Portland Film, Music and Arts
Portland and the Arts
|More Oregon adults attend opera, jazz and classical music concerts, per capita, than in any other state. A geographical analysis of a survey released in late 2009 by the National Endowment for the Arts also showed Oregon was second in overall per-capita attendance at performing arts events.
The survey also revealed that Oregon ranked number one in the percentage of adults attending art museums and craft festivals. The survey took place in May 2008, before the economic squeeze, but, following decades of scraping the bottom of the national funding barrel, the news came as a pleasant surprise.
Calendar of Art Events
Whether it music, dance, stage, film, or art, you will find it in Portland. Online event calendars are maintained by a number of Web sites and print publications.
Two print publications that have up-to-date Web sites of events.
Many of the colleges in Portland also offer concerts and theatre events.
Portland Art Museum just keeps getting better and better. The Museum of Contemporary Craft (MoCC) in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art is a center for investigation and dialogue that helps expand the definition and exploration of craft.
Portland has numerous galleries in the metro area with the largest concentration in the Pearl District. Join the First Thursday Gallery Walk (first Thursday of every month) for gallery receptions and show openings in galleries throughout the Pearl District, Old Town/Chinatown and downtown Portland.
PORT is dedicated to catalyzing critical discussion and disseminating information about art as lensed through Portland, Oregon.
The group that manages the Arlene Schnitzer concert hall and other venues re-branded itself with a new name in September 2013 so it’s now called the “Portland‘5 Center for the Arts.” The organization has been known for decades as Portland Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA). It manages five downtown performance spaces: the Schnitzer, Brunish, Keller, Newmark and Winningstad theaters.
The center consists of five theaters in three separate buildings. The facility is the fifth largest venue in the nation and entertains over one million people each year at 1,000 plus events.
The Portland Mercury has a complete list of theaters − click here to view. Major theaters include the following:
Portland Opera was created in 1964 and the company has been a leader in making opera more accessible to a diverse audience. In 1984, Portland Opera was the second company in the U.S. to use projected English translations, a means of enhancing the theatrical experience for patrons at operas sung in a foreign language.
Fertile Ground was launched by the Portland Area Theater Alliance (the service organization for Portland theater artists and organizations) in 2009 to provide a platform for Portland theater companies to showcase their commitment to new work; and to invite regional and national artists, artistic leaders and arts aficionados to discover for themselves that Portland truly is fertile ground for creativity, innovation, and daring acts of performance.
Portland has a diverse appetite for music. Jazz and bluegrass music is very popular in the Pacific Northwest and one can always find a jazz club or blues concert to attend.
The Oregon Symphony and Chamber Music Northwest are the two principal groups for serious music fans. 2010 was a decent year in classical music in Portland as groups large and small have handled the downturn with resilience and creativity. One of the year’s highlights, in fact, took place not on stage but in the offices of the biggest player, the Oregon Symphony. Thanks to shrewd management and sacrifices all around, the orchestra ended its fiscal year in the black and paid off its $7 million long-term debt. In performance, the symphony built on its artistic gains under Carlos Kalmar and sounds as good as ever in advance of next spring’s tour to Carnegie Hall. Among its guests in memorable 2010 performances have been some of the best instrumentalists currently playing: violinists Midori, Joshua Bell and Hilary Hahn; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; and pianist Stephen Hough.
Oregon is not adverse to combining different types of music. In the Fall of 2010, the Oregon East Symphony and Chorale and a hometown rock-‘n-bluegrass band called Eastern Oregon Playboys performed a concert in Pendleton.
Portland has so many amazing bands that it would be impossible to list them all so this list will be far from complete. The best source to keep track of the bands is the Portland Indie Music Web site. Many of these bands perform at the Crystal Ballroom and the Aladdin Theater. Another popular spot is Mississippi Studioswhere they have a full calendar of music events. They also serve food.
The Kingsmen, best known for their 1960s rock classic “Louie, Louie”, were originally from Portland, and Paul Revere & the Raiders gained popularity in Portland after relocating from Idaho. The city’s reputation as a hipster Mecca has paralleled the rise of local indie musicians such as The Decemberists, Gossip, The Dandy Warhols, M. Ward, and the late Elliott Smith. In early 2011, Decemberists’ new record, “The King is Dead,” debuted at number one on Billboard’s album chart.
Floater is Portland’s leading example of an indie band. They have remained unsigned to a major label for years and have managed to be voted the best band of Portland for 2009.
Portland indie band Climber admits that big-label stardom may never be theirs. With the band’s second full album, “The Mystic” was released in late 2010, the four members are finding a balance between their daily lives and their indie rock stardom.
