Arts

Your Guide to Spring 2024 Arts Events in Portland

Kathleen Hanna, The Postal Service & Death Cab For Cutie, and More
March 15, 2024
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Portland-born Riot Grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna is releasing her memoir, Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk, this spring. (Kathleen Hanna via Facebook)
Cherry blossoms aren’t the only feast for the eyes this season, as Portland’s springtime arts scene is blooming with more upcoming delights than your favorite floral sundress. If you’re hoping to cry from joy —not just seasonal allergies—consider screening The People’s Joker. Or keep it weepy as indie mainstay Death Cab for Cutie marks the 20th anniversary of Transatlanticism. And no Portland picnic will be complete without a copy of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, the latest Everybody Reads pick. Spring is here, and if you’re looking for upcoming films, dance, talks or live music the Mercury has you covered—better than your sunblock. 

FILM

Nostalghia 4K restoration Past Event List
When presented with the opportunity to see a film by director Andrei Tarkovsky in a movie house, you should take it. In this case, a new 4K restoration by Italian national film school Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia provides a great opportunity to see Tarkovsky's first film made outside of the Soviet Union. Nostalghia isn't his boldest work, but it's the one where you perhaps get the best feeling of the director's self, as he uses his signature dream sequences and long takes to wrestle with his alienated feelings about leaving Russia—shortly after Nostalghia was released, he vowed he would never return. SS
Cinema 21 (starts March 29)

Tag! Queer Shorts Festival 2024 Past Event List
This international festival is celebrating its 11th year of spotlighting the best in queer and trans filmmaking with 51 original short queer films on the lineup. Four intriguing blocks of programming allow viewers to watch films within specific themes, including "Queer Fam," which focuses on families of origin and of choice, "Acting Up," which centers queer resistance efforts, "Ensemble," which includes everything from animation to musical flicks, and a West Coast film block. LC
Hollywood Theatre (Apr 6–7)

The People's Joker Remind List
In many ways, the true diva of The People's Joker has been Warner Bros. Discovery. The massive media giant sent a letter that shut down all but the indie comedy spoof film's premiere screening at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022. Those who have seen The People's Joker—co-written and directed by comedian Vera Drew—say it's as much or more a trans coming-of-age story than a DC Comics-inspired satire, but we must admit the chance to see Maria Bamford as a (nude?) Lex Luthor-like Lorne Michaels, Tim Heidecker as an Alex Jones-adjacent political chaos personality, and Bob Odenkirk as Bob the Goon is certainly a draw. SS
Hollywood Theatre (starts Apr 19)

Indigenous Voices: New Salmon Movies Remind List
This engaging crossover between the Hollywood Theatre's EcoFilm Festival and its Indigenous Voices series presents Covenant of the Salmon People, an hour-long documentary about the Nez Perce Tribe and their ongoing struggle to protect wild Chinook salmon that once thrived within their lands. It's shown with a ten-minute documentary short, To Heal a Forest, which introduces the Nuchatlaht Tribe's movement to save an untouched salmon stream from environmental destruction caused by logging in British Columbia. SS
Hollywood Theatre (Apr 21)

LIVE MUSIC

Laurie Anderson
Past Event List Just in time for Women's History Month, pioneering electronic musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson is bringing her groundbreaking works to the Keller Auditorium. Her latest show, Let X = X, revisits songs from her 42-year-long music career with a reinvigorated perspective, spirit, and sound—thanks to her backing band, New York jazz ensemble Sexmob. Anderson is known for her '80s art pop albums full of electronic experiments and spoken-work quips. Some of my favorite Laurieisms include, "I don't know about your brain, but mine is really...bossy" ("Babydoll") and "I met this guy / And he looked like might have been a hat check clerk at an ice rink / Which, in fact, he turned out to be" ("Let X=X"). AV
Keller Auditorium (Fri Mar 29)

Andy Shauf Remind List
How many shows do you sell out before you move to a bigger venue? I will not deny that it's going to be flippin' magical to hear Toronto singer-songwriter Andy Shauf within the lofty arches of the Old Church. But they started off with two shows (May 4–5), added one on May 7, and now that's sold out too.  As someone who has seen Shauf live several times, I'll say that within him are two Shaufs: One wants to play the album he just released flawlessly, faithful to the recorded tracks. The other wants to show off whatever new tracks about dire human moments he's currently crafting. We may be far enough from 2023's Norm—his easy-listening disco album about a god-obsessed stalker—that he'll lend us the latter. SS
The Old Church (May 4, 5, 7)

Lizzy McAlpine: The Older Tour
Remind List You might know Philly native Lizzy McAlpine from her breakthrough hit single "Ceilings," which went viral on TikTok in spring 2022. (The song sparked a trend in which users lip-synced to the song while running through the rain or snow as the cathartic chorus crescendoes in the background.) But the introspective indie pop singer-songwriter is more than a social media phenomenon—she's proven herself to have a knack for poignant, vulnerable lyrics and an expressive, resonant voice, appearing on duet versions of the dark-night-of-the-soul ballad "Call Your Mom" with folk-pop star Noah Kahan and the clever torch song "You Could Start a Cult" with former One Direction member Niall Horan. I've watched her YouTube cover of the Wheatus classic "Teenage Dirtbag" so many times that it's supplanted the original in my head. She'll stop through Portland on her second headline tour, promoting her third studio album Older. JB
Theater of the Clouds (Mon May 13)

