Cheap & Easy

The Best Bang for Your Buck Events in Portland This Weekend: May 17–19, 2024

GNARFEST, Vanport Mosaic Festival, and More Cheap & Easy Events Under $15
May 17, 2024
Sunday Parkways will take over some East Portland streets for pedestrians and riders to explore the neighborhood and check out fun activations. (Portland Sunday Parkways via Facebook)
The weekend is calling with low-key, high-fun events from Gnarly's vegan market GNARFEST to The 9th Vanport Mosaic Festival and from East Portland Sunday Parkways to Lake Oswego's AANHPI Heritage Month Celebration. For more ideas, check out our guide to the top events of the week.

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A Retrospection Past Event List
Claire Woolner's tragicomic clown confessional is the most surreal performance you'll catch this week (or, like, maybe ever). Woolner's blend of absurdist comedy and improvised clowning plumbs the depths of "ego battle, failure, creativity, and how to survive"—you know, all the important stuff! A Retrospective also swept last year's Hollywood Fringe Festival, winning Top of the Fringe and numerous other awards. If you're not convinced, consider this quote from the New York Times: “Ultimately, her absurdism answers one question: What if the performance artist Marina Abramovic were a clown?” LC
(Kickstand Comedy, Ladd's Addition, $15)


Keoma Past Event List
Wyrd War does it all, but the record label, film series, and "guerrilla action group" is perhaps best known for its freaky occult proclivities. This screening of Italian acid western Keoma seems right up Wyrd War's alley—the flick (directed by Italian exploitation eccentric Enzo Castellari) follows a haunted former Union soldier who encounters racism, witches, and betrayal amid a hellish post-war landscape. Slurp up the weirdo spaghetti western at this screening, and grab a new record from local rockers Zone Trooper while you're there. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10 - $12)


Enya Night 2024 Past Event List
According to a 2016 report in the Sun, the notoriously reclusive new age queen Enya lives in a £91m castle in Ireland full of cats (goals tbh). Because of her strict boundaries with fame, the ethereal icon has never toured and likely never will. And that's why the world needs more Enya tribute nights. This Friday, local artists Leather Jester, Talking Contest, Regular Music, Love in Hell, Leech Beech, and Bob Desaulnier will celebrate the biggest day of the year (Enya's birthday, obviously) with an evening of covers. AV
(The Fixin' To, St. Johns, $12)

Popular Music (Ex-Parenthetical Girls) with Twingle Past Event List
If the name Parenthetical Girls means anything to you then you're going to want to be at Holocene this Fridayto witness Popular Music, Zac Pennington's post-Parenthetical Girls project with Australian composer Prudence Rees-Lee. Their 2023 full-length Minor Works plays out like a dramatic, haunting film score. Pennington's evocative vocals paint pictures of doom—a doomed relationship ("Sad Songs"), a doomed city ("Bad Actors"), a doomed world ("Revelations"). But, just like Hollywood's best movies, even the sad ending is beautiful. Minor Works is lush with contributions from fellow former Parenthetical Girl Jherek Bischoff and Russia's 17-piece Opensound Orchestra. It's the kind of record you listen to while wandering around at night to watch the city—which is on the verge of crumbling or coming back together, it's too soon to say—play out in front of you. STRANGER CULTURE EDITOR MEGAN SELING
(Holocene, Buckman, $10)


Geraldine DeRuiter in conversation with Andi Zeisler Past Event List
If you haven't had a chance to read James Beard Award-winning local writer Geraldine DeRuiter's fierce, incendiary viral essay "I Made the Pizza Cinnamon Rolls from Mario Batali’s Sexual Misconduct Apology Letter," go do that right now. Her hysterical review of an absurdly bad meal at the Michelin-starred restaurant Bros. is equally worth your time. Luckily for us all, DeRuiter has brought her scathing wit to a new collection of essays entitled If You Can't Take the Heat: Tales of Food, Feminism, and Fury, which contains yarns ranging from her obsession with meal planning for the apocalypse ("You are probably deeply worried that in desperate times, I would eat your pets. And yes, I absolutely would") to learning how to embrace being hangry. She'll stop by Powell's for a scintillating conversation with Andi Zeisler, cofounder of Bitch Media and author of We Were Feminists Once. JB
(Powell's City of Books, Pearl District, free)



Cultural Immersion Saturdays Past Event List
Lan Su's Cultural Immersion Days will pepper AANHPI Heritage Month with opportunities to learn more about AANHPI traditions. The series continues this week with a focus on the Pacific Islands, followed by South Asian cultures on May 25. Local cultural organizations will use the gardens as a backdrop for performances, talks, workshops, and family-friendly activities. The events are all free with garden admission, and you can grab a treat from the tranquil, newly renamed Yun Shui Teahouse while you're there. LC
(Lan Su Chinese Garden, Old Town-Chinatown, $0-$14)


