illustrations by Carson Ellis

Animals typically hibernate in the wintertime, but not the wild, raging beast that is the Portland fine arts scene. That crazy creature sleeps during the summer. While you're flocking to your "barbecues" and your little "picnics," and sucking back your little "PBRs" (still Portland's #1 domestic beer!), the fine arts scene is sleeping, sleeping, slowing down... down... down... storing up energy for the Autumn months, when it will BURST out of its cozy den and POUNCE on you like a wildcat! ROWR!

And what are you gonna do when it does? Huh? You gonna be ready for its Epic Tragedy claws, and its Modern Dance teeth? You gonna be ready for its lashing tail In-Store Readings, and its wiggling haunches of Performance Art Installations? You gonna be ready for the flurry of Improv, Ballet, Sculpture, Puppets, and Culture it's gonna hurl at you like a hurricane!? You gonna be READY!? Yes you are, because you're gonna read the Mercury Fall Arts Guide, and you're gonna be just fine...



September 4-10 l First Impressions, BodyVox

1300 NW Northrup, 224-8499

BodyVox might be worth catching just for the sake of catching. Seeing one of their shows is like seeing Haley's Comet; it only comes around the earth about every 70 years or so, but when it does, it's pretty damn cool. This decade's BodyVox show is almost sure to be a winner. It features guest choreography from Mitchell Rose and this writer's favorite Portland dance artist, Gregg Bielemeier--as well as works from company members Anne Egan, Eric Skinner, and more. Plus! A contribution from Imago Theatre's incomparable Jerry Maouwad. First Impressions could have a heart attack its arteries are so clogged with talent. JWS


September 9 l Diptych Reading and Signing

Reading Frenzy, 921 SW Oak, 274-1449, 7 pm

With the popular documentary Dogtown and Z Boys, and all those Tony Hawk video games under its belt, it seems the skateboarding movement is running out of mediums to conquer. With Diptych it hones its sights on the literary world. In 2002, seven skaters--among them Ray Barbee, Scott Bourne, and Mike Rusczyk--converged in a room with some photographers and a production team, and over three days produced Diptych, a book that will allegedly help rescue skateboarders from the bombardment of corporate influence by re-addressing the act of skateboarding as a work of art. Anybody who saw the crazy moves in Dogtown would be hard-pressed to argue with such an agenda. JWS

September 11 l Alan Lightman

Powell's City of Books

1005 W. Burnside, 228-4651, 7:30 pm

At one time in his extremely distinguished career, Alan Lightman was a professor of science and writing at MIT, and also its senior lecturer in physics. Rarely have two typically contrary interests--science and creative writing--ever meshed so harmoniously. If you haven't read Lightman's seminal, gorgeous, haunting, creative writing/physics project Einstein's Dreams by now, you haven't really lived. Tonight Lightman will read from his newest endeavor, Reunion, the tale of a middle-aged professor who relives his last year of college while attending his thirty-year reunion. JWS


September 4-27 l Waiting for Godot

Radiant Theatre at the IFCC 5340 N. Interstate, 502-8261

This Fall Season's most controversial theatrical production may very well be Radiant Theatre's Godot. How would Beckett's incredibly possessive estate react if they knew one of their Man's most famous plays was receiving a production with--Gasp!--audience participation!? Word on the street has it that the audience won't just be participating, but by some high-fangled trick, actually be playing one of the characters!! The old Irish coot is spinning in his grave. Still, Radiant scored a hit with last Spring's Hair, and has an intriguing cast bringing its vision to life--including the 3rd Floor Sketch Comedy's Kevin Michael-Moore, who practically blows out an eyeball with every line he says, playing Estragon. JWS


September 5-October 11 l Cloud 9

defunkt theatre, 4319 SE Hawthorne, 993-9062

September 25-October 26 l A Number (U.S. premiere!) Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th, 231-9581

One of the finest female playwrights to be imported from England (or anywhere else), Caryl Churchill has been scripting witty, neo-realist plays for the last 30 years. Her sharp insights on human nature and society combine with "an immense talent at making a viewer think and feel within heartbeats of each other," according to defunkt theatre's artistic director James Moore.

