PoMo Picks

Top Things to Do This Weekend: Jan 4–7

Rufus Wainwright plays the Aladdin, an astrophysicist investigates Star Trek tech, the Oregon Symphony mashes up Brahms and Radiohead, and Uncle Vanya gets a cabaret spin.

By Rebecca Jacobson, Fiona McCann, Hannah Bonnie, and Eleanor Van Buren January 4, 2018

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Blue Sky rolls out an exhibit by photographer Robert Frank, including this image of a funeral in St. Helena, South Carolina.

Image: Robert Frank

Books & Talks

Ethan Siegel

7 p.m. Thu, Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, FREE
Since Capt. James T. Kirk first beamed into our living rooms aboard the Starship Enterprise in 1966, our offscreen lives have advanced apace. In Treknology, Portland theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel decides to find out how close we are to some of the iconic Star Trek canon’s inventions, and which ones remain beyond the final frontier—read more in our story.

Panio Gianopoulos

7:30 p.m. Fri, Powell's City of Books, FREE
Gianopolous's debut story collection, How to Get Into Our House and Where We Keep the Money, collects tales of love's complexities, and was praised by Kirkus as "witty, discerning, and laugh-out-loud funny." He's joined in conversation by Portland roboticist/author Daniel H. Wilson.


Shane Torres

7:30 and 10 p.m. Fri–Sat, 7:30 p.m. Sun, Helium Comedy Club, $20–28
The onetime Portlander—whose underachiever persona belies a whip-smart comedic zing—returns to town for a weekend of shows. Back in 2013, Torres won Helium’s Funniest Person Competition, and has since then made the rounds at festivals across the country, and appeared on Comedy Bang Bang and Last Comic Standing.


8 p.m. Fri, Siren Theater, $10–15
PowerPoint is terrible. Everyone knows this. So how do you improve upon an inherently ghastly format? Let the audience supply a topic and ask some funny folks to improvise a presentation. (Don't forget to pack your laser pointer.)


Brahms v. Radiohead

7:30 p.m. Thu, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $25–75
Remember the heyday of mash-ups?
 Like that Frankenstein number “Boulevard of Broken Songs”? Or—le duh—Girl Talk? The Oregon Symphony shakes up its own compositional cocktail, blending eight tracks from Radiohead’s 20-year-old icon OK Computer with Brahms’s 142-year-old First Symphony, aided by vocalists and conductor Steve Hackman.

Emily Wells

8 p.m. Sun, Doug Fir Lounge, $14–16
Composer, vocalist, and violinist Emily Wells performs her latest work, “This World is Too _____ For You,” which was commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series. In this live show, Wells—whose haunting track “Becomes the Color” you might have heard in Park Chan Wook’s 2013 psychodrama, Stoker—will pair her new-wave classical instrumentation with video work.

Rufus Wainwright

8 p.m. Sun, Aladdin Theater, $60
The multitalented musician first gained acclaim for his lush, melancholy chamber pop. He’s gone on to adapt Shakespeare sonnets into song and recreate Judy Garland concerts, and is now at work on his second opera, this one about the Roman emperor Hadrian.


OPENING Uncle Vanya

7:30 p.m. Thu–Sun, Reed College's Diver Studio, $25–30
As part of their Anton Chekhov series, Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble presents an unexpected spin on Uncle Vanya, in a new translation by Portlander Štĕpán Šimek. They’re calling it “Vanya in a sweaty cabaret,” and it features music from three guests: Courtney Von Drehle and Ralph Huntley of Klezmocracy, and Andre Temkin of Chervona.

Visual Art

CLOSING The King's Mouth

11 a.m.–6 p.m. Thu–Sat, PNCA, FREE
If you’ve ever seen a Flaming Lips show—if you’ve experienced the confetti, disco balls, unicorns, and massive inflatable things—you’ve peeked into the madcap mind of front man Wayne Coyne. Now you can fully crawl inside: The King’s Mouth is a floor-to-ceiling installation piece at Pacific Northwest College of Art that invites viewers to lie back on plush red pillows for a spectacle of light, sound, and Day-Glo-tinged psychedelia.

OPENING Robert Frank

Noon–5 p.m. Thu–Sun, Blue Sky Gallery, FREE
Books and Films 1947–2018 draws together the work of the influential Swiss-American photographer, best known for The Americans, a landmark 1958 book that captured people across lines of race and class. Born in Switzerland in 1924, Frank is still active today.

Animating Life: The Art, Science, and Wonder of Laika

10 a.m.–8 p.m. Thu–Fri, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat–Sun, Portland Art Museum, $19.99 
The pioneers of stop-motion animation—responsible for CoralineParaNorman, and Kubo and the Two Strings—get a star turn in this major Portland Art Museum exhibit. Expect puppets and props, plus behind-the-scenes photos, film clips, and a slew of screenings.

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