Kickstand Comedy Presents Mosh Pit Heavy Metal Comedy! Past Event List
If you’ve ever said, “Hmmm… comedy performance need more heavy metal,” then this could be the show for you! Mosh Pit: Heavy Metal Comedy features the improv stylings of Death Hammer (who have charmed/terrified audiences at the SF Sketchfest as well as the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival), as well as more comedy via a special live performance of the What’s More Metal? podcast starring Mercury Genius of Comedy Nariko Ott and Dan Weber. If you like to laugh and rock the fuck out, get in the pit. PORTLAND MERCURY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
(Kickstand Comedy, Ladd's Addition, $10 - $15)


Neptune Frost Past Event List
Multi-talented artist Saul Williams's punky sci-fi vision comes to life in Neptune Frost, a turbulent, Afrofuturist thrill ride. The musical film blends thoughts that William explored in his 2016 album MartyrLoserKing with input from co-director Anisia Uzeyman, a Rwandan-born artist. The flick follows a gaggle of miners-turned-computer hackers in the Burundi hilltops, and sends a powerful message of technology's capacity for progression and radical change. We're enamored by the cool character names, like "Tekno" and "Psychology," but the film's quirks and artistic displays of bravura aren't just for show—Neptune Frost is grounded in anticolonialism, anticapitalism, and liberation. It's important that films like this exist, so go show your support. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $9)

The Wicker Man Past Event List
If you're big into Midsommar and The Witch, please don't hurt my folk horror-loving heart by skipping out on The Wicker Man (the original one, sans freaked-out Nicolas Cage). In the '73 film, you'll visit a remote Scottish island that's jam-packed with sacrifice-obsessed pagans and wanton lust, which is never a good combination. Since the film's spell-casting release, we've seen a proliferation of creepy cults and psychedelic hysteria pop on screen. I recommend checking out the flick that started it all—The Wicker Man stars an especially off-kilter Christopher Lee. LC
(Clinton Street Theater, Hosford-Abernethy, $10)

Young Frankenstein with Clancy Kramer // 50th ANNIVERSARY Past Event List
Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced "Fronk-en-steen"), grandson of the infamous Victor Frankenstein, inherits some frankly creepy real estate in Transylvania, where he meets the hunchbacked Igor and finds himself filling the shoes of his weirdo scientist predecessor. (If you're looking for something on the tamer side of the scare spectrum, you've found your night out.) Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, so head to Tomorrow Theater for a special pre-show set by comedienne Clancy Kramer before the screening. LC
(Tomorrow Theater, Richmond, $15)


GNARFEST Past Event List
Founded by the team behind the vegan comfort food destination GNARLYS and now run by Headup Events, GNARFEST features plant-based food and products from 50 vendors, plus a photo booth, flash tattoos, giveaways, cocktails, mocktails, and a raffle benefiting the local nonprofit Meals On Us. Plus, the festivities will be followed by a pop punk/emo-themed dance party with a live performance by the PNW grunge pop punk group Chlorine and a themed playlist from DJ Bawdyheat, so you can sing along with all your favorite lovelorn lyrics. JB
(GNARLYS, Buckman, free)


A Conversation with Frank Abe – The Literature of Japanese American Incarceration Past Event List
Frank Abe, who penned We Hearby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration and helped organize Portland's first-ever Day of Remembrance event in 1979, will share the book he co-edited, The Literature of Japanese American Incarceration, at this talk organized by the Japanese American Museum of Oregon. AANHPI Heritage Month is a solid time to learn about the United States's history of Japanese American incarceration during World War II; The Literature of Japanese American Incarceration compiles 70 works by Nikkei former incarcerees and their descendants. LC
(220 PDX, Old Town-Chinatown, free)


Christine Miller: all de watermillion fr'um heabun Remind List
NYC-born artist Christine Miller's watercolor paintings, sculptures, and multimedia works prominently feature the watermelon as a potent symbol, challenging the "commodification of Black culture within American capitalist systems." Her solo exhibition investigates the connections between the process of production and America's grotesquely racist history, from Jim Crow to COINTELPRO. References to the country's systemic dehumanization of Black people can be seen throughout all de watermillion fr’um heabun, which also draws from texts by Assata Shakur and bell hooks. LC
(SATOR Projects, Central Eastside, free)