Churchill's latest play, A Number, is a modernist tale of identity, family, and technological insurrection--aka cloning. It will be making its U.S. DEBUT (!!) straight from London at Portland's Imago Theatre. A Number poses the question, "How many times would your dad clone you until he had the perfect offspring?" Imago artistic director Jerry Mouawad has had a hankering to direct Churchill for years, and found that A Number was the perfect choice. "I couldn't put it down--the language, the style, the lyricism, the questions it asked about cloning it's a very powerful piece of work," says Mouawad.

Churchill is renowned for her continual dramatic evolution. Cloud 9, one of her earlier works (1979), opens this fall at defunkt with Sarah Jane Hardy directing. Cloud 9 is a classic British farce that devolves into magical realism; the title refers to the state of orgasmic bliss its characters strive for. Set in Victorian Africa, women are played by men, men by women, and blacks by whites. And there's a little boy who really loves to play with his sister's dolls, so it sounds like a full show. ANNA SIMON

Visual Art

September 2-27 l Damali Ayo's Playback

Mark Woolley Gallery, 120 NW 9th, Suite 210 224-5475

Damali Ayo is Portland's most racially charged artist, and she makes her local gallery debut at the Mark Woolley Gallery, of all unexpected places. Ayo has received national attention for her Rent-a-Negro program (which she won't actually go through with), and is planning to panhandle major US cities for slavery reparations. Her gallery work includes drawings of golliwogs, or "mammy dolls" that have turned up on e-bay and have been re-cast by the artist into drawings derived from Norman Rockwell paintings. CHAS BOWIE

September 4-October 18 l TJ Norris' Genometrics (Tribryd Pt. 1)

Soundvision, 625 NW Everett #108, 238-7007

Perhaps the most disheartening news of the season is that the always-impressive Soundvision Gallery is closing its doors in November. Owner TJ Norris raised the bar for the Everett Station Loft gallery scene, but is choosing to focus on creating his own artwork rather than being a full-time gallerino. Norris's own Genometrics (Tribryd Pt. 1) will see Soundvision off. Based on the power of DNA genetics, the A/V installation involves collaborations with international sound artists, such as Illusion of Safety and Joel St. Germain. CB

September 4-27 l Long, Gone Holiday

Motel Gallery, NW Couch between Fifth & Sixth 222-6699

Motel, Portland's hippest new gallery space, follows up their whimsical bird show with Long, Gone Holiday, featuring three recent grads of the esteemed Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Caroline Hwang, Saelee Oh, and Rachell Sumptor create well crafted, original works based in illustration, and all three ladies will be present at the opening reception. CB

September 12-21 l PICA's TIME-BASED ART FESTIVAL for full schedule and info

House of Cunt, the Badger King, Andrew Dickson, disabled skateboard breakdancer Bill Shannon, Mexican silent films, beautiful Miranda July, a Peripheral Produce best-of film fest, DJs aplenty, dancers aplenty, EVERYTHING APLENTY! AHHHH! How am I going to see everything during PICA's first annual mega-hodgepodge of theater, performance art, dance, film, and anything and everything you could possibly think of that might be considered "artistic!?" The answer: I will go to , print out a handy schedule of events, and try to pick and choose from an almost overwhelming list of fun and culture. And so will you. JWS



October 18 l David James Duncan

Nye Beach Writers' Series, Newport (by the beach!), 7 pm

What could be better for the book buff than heading for the coast and listening to an intimate reading, with the sound of waves crashing in the background? The Nye Beach Writers' Series has been playing to packed houses for years now. If you haven't gone yet, then Northwesterner David James Duncan's appearance tonight is a perfect chance to fix that problem. An anonymous fan says: "His narrative is lovely, and not a bit indulgent. He is funny, but also poignant. I stayed up all night reading The Brothers K, crying. And that's not just a girl thing; the guy who gave me the book cried, too. And [Duncan] writes about places that I love--Sitka, Camas, Portland, etc. And he isn't afraid to say 'fuck' in front of high school students. Also he donated his Mickey Mantle-signed baseball to the youth center in Camas." 'Nuff said. JWS

Visual Art

October 10-13 l Core Sample

locations throughout Portland, for full schedule and info.

