Your Guide to January 2021 Events in Portland: COVID-Safe Edition

The Fertile Ground Festival, A Live Wire Virtual House Party, and Other Notable Happenings
January 5, 2021
Physical comedy master Anne Zander will debut her delightfully absurd digital romp Prolific at this year's Fertile Ground Festival, which kicks off online on January 28. (Emily Shankman)

The first month of the year is a good time to try new things, and since we're all still confined to our homes, adding a COVID-safe happening or two to your routine—be it an online event or an otherwise socially distanced one—will have to suffice for now. Luckily, there's plenty to choose from this month. We've rounded up the heavy hitters in every genre below, from the Fertile Ground Festival to a Powell's conversation with Call Me By Your Name author André Aciman, and from an MLK retrospective film to a Live Wire Virtual House Party. For even more options, you can always check out our complete streaming and StreamLocal calendars. 

Events are online unless otherwise noted.

JANUARY 5-26

FILM

Roger Corman Master Class
Every Tuesday in January, Movie Madness University and the Hollywood Theatre will bring you online screenings and in-depth analysis of low-budget sci-fi and horror gems by trailblazing filmmaker Roger Corman, starting with 1962's The Intruder.

JANUARY 8

MUSIC

Currents
45th Parallel Universe will take a fresh approach to Shostakovich's Symphony No. 15 with a sextet arranged by Viktor Derevianko, captured by filmmaker Scott Ballard and featuring the talent of BodyVox Dance Studio.

JANUARY 8-FEBRUARY 21

VISUAL ARTS

Timelines for The Future: Christine Howard Sandoval
The first exhibition under resident curator Lucy Cotter's Turnstones program, which "[brings] together artists who refuse the available vocabulary and prefer to seek new frameworks," features photographs and drawings by Christine Howard Sandoval, whose practice revolves around the act of walking on sites of precarious and contested land.

THROUGH JANUARY 10

WINTER HOLIDAYS

ZooLights
The Oregon Zoo's annual display of over half a million lights is a beloved activity for any and all who love exotic animals and holiday spirit, and this year they're continuing the tradition COVID-safe style with a drive-through pathway.
Oregon Zoo (Southwest)

JANUARY 12

COMMUNITY

Evan Thomas
The latest in Oregon Historical Society's Mark O. Hatfield lecture series features a night with author Evan Thomas, discussing his latest First: Sandra Day O'Connor, a biography of the history-making Supreme Court Justice.

JANUARY 14-17

MUSIC

The 22nd Annual Portland Old-Time Music Gathering
Throw a hoedown at home with four days of online zydeco and honky-tonk concerts with the Foghorn String Band in place of this annual IRL square dance.

JANUARY 16-FEBRUARY 21

VISUAL ARTS

Alyson Provax: Old Long Since
Using a letterpress, Alyson Provax imbues various papers with poetic words and phrases surrounded by embossed marks and ink splatters. Check out her work in 15-minute time slots with gloved hands, and stop by on January 16 to meet the artist in person.
agenda pdx (Southeast)

JANUARY 18

FILM

Bridge Over Troubled Water: A Tribute to the Life & Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
See a retrospective of performances, speeches, and more that have been recorded from past iterations of the World Arts Foundation's annual Portland MLK Jr. Day celebration.

RESISTANCE & SOLIDARITY

39th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Keynote and Awards Celebration
Oregon State University will honor the memory of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. with an online edition of their annual breakfast program. 

Reclaim MLK 2021
Join Don't Shoot Portland, Social Change Matters, and other local organizations for a civil rights march on MLK Day.
Peninsula Park (North Portland)

JANUARY 19

READINGS & TALKS

Powell's Books Presents André Aciman in Conversation With Jonathan Burnham
If you ask Italian American writer and Proust scholar André Aciman (Call Me By Your Name), the concept of time is an unwelcome guest when it comes to our memories and imaginations. Hear him draw from the likes of Sigmund Freud, Constantine Cavafy, W. G. Sebald, John Sloan, Éric Rohmer, and Fernando Pessoa in this online talk with HarperCollins' Jonathan Burnham about his new book of essays, Homo Irrealis.

JANUARY 20

GEEK

National Geographic Live—life on Other Worlds
Curious about what kind of life resides on other planets? Join planetary scientist and astrobiologist Kevin Peter Hand and NASA engineer Kobie Boykins for a comprehensive update on space exploration. 

JANUARY 21-24

THEATER & PERFORMANCE

A THOUSAND WAYS (Part One): A Phone Call
Having premiered at Seattle's On the Boards a few months into quarantine, the first installment of Obie Award-winning theater-makers 600 Highwaymen's interactive virtual performance series offers a telling portrait of the performer on the other end of a mysterious phone call. The Stranger's Jasmyne Keimig and Chase Burns share their take on it here.

JANUARY 28

PODCAST

Live Wire Virtual House Party
In this livestreamed episode of Live Wire, Luke Burbank and Elena Passarello will chat with guests (like the New York Times' Jon Mooallem) about their current projects and how they're responding to the state of the world.

READINGS & TALKS

Madeline Miller
Literary Arts presents this evening of discussion with the bestselling author of The Song of Achilles and Circe.

JANUARY 28-FEBRUARY 7

THEATER & PERFORMANCE

Fertile Ground Festival
"Fertile Ground is delightfully uncurated, which means it can be insane. More importantly, it’s one of Portland’s most accessible and affordable arts festivals," wrote Megan Burbank last year. This year's online program promises 11 days of world premieres from dozens of Portland theater artists streaming on Facebook and YouTube.

JANUARY 30-31

THEATER & PERFORMANCE

The Creepy Campfire Society
If your interests align with Are You Afraid of the Dark, MTV, Weird Al Yankovic, and the supernatural, don't miss out on this night of storytelling about myths and urban legends.

JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 6

MUSIC

Alisa Weilerstein & Inon Barnatan: The Singing Cello
Deemed "technically flawless and deeply expressive" by the New York Times, cellist Alisa Weilerstein will join pianist Inon Barnatan for a Chamber Music Northwest program featuring Manuel De Falla’s Spanish folk-inspired Suite Populaire Espagnole and Rachmaninoff’s dramatic Cello Sonata.

JANURY 30-MARCH 6

FILM

2021 HUMP! Film Festival
Every year, The Stranger puts out the call to sex-havers everywhere to submit a homegrown amateur porn film depicting whatever they're into (barring poop, kids, and animals, of course). The result is an incredibly diverse representation of human sexuality in all its straight, gay, trans, queer, kinky, funny, pissy, painful, and pretty forms. Let's see what wild spins people put on their submissions that were created during the lockdown, shall we? 

THROUGH MARCH 4

SPORTS

2020/21 Blazers Games
Cheer on Rip City via NBC Sports Northwest as the Blazers continue their regular 2021 season at home and abroad, including ones this month against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Thurs Jan 7), the Sacramento Kings (Sat Jan 9), and the Memphis Grizzlies (Fri Jan 22).

Also worth noting:

FEBRUARY 25-28

Chinese New Year Lantern Viewing
Lan Su's annual Chinese New Year celebration will continue social distancing style with four evenings of traditional lantern viewings, including a brand-new 18-foot phoenix lantern sculpture that hails all the way from China. The Garden Teahouse will offer to-go snacks and tea for visitors. Tickets are expected to sell out, so don't sleep on snagging admission online. 
Lan Su Chinese Garden (Northwest)