The 20 Best September 2020 Events in Portland

The Time Based Art Festival, Art in the Pearl, Colson Whitehead, and More Major Happenings This Month
by Mercury EverOut Staff
September 1, 2020
Catch a livestreamed performance of LA-based cumbia artist San Cha's amazing narrative album La Luz De La Esperanza on September 25 as part of the Time Based Art Festival. (Ivan Dario)

It's September in Portland and everywhere! Are you clutching your Tevas for dear life or knitting yourself a sweater and swan-diving into fall? Either way, there are some great things happening this month both online and in-person to make the seasonal transition nice and easy during an otherwise all-around fraught time in the world. We've rounded up the biggest happenings below, from Art in the Pearl to the Portland Latin American Film Festival to a virtual talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead. Want even more options? Check out our complete streaming, in-person, and protests & resistance calendars.

SEPTEMBER 2-12

FILM

Venice VR Expanded 2020
The Venice International Film Festival's official creative virtual reality competition is offering its programming online and in select venues around the world, and the Portland Art Museum just so happens to be one of the satellite locations partnering with the Venice Biennale! That means that you, a P-Town dweller, will be one of the first to see projects from well-known and independent artists from 24 countries. You'll purchase tickets in one-hour increments and select from 39 different virtual-reality experiences, and then you'll select a headset. From there, you'll have 50 minutes to watch projects and participate in them.
Portland Art Museum (Downtown)

SEPTEMBER 4

MUSIC

Portland Baroque Orchestra presents: Bach and the French Suite
The Portland Baroque Orchestra's second concert of their virtual 2020-21 season will present Bach and the French Suite, featuring a selection of Byron Schenkman's favorite French and French-inspired harpsichord works. Crack open a fine baguette and pour yourself some Cointreau while you listen, why don't you? 

Renaissance: Technically
The first in Portland Center Stage's "PCS Remix" devised theater series, Renaissance brings nine multidisciplinary artists together to collaborate on this experimental theater piece that aims to blur the lines between real life and the digital world.

MUSIC

Natasha Kmeto
"Electronic producer/vocalist Natasha Kmeto’s powerful, edgy voice commands a whole room," wrote Mercury contributor Jenni Moore. "Whether she’s performing her own catalog solo, or adding vocals and keys behind R&B outfit Chanti Darling, or DJing under the Nasty Tasha moniker, her live sets are always dope." Dance to a live virtual set from Kmeto on the internet.

SEPTEMBER 4-20

COMMUNITY

Sunflower Festival
This beloved local farm run by Jim and Peggy Kessinger will return for its annual Sunflower Festival. Wander through two acres of late-summer/early-fall blooms, say hi to baby cows, and take home one sunflower of your choosing. Paths are six feet side to accommodate social distancing.
Plumper Pumpkin Patch (Northwest)

SEPTEMBER 4-OCTOBER 10

FILM

15th Annual Hump Film Fest - Encore Presentation
Our colleagues, the creators of HUMP!, were crushed to cancel their originally planned fall tour. But after receiving enthusiastic support and permission from the filmmakers to show their films online, they knew that the show must go on! Even if we can’t watch together in movie theaters, we can still watch the 16 sexy short films, curated by Dan Savage, in the privacy and safety of our homes. Dan will introduce the show and then take you straight to the great dirty movies that showcase an amazing range of shapes, colors, sexualities, kinks, and fetishes!

SEPTEMBER 5-7

VISUAL ART

Art in the Pearl
Labor Day weekend is traditionally when the Pearl District is transformed into a giant open-air gallery. But since someone in D.C. so thoroughly botched their pandemic response, Art in the Pearl is going to have to transform the internet instead, moving their festival online and highlighting works from over 120 juried artists, and providing looks at the creative impulse those artists follow, demos of how their works are created, and stay-at-home projects for viewers at home to start on their own.

SEPTEMBER 10

READINGS & TALKS

Nancy Pearl, Jeff Schwager, Laurie Frankel
Seattle's (and dare we say the country's) most famous librarian, Nancy Pearl, and playwright Jeff Schwager interview a diverse range of notable and influential American writers about the words that shaped them in their book The Writer’s Library. The co-authors will be joined in conversation by contributor Laurie Frankel (This Is How It Always Is).

SEPTEMBER 10-30

VISUAL ART

The Time Based Art Festival (TBA) 2020
"One of the reasons I love the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival is that, year after year, they always strive to mix academic, fine conceptual art with fun, challenging performances that deserve to be included in our considerations of 'art,'" wrote former Mercury art editor Suzette Smith of last year's festival. This year there will be a mix of in-person events, like the film program In Lieu of An Ocean (Send Flowers), and streamable stuff, like Charles Mudede's new film Thin Skin.