One of the most anticipated showcases of regional art this fall is Core Sample, a series of exhibitions organized by The Oregonian's Randy Gragg. Rounding out the recent promenade of local artist expos that have included Jeff Jahn's Best Coast, the Portland Art Museum's Oregon Biennial, and Portland Center for the Advancement of Culture's Modern Zoo, Gragg's artapalooza threatens to outdo all of these exhibitions in both scope and scale, all within the confines of a single weekend.

Core Sample takes the form of nearly thirty exhibitions and events throughout the city, highlighting aspects of the regional art community. Mainstream venues like the Art Gym and the Portland Building are opening their doors to Core Sample, as are smaller indie venues such as Seaplane and Pacific Switchboard.

The roster of names attached to Core Sample reads like a roll call of who's who in the Portland art world. Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July will present another Learning to Love You More exhibition at Seaplane; film and video gurus Vanessa Renwick and Bill Daniels are presenting the ever-theatrical Lucky Bum Film Tour; Nan Curtis is curating an exhibition about what happens when former DIY artists grow old; Charmbracelet promises an elephantine sculpture about the recent history of Portland's underground art scene; Malia Jensen is bringing to light an exhibition of artists' preparatory materials and drawings; and Red76 returns with a citywide Community Jukebox. There are also exhibitions planned around independent publishing, crafts in the Northwest, allegorical painting, and Bigfoot. A huge color catalogue is planned, with an essay by none other than the Whitney's own Larry Rinder. Check for further details. CB

October 11-January 5 l Triumph of French Painting

Portland Art Museum; 1219 SW Park, 226-2811

Yes, it's a classical, old art history show, but it's rare that exhibitions of this caliber ever make it to Portland. If you've never seen a 400-year-old painting of Irene yanking an arrow from Saint Sebastian, the atmospheric perspective of Claude Lorrain, or the obsessive, detailed madness in one of Adam-Frans van der Meulen's sweeping vistas, this is your chance. And who knows, one day you may turn into an old fart who's crazy about 17th Century French painting, and rue the day you skipped this exhibition. CB

October l Process

Portland Center for the Advancement of Culture, location & dates TBA

Now that the colossal Modern Zoo has come to an end, PCAC is homeless once again, but that hasn't stopped them from organizing their next exhibition, Process. The show "brings together local artists in all disciplines and a documentarian to document their specific artistic process." Artists include Liz Obert, Damali Ayo, Joe Haege, and Kevin Gilmore, among others. CB


October 4 l Sten Rudstrom's Raw Wood and Sky

Conduit Studio, 918 SW Yamhill, Suite 401, 221-5857

It is a testament to Sten Rudstrom's abilities as a performer that he's been asked to conduct a workshop at Conduit, Portland's premiere modern dance studio. An improvisational master, Rudstrom double- majored in math and chemistry as an undergrad, then proceeded to get TWO MFAs, one in performance, and one in creative writing. Onstage he's as likely to fly off on verbal tangents about yoga and esoteric sciences as he is to flit around ballet-style, then throw himself to the ground and pop back up with startling speed and agility. In the mediums of live theater and dance, he is a true Renaissance man. During his three-day Portland stay, he'll be conducting his patented ActionTheatre Workshops, which are "for anyone who wishes to access imagination," and also performing Raw Wood and Sky, an improvisation with his longtime collaborator Cassie Terman. Take the class or see the show; either way you'll be a little sounder of body and mind. JWS

October 11-18 l New Beginnings

Oregon Ballet Theatre at the Keller Auditorium, SW 3rd & Clay, 222-5538

Sometimes everybody feels like dressing up in a tutu and pretending to dance Swan Lake. Usually this urge can be abated by going to see professionals do the same thing, only much better. Well, sorry, but the Oregon Ballet Theatre will no longer be of any help. Their brand-spanking new artistic director, Christopher Stowell, has promised to revolutionize the OBT, and he's leaving out the tulle in the process. Stowell, a former principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, is using his parents' clout (they're co-artistic directors of Pacific Northwest Ballet) to turn Portland dance into a veritable West Coast toe-shoe scene. His first program, New Beginnings, is heavy on jazzy ballet, pop culture references, and classic (though modern) pas de deuxs. It includes Rubies by George Balachine, which should exhibit some "glamorous and athletic, sophisticated glitter and vamp." And just so you non-dancers know, Balachine is the sexiest choreographer ever. AS


