Arts

Dim the lights, please: Plays opening now in Portland

Autumn may mark the end of day trips, beach-basking, and camping, but Portlanders must not lament its arrival. The fall brings with it a line-up of theatrical productions that demonstrate escapism at its best. A variety of plays, from existential to thrilling to comedic, are ready to take audiences on an expedition of the mind. Third Rail’s production of Middletown lightens the weight of the abstruse quest to uncover the purpose of life. Written by Will Eno, Middletown is a story marked by life and death but the subject matter is what occurs between. Utilizing the play medium allows the story to emphasize a familiar cast of characters seen in life—the cop, the doctor, the mechanic—in a setting that could be any town. Under the direction of Marcella Crowson, Eno’s quip-filled, yet poignant dialogue is metered with fast-paced execution to keep the audience from getting lost in its meta musings. Middletown plays now through Oct. 19 at the Winningstad Theater, 1111 SW Broadway. Performances occur Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $33 to $47. Audiences seeking a more plot-driven story can be carried away to a sea of unfortunate circumstances and character conflict in Exiles. The third play…

Artist Susan Sage provides insight into her inspiration, process, and work

I met with Susan Sage last month to talk about her work and get a feel for her experience as an artist in Portland. We arranged to meet at her home in Northeast Portland, a cozy place where animal drawings hang from the wall and coffee always seems to be brewing. In Issue No. 8 of PDX Magazine, a write-up of local band Minden was accompanied by a lively painting of the group’s lead singer and songwriter, Casey Burge, painted by Sage. My conversation with Sage started with my curiosity about these animal pieces. “I did them all in a two-week period, while I was visiting my family on the Cayman Islands. That year I brought a big pad of paper and ended up completing eight or nine animals, using lots of ink, a little watercolor and oil pastels. I was trying to think of animals that weren’t too cute, so I looked through tons of images and pieced together body parts that I liked. Each image is kind of a collage.” “Kangaroos were the coolest…they look very sexual. They rest a lot in the heat and seem kind of human. I found all these images of them laying on the…

‘Lessons Learned’: Puppets, Portland, and a Q&A with Art Director Scott Foster

“From small beginnings come great things!” It’s this phrase, breathlessly recited by a character known only as “the boy,” that gets right to the heart of Toby Froud’s live action puppet film, Lessons Learned. In fact, the same could be said of Froud himself, who was only an infant when he appeared alongside David Bowie in Jim Henson’s 1986 film, Labyrinth. Froud’s parents, Wendy and Brian, created costumes and puppets for Labyrinth, as well as for The Dark Crystal, and their artistic influence can be seen in the creatures of Lessons Learned. The fifteen-minute short begins on the boy’s birthday as he arrives at his grandfather’s door, where he is promptly greeted with the flick of a feather duster by the ever-harried housekeeper, Digby. After receiving a special birthday gift from his grandfather, the boy embarks on a journey that leads him through a hallway jammed floor to ceiling with boxes of “collected wisdom,” to an immense, cloudy dreamworld where he encounters beings such as the towering “granny”—a Moirai-inspired spider who furiously knits away at an impossibly long, undulating red scarf. The film features a magical, lush soundtrack by Lillian Todd Jones and Gordon Mills (Jones’ father, William Todd Jones,…

Artist Bre Gipson blends mediums to capture natural elements and cosmic landscapes

“Overall, I am a maker and whatever the medium, I want my work to be open-ended enough for viewers to insert their own story while still exuding a sense of the otherworldly,” says artist Bre Gipson, whose mediums include watercolor, collage, sculpture, and digital art, among others. The Oakland-based artist is spending this summer—and the next two—in Portland to participate in Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies program. Back home, she’s a member of an all-female artist collective whose work, Till Death Do Us Part, is currently on exhibit at Solespace Gallery and Somar Art Bar in Oakland. In Portland, her art continues to progress and advance. “My work is constantly evolving and I continuously experiment with new materials and mediums,” notes Gipson. “Currently, I am working on animating my collages and creating larger site-specific paintings and installations.” While the artist does not work in just one primary medium, or give a preference to one over another, Gipson does note that her approach to her art and how she produces it is a collage in its most basic sense. “Whether it’s layered paper imagery, or my line work over paint, or more tactile in my sculptures…

Fine art goes mobile: Portland’s first art cart fair hits Hawthorne Sept. 13

Sculptor Stan Peterson and silversmith Stephanie Wiarda are taking their Little Art in the Trailer show on the road. The two artists have organized Art Carts, a one-day pop-up art exhibit held at the far east end of Hawthorne Boulevard in the East Portland Eagle Lodge’s parking lot (4904 SE Hawthorne Blvd.). On September 13, Peterson and Wiarda’s art-filled 1973 Airstream Argosy will be joined by roughly a dozen trailers, trucks, vans, and vehicles curated by both emerging and local artists. In addition, the PDX Magazine-sponsored art fair will feature food, three live bands, a wine and beer garden, and best-decorated art trailer contest with prizes. The all-day event—drop by from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.—presents a fun and relaxed way for Portlanders to experience the West Coast’s fine art scene. And for Peterson, the idea is a dream realized. “We’ve been showing different artists in our trailer for about six months,” says Peterson, “but our dream has been to get a bunch of art carts together.” View carts curated by: Chris Haberman, a prolific painter and muralist and co-founder of People’s Art of Portland Gallery Jason Brown and Ali Schlicting, co-owner of People’s Art of Portland Gallery, both painters Jonathan Parker,…

