Books & Talks
7 p.m. Sat, Ford Food & Drink, FREE
This reading series, founded by sisters and poets Chrys and Allison Tobey after the 2016 election, aims to draw “attention to the ideas Trump, and his administration, attempt to silence.” Tonight’s reading, spurred in part by Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation, features five women writers: Judith Arcana (a former member of a pre-Roe underground abortion service), Tammy Lynne Stoner, Genevieve Hudson, Kristin Berger, and Izzy Avalos. The event is free, but donations will go towards RAINN, which supports victims of sexual violence.
7:30 p.m. Sun, Powell's City of Books, FREE
In 1986, a million books were set ablaze in the Los Angeles Public Library. Onetime Portlander Susan Orlean sets out to investigate the unsolved conflagration in The Library Book, while reminding us of the library’s place at the heart of modern civilization.
7 and 9:30 p.m. Sat–Sun, Aladdin Theater, SOLD OUT
If you’ve ever been one of those people who watched a stand-up special on television and thought, “Wow, it’d be really cool to see myself chortling in an audience one day,” that’s kinda weird. But also, here’s an opportunity to do just that: Pete Holmes, star of Crashing and host of the podcast You Made it Weird, comes to Portland to tape his new HBO special. (Though all four shows are sold out ... so good luck with that cameo.)
7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, 5 p.m. Sun, Portland Playhouse, $18–25
Shakespeare goes to Harlem: Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater reimagines A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a replicated set of Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom, regarded as the first culturally and racially integrated ballroom (until its demolition in 1958). The story is brought to life at Portland Playhouse, and features professional artists alongside a community ensemble.
Various times Thu–Sun, Whitsell Auditorium, $5–10 tickets, $45 festival pass
With some 400 entries, the Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival brings artists and audiences together for the 45th (!) year. On deck this time around: curated short programs representing specific regions (including Montana, Idaho, and British Columbia), a new feature-length film from local animator Joanna Priestley, and a one-day filmmakers’ summit.
7:30 p.m. Thu–Fri, New Expressive Works, $10–25
Marimba soloist and percussionist Luanna Warner Katz teams up with contemporary American composer Eve Beglarian for a concert presented by Portland’s Third Angle New Music. Play Like a Girl is as energetic as it is urgent: Warner Katz, who performs regularly with Third Angle, says that although the program “did not start as a political statement … it [became] a platform for my passions and beliefs.” At September’s TBA Festival, Warner Katz also performed in Contralto, a piece exploring the voices of trans women.
8:30 p.m. Thu, Crystal Ballroom, $20–22
Mitski’s fifth studio album, Be the Cowboy, is really, really good self-reflexive pop music. Pitchfork called it “her greatest to date,” in no small part thanks to her ability “to make the complex seem dazzlingly clear.” She makes it to Portland for the first time in a little over a year, with NYC electric-pop duo Overcoats—their debut album Young, released last spring, was also excellent—as opening act.
9 p.m. Thu, Aladdin Theater, $16–18
The women of Seattle quartet La Luz call their style “surf noir”: beachy but raw, pairing sunny sounds with dark subject matter.
9 p.m. Fri, Mississippi Studios, $16–18
The Portland singer-songwriter’s sweet, sharp vocals swoop and sting with fresh potency in new record Goners, drawing on fable and wild fauna to mine deeply personal questions around grief and identity.
8:30 p.m. Fri, Polaris Hall, $10–15
The Portland duo makes lush, lo-fi pop that draws on a diverse set of inspirations, from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight to early-20th-century poet Hilda Doolittle.
7:30 p.m. Sat–Mon, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $24–125
The President isn’t the only Russian puppet on our radar. The Oregon Symphony tackles this classic tale of three puppets, which explores the foibles of jealousy and love at the 1830 Shrovetide Fair in Saint Petersburg. Carlos Kalmar conducts Stravinsky’s 1947 version of the ballet burlesque, which maintains an intricate four-tableaux structure, with puppets and other “stage creations” from creative director Doug Fitch.
8 p.m. Sat, The Old Church, $12–15
Proggy Portland rock trio Sama Dams’s latest album, April’s Say It, comprises 10 tracks of twisty grooves, howling guitar solos, and haunting vocals by singer-keyboardist Lisa Adams.
CLOSING The Wolf
7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, Shaking the Tree, $10–30
At Shaking the Tree, fairy tales aren’t just for children. With artistic director Samantha Van Der Merwe at the helm, and words by Anya Pearson, this devised piece of theater takes inspiration from Charles Perrault’s Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood) and explores “desire, longing, and miscommunication of the sexes” via “five living dioramas” through which the audience is invited to stroll.
