and a full slate of local musical guests, including Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes, Sallie Ford, and Satin Chaps


Ravel's Bolero
Saturday & Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
According to one myth, during the first performance of this now canonical work, a woman yelled out that Maurice Ravel was mad, to which he responded that she was the only one who got the work.

Cappella Romana: Echoes of the Renaissance
Saturday & Sunday, Trinity Episcopal Church and St. Mary's Cathedral
The premier sacred choral music ensemble released a recording of liturgical music by the American composer of Greek Orthodox music Dr. Zikey Tes last season, so they should be in good practice to perform excerpts in these concerts.  

Hap Tivey's 'Duex Machina' at Elizabeth Leach Gallery


First Thursday
Thursday, Downtown Galleries
The sky is blue and the sun is out, which means it’ll be a rare dry winter night to take in a gaggle of gallery shows downtown. Let’s start west and move east:

  • Michele Russo might have made his name with nudes, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t interested in covering up; Laura Russo Gallery shows a series of studies he did of garments.
  • At Elizabeth Leach, Light and Space Movement pioneer Hap Tivey fills the room with colorful light installations, tickling your sensory neurons while giving a vitamin D fix, and prints by physicists and mathematicians make art from universal laws.
  • Next door at PDX Contemporary, Victoria Haven mashes up text on woodblocks in a show titled Subtitles, and across the stairs Brenna Murphy blends ancient-looking glyphs with digital design for a psychedelic labyrinth of shapes and prints at Upfor.
  • Augen, Bullseye, Butters, Froelick, and Hap all feature group shows (Bullseye wins the naming game with the menacing-sounding Dark Ecologies).
  • At Blue Sky, Diana Markosian’s touching photo essay Inventing My Father tells the story of her reconnection with the man after a life of estrangement, and Dima Gavrysh’s Inshallah explores the Soviet and American occupations of Afghanistan through the lens of his own childhood war fantasies. 
  • At Duplex, six artists, playing of the religious art tradition of tiny meditative works, focus on the small with intimate paintings in a show called Icons.

Opening Todd Nortsen: Chase the Ice
Friday & Saturday, Adams & Ollman
Minnesotan minimalist painter Norsten, whose works have shown at the Whitney Biennial and British Museum, receives his first solo exhibition in Portland. Devoting meticulous attention to Scotch tape, “sloppy” lettering, and dirty smears, his canvases aim to both elevate the mundane and “poke holes into the myth of the genius artist.”  

Closing Week Blue Sky: the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts at 40
Thursday–Sunday, Portland Art Museum
Founded by artists in 1975, Blue Sky has grown into one of the leading national photography centers, so much so that the Portland Art Museum is giving it an honor typically reserved for artists and collectors: a retrospective. More than 120 works will be displayed drawn from the gallery's 40-year history. Read our story about Blue Sky and its retrospective.

Closing Week In Passionate Pursuit: The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Collection and Legacy
Thursday–Sunday, Portland Art Museum
Without the support of this art-loving couple, the local art scene wouldn’t be half what it is today. This exhibition displays the eclectic range of their collection: paintings and sculptures by Northwest and West Coast masters, Han dynasty Chinese art, Native American ceramics and beaded bags, and more. Read our profile of Arlene Schnitzer, "The Arlene Effect."


Critical Voices: Gary Hill
Sunday, Portland Art Museum
The Portland Art Museum lecture series brings to town this Seattle mixed media and performance artist—an MacArthur “genuis grant” recipient—for a talk titled “Cutting Corners Creates More Sides.



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