The Postal Service & Death Cab For Cutie: Give Up & Transatlanticism 20th Anniversary
Remind List Ah, an anniversary tour: how elder millennials and Gen Xers measure time now. Long before the Washington-based, Ben Gibbard-fronted bands the Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie announced a Portland date for the 20th-anniversary tour of Give Up and Transatlanticism, respectively, I snagged tickets for the Seattle show. I never miss a chance to see my lord and savior, Jenny Lewis, after all. Among a sea of flannel and bearded folks, Ben pulled double duty and turned out a rollercoaster of emotions across the two albums, played in their entirety back-to-back. There could be nothing better. JW
Moda Center (Wed May 15)

THEATER & PERFORMANCE

White Bird: Sydney Dance Company Past Event List
Venture outside Portland's hyper-local focused performing arts scene with this single-evening opportunity to see Sydney Dance Company, presented by White Bird. If international dance is something you enjoy, now is a particularly important time to support White Bird, as its founders Walter Jaffe and Paul King (and their still-living cockatoo Barney, the organization's namesake) continue to transition ownership to the new executive director Graham Cole. Named for Latin phrasing for "from within," Sydney Dance's ab [intra] promises "lush cello with ambient electronica" for musical ambiance and movements onstage that explore visceral, impulsive, primal responses. SS
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (Wed Apr 10)

The Second Annual International Booklover's Burlesque Festival Past Event List
Any lit lover will tell you that reading can be a truly titillating experience. Booklover's Burlesque agrees, and since 2016, they've blended on-stage readings by local writers and actors with sexy, body-positive performances inspired by each written piece. For their second annual International Booklover's Burlesque Festival, they'll stage four days of unique shows that spotlight the written word with a side of salacious burlesque, boylesque, and draglesque acts. LC
Multiple locations (Apr 11-14)

The Brother and the Bird
Remind List Another dark fairytale hits the stage this spring, courtesy of one of Portland's most exciting theater companies Shaking the Tree. Adapted from a short story by Alissa Nutting—which was itself an adaptation of Grimm's Fairy Tale "The Juniper Tree"—The Brother and the Bird contains all the tabloid stuff of humanity found in stories like Cinderella and myths about Thyestes. You may have read Nutting's story in the 2010 anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales, but through the vision of the company's artistic director, Samantha Van Der Merwe, the tale is about to get wilder, darker, and more human than before. SS
Shaking the Tree (April 20–May 18)

READINGS & TALKS

Smallpresspalooza
Past Event List Returning for its 13th year to reaffirm that any event can be a -palooza if the mood is right, Smallpresspalooza will offer up a marathon reading by a dozen small press-published authors. Hosted by Future Tense Books publisher (and Powell's small press champion) Kevin Sampsell, the event will include words by Cee Chávez, Shilo Niziolek, Juleen Eun Sun Johnson, Hope Amico, Libby Rice, Jessica Wadleigh, and others. LC
Powell’s City of Books (Sat Mar 23)

Everybody Reads 2024: Gabrielle Zevin Past Event List
If you follow the goings-on in contemporary literature, you've probably heard more than a few nods to Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, which was released in 2022 to significant fanfare, including New York Times bestseller status and a lofty 4.18 review ranking on Goodreads. In my opinion, one of the book's merits is that it might get your non-reader friends to pick it up: The plot follows three friends who begin a video game company together. (This perked up my partner's ears–try it yourself.) The tome was also the chosen book for the Multnomah County Library's 2024 Everybody Reads program, which offers free copies of the book available at all Multnomah County Library branches. This culminating talk with the author will double as a celebration of "the power of books to create a stronger community."  LC
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (Thurs Apr 4)

Portland Arts & Lectures: Aimee Nezhukumatathil Remind List
My first encounter with poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil's work was 2018's Oceanic, an astonishing nature-inspired collection that felt crystalline and sharp. I've come to rely on Nezhukumatathil's poetry as a reminder that all is not lost—in fact, some things about the world we live in are genuinely all right. You'll find evidence of this in the New York Times bestseller World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, which was also a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the Southern Book Prize. The book is peppered with Fumi Nakamura's organic illustrations, including this very important rendering of an axolotl. LC
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (Thurs Apr 18)

Kathleen Hanna: Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk Remind List
As a longtime student of Riot Grrrl, I've annihilated every piece of literature about the movement that I can get my paws on. Some favorites through my studies have included Sara Marcus's Grrrls to the Front, Carrie Brownstein's Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, and Marisa Meltzer's Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music. Most of these music memoirs and anthologies include the story of the precocious Evergreen State College student Kathleen Hanna, who propelled the movement with the creation of feminist art space Reko Muse, and later, with the trailblazing feminist punk band Bikini Kill. Now, Hanna is telling her story in her own memoir, Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk. The book chronicles her life of activism, music, friendships, illness, love, and limitless amounts of determination. Hanna will be joined in conversation by a special guest. AV
Revolution Hall (Thurs May 23)

VISUAL ART

Targeted / 100+ Kites Remind List
Inspired by Refaat Al-Areer’s poem If I Must Die (which I implore you to read before continuing to skim this blurb), this installation pays tribute to the journalists and media workers who have documented the unfolding genocide in Gaza. Refaat Al-Areer was a respected Palestinian writer and professor who was killed in an airstrike by the Israeli military on December 6, along with six members of his immediate family. Proceeds from Targeted / 100+ Kites will be donated to Gaza relief efforts (Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, Committee to Protect Journalists, and Anera specifically). LC
Performance Works NorthWest (Apr 17–18)

Read about even more spring visual art picks in our Spring 2024 Gallery Shows in Portland round-up!

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