Richard Melloy’s Latest Work Is Equally Grotesque and Sublime

Richard Melloy is standing, fidgeting really, outside of N.W.I.P.A. in Southeast Portland at the opening of his latest show, The Way I See It. Despite the blistering midday heat, and the fact that he has a cache of cold beer behind the bar—good beer!—that he offers up freely to others, he himself isn’t drinking. Doesn’t drink, actually. But he does smoke. Which is what he’s doing while examining a small metal race car that’s palmed in his hand. Someone has spray-painted the entire car white, and painstakingly detailed it with her contact information, which she has handwritten with a ballpoint pen in tiny, shaky letters. “A business car!” the 57-year-old Melloy beams, driving it up and down the length of my bare arm. “Now this…this is genius!” The car is passed amongst a group of Melloy-enthusiasts, which includes a curious assortment of women who orbit him in pairs and trios, and a cadre of local artists fresh from their own gallery events. When the tiny ride makes its way over to the picnic table where Melloy and I now sit, he takes a photo of it with his phone. He turns to give me the business car and, seizing the…

Richard Melloy’s ‘The Way I See It’ Opens at NWIPA Saturday

Richard Melloy’s new exhibit The Way I See It opens at N.W.I.P.A. (6350 SE Foster Rd.) on Saturday, July 18, from 6 t 10 p.m. For the exhibit, the renowned painter has produced one of his riskiest collections yet. Melloy is a veteran artist and an inspiration for creative longevity. PDX Magazine wrote of Melloy in Issue No. 1: “[He’s] bullheaded enough not to quit and smart enough to adapt throughout a long career.” Melloy, 57, graduated from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. He settled in Portland in the 1980s and was part of the nascent art scene in Northwest Portland that would go on to spawn the Pearl District. Now living in the Foster-Powell area in Southeast Portland, Melloy is a sought-after graphic designer, as well as a painter. “As a self-taught painter, it seems like everything I attempt is a risk,” says Melloy. “First, I decide where I want to begin the painting. Second, I figure out a way to paint it. Both the idea and the technique are never static so I am always open to change or refining it. Both processes push and pull until the painting arrives. I am…

Photograph by Intisar Abioto

Intisar Abioto’s ‘The Black Portlanders’ expands to all of Oregon with new partnership

Local photographer and storyteller Intisar Abioto, who has worked on The Black Portlanders project since February 2013, is now packing up her camera and traveling throughout Oregon to expand the breadth of her photography subjects. Abioto is partnering with the Urban League of Portland to produce photo accompaniments and conduct interviews for the next edition of the State of Black Oregon. Abioto will serve as photographic director for the important report. This year’s State of Black Oregon is a follow-up to the 2009 report, which included stories and data that first made the troubling social and economic realities of black Oregonians visible. According to Abioto, 2014’s report will feature “exploratory photography/imagery, and narrative and lived experience to illustrate the social and economic reality of black Oregonians.” The Urban League and Abioto will travel together to Ashland, Eugene, Bend, and Coos Bay to conduct interviews and photograph participants. “My goal within the project will be to photograph and illustrate the diverse presence of black people in Oregon, both urban and rural,” remarks Abioto. “What does black Oregon look like? Who are black Oregonians? Where are we?” “I don’t have a working mental image of what black Oregon looks like. Do you?”…

PDX Pop Quiz: Name These Portland Artists

Hey, folks. It’s time for a PDX Pop Quiz. Yes, yes, we know you were not warned of this and, yes, maybe it’s unfair of us to just drop this bomb on you without giving you a chance to study. But if you’ve been reading PDX Magazine, you should do fine. We have complete confidence that you will. And if someone you know forwarded this to you and if you’re new to the mag and to Portland art, well, do your best. Don’t forget to share your results on Facebook, Twitter, and wherever else you virtually socialize. The links to do so are at the bottom of the results page of the quiz. Okay. There are 100 PDX Art Points at stake, so sharpen up your clicking finger. Good luck… and no cheating. — Ross Blanchard, Editor-in-chief PDX Pop Quiz: Name These Portland Artists UPDATE: The quiz is temporarily unavailable due to a technical issue. We’re working on it!

July’s First Thursday Roundup

The Sam Roloff Abstract Retrospective, a look at the artist’s works from 2009 to 2014, kicks off this First Thursday with an opening reception at White Space (1439 NW Marshall St.) from 6 to 11 p.m. “I define many of my paintings as time capsules,” says Roloff. “Many of my artworks have 10 or more layers beneath the surface, indicative of the passage of time and the creative process, which are meticulously documented. “Like time and music, my work has movement that leaves a trail of evidence beneath layer upon layer of oils, wax, and glistening resins. Each series that I develop expresses the reality that each of us as individuals—and as citizens of communities, cultures, and nations—has a unique back-story that informs our present, even if only traces remain of what came before. “When collectors purchase one of my paintings, they are actually purchasing a multi-layered collection of all the paintings and scenes within their many layers of imagery, symbolism, ideas, and emotion. The crux of this approach harkens to the tradition of what the Italians call pentimenti: the ghosts of images hidden beneath a painting’s surface.” Pictured above: Equal Rights Marriage Comes to Oregon by Sam Roloff. Oil on canvas….