2024 AANHPI Heritage Month Celebration Past Event List
Lake Oswego Parks & Recreation teamed up with local nonprofits LO for LOve, Respond to Racism, Lake Oswego Chinese Council, and Chinese Friendship Association of Portland to produce this buzzy event, which will pop off in celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities for AANHPI Heritage Month. Head to Millennium Plaza Park to peep traditional lion dances, a hula performance,martial arts demonstrations, live music, and a keynote address by community leader Marshall Cho. Visitors can also score HK Cafe's dim sum, Korean gimbap from Rolling Haven, and refreshing bubble tea.LC
(Millennium Plaza Park, Lake Oswego, free)


Talk of the Town Past Event List
Look, Portland is great and all, but there are more than enough reasons that living in the City of Roses might also have you feeling a little glum. Talk of the Town has your back, though. The recurring improv show will hit the stage again with a roster of guests sharing what makes Portland great—good art, great food, and hilarious, off-the-cuff conversation. (Previous guests have included folks from Portland Center Stage, Trans Voices Cabaret, ShadyPines Radio, Rose City Rollers, Girls on the Run, Masala Lab, and more.) Each Portlander will inspire a ragtag team of improv experts to create fresh scenes and characters on the spot. Just don't bring your umbrella—it's gauche. LC
(Siren Theater, Boise, $12)


Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All with Anna Diem Past Event List
Calling all Lilith Fair veterans—Alexandra Bombach's new documentary It's Only Life After All chronicles the legendary queer folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls from their start as elementary schoolmates to internationally beloved musicians. The film uses an archive of home movies, live performances, and new/old interviews with Amy Ray and Emily Saliers to reflect on the "obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big." Before the film, local singer-songwriter Anna Diem will perform an acoustic set of originals and Indigo Girls covers. AV
(Tomorrow Theater, Richmond, $15)

Malcolm X // NOW>>THEN Past Event List
Denzel Washington electrifies the screen in Spike Lee's '92 biopic Malcolm X. The sweeping film, which Roger Ebert deemed "one of the great screen biographies," tells the story of the legendary Black Nationalist leader with nuance and insight, tracing the course of his life from his early experiences of white supremacy to his conversion to Islam and ground-shaking activist work. LC
(Tomorrow Theater, Richmond, $15)

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders Past Event List
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is the quintessential Czech New Wave flick—if you only watch one film from the movement, it should be this one. (But, like, you should probably watch more Czech New Wave films. Okay, moving on!) Strangely sensual, surreal, and psychedelic, the film (loosely) follows a teen girl facing womanhood. After donning a pair of magical earrings, she becomes locked in a bizarre dream of vampires, witches, and mystical threats. LC
(Clinton Street Theater, Hosford-Abernethy, $10)

Welcome to the Dollhouse Past Event List
Few actors have elicited the immediate adoration that young Heather Matarazzo achieved—her blend of adolescent precociousness and clumsy self-consciousness would resonate with damn near anyone. Welcome to the Dollhouse is Matarazzo at her most blatantly loveable: She's a teen outcast who is forced to live in New Jersey and pine after long-haired dudes. The '95 black comedy also launched director Todd Solondz's career, so if you're a fan of Happiness or Life During Wartime, you owe it to yourself to see this, too. All proceeds from the screening will be donated to Stumptown Strays, a local dog rescue dedicated to "rescuing shelter dogs with treatable medical needs, providing lifesaving veterinary care, and aiding them on their path to their forever homes." LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12)


VIAL: Burnout Tour Past Event List
If you find yourself blowing off steam by blasting Hole, L7, or Babes in Toyland in your car, consider adding VIAL to the queue. On their new album, burnout, the self-proclaimed "bratpunk" trio shouts about chronic illness, two-faced enemies, ex-best friends, and hot dads over speedy drums and raucous power chords. They will stop by all the way from Minnesota to support the album alongside fellow rockers Rain On Fridays. AV
(Polaris Hall, Humboldt, $14)


East Portland Sunday Parkways Past Event List
It's National Bike Month! Grab your two-wheeler and celebrate with a trip through East Portland along a path designed to highlight neighborhood greenways that might be new to you. The 3.3-mile down-and-back route starts at Gateway Discovery Park, runs through Ventura Park, and has a suggested turnaround at Lincoln Park. Along the way, you'll find vendor marketplaces, community booths, free family-friendly activities like Zumba and roller skate rentals from Rose City Rollers, and live performances from a local swing band, jazz ensemble, and hip-hop dance academy. SL
(Gateway Discovery Park, Hazelwood, free)