SEPTEMBER 11

COMMUNITY

OMSI Star Night at Youngberg Hill
Want to get far, far away from planet Earth for a night? Same. Bring your own blanket and join OMSI astronomer James Todd for a presentation on the summer night sky, projected onto screens. You're encouraged to bring your own devices to sync up. Most seating options will be outside, so don't forget a sweater. 

SEPTEMBER 11-14

GEEK

Epic Quest
Awesome Con and Rose City Comic Con are teaming up for a three-day, team-based scavenger hunt culminating in the symbolic crowning of the Epic Questmasters (*boom* *explosion*). Gather a team or get placed with one and try to complete as many mini-quests as you can to claim victory and prizes. 

SEPTEMBER 13

COMMUNITY

Under the Moonlight Virtual Fundraising Event
Learn about Portland's Lan Su Chinese Garden and help support its future as it celebrates its 20th anniversary. 

READINGS & TALKS

Mike Birbiglia, J. Hope Stein
Sometimes people who don't want kids end up with them, and sometimes those people find that they really enjoy spending time with their newfangled spawn. That's what happened to Mike Birbiglia (the beloved storyteller and This American Life contributor with the famous sleepwalking problems and habit of saying "uhhhhh…"), who shares his experiences in The New One: Painfully True Stories From a Reluctant Dad. The book also has parental insights from his wife, J. Hope Stein, in the form of poems. Join them both for a virtual reading with Powell's.

SEPTEMBER 15

COMMUNITY

Virtual Swift Watch
Portland Audubon's fall ritual of watching the swifts (whose collective noun is, to our delight, a "screaming frenzy") take flight from Chapman with their long fin-like wings will happen again this year, but you're encouraged to watch virtually (or maybe from your car?) to prevent crowding in the park.

SEPTEMBER 17

MUSIC

Daughtry: Live From Home
Former American Idol finalist Daughtry will come at you live from Nashville on his virtual tour. He promises a "unique setlist," a Q&A, and some special surprises at his Portland "stop," a portion of sales from which will benefit the Crystal Ballroom. 

SEPTEMBER 17-NOVEMBER 12

FILM

Portland Latin American Film Festival XIV
The Hollywood Theater is moving the Portland Latin American Film Festival online, which is bittersweet. Bitter: Everyone loves a big screen, especially at this historic gem. Sweet: You'll have a full 48 hours to watch each film once you hit play. From September to November, the festival will present six movies from Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Switzerland, and Belgium that celebrate and honor the cultural diversity of Latin America.

SEPTEMBER 18

FOOD AND DRINK

Virtual OMSI After Dark: BrewFest
Curious about the science behind those Oregon-made beers you love so much? OMSI's second virtual After Dark event will include science demos, words from brewers, trivia, livestreamed music, and, of course, beer-drinking. Kits include 10 12- or 16-ounce beers and two tasting glasses. 

SEPTEMBER 22

READINGS & TALKS

Zephyr Teachout, E.J. Dionne Jr
Zephyr Teachout provides an outline for a grassroots movement that organizes against monopoly power in communities across this country in her new book Break 'Em Up! She'll be joined in conversation by longtime Washington Post op-ed columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. at this virtual Powell's event. 

SEPTEMBER 24

READINGS & TALKS

Portland Arts & Lectures: Colson Whitehead
Portland Arts & Lectures' 35th season will close with Pulitzer Prize/National Book Award/Whiting Award-winning author Colson Whitehead (The Nickel Boys, The Underground Railroad), who will share the digital stage with another incredible Whiting Award-winning author, Mitchell S. Jackson (The Residue Years). You don't even have to put on shoes and socks to attend! Don't miss it.

SEPTEMBER 25

COMMUNITY

Zoo Rendezvous
Join the Oregon Zoo as they head to the finish line of their $8.5 million Heart of the Oregon Zoo campaign, which will fund important enhancements and additions to Polar Passage, Primate Forest, and an expanded rhino habitat, as well as improvements in animal care, education, and conservation. This event will include a virtual tour of the new digs, a raffle and auction, and chances to hang out with animals virtually. 

MUSIC

2020 Virtual XRAY Awards!
At this virtual event recognizing "audio achievements and outstanding activism in Portland," take in a performance by the solo folk-adjacent project Black Belt Eagle Scout as you enjoy dinner and dessert by Snackrilege and Shoofly Vegan Bakery and beverages from Migration Brewing Company and New Deal Distillery. Andy Lindberg, the producer, editor, and host of the Kick Ass Oregon History podcast, will MC.