Fall Arts

Fall’s Can’t-Miss Concerts, Plays, Author Events, Dance Performances & More

The TBA Fest, eagerly awaited book launches, a head-spinning hip-hop triple-bill ... we’re looking at a jam-packed arts season.

By Conner Reed and Fiona McCann Illustrations by Kate Dehler Published in the September 2022 issue of Portland Monthly

So many arts happenings, so little time. As you start marking your fall calendars, allow us to step in—here are the concerts, screenings, book launches, gallery shows, plays, and other arts events you definitely won’t want to miss.


Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert

The Oregon Symphony will come out in full force (get it?) to play John Williams’s iconic score live over everyone’s favorite ewok vehicle. Sept 16–18, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

PDX Recovery Film Festival

Portland nonprofit Bridges to Change is presenting its first-ever film festival, highlighting titles about addiction, homelessness, and mental health. Sept 29, Revolution Hall

H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival

The annual creep show returns, stuffing screen with cosmic horrors and the Hollywood Theatre's lobby with costumed superfans. The jury’s still out, organizers say, on whether admission will hinge on proof of vax or a sacrifice to Nyarlathotep. Oct 7–9, Hollywood Theatre

Portland Film Festival

As of midsummer, focus groups were narrowing down more than 3,000 submissions to this nonprofit film fest. Check out who made the cut this October. Oct 10–22, Venues TBD

Rocky Horror Picture Show 

’Tis always the season to catch the Clinton Street’s weekly Rocky Horror screening, but the vibes and crowds always ramp up around Halloween, culminating in a massive Halloweekend show. Every Saturday, Clinton Street Theater



Brian Michael Bendis

Portland’s king of comics, the Peabody and Eisner Award–winning cocreator of Miles Morales, Jessica Jones, and Naomi, comes to Powell’s on the back of Phenomena, his new fantasy adventure series created with André Lima Araújo. It follows a group of lost orphans who embark on a quest in a magical world. Sept 13, Powell's City of Books

Abdulrazak Gurnah

The 2021 Nobel Prize winner and Tanzania-born author of acclaimed novels Paradise and Afterlives, his exploration of German-colonized East Africans in the early 20th century, takes to the Schnitz stage. Sept 22, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Tales of a Seventh Grade Lizard Boy

Local cartoonist and illustrator Jonathan Hill follows his critically acclaimed graphic novel Odessa with Tales of a Seventh Grade Lizard Boy (September 27, Walker Books), the story of a kid having trouble fitting in at middle school—unsurprising, given that he’s secretly a lizard. 

Portland Book Festival

After two years of date creep—in 2020, the festival offered a two-week virtual sprawl, while last year that came down to five days—the packed tight, ultra-condensed, one-day bibliophile bonanza is back entirely in person. Local—Mat Johnson, Fonda Lee, Colin Meloy, Lidia Yuknavitch among them—national, and international authors and readers will once again convene at the Portland Art Museum and its surrounds for page-turning galore. November 5, South Park Blocks

Garrett Hongo and Richard Tillinghast

Two eminent poets—a Pulitzer finalist slash Oregon Book Award winner and a one-time Guggenheim Fellow—unite like a rhyming couplet at Mother Foucault’s, that delightfully musty, analog store of literary gems. Nov 10, Mother Foucault's Bookshop




Lose Yr Mind Fest

The Dandy Warhols are headlining the eighth iteration of this scrappy festival, which will spread across Central Eastside spots old and new: Bunk Bar, Vitalidad, the Get Down, and Lollipop Shoppe. Sept 1–3, Various Venues

The Shins

Just over 20 years after Oh, Inverted World, James Mercer’s tireless indie rock project will play two shows in Portland’s living room. Sept 15–16, Pioneer Courthouse Square

Sudan Archives

Brittney Parks is a hell of a violinist, and she’s also making some of the most captivating pop music on the market as Sudan Archives—music that’s well worth catching at her cozy late-September Portland date. Sept 29, Mississippi Studios

Ice Cube, Ja Rule & Warren G.

An N.W.A founder, Fyre Fest coconspirator, and G-Funk pioneer walk into an arena show. So do you, if you know what’s up. Oct 1, Moda Center

Ringo Starr

If we wrote the words, “Former Beatle Ringo Starr put out two EPs last year, one of which included a cover of ‘Rock Around the Clock,’” would you believe us? We’re not sure we’d believe us. But here we are, facing down Ringo’s Schnitz date in support of those very EPs. Oct 12, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Carly Rae Jepsen

Every tastemaker’s favorite pop star will make up for a canceled April 2020 gig (RIP) by hitting Old Town with Empress Of in late October, new tunes from fifth LP The Loneliest Time in tow. Oct 23, Roseland Theater


Spelling’s sparkling, baroque The Turning Wheel was one of 2021’s most underrated records, and you can catch the artist live in all her majesty during Halloweekend. Oct 28, Star Theater

Gabriel Kahane & Oregon Symphony

The Symphony will take on Beethoven’s bold Eroica Symphony, and Gabriel Kahane, the org’s creative chair, will perform a song cycle called The Right to Be Forgotten about our obsession with digital efficiency. Nov 5–7, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall



Time-Based Art Festival

It’s not strictly a dance festival, but Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s annual performance freakout is always reliably stuffed with weird, wonderful, body-based projects. September 8–18, Various Venues

Pearl Dive Live

In 2021, BodyVox asked nondancers (including local drag legend Poison Waters and Simpsons creator Matt Groening) to generate dance pieces for a video project called Pearl Dive. In October, the company will present them live at its Slabtown space. Oct 6–8 & 13–15, BodyVox

Midsummer Night’s Dream

To open the season, OBT will mount its former artistic director Christopher Stowell’s interpretation of this classic Shakespeare comedy beside a new work from Christopher Bruce called Hush and an eight-minute Tchaikovsky pas de deux marathon. Oct 8–15, Keller Auditorium

Dallas Black Dance Theatre 

Presented by White Bird, the Texan contemporary dance company—Dallas’s oldest—will perform a multipiece program at Portland State University's performance venue, including the acclaimed recent commission Like WaterOct 20–22, Lincoln Hall



Fore x Four 

Sixteen works by 16 artists fill the Pearl District’s Lumber Room for a multigenerational exhibition about “steadiness and support.” Through Sept 24

In My Own Little Corner 

Willie Little’s solo show at Oregon Contemporary takes its title from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and explores growing up gay near rural Little Washington, North Carolina. Through Oct 2

Heat Wave

Trippy, psychedelic textiles are the name of Sarah Wertzberger’s game, on full display in this Holding Contemporary exhibition. Ever wished weaving evoked a brush with the divine? It’s your lucky month. Sept 10–Oct 23

Fay Jones 

The Seattle painter and muralist, whose playful, color-filled work appears in that city’s opera house, heads to PDX for a solo exhibition at Nob Hill’s Russo Lee GalleryOct 6–29

Die Plage 

The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education will show this 4,200-canvas photomontage covering German history from the Weimar Republic through World War II for the first time since its creator, Harley Gaber, died by suicide in 2011. Oct 12–Jan 22

The Art of Food

Food, 100 ways, as rendered by everyone from Hockney to Holzer to Warhol, at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University all season long. Through Dec 3