CLOSING Small Mouth Sounds
7:30 p.m. Thu–Fri, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sat–Sun, Artists Repertory Theatre, $30–60
A weeklong silent retreat in the woods would not seem, at first blush, the best fodder for the stage. But with its minimal dialogue, Bess Wohl’s 2015 play mines quiet for humor, via carefully tuned facial expressions and body language. The LA Times called it “a comedy with satiric bite,” taking aim at “commodified spirituality that has encouraged the thinking that inner peace ... is just a guru, mantra or self-help book away.”
7:30 p.m. Thu–Fri, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sat–Sun, Winningstad Theatre, $36–45
Based not-so-secretly on Diana Ross and the Supremes, this Tony- and Grammy-winning musical, presented here by Stumptown Stages, follows a trio of young, black female singers and their managers as they bring Motown into the mainstream.
OPENING La Traviata
7:30 p.m. Fri, 2 p.m. Sun, Keller Auditorium, $35–250
Portland Opera opens the season with Verdi’s beloved La Traviata, which, with its themes of sexual politics and heartbreak, is more relevant in the modern world than you might expect from a 165-year-old opera. It’s directed by Elise Sandell and conducted by Christopher Larkin, making his first return to the company since 2009’s The Turn of the Screw. Soprano Aurelia Florian (called “incandescent” earlier this year by the San Francisco Chronicle) makes her Portland debut as Violetta Valéry, with Jonathan Boyd (who performed the titular role in 2017’s Faust) as Alfredo Germont.
OPENING Ralph Pugay
11 a.m.–8 p.m. Thu, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Fri–Sat, Upfor Gallery, FREE
The Portland artist injects absurdity and brash color into narrative paintings—a gymnast being gored by a bull, a robot at a retirement home. This solo exhibit, A Spiritual Guide to Brute Force, features work from a summer of artist residencies across North America.
OPENING In Transit
Noon–9 p.m. Thu, noon–5 p.m. Fri–Sun, Blue Sky Gallery, FREE
Curated by Peggy Sue Amison, In Transit explores the challenges of identity and citizenship through the lens of mass migration. The exhibit reflects on both the physiological and psychological aspects of forced migration, and features work from George Awde, Daniel Castro Garcia, Gohar Dashti, Tanya Habjouqa, and Stefanie Zofia Schulz.
OPENING Mary Josephson
11 a.m.–8 p.m. Thu, 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Fri–Sat, Russo Lee Gallery, FREE
The Portland artist returns to Russo Lee with a new exhibit titled My Scars Are My Tattoos, her first solo since November 2016’s Why I Kept a Light Burning. Josephson’s paintings depict community, with people of different shapes, sizes, genders, ages, and races rendered with distinct folk art flair. Her style is expressive and colorful, and she often incorporates mosaic and embroidery work into her paintings.
OPENING The Earth Will Not Abide
10 a.m.–8 p.m. Thu, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Fri–Sat, PNCA, FREE
If you’re distraught at the recent report on global temperatures, The Earth Will Not Abide provides an aesthetic critique of the rapidly transforming implications of extractive land use—the costs of supporting “an agricultural economy based on monoculture.” This PNCA exhibit features the work of several talented local artists, including Ryan Griffis and Sarah Ross, and includes video, paintings, installation, and creative mapping.
OPENING Mako Miyamoto
7–10 p.m. Fri, 1–6 p.m. Sat, Stephanie Chefas Projects, FREE
Known for saturated landscapes (and occasional Wookiees), this Portland photographer’s new show, The Spectral Divide, was inspired by the infrared of the electromagnetic spectrum, and steeps Oregon’s lush landscape in vivid reds and cool blues.
6:30–9:30 p.m. Thu, WeWork Pioneer Place, $15
What's really the deal with personality types? And how do they play out in the workplace? The Portland chapter of Ladies Get Paid, a group that advocates for women in their careers, hosts a roundtable conversation exploring extroversion vs. introversion, gender, and power, with the goal "to dismantle assumptions and decode strengths and shortfalls."
6–9 p.m. Fri, Portland Art Museum, $150 (individual seat), $850 (table of 6)
For the 14th year, Portland Monthly's Light a Fire Awards honor the people and organizations making our city and state a better place. With legendary local drag queen Poison Waters as our evening’s emcee, get ready to cheer, laugh, and sniffle a little as we introduce you to some of these unsung heroes. (And read up on all their good work, too.)