The Essentials

13 Things to See and Do in Portland: February 2019

The PDX Jazz Fest sweeps the city, Beijing Dance Theater makes its Portland debut, Shane Torres returns to Helium, and Jennifer Egan hits the Schnitz.

By Rebecca Jacobson and Fiona McCann January 29, 2019 Published in the February 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

An image from Henry Tsang's Riot Food Here project, on display at the Portland Art Museum

1. The Map Is Not the Territory

Feb 9–May 5, Portland Art Museum
A consideration of contemporary Northwest art, this exhibition is the first in a new triennial series.
Annette Bellamy, Fernanda D’Agostina, and Henry Tsang (above, a photo from Tsang’s Riot Food Here) are among the artists represented in an examination of place that spans the Northwest coast from Oregon through Washington up to Vancouver, BC.

2. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

Feb 20, Star Theater
The award-winning New Orleans trumpeter kicks off this year’s PDX Jazz Festival with his trademark “stretch music” fusion of jazz with hip-hop, R&B, rock, and West African music. Also in this year’s festival lineup: Grammy-winning bassist Stanley Clarke, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and Portland’s own Farnell Newton. Festival runs through March 3 at various venues

3. (Un)Conditional

Feb 8–17, Artists Repertory Theatre
For the past year, Profile Theatre has gathered a 40-strong group of Portlanders affected by chronic illness. Their stories help fuel this world-premiere production, created in collaboration with New York theater artist Ping Chong and his company.

4. Portland Winter Light Festival

Feb 7–9
An interactive flaming portal, a giant disco ball suspended 20 feet in the air, and a flamethrower chandelier. These are just some of the luminous creations for 2019’s festival, where some 80 artists’ work populates Portland’s outdoor spaces to light up the city.

5. Alembic Resident Artists

Feb 22–24, Performance Works NW
Every year, Performance Works NW—Portland’s leading home for experimental dance and performance—awards 10-month residencies to three local artists. Recipients show off their efforts this weekend, with works exploring movement in fat bodies, generational trauma, and the collision of contemporary theory and Native American ritual dance. 

6. Angie Thomas

Feb 19, Newmark Theatre
This writer burst onto the literary stage with her best-selling debut, The Hate U Give, which chronicles how the shooting of an unarmed black teen by a police officer pushes his friend into activism. She’s at the Newmark on a tour behind her latest book, On the Come Up, the story of a girl with big rap dreams. 

7. Hansel & Gretel

Feb 1–4, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Chicago’s acclaimed Manual Cinema—which uses handmade shadow puppets and old-school overhead projectors to immersive, enchanting effect—joins the Oregon Symphony to bring Engelbert Humperdinck’s fairy-tale opera to life. 

8. Shane Torres

Feb 28–Mar 2, Helium Comedy Club
Once, Portland could claim this Fort Worth–born funnyman. But Torres, whose underachiever persona belies a whip-smart comedic zing, left for New York four years ago. Now, he returns to the stage where he was crowned Portland’s Funniest Person back in 2013. 

Beijing Dance Theater

9. Beijing Dance Theater

Feb 20, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
White Bird presents Beijing Dance Theater’s Portland debut, bringing a blend of energetic choreography and stunning visual design to the Schnitz. It’s headed by Wang Yuanyuan, whose work for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games opening ceremonies led to the company’s creation. 

10. Tiny Beautiful Things

Feb 23–Mar 31, The Armory
Based on Cheryl Strayed’s book of the same name, Tiny Beautiful Things chronicles the author’s journey as agony aunt as The Rumpus’s Dear Sugar, in a play the New York Times called a “handkerchief-soaking meditation on pain, loss, hope, and forgiveness.”

11. Jennifer Egan

Feb 21, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
After a Pulitzer for the mind-bending A Visit from the Goon Squad, Egan waited six years before publishing Manhattan Beach. It
s a departure in style—a historical novel about deep-sea diving—but just as captivating.

Hear It

Back in 1972, a Portland group called the Gangsters recorded a four-track LP. It was never released—until now. Thanks to the Albina Music Trust, a project documenting the neighborhood’s soul and R&B history, we can now revel in this joyful, purely instrumental jazz-funk gem.

Read It

In Mother Winter, Sophia Shalmiyev follows the crumbs back to her native Russia in search of the mother she lost to addiction and geography. It’s a lyrical memoir and feminist appraisal of the events that brought her to motherhood in Portland. She reads at Powell’s on February 12.

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