Because of Bill: William Sumio Naito’s Legacy in Portland Remind List
As one of the most esteemed civic leaders in Portland history, Bill Naito is known for his work revitalizing Portland's downtown in the '60s and '70s, including his involvement in notable landmarks such as the White Stag sign, the Japanese American Historical Plaza, and the Galleria. Born to Japanese immigrants, Naito faced extreme xenophobia and was often the only businessperson of color in the room; experiences his granddaughter Erica Naito-Campbell recounts in her new biography, Portland’s Audacious Champion. Using the book as a foundational document, the Japanese American Museum presents a new exhibition in honor of Bill and his legacy, sharing anecdotes from his personal life alongside history of the structures and spaces he developed. Opening during Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the exhibit will run through September 1. SL
(Japanese American Museum of Oregon, Old Town-Chinatown, $5-$8, Friday-Sunday)

Bloom Tour Past Event List
Spring has sprung and Portland is getting ready for the Rose Festival! If you can't wait until later this month for all the fleur festivities, we recommend checking out the 29 large-scale floral installations throughout downtown and Old Town. The botanical pieces are displayed in many of Portland’s unique shops, restaurants, and hotels in this hybrid walking tour/art show. The event runs through June 11, and some local retailers along the route will be offering special floral deals. Check out the map for more details and get ready to feast your eyes (and nose) on these creations. SL
(Various locations, free, Friday-Sunday)


The 9th Vanport Mosaic Festival Past Event List
Vanport, the largest World War II federal housing project in the United States and once Oregon's second-largest city, was destroyed by a flood in 1948 that left 18,000 people homeless and forced Portland’s white residents to reckon with their racist housing practices. In observance of the 76th anniversary of the flood, the 15-day festival of "memory activism" will commemorate the disaster with community-minded presentations, exhibits, documentary screenings, tours, and more. Check out this year's program for a full rundown. LC
(Various locations, free/sliding scale, Saturday-Sunday)


Aggro Dr1ft Past Event List
I've been a Harmony Korine fan (and apologist—looking at you, Trash Humpers) since I was a teen, believing wholly that Gummo and Kids were peak cinema. Korine has always seemed unconcerned with the line between experimental and wide-release film, and this typically works in his favor. Aggro Dr1ft seems hellbent on toeing that line again; the first project released under his EDGLRD banner (lol) was described as having "all the commerciality of penis cancer, looking like the ugliest fucking Playstation 1 game you’ve ever seen" by Indiewire. Here's what I know: The film exclusively uses infrared photography, Travis Scott is in it, and there's some sort of hitman-against-crime lord plot set against a psychedelic swirl of the Miami underworld. Um, sign me up, I think? LC
(Cinema 21, Nob Hill, $9-$11, Friday-Saturday)

Challengers Past Event List
Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino's latest follows Zendaya as Tashi, a prodigy tennis player-turned-coach whose training transformed her husband into a national champion. Things get weird and maybe horny when she forces him to play a pro-tournament "Challenger" event alongside her former boyfriend. Do I care about tennis? No, of course not!! But I don't ask for much—Zendaya and a psychosexual plotline are enough for me. LC
(Cinema 21, Nob Hill, $9-$11, Friday-Sunday)

Evil Does Not Exist Past Event List
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s follow-up to the Murakami-inspired Oscar winner Drive My Car follows a father and daughter who spend their days gathering wild foods for a local udon restaurant. Their livelihood might be threatened when a city agency plans to create a bougie "glamping" site not far from their rustic hamlet. (Fuck glampers, am I right?) Evil Does Not Exist won the 2023 Venice Silver Lion; I'm intrigued by the film's quiet, snowy cinematography and its naturalistic approach. LC (Cinema 21, Nob Hill, $9-$11, Friday-Sunday)

I Saw the TV Glow Past Event List
Nonbinary filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun's first feature-length flick, We're All Going to the World's Fair, was a creepy foray into the world of online horror gaming, following one teenager's descent into an increasingly unsettling fantasy. It stirred up positive reviews at Sundance, and solidified Schoenbrun as a director to watch. Lo and behold, Schoenbrun landed an A24 flick with I Saw the TV Glow, which documents a teen's investigations into an eerie, supernatural TV show. Fans of online wormholes and creepypasta shouldn't miss it. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12, Friday-Sunday)


2024 Oregon Contemporary Artists’ Biennial Remind List
Oregon Contemporary's 2024 biennial brings together artists curated by Jackie Im and Anuradha Vikram. The show deprioritizes a hierarchical approach, instead opting to present work that's "timely and relevant" to Oregon communities. The biennial also emphasizes diversity—over 50% of the artists shown identify as BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+. I'm excited to see personal faves Meech Boakye,Srijon Chowdhury,Bean Gilsdorf, Rainen Knecht, Vo Vo, and Morgan Ritter among the lineup, and I recommend looking into Vo's direct care sessions on June 1. The show also includes an iteration of Maxx Katz's Yelling Choir, contact microphone and audio tape workshops, and oodles of other supplemental programming. LC
(Oregon Contemporary, Kenton, free, Friday–Sunday)

