Pomo Picks

Top Things to Do in Portland This Week: Aug 12–18

A music festival, a documentary film fest, a Missy Elliott bike ride, and more.

By Conner Reed, Cami Hughes, and Nick Campigli August 12, 2021

Local R&B star Blossom performing at the Lot at Zidell Yards, which will host a three-day music festival this weekend.

Image: Norman Eder

We're in the thick—the dog days, even—of a summer that has gone by way too quickly. With another heat wave ripping through town, plus a new mask mandate that goes into effect on Friday, staying cool and healthy are the twin names of the game. Maybe try to beat the heat with some cool movie theaters or galleries this weekend, and when the temps taper off, hop on the bike to the tune of some Missy Elliott.

As always during extreme temps, be sure to check event websites and social feeds to ensure things haven't been cancelled or postponed. See you there. 


Kevin Nealon

8 p.m. Thurs, 7:30 p.m. Fri–Sat, 4:30 & 10 p.m. Sat, Aug 12–14, $33–41

The longtime SNL cast member, who also made memorable turns in WeedsHappy Gilmore, and that insane Nick at Nite show about a stop-motion dentist, will hit Helium this weekend for four shows. Watch him hike with Lily Tomlin below. Not feeling the whole "being indoors with others" situation at the moment? No problem—Helium will kick off its outdoor "Lot Laughs" series in its parking lot on Sunday.



Various times through Aug 19, Cinema 21, $8–11

Pablo Larraín's long-delayed psychosexual freakout, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2019 and screened for a single day on Mubi last spring (when we caught it) has finally received a theatrical release, and we could not be more excited. This movie has everything: flamethrowers, reggaeton, sex-revenge plots, Gael García Bernal. It's like Marriage Story meets Basic Instinct by way of a Rosalía music video. This isn't technically an event—it's part of Cinema 21's regular programming—but we would be remiss if we did not draw your attention to one of the best films of the year.

Oregon Documentary Film Fest

2:30–6 p.m. Sun, Aug 15, Clinton Street Theater, $25 

The Clinton will screen 25 short docs and TV episodes, representing work from 20 different states and countries, at this film festival on Sunday. Two more festivals from the same organizers will hit the theater later this month: the Portland Comedy Film Festival and Oregon Short Film Festival.


Polka Dot Downtown

Noon daily (plus additional times, see here) through August, Pioneer Courthouse Square, FREE  

Portland artist Bill Will has unleashed a set of more than 100 colorful 12-foot vinyl dots throughout downtown, setting a wide variety of stages for local musicians and artists. The dots, created last summer, were designed to provide a safe entertainment space for Portlanders to enjoy local music during the pandemic. 

Summer Music Festival

Sat–Sun, Aug 14–15, The Lot at Zidell Yards, $60–75 per person

The Lot at Zidell Yards is holding a new summer music festival this weekend with a star studded lineup, including artists like Fritzwa, Blitzen Trapper, The Barbaras, and Parisalexa. This event will mark the first time back on stage since the pandemic started for many perfomers, so consider it a reintro to Portland's music scene. 

Special Events 


Through Aug 31, various locations
Pedalpalooza, the beloved three-month biking festival that holds multiple events every single day, is heading toward its 2021 home stretch. For this weekend specifically, start off on the right wheels with a 7:00 p.m. Halloween-themed ride for Friday the 13th. Get in your Y2K best on Saturday afternoon for a Missy Elliott ride (with music from a roster of aughts hip-hop), or maybe you'd prefer some more contemporary nostalgia and enjoy throwing it back to the summer of 2016 at Sunday's Pokemon GO! ride.


The Oldest Profession

8:30 p.m. Th u–Fri, 7:30 p.m. Sat–Sun, 2 p.m. Sun, Aug 12–15, Old Moody Stages, $36–40
Profile Theatre will wrap its two-year exploration of the works of Paula Vogel with this production of her 1981 play, which focuses on five aging New York sex workers who deal with their impending obsolescence as Reagan enters the White House. The show will go up at Old Moody Stages, a new temporary venue on the South Waterfront, inside an enormous building where the Zidell Company used to construct ships.

Visual Art

Archives for Black Lives

Noon–5 p.m. Thu–Sun by appointment, Holding Contemporary, FREE

Don't Shoot PDXwhich held an exhibition at Holding Contemporary last summer, has returned to the space this month to showcase pieces from its archives detailing the lives and historical treatment of Black people in Portland. On Sunday, the gallery will direct visitors toward a live stream from LA's Autry Museum about the importance of archives.

A Feast of Light and Shadows

4–8 p.m. Wed–Thu, 2–6 p.m. Fri–Sun, June 30–Aug 29, Yale Union, FREE

Marianne Nicolson, a First Nations artist born in British Columbia, has transformed Southeast Portland’s Yale Union building into a meditation on the Potlatch, a celebratory Indigenous ritual banned by the Canadian government for nearly 70 years. Her exhibition comes alive in the light, featuring colored etchings on the space’s enormous windows, plus basins, photographs, and more. Read her exhibition pamphlet here for a more in-depth look at the methods and meanings of Nicolson’s exhibition.


A Letter from Souls of the Dead

Noon–6 p.m. Thu–Fri, noon–4 p.m. Sat–Sun, July 10–Sept 4, PICA, FREE

The first solo exhibition by musician and visual artist Aki Onda, A Letter from Souls of the Dead marries sound, photography, found objects, and prints to elicit séance and other forms of interspiritual communication.

Out West

Noon–5 p.m. Wed–Sat through Aug 28, Blue Sky Gallery, FREE

Acclaimed late photographer Ingeborg Gerdes, a German immigrant who set up shop in San Francisco in the late ’60s, spent the bulk of her career chronicling the American West in vivid, idiosyncratic detail. This retrospective at the the Pearl District's Blue Sky Gallery seeks to capture the qualities that make her work tick.


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