October 2-November 1 l FaustFaust

Liminal, 403 NW Fifth, 890-2993

Once again, Liminal tightens its grip on the pulse of the experimental theater community with this interactive performance installation. Never a company to do theater straight, Liminal will instead take the story of Dr. Faustus--the dude who sold his soul to the devil to get smarter--chop it into little pieces, and spread it throughout four rooms in their 4,000-foot space. Actors, musicians, and vocalists will wander about, interacting with each other and with you in an improvised Faustian free for all, within the confines of one of Liminal's patented creepy, surreal multimedia universes. Add a touch of the avant-garde to your haunted house hopping this Halloween season. JWS


As the light summer breeze gives way to heavier autumn winds, so too do certain theater companies take on weightier burdens. A few companies this fall are producing some serious heavyweights, picked from different pockets of theater history. It's always fun to see Portland companies take a charge at these kinds of shows, if only for the potential train wreck that skulks behind every act.

September 28-October 12 l Medea

Classic Greek Theatre of Oregon, 1-800-992-TIXX

Of course there can't be a group of heavyweight contenders without a Greek tragedy representative. This year's entry is put on, fittingly, by the Classic Greek Theatre of Oregon, your home for Oregon Greek theatre excellence. There are three excellent reasons to see this play: (1) Nobody does or has ever done epic tragedy like the Greeks; Medea is about a woman who hangs her own children to get back at her cheating, enterprising husband. Yech. (2) The character of Medea will be played by Quigley Provost-Landrum, aka one of Portland's most beautiful and talented actors. (3) It's showing outdoors! Being outdoors is FUN! JWS

October 9-November 8 l Big Love

Theatre Vertigo, 2512 SE Gladstone, 306-0870

On the heels of the ancient Greek tragedy Medea comes Vertigo's production of a very modern play based on ancient Greek tragedy. Charles Mee's Big Love is a huge, hilarious, beautiful, violent, contemporary update of Aeschylus' The Suppliant Women, about 50 women who murder their 50 respective grooms-to-be. Mee's text calls for fountains of blood, a glorious wedding ceremony, circular saw blades, a helicopter landing, and a cast of hundreds. Part of the fun of a production of a Mee play is seeing what the company takes literally from his wacky script, and what they take metaphorically. JWS

October 24-November 29 l Moon for the Misbegotten

Coho Productions, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-COHO

From the Greeks to the drunken Irish we go, me pretty lass! And who does drunken Irish-Americans in the throes of epic emotional angst better than Eugene O'Neill? Moon for the Misbegotten, his last play, takes one of O'Neill's favorite characters, his real-life alcoholic brother James, and watches him try to court the love of his life, Josie. Depression, angst, alcoholism, failure... mmm MM! Those are some massive themes, and I, for one, am just DYING to see how Coho handles it all! EEEE! JWS

October 28-November 23 l Bat Boy

Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 248-6309

Based on a tabloid story of a half-boy/half-bat who struggles to be accepted in his small town, Bat Boy is a musical not short on gimmicks. It was critically acclaimed upon its 2001 release out in New York, though, and at the very least it has Wade McCollum in the title role, who has been kicking ass all summer as the lead in Triangle Productions' version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. JWS



November 15 & 22 l The Day of the Dead

Tears of Joy at the Winningstad, 1111 SW Broadway


It's a law as old as time: puppets make everything better. It doesn't matter if it's Greek tragedy or a transcribed episode of Seinfeld; if it's coming via puppets, it is good. Tears of Joy Theatre has known this for years, pumping out amazing feats of youth-oriented puppetry magic, but never quite connecting with the older crowds. This fall they'll make another go at the grownups through collaboration with the Miracle Theatre during the Mexican festival Day of the Dead (El Día de Los Muertos). To celebrate the colorful fest, TOJ will present its classic shadow production, called Onion Skin Soup, and a new piece by artistic director Nancy Aldrich, Blame it on Beetle. These works are NOT for children, which means there's bound to be carousing, cursing, and if you're really lucky, a puppet pee-pee or two. JWS

