IN THE WAKE of the presidential election, I heard a common refrain: It’s okay because art is going to be so much better under Trump! Part of my job is to write about art. It matters to me a great deal. But this did not make me feel better, because it isn’t true. I would trade all the good art in the world for a President Hillary Clinton, for security for people who are currently threatened, for an incoming government that does not normalize hatred, for my friends to not have to be frantically scheduling appointments for IUD insertions. None of this is okay, none of it is normal, and art isn’t going to be better under Donald Trump, because the idea that good art can only be made under duress is woefully imprecise. Art won’t get better—trust me, bad art springs eternal—but it will be more important, because art is what helps us make sense of a surreal world. Right now, Portland’s artistic communities are showing up for social justice in necessary, hope-bolstering ways. With the inauguration of the Assaulter-in-Chief forthcoming, January may well be a rough month. From stand-up to visual art, here’s where to go to preserve your sanity.
The Writers Resist
Every week on the advice podcast Dear Sugar Radio, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond offer compassionate, non-preachy life advice to “the lost, lonely, and heartsick”—three descriptors that fit far too many of us in the months following the election. It just seems right that they’d be doing something to address the pain of it, and they are: This week, Strayed and Almond host The Writers Resist, a special live episode of their radio show. It’s part of a nationwide event on January 15 that aims to provide social justice-boosting alternatives to the unnatural disaster scheduled for January 20 in DC. Strayed and Almond will be joined by a slew of wonderful local writers, including Samiya Bashir, Cari Luna, Lidia Yuknavitch, and many more. Living up to the name, proceeds from the show will benefit local organizations that are going to be critical over the next four years, including the ACLU of Oregon, Basic Rights Oregon, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, Unite Oregon, Oregon Environmental Council, and Literary Arts. Unsurprisingly, this event is already sold out, but maybe you can find a way in. As Strayed says so often on her show, I wish you luck. Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie, Sun Jan 15, 6-9 pm, $30
What a Joke
As with writers, so with comedians: Portland stand-ups are joining over 50 US cities in a nationwide effort to raise funds for the ACLU during the weekend of the presidential inauguration. The Portland iteration of What a Joke, started by New York-based comedians Emily Winter and Jenn Welch, features a stacked lineup including Anthony Lopez, Dinah Foley, Belinda Carroll, and Mohanad Elshieky. Andie Main, who runs the social justice-focused comedy showcase Revolution Comedy, will host. Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE MLK, Sat Jan 21, 7 pm, $15
Nationale and Le Oui
After the election, gallery/purveyor of excellently-curated books Nationale started selling a beautiful Carson Ellis silkscreen that features a woman astride a horse holding a banner with a sword at her side. The word “ONWARD” is emblazoned below her. Proceeds from this $40 print benefit the ACLU, and it’s part of Le Oui, a new initiative Nationale is starting to sell limited-edition prints to support social justice. A second run of Ellis’ print will be available online this month.
And if you’re looking for an aesthetic refuge from the 24-hour news cycle, pop in to see the shop’s January show of Amy Bernstein’s minimalist paintings. A Lover’s Race features neatly elegant constructions—bright blobs of color on white canvases that seem to blend into the wall—and after months of trying to make sense of Trump tweets, it’s a relief to get away from screens and in front of abstract pieces. Nationale’s accompanying copy calls the show an attempt to reach the “heart within the chaos,” which is exactly what it was for me on a recent weekday visit. 3360 SE Division, nationale.us
First 100 Days
In her essential how-to booklet for artists, Making Art During Fascism—which you can and should request at bethpickens.com—San Francisco arts consultant Beth Pickens writes that one of the common responses to the election that she’s heard from artists are “things like ‘Maybe I should quit making art’ and ‘It’s kind of selfish for me to focus on my art now’ and ‘I should help people in a more effective way.’” If you’re an artist and this sounds like you, put down that LSAT prep book and consider attending a skills training for artists offered by local organizers at PICA this weekend. The First 100 Days event will prepare artists—just as you are, doing what you do—for demonstrations scheduled around the presidential inauguration, with speakers and presenters versed in art, journalism, and civil disobedience. This weekend workshop is hosted by PICA, and it’s the first in a series of events examining where artists fit into anti-Trump efforts. It’s free to attend, with childcare on site for attendees with kids. A follow-up event is scheduled for later this month at Pacific Northwest College of Art. PICA, 415 SW 10th, Sat-Sun Jan 14-15, 10 am-8 pm, FREE
Screaming Sky Gallery and One Grand Gallery
If you’re ready to make art or support artists during fascism, look no further than Screaming Sky and One Grand, which both have upcoming politically engaged programming. For their February show, Unpresidented, Screaming Sky is currently soliciting work from artists that considers how “artists respond to this uncertain and Unpresidented moment in history and what anxieties and solutions art can present for today’s sociopolitical situation.” Meanwhile, One Grand is hosting a silent art auction this weekend to benefit the water protectors fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock. All funds from Broken Promises will go directly to the activists at Oceti Sakowin Camp. Screaming Sky Gallery, 2025 NE Alberta, screamingskypdx.com; Broken Promises: One Grand Gallery, 1000 E Burnside, Fri Jan 13, 7 pm, onegrandgallery.com
Know of more ways local artists are resisting the Trump doctrine? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.