Veronica by Carl Bower in his series Private Fears, on view now at Blue Sky Gallery in the Pearl District

The days may be getting shorter, but Portland's social calendars are filling up. Most of the city's major arts organizations have reared back to life, and things have, dare we say, begun approaching some sort of "normal" for on-the-town hopefuls. This week brings the return of the in-person book festival, a visit from Hasan Minhaj, an Akira Kurosawa film festival, and much more. Here's what we have our eyes on.

Comedy

Hasan Minhaj

7 & 10 p.m. Thu, Nov 11, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $45–95

After his 2018 show, Homecoming King, nabbed a Netflix special and a Peabody Award, the onetime Daily Show correspondent returns to the road this fall for an all-new hour, titled The King’s Jester. He’ll hit the Schnitz for a two-show night: expect storytelling goodness with an autobiographical and/or political bent.

Film

Akira Kurosawa Film Festival

Various times Nov 6–20, Clinton Street Theater, $10–50

The Clinton is celebrating the legendary Japanese filmmaker all throughout November with seven (samurai) of his major works—individual tickets will run you $10 a pop, or you can grab a full festival pass for $50. This week's entries include the Tolstoy-inspired Ikiru, classic epic Seven Samurai, and Noh-inspired Macbeth adaptation Throne of Blood.

Music

Martha Wainwright

9 p.m. Sun, Nov 14, Doug Fir Lounge, $15

The Canadian singer-songwriter and member of the Wainwright family (whose other musical exports include Loudon and Rufus) dropped a pensive, nourishing LP back in August called Love Will Be Reborn. You can experience it live this weekend at the Doug Fir; we imagine it will be peak music-as-medicine.

Mic Capes

9:30 p.m. Fri, Nov 12, Jack London Revue, $15

The prolific St. Johns rapper—whose most recent recordIn Spite Of..., featured heavily on our playlists over the summer—will hit downtown's Jack London Revue to bring up the jazz club's BPM a bit. He'll be joined by fellow Portland rapper Milc and producer SXLXMXN.

Perfume Genius

8 p.m. Fri, Nov 12, Revolution Hall, $25

The Tacoma-affiliated musician’s last record, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, was one of 2020’s most acclaimed. In the absence of a tour, Mike Hadreas (Perfume Genius is not, alas, his given name) followed it up with an elaborate remix album. Now, though, he’ll get an opportunity to give his spooky chamber pop the physical life it deserves mid-November at Revolution Hall.

Special Events

Portland Book Festival

Various times Sat, Nov 13, South Park Blocks, $15–44

Everyone’s favorite rainy, nerdy bookworm extravaganza has returned this year, after 2020 saw it expand its traditional roster and move totally online. This time, Literary Arts is going the hybrid route, presenting a shorter-than-last-year but longer-than-usual festival with a mix of online and in-person literary goodness. The in-person component runs all day Saturday, with pop-ups, panel discussions, readings, and more spread throughout the Portland Art Museum, Portland'5, and the South Park Blocks.

Theater

The Chinese Lady

7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sun, Nov 4–7, Ellyn Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage, $15–35

This weekend is your last chance to catch Artists Repertory Theatre's production of Lloyd Suh’s play, which won raves when it premiered in New York back in 2018. It tells the story of Afong Moy, a 14-year-old billed as the first Chinese woman on American soil, who was put on display in New York as a curio, performing Western ideas about Chinese life. Check out our review here

Family

7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, 5 p.m. Sun, Shaking the Tree Theatre, $2–30

After a COVID-related pause, Shaking the Tree Theatre’s creepy season opener is back, proving the autumn chills need not stop once Halloween has passed. Celine Song’s Family is a surreal look at familial decay, and the perennial risk-takers at Shaking the Tree are a strong match for the material.

Visual Art

Private Fears

Noon–5 p.m. Wed–Sat through Nov 27, Blue Sky Gallery, FREE

Inspired by his experiences with a stalker, photographer Carl Bower began a series where he walked up to total strangers and asked them to share their fears. During or shortly after their confessions, he photographed them, attempting to immortalize the moment of vulnerability and interrogate the tension between self-presentation and the muck of self-doubt. The portraits—which range from striking to mundane—are on view now at Blue Sky Gallery in the Pearl. 

 

Water: NFS

Noon–5 p.m. Fri–Sun, Oregon Contemporary, FREE

In place of this year’s Portland Biennial, Oregon Contemporary (née Disjecta) is launching a program called Site, “a series of large-scale solo exhibitions by Oregon artists.” First up are Natalie Ball and Annelia Hillman pue-leek-la’, whose work deals with water sources in their respective Tribal communities.