Pink Martini is clearly an oddity in the pop world. Formed by two Harvard alums — singer China Forbes and pianist/arranger Thomas Lauderdale — in Portland, the 11-piece ensemble combines the sonic exoticism of “Space Age Pop” acts such as Esquivel and Les Baxter with an encyclopedic appreciation of non-Anglophone hits. It didn’t hurt that Pink Martini is essentially an over-extended rhythm section. In addition the standard accoutrement of piano, guitar, bass, and trap kit, there were usually another three or four band members on percussion duty, slapping bongos, pounding congas, shaking a tambourine or scratching a guiro.
Annual Music Events
Best of 2010 Oregon Music
This sweet, seemingly effortless collection of songs is one of the best of the year from Portland bands, in the estimable opinion of Jeremy Petersen with OPB Music.
The Northwest Film Center is a regional media arts resource and service organization founded to encourage the study, appreciation, and utilization of the moving image arts, foster their artistic and professional excellence, and to help create a climate in which they may flourish. The Center provides a variety of film and video exhibition, education, and information programs primarily directed to the residents of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. The Film Center’s School of Film curriculum in filmmaking, video production, animation, and screenwriting serves those who wish to develop their personal vision as a film artist, offering classes and workshops which emphasize media aesthetics in a hands-on context.
Annual film festivals include the Portland International Film Festival (February), an invitational survey of new world cinema; the Northwest Film & Video Festival (November), a juried showcase of new work by regional artists; and the Young People’s Film & Video Festival (July), featuring new work by student media makers from throughout the Northwest.
NW Documentary practices, teaches, and shares the art of non-fiction storytelling. They illuminate important stories that would otherwise be lost or overlooked, provide experiential learning opportunities, and generate better understanding, appreciation, and dialog within our community. You can view NW Documentary videos as well as audios and photos at their Web site.
The Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival takes places every October. Cinema 21 in Northwest Portland hosts this 10-day festival.
Sundance Film Festival
In 2011 seven films either shot in Oregon or made by Oregon filmmakers played at the Sundance Film Festival.
How to Die in Oregon, about the state’s Death With Dignity Act, took the Grand Jury Prize in the U. S. Documentary Competition, a prestigious award. The film, produced by local filmmaker Peter Richardson, reviews Oregon’s landmark 1994 law that allows terminally-ill patients to seek a physician’s assistance in ending their own life. Of particular note, the film follows the life and death of several Oregonians who agreed to share their experiences seeking death with dignity.
The award is all the more striking because many Sundance film-goers avoided the film, as noted by the New York Times:
Richardson had these words in accepting the award, “. . . the extraordinary individuals who allowed me to enter and document their lives. I love you. This award is for and because of you.”
Three other Oregon-related films were entered in the documentary competition: Hot Coffee, If a Tree Falls and We Were Here. These three dramatic features film were shot in the state: Letters from the Big Man, Meek’s Cutoff and The Woods.
Films Shot in Oregon
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” swept the major Academy Awards in 1976 and put the Oregon State Hospital in Salem and Depoe Bay into cinema history. It’s a time-tested classic and the best movie filmed in Oregon.
“Sometimes a Great Notion” is the other Oregon movie made from a Ken Kesey novel. Filmed five years earlier than “Cuckoo’s Nest” in Newport and elsewhere along the Oregon coast, it is best known for a scene in which Joe Ben Stamper (Richard Jaeckel) is trapped by a log and the incoming tide despite the best efforts of his cousin Hank (Paul Newman) to rescue him. The movie is also the answer to a trivia question: What is the first program to be broadcast on HBO? It was also known, at least among those who were there, as a never-ending party during the summer of 1970. Newman, the biggest star in Hollywood at the time was also drinking heavily, and a keg of beer was often available on the set. Newman, Henry Fonda and the rest of the cast mingled easily with locals at a time when security was nothing like it is today.
Matt Love, the author or editor of eight books on Oregon history, has written about the production in “Sometimes a Great Movie: Paul Newman, Ken Kesey and the Filming of the Great Oregon Novel.”
Here are some of the films that have been entirely shot (or almost entirely) in Oregon:
White Bird brings the best Portland-based, regional, national, and international dance companies to Portland, Oregon. White Bird does this through presenting established and emerging companies and choreographers, commissioning or co-commissioning new work, and collaborating with other arts organizations in Portland and the region to make dance performances possible.
Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) was established in 1989. OBT’s celebrated company of dancers performs an annual five-program season at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts and also conducts both regional and national tours.
De Jump is a world where humor, music, dance, theater, acrobatics and ideas ignite. Performances at the Echo Theatre, just off Hawthorne Boulevard. In 1983 Do Jump’s Portland home, the historic Echo Theatre, a former silent-movie house, was renovated. The very next year saw the founding of the Do Jump Movement Theater School, teaching Do Jump’s unique style of movement. Classes encourage physical confidence, freedom and grace in a creative, non-competitive environment. Now creating works on a larger scale, Do Jump has produced many of its shows at the 800 seat Newmark Theatre at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. The company has also toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Other Dance Companies:
Where You Can Go Dancing: