Header image of Ezra Furman courtesy Iñaki Espejo-Saavedra

From the long-awaited return of the Rose Festival to the continuation of the Vanport Mosaic Festival to a 35 mm screening of an Oregon-adjacent classic (and way beyond), there's plenty to keep you busy in and around Portland this week. Here's what we've got our eyes on. (For more things to do around the state in May, check out this list.)

Books & Talks

Willy Vlautin

7 p.m. Fri, May 27 | Powell's City of Books, FREE

Portland writer and musician Willy Vlautin is known for chronicling the Rose City's hardscrabble underbelly—his latest novel, The Night Always Comes, is no exception. The book followers 30-year-old Portlander Lynette across two days and nights as she tries to make ends meet for her crumbling family; its fire and grimness landed it a spot on our list of the best Oregon books of 2021. Vlautin will head to Powell's on Burnside for a chat and signing this Friday.


Come Thru

8 p.m. Sun, May 29 | Old Church Concert Hall, $22

Caleb Hearon and Holmes Holmes, heroes of the front-facing comedy video, have been gaining some momentum recently. Hearon writes for Netflix's Human Resources and popped up in the But I'm a Cheerleader-nodding music video for MUNA's "Silk Chiffon"; Holmes is currently the lead in the Fox mockumentary Welcome to Flatch. They are both very funny, and very worth catching at the Old Church Concert Hall downtown for some end-of-weekend laughs.


Complexions Contemporary Ballet

7:30 p.m. Wed, May 25 | Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $30–70

For the final installment in its BIPOC-focused We Are One festival, longtime Portland dance presenters White Bird have tapped New York's Complexions Contemporary Ballet to present two works at the Schnitz. First up is Woke, a contemporary political piece, followed by Love Rocks, which is set to the music of Lenny Kravitz.


Oregon Short Film Festival

11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat & noon–3 p.m. Sun, May 28–29 | Clinton Street Theater, $35 per day

Relocated from downtown's 5th Avenue Cinema to the Clinton Street Theater, the spring edition of this twice-annual festival will hold down two days and nine hours of programming, most of it Oregon-shot (with the stray Washington or California title mixed in). 

Paul Verhoeven Double Feature

7:30 p.m. Fri & 9:30 p.m. Sat, May 27–28 | Hollywood Theatre, $8–10 per film

Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven, the freak responsible for such pulpy Hollywood fever dreams as Basic Instinct and Showgirls, is holding down two programming slots at the Hollywood this weekend. First is Starship Troopers, his acidic, Denise Richards-and-Neil Patrick Harris-starring antifascist satire about a violence-hungry human army waging a morally iffy intergalactic war on giant bugs. Then, on Saturday, comes RoboCop, another sharply satirical action flick that takes Reaganism and the "tough-on-crime" ’80s to task with its tale about a superhuman cyborg patrolling the streets of Detroit. 

Point Break

3 p.m. Sun, May 29 | Hollywood Theatre, $8–10

In the cultural imagination, Point Break is "the homoerotic surfer movie where Patrick Swayze throws a dog at Keanue Reeves," which is extremely fair. Less-discussed (outside the digital pages of this magazine, at least) is the fact that it's also a movie where Cannon Beach stands in for Australia. The bulk of Kathryn Bigelow's glorious bro opus is set and shot in sunny California, but there's plenty of Beaver State footage as well, and the Hollywood is capitalizing on the connection with a 35 mm screening this Sunday. Vaya con díos—or whoever you'd like to bring.


The Antlers

8 p.m. Mon, May 23 | Aladdin Theater, $28

Back in the March of 2021, the Antlers chilled out—not easy to do when you're a band whose resting BPM is lower than most marathoners. But Green to Gold took the Brooklyn indie rockers once known for high-concept angst into the realm of the pastoral, resulting in something Pitchfork described as "like a post-rock orchestra playing around a campfire." The group will bring those lush tunes to the Aladdin on Monday (with, we can only assume, some high-concept angst in its back pocket).

