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…

Wordstock announces partnership, change of venue

More than a mere convention for those in the written word business, Wordstock has been a vibrant celebration of the literary arts for nine years. And now Wordstock has a new venue – and benefactor. In the past, the festival has operated out of the Oregon Convention Center. This year, festival organizers will take a brief hiatus to prepare for Wordstock’s 2015 reincarnation at its new venue, the Portland Art Museum. Brian Ferriso, Executive Director of the Portland Art Museum, is enthusiastic about the event, revealing that Wordstock will not only take place within the larger venues of the museum, but also throughout the gallery space, where compelling art will be a part of the overall festival. Wordstock’s change in venue is the result of a beneficiary relationship with Literary Arts. Since 1984, the nationally recognized program has been associated with the Portland Art Museum, where it launched the subscription series, Portland Arts & Lectures. Woodstock’s association with Literary Arts will bring additional funding, but also expectations — expectations that Literary Arts can help Wordstock exceed. Board Chair Michelle Wasson, who is responsible for initiating conversation with Literary Arts, believes that “this acquisition allows the festival to continue to develop as…

PDX Magazine and McMenamins present Three for Silver and Nathan Jr.’s .bot

#AbsynthianPsychoTrad, #TypewriterWaltz, and #3amSexyDirge are just a few of the hashtags playfully used to describe the songs of Portland-based band Three for Silver. The gypsy jazz group is a chimerical concoction, with Willo Sertain powering both vocals and accordion, Lucas Warford plucking a makeshift bass, and Greg Allison sawing the fiddle. They produce a sound that is both a rousing rhythmic aphrodisiac and a mind-slipping sedative. In essence, a prescription for a great live show. Over the course of seven days, Three for Silver will dispense their newest tunes during a residency for Al’s Den at Crystal Hotel (303 SW 12th Ave.).This is the last chance to hear what a #3amSexyDirge sounds like before they leave for Chicago’s Hi-Style Studio to record their new album, expected to be released mid-December. On Saturday, September 27, as the residency at Al’s Den concludes, PDX Magazine will use the opportunity to pair Three for Silver with local legend Nathan Jr’s new project titled .bot. The multi-instrumentalist Nathan Jr. is known as one half of the duo Duover, and has toured with the likes of M. Ward and Sea Wolf. The show, which is free to attend, begins at 7 p.m. PDX Magazine Music…

Art Carts hits Hawthorne this weekend

Look around your home for a moment. Who’s hanging on your walls these days? Still have your M.C. Escher print from college in the study? Any vintage liquor ads in the kitchen? It’s time to roll up Le Frou Frou and the Campari poster and hang some new art. If you’re anywhere near Portland this weekend, it’s the perfect time to start or add to your collection of works by local artists. Stop by the first annual Art Carts fair at the far east end of Hawthorne Boulevard in the East Portland Eagle Lodge’s parking lot (4904 SE Hawthorne Blvd.) on Saturday, September 13, for what may be Portland’s first art fair on wheels. As one of the major sponsors of this event, PDX Magazine believes every Portlander should have local art hanging in her home. And bringing local art out of the brick-and-mortar setting and into the neighborhoods in mobile galleries is a great way to introduce artists to the public. More than a dozen art carts will be present, and ours will offer a mix of original, one-of-a-kind works as well as affordable high-quality prints from a variety of artists including: Richard Melloy, Eli Lewis, Jennifer Mercede, Emily Kosta, Linda Rand, Gesine Kratzner, Kate Altermatt, Kelli MacConnell, Sylvia Mann…

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,…

‘Sex Ed’ to world premiere at Portland Film Festival

The second annual Portland Film Festival kicks off Tuesday, August 26, at the Crystal Ballroom with the world premiere of its main film Sex Ed, a coming-of-age comedy directed by Isaac Feder and starring Haley Joel Osment. “I can’t wait to see this movie with a big audience,” says Feder about the premiere. “It’s going to be an unforgettable night. I’m psyched about Portland and the cast and crew are excited to come to Portland for this. Portland feels like the right place to play it—the right place to get the movie started.” Sex Ed is Feder’s first feature film, and he, Osment, and other actors in the film will be present for the premiere and the after party held at the same venue. Sex Ed is the story of a recent college graduate and aspiring educator Eddie (Osment), who settles for a position teaching an after-school detention class of middle-schoolers. Once Eddie discovers that the students are tragically misinformed about sex, he decides to instruct the class in sex education. And, of course, chaos ensues. But not exactly in the traditional story arc of your typical Hollywood movie. Sex Ed has all the ingredients of a Hollywood comedy; it’s…

First Girl Fest Northwest rocks Portland

The first annual Girl Fest Northwest (GFNW) music festival, of which PDX Magazine is a proud sponsor, was an intimate event that featured an eclectic array of music. The showcase, ranging from hip-hop to folk-infused techno to raw unadulterated punk, drew a crowd just as diverse as its musical lineup. Young and old, hipsters and slickers, gathered on Aug. 2 at Lola’s Room of the Crystal Ballroom to celebrate, promote, and embrace women in music. For the event’s organizer Madison Sturdevant, the idea has been percolating as long as she’s been writing about the Northwest music scene. “While writing about music, I was consistently frustrated by the attitude toward female musicians in the scene,” explains Sturdevant, who currently writes for the Portland-based premiere Hip-Hop lifestyle magazine, We Out Here Magazine. “I saw hardly any female artists receiving the opportunities or recognition received by men they worked alongside. Also, there are many expectations put on female artists that aren’t put on men. You have to act a certain way, behave a certain way—definitely look a certain way. GFNW started off simply as a showcase for female artists, where they could perform and the focus would be 100 percent on their music”…

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,…