8 p.m. Friday, Siren Theater
We may never forgive comedian Amy Miller for ditching us for Los Angeles earlier this year, but at least she's jetting back to Portland to celebrate the release of her first album, Solid Gold. Onstage, Miller juggles self-deprecation, ferocity, and compassion, and we never tire of hearing stories about her wackadoo childhood.
7:30 p.m. Friday–Saturday, Curious Comedy Theater
Improvisers from Curious Comedy collide (hopefully not literally) with aerialists from around the Portland area to create a holiday-themed comedy show.
The Portland Ballet
2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday–Saturday and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Lincoln Performance Hall
In a Thanksgiving tradition, the young dancers of the Portland Ballet perform The Enchanted Toyshop (spinning and leaping dolls!), as well as a new piece, Anne Mueller's festive Gift Box.
TV & Film
All day Friday, Artists Repertory Theatre
Why binge-watch the Gilmore Girls revival alone when you can huddle with fellow Rory and Lorelai fanatics for a marathon viewing? Artists Rep hosts a free, all-day screening, with doors opening at 9:30 a.m. and screenings continuing until 5:30 p.m. Added incentive? Midway through the day, actor Ted Rooney—Morey on the show, and a cast member in Artists Rep's production of A Civil War Christmas (see below)—will stop by, so be prepared to pump him for Stars Hollow gossip.
Les Blank: Cultural Rarities
7 p.m. Sunday, Hollywood Theatre
The Hollywood celebrates the idiosyncratic genius of documentarian Les Blank, screening two features—one about Hawaii and another about Serbian-Americans—and a recently discovered short about Thailand.
Portland Cello Project
8 p.m. Friday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
A decade ago, 10 cellists took to the Doug Fir stage to blast the milling, booze-swilling crowd with a kind of music more traditionally associated with concert halls. What became known as the Portland Cello Project went down so well, they did it again—at other clubs around the city (Mississippi Studios, Holocene), and then around the country, in high-energy performances that led to records and raves, fluctuating lineups, and, this month, an anniversary show at the Schnitz that promises new compositions alongside old favorites.
Car Seat Headrest
9 p.m. Friday, Wonder Ballroom
Just one of those 20-somethings who recorded a heap of songs in the family car and quietly self-released them on Bandcamp before signing with indie juggernaut Matador Records, Will Toledo crafts emotive, lyrically smart guitar-pop.
9 p.m. Friday, Revolution Hall
Portland’s terribly sexy “space-age doo-wop” outfit has reinvented itself as an outlandish experimental pop group. Fellow locals Pure Bathing Culture and Sama Dams open.
7:30 p.m. Saturday–Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
You can run, but you can’t hide from the onslaught of holiday music about to flood your ear holes. The Pacific Youth Choir joins the symphony and conductor Jeff Tyzik for a program of carols and other festive tunes.
Thee Oh Sees
9 p.m. Sunday, Revolution Hall, SOLD OUT
You can count on these garage rockers to deliver one of the thrashiest, most frenetic live sets out there—the San Fran band has even turned Pickathon’s Woods Stage into a throbbing party. No small feat.
OPENING A Civil War Christmas
7:30 p.m. Friday–Saturday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Artists Repertory Theatre
Populated by the Lincolns, Ulysses S. Grant, and Robert E. Lee, Pulitzer winner Paula Vogel’s song-studded, DC-set drama travels back to Christmas Eve, 1864. The New York Times called it “a beautifully stitched tapestry of American lives.”
7:30 p.m. Friday–Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, Venetian Theatre
Before Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan got mail, there was this 1936 Hungarian play by Miklós László about feuding perfumery employees who’ve fallen in love as anonymous pen pals. This version, presented by Hillsboro’s Bag & Baggage Theatre, was adapted by László’s nephew, E. P. Dowdall.
The Santaland Diaries
7:30 p.m. Saturday–Sunday, Gerding Theater
The perfect antidote to the stress of the holiday season, Darius Pierce returns to the Ellen Bye Studio as Crumpet the Elf in David Sedaris’s oddball Christmas classic.
CLOSING Leaving Troy
11 a.m.–5 p.m. Friday–Saturday, Blackfish Gallery
It’s become an all-too-common story in Portland: a building goes up for sale, a developer swoops in, and artists are pushed out. That’s what happened to the Troy Laundry building this past summer, when its owners jacked up the rent and most of its nearly 50 artists were ousted. Here, former tenants Barbara Black and Angela Passalacqua reflect on their displacement. For more, check out our slideshow of Black's and Passalacqua's work.
CLOSING Alexander Chekmenev and Pablo Ortiz Monasterio
Noon–5 p.m. Thursday–Sunday, Blue Sky Gallery, FREE
Chekmenev’s photography offers a glimpse into post-Soviet Ukraine, including portraits of homebound citizens having their passport photos taken. Monasterio, meanwhile, has created photo collages to memorialize the disappearance of 43 Mexican students in 2014—a kidnapping linked to the drug war.
10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Friday–Saturday, Elizabeth Leach Gallery
In Gut, the multimedia artist—known for work created from chewing gum and cigarette butts—examines maleness and aging via materials that, in his words, “droop and sag.”
1–5 p.m. Friday–Saturday, Wolff Gallery, FREE
Portlander Clarke says the fantasy-specked photos in her new exhibit, The Stories People Tell, “serve as visual interpretations of folktales.”
All day Friday and Saturday, various locations
Forget the big-box stores. Instead, begin your holiday shopping while also doing some good for the local economy at this collaborative, city-wide event, now in its sixth year. More than 200 shops are participating, with lots of opportunities to save, win raffle prizes, and generally feel good about supporting Portland businesses. For more, check out our event preview.