Ezra Furman

8 p.m. Wed, May 25 | Wonder Ballroom, $20

After putting out the ultra-fuzzy Twelve Nudes in 2019 and contributing a hefty number of tunes to Netflix's Sex Education, Furman will drop a new LP called All of Us Flames at the end of August. If the first three singles are anything to go by, it's something to be excited about: these are literate, cinematic pop songs with glam-rock scuff, and the chance to hear Furman play new cuts off the album before it drops makes her Wonder Ballroom date well worth the price of admission.

Mel Brown Organ Group

8 P.M. THU, MAY 26 | JACK LONDON REVUE, $20–180

Drum legend Mel Brown, who played locally with Billy Larkin & the Delegates in the ’60s before a Motown deal brought his talents to the likes of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Diana Ross, held down a regular gig at now-shuttered Pearl District jazz club Jimmy Mak’s throughout the 2000s. He still plays on occasion at downtown’s Jack London Revue, and whenever he does, it’s a bit of a can’t-miss situation.


Special Events

Portland Flea

11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sundays through October | 240 SE Clay St, FREE

The now-weekly vintage shopping bonanza made a strong showing on opening weekend, and if you missed it, fear not: the Portland Flea plans on holding down the lot at SE Second and Clay well into the fall. Expect food, clothes, plants, prints, music, and more, with some of the city's most exciting and well-curated vendors making a showing.

Portland Rose Festival

May 26–June 11 | Various Locations & Prices

At long last, the Portland Rose Festival makes its full-throated return this week. The festivities will kick off in dramatic fashion on Thursday evening, with a free "reunion concert" by the Oregon Symphony at Waterfront Park, before beginning more formally on Friday with a fireworks display, the opening of the waterfront carnival rides, and more.

Vanport Mosaic Festival

Various times through June 7 | Various Locations & Prices

The annual music and art festival returns for its seventh year with a full in-person program. The kickoff weekend includes a production of Vanport: The Musical at Northwest Children's Theater and a self-guided one-hour audio tour of the Albina neighborhood that focuses on its musical history.


City without Altar

7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, 2 p.m. Sun through May 28 | Milagro Theatre, $20–27

This world-premiere play by Jasminne Mendez traces the horrors and aftermath of the 1937 Haitian Massacre in verse. Billed as a "poetic ritual," City without Altar centers on a single family, but also ropes in a bag of characters that include Machete, the embodiment of death, and a healer named Madame Telsaint.

Visual Art

Blanchet House of Hospitality: 70 Years

10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon–Sat, noon–5 p.m. Sun through June 5 | Oregon Historical Society, $0–10

The Blanchet House of Hospitality, which provides meals, clothing, and shelter in Portland's Old Town, turns 70 this year. To commemorate its contributions to the city, the Oregon Historical Society is mounting a retrospective exhibition that comprises photos, news clippings, and objects, which survey Blanchet House's far-reaching impacts on the countless Portlanders who've utilized its services.

Father Francis Kennard pouring coffee for people experiencing homelessness in Portland's Park Blocks, 1984. 

Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism

10 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed–Sun through June 5 | Portland Art Museum, $22–25

Packing in more than 150 works, this PAM show about the first couple of Mexican modernism runs through the rest of the spring. Kahlo's surreal masterworks and Rivera's lavish murals join works by a bevy of their contemporaries, including María Izquierdo (the first Mexican woman to show her work in the US) and Miguel Covarrubias (whose caricatures influenced the likes of Al Hirschfeld), to provide an overview of 20th-century avant-garde art at its weirdest, loudest, and most inspired.



Noon–5 p.m. Fri–Sun through June 26 | Oregon Contemporary, FREE

Eugene artist and U of O professor Rick Silva's first solo exhibition in Portland uses 3D models of mountain peaks to ask very chill, low-stakes questions like "Are we at the end of society" and "How do we navigate a degrading physical landscape?" Peaking mostly consists of one large, 25-minute video work, and its scale and pace make for clarifying, deliberately overwhelming viewing.