All We’ve Got Is Each Other Past Event List
Portland-based and apocalypse-interested artist Anthony Roberto will share a "multi-year body of 3D modeling work" in All We’ve Got Is Each Other, a solo exhibition of uncanny Blender-modeled, 3D-printed sculptures and sleek prints on aluminum. Object/Model, Figure/Form meditates on human experience by "using the stage as a space without place," and gets curious about how identities engage and commingle. LC
(Well Well, Kenton, free, Saturday-Sunday)

Bong Wai Chen: Reframing Tradition Remind List
It's AANHPI Heritage Month—why not make an effort to learn more about Chinatown artist Bong Wai Chen, whose bold, thoughtful calligraphy and ink-on-paper art practices made a profound impact on Oregonian artists?! Chen's retrospective, BONG WAI CHEN: Reframing Tradition, is the third in a series organized by the Portland Chinatown Museum, which aims to spotlight the contributions of the city's Chinese American artists. Get jazzed for the show with this cute photo of Chen at Reed in the '60s. LC
(Portland Chinatown Museum, Old Town-Chinatown, $0-$8, Friday-Sunday)

Cuts Across: Artists Respond to Lived Intersections Past Event List
Carnation Contemporary members Quinha Faria, Pamela Hadley, Marcelo Fontana, and Michael Espinoza curated the gallery's latest exhibition, which probes a layered question: How do you identify? Attempting to "mine the rich layers of identity to uncover how artists respond to the pressure to perform isolated aspects of whole selves," Cuts Across: Artists Respond to Lived Intersections will also build community around intersecting identities, spotlight Oregon's artistic diversity, and feature works by 22 artists, including Yuyang Zhang, Francis Dot, and Ahuva S. Zaslavsky. LC
(Carnation Contemporary, Kenton, free)

Francesca Capone: A Mother's Discourse Past Event List
I first wrote about Francesca Capone's work back in 2018—the artist's show Think of Seashells was the subject of one of my first long-form reviews. While researching for my BFA thesis in fibers, I also turned to her textile pieces, so Capone's tactile language has left a lasting impact on my occipital lobe. Perhaps you'll develop the same attachment after seeing this exhibition: Capone's latest, A Mother's Discourse, explores the complexities of post-Roe v. Wade motherhood through soft weavings and an archive library of child-rearing literature. LC
(Nationale, Buckman, free, Friday–Sunday; closing)

Las Vegas Ikebana: Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi Past Event List
Las Vegas Ikebana centers the cross-genre practices of Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi, whose artistic paths have been entwined since the pair met in 1977. They've developed an extensive body of time-based performance works informed by choreography, sculpture, and "conceptual correspondences" amid institutional neglect. In other words, they are perhaps the coolest best friends ever. The exhibition's absurdist title is pulled from "Hassinger’s experience working in a flower shop in Los Angeles and Nengudi’s exploration of Japanese aesthetic forms," and speaks to the duo's interest in improvisation, pop culture, humor, and the natural world. Programming for Las Vegas Ikebana includes “Don’t be Scared”: A Talk on the Art of Collaboration by Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi, with thoughts from exhibition curator Allie Tepper, Dr. Leslie King Hammond, and Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims, and See-See Riders, a performance choreographed by Nengudi and danced by sidony o'neal and keyon gaskin. LC
(Cooley Gallery at Reed College, Reed, free, Friday–Sunday; closing)

Policing Justice Past Event List
Guest curated by University of Oregon associate professor Nina Amstutz and local social design artist Cleo Davis, Policing Justice probes Portland's policing practices and their relationship to "longer local and national histories of oppression." The exhibition centers Portland artists who have seen and documented police brutality, including the George Floyd protests, and includes commissioned installations by Don't Shoot Portland, Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr., Cleo Davis, Kayin Talton Davis, and others. Works on loan by Alfredo Jaar, Sandy Rodriguez, and Carrie Mae Weems lend a wider scope to the exhibition, and Forensic Architecture's video installation details an investigation into PPB's use of tear gas during the 2020 protests. Show up for abolition and take part in one of the exhibition's several accompanying programs, including a community conversation symposium, a series of film screenings at the Clinton Street Theater, and an ethical visual storytelling workshop. LC
(PICA, Eliot, free, Friday–Sunday; closing)

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