November 14-December 20 l Antiques Improv Show

Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th, 224-0688

The Brody hatched on a goldmine of fun and possibilities last season when it came up with the premise of this one. In a fitting tribute to my mom's favorite show on earth, The Antiques Road Show, the Brody takes items brought by the audience and "appraises" them with its panel of "experts." That alone is a funny premise, but the Brody takes it to another level by having its experts invent stories to go along with the items. The rest of the cast must act out these stories; which inevitably produces hilarious, and sometimes even fascinating results. JWS


October 30-November 29 l The Enteractive Language Festival

2 Gyrlz Performative Arts, for complete schedule and info

The month-long Enteractive Language Festival is so strange and original, the 2 Gyrlz group actually had to invent a new word to describe it: "enteractive." It's great, though, as there are no existing words that could really sum up what the ELF is. It has a lot to do with the power of language and the written word, so it's kind of a literary event, but its components involve performance art installations and general chaos that are a far cry from the traditional readings we typically associate with "literary events." The Enteractive Language Fest is exactly what it says: a festival of events designed to help you enter language, get inside and see it from a whole new perspective.

This year's ELF features everything from the "ultimate French Absurdist" Jean-Louis Costes, to a hodgepodge of circus arts called "Language of the Circus," to a "very special night of Portland Organic Wrestling" passed off as a literary/art event under the title of "The Language of Violence and Absurdity." Who knew getting cultured could be so much fun? JWS

November 10 l An Evening With Dave Eggers WRAP at the Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie 234-9694

Write Around Portland (WRAP) must be moving up in the world to have landed this event. Or maybe Mr. Eggers--the mastermind behind the books A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and You Shall Know Our Velocity, as well as the wonderful publishing company McSweeney's--just knows a good thing when he sees it. At this event you'll hear the man read and talk about independent publishing and the power of writing, but you'll also be supporting one of Portland's coolest nonprofits. WRAP reaches out to underprivileged and alienated youth and helps them improve their lives through writing. Through free tutoring sessions and workshops, students become better writers, learn to express themselves, but even more importantly, find a community eager to hear what they have to say. This one's a must-see. JWS

November 23 l The Language of Print

La Palabra Cafe-Press, 4810 NE Garfield, 493-0333

This is part of the Enteractive Language Festival (see box above), but deserves its own entry due to the quality of its lineup. The event is basically a celebration of local writing talent, and will ring in the occasion with a printing showcase, the opportunity to watch issues of La Palabra's The Cereal Box Review being printed in real time, and an exhibition of locally made zines, AND a video installation by Joshua Berger. And if all THAT weren't enough, there will be readings by short story studettes Lydia Yuknavitch and Joanna Rose, poet Leanne Grabel, and writer/teacher Trevor Dodge, who has a new novella, Yellow #10, coming out this month. Sheesh, my mind's blown already! JWS

Visual Art

November 12 l Vito Acconci Lecture

First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park

228-7219, 7 pm

As part of a renewed effort to emphasize its institute-ness, PICA brings us poet/hardcore performance artist/video pioneer/sculptor/ radical designer and architect/living legend Vito Acconci. While best known for jacking off in Sonnabend Gallery for a month in 1972, Acconci was a well-known New York poet before turning to performance art. By his own admission, he entered into Conceptual art due to a lack of any formal artistic skill, which led to works like Following Piece, in which he creepily followed people walking around New York until they fled into private buildings. Around the same time, he began to work in video and Super 8, making short films about saliva and documenting performances like Claims Excerpts, in which he entered a state of extreme mental aggression while blindfolded, swinging metal pipes and crowbars, threatening to kill anybody who approached him.

Acconci has mellowed some these days, but has taken his subversion to subtler, grander scales, namely through the fantastic urban planning, design, and architecture of Acconci Studios. The artist now involves himself with grand, magical projects, many of which are never realized. The theoretical City That Rides the Garbage Dump is a rug of futuristic looking hemispheres laid over landfills. As the dump releases methane gas, the spheres, which house mirrored factories, dolphins, and hanging gardens, shift accordingly and are powered by the garbage below. Mobile Linear City, a completed 1991 project, initially looks like a semi-tractor trailer. Hiding inside, however, is a series of telescoping housing units that pull out to make six quasi-functional industrial homes that run the length of a city block.

Looking like a hangdog Guido Sarducci, Acconci has a machine gun stammer, and an excellent and precise visual lecture up his sleeve. This lecture could change the way you think about public spaces. CB