The Mercury’s Fall Arts & Culture Preview doesn’t need a theme, but this year’s was obvious: Portland is building. Portland is rebuilding. Its arts and culture worlds have rolled up their sleeves and are breaking ground.
Here are some great examples: If you loved this summer’s immensely popular Comedy in the Park series, you’ll want to read about the nonprofit behind it, Kickstand, and their brick and mortar clubhouse that’s on track to open when the rains start. Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) hasn’t replaced the 10 chaotic nights and days of its Time-Based Art festival, but it’s holding a slower version this season, dubbed Time-Released, which promises to unfold its chaos in thoughtful bursts.
We also have updates on two of the most exciting arts and culture world construction projects: Portland Art Museum’s renovation of an old sex club into Tomorrow Theater is on track. By the end of September, beloved music venue Doug Fir Lounge will close its East Burnside doors and move.
Plus… you aren’t imagining it: There are a ton of libraries closed right now. The Multnomah County Library system has spent 2023 in deep renovation mode. We looked into what’s happening, and why it’s all happening at once. Artists Repertory Theatre (ART) hit a devastating snag when it was forced to suspend its 2023/24 season. We looked at why its two-year tour became four, and how ART is still building.
There were some inspired developments during the pandemic and one was Portland Community College’s wise idea of asking Darcelle’s Showplace host Poison Waters to teach a class on the Histories of Drag Performance in Portland. And while we fully expect Hans Zimmer stans to come out swinging, we asked associate conductor Deanna Tham to unpack the Oregon Symphony’s take on the greatest modern film composer, John Williams.
Iconic food cart Matta planned a business pivot and landed at Lil’ Dame, where the restaurant collective’s supportive model has given Chef Richard Văn Lê freedom to lean even harder into Vietnamese flavors. Portland’s new favorite record store is actually three record stores, a bookstore, a radio station, and a music label—Beacon Sound, Musique Plastique, Super Electric, Lost Avenue, et al. haven’t figured out what the sign on their door should say—but have figured out the collaborative shop counter.
Multi-disciplinary artist Intisar Abioto curated a massive exhibit at the Portland Art Museum this fall. How is it possible that, here in 2023, it’s the first to consider the work of Black artists collectively in Oregon?
Fly, a new book by Portland-born author Mitchell S. Jackson examines the profession of basketball and its intersection with fashion. And it has some of the coolest photos we’ve ever seen.
It started as a joke and then became intensely serious—we have paired Portland’s film festivals with signs from the zodiac. Then we picked fall gallery shows to go with signs from the zodiac as well (kidding, but we found some good ones). And as usual, we also have some expert recommendations from Everout for events that must make it onto your fall calendar.
So welcome to the Portland Mercury’s second print guide since the pandemic. We’re rebuilding too, alongside you.
Mercury Arts and Culture Editor