Here Are the Most Exciting Arts Events of the Spring Season

See "The Matrix" at a drive-in, stream Oregon's most famous theater festival from home and witness the return of a Portland jazz institution.

Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen's "Future Dictionary, Volume III (Spider plant)," part of "Hard and Soft" (Mack McFarland)


๐ŸŽจ Hard and Soft

Backyard exhibition space Congress Yard Project started last year as a way to keep art shows going during the pandemic. Rather than shutting down for the winter, the outdoor gallery decided to make use of Portland's rainy season. For Hard and Soft, more than two dozen local artists created works designed to either withstand, wither or bloom after staying outside all winter. Each work is an experiment onto itselfโ€”who knows what Misha Davydov's papier-mรขchรฉ sink is going to look like by the time the show closes in March. Congress Yard Project, Email to RSVP. Through March 21.

๐ŸŽญ Refuge

Shaking the Tree's spring show falls somewhere between immersive theater piece and art installation. The theater commissioned 12 artists and performers to design 11 8-by-4-foot panels dedicated to goddesses from an array of cultures and traditions. The installations will be displayed around the company's warehouse space, like shrines in some kind of otherworldly New Age church. Shaking the Tree Theatre, 823 SE Grant St., Viewing time slots available Thursdays-Sunday through May 22. Free, donations accepted


If you missed the drive-in screenings of BodyVox's new dance film, you still have a chance to stream the movie online. Figments combines footage from the company's most acclaimed works, including the whimsical "Urban Meadow." BodyVox, Streams through Feb. 28. $25.

๐ŸŽญ Oregon Shakespeare Festival

For Portland theater fans who've never been able to travel to Ashland, the first virtual iteration of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is something of a blessing. The nationally renowned festival has already released recordings of three past performances online and will periodically release new digital works on its website, from short films to a reimagining of Cymbeline, one of the Bard's lesser-known tragedies. Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Tickets start at $15.

๐ŸŽญ The Mineola Twins

Though the theater has been pumping out radio plays during the pandemic, Profile Theatre's production of The Mineola Twins will be the company's first live show in almost a year. Profile's first foray into livestreaming is a darkly funny play that follows two identical twin sisters on opposite sides of the political spectrum navigating the women's liberation movement. It's the fourth work by Paula Vogel that Profile Theatre has produced in its two seasons dedicated to the playwright and is sure to be just as unflinching as the others. Profile Theatre, Live shows 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, Feb. 26-March 6; 2 pm Saturday, Feb. 27, and Sunday, March 7. On demand March 8-21. $15.


๐ŸŽจ Myles de Bastion

In 2014, Portland musician Myles de Bastion founded CymaSpace, which strives to make concerts more accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing attendees through the likes of lighting matched to sonic frequencies. Even without in-person concerts, though, de Bastion has kept busy the past year, producing a virtual CymaSpace show and completing a virtual programming fellowship with Epic Games. His online new-media art show for Open Signal promises to be just as inventive. Open Signal, 5 pm Friday, March 19. Free.

๐ŸŽฅ Portland International Film Festival

Last year, Portland International Film Festival managed to hold most of its programming just before the pandemic hit Oregon. This year's festival will be held mostly online, but the lineup is of the same quantity and quality we've come to expect from PIFF. Plus, a few drive-in screenings have been scheduled of titles that are sure to sell out fast, from newer favorites like Snowpiercer and Sorry to Bother You to genre film classics like Dune and The Matrix. NW Film Center, March 5-15. $9-$350.

๐Ÿ“š Rebecca Solnit in Conversation With Jia Tolentino

Though she's best known for her book of essays Men Explain Things to Me and for coining the term "mansplaining," Rebecca Solnit has written an exhaustive number of poetic books about everything from Yosemite and the Manhattan Project to the history of walking. Here, she discusses her new memoir with New Yorker writer and beloved cultural commentator Jia Tolentino. Powell's Books, 5 pm Tuesday, March 9. Ticket includes $16 preorder of Solnit's book.

๐ŸŽจ Unquiet Objects

Disjecta's upcoming mixed-media exhibit is a meditation on cultural objects that have been removed from their original context, whether as a result of colonialism, forced migration or even digital technology. The show will display work by an extensive and exciting list of artists, including Iranian new-media artist Morehshin Allahyari and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art artistic director Kristan Kennedy. Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave., March 12-May 2.

Single Pink Klaud

Portland choreographers Linda Austin and Allie Hankins have always pushed the boundaries of dance, so it's no surprise that they continue to create abstract, idiosyncratic work during the pandemic. Austin and Hankins' collaborative, virtual piece is inspired by surrealism and attempts to grapple with our strange, liminal existence over the past year. Performance Works Northwest, 7:30 pm Friday-Sunday, March 26-28.



For the company's second set of intimate livestream shows, Oregon Ballet Theatre's dancers will perform works by classic choreographers like Bournonville and Balanchine, and more contemporary works by the likes of Nacho Duato. COVID-19 might've forced the company to cancel its big-ticket, fully staged shows, but these stripped-down virtual performances have highlighted what OBT's dancers do bestโ€”emotive, athletically astounding movements. Oregon Ballet Theatre, 7:30 pm Wednesday-Sunday, April 8-17. $20.

๐Ÿ“š Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo was named U.S. poet laureate in 2019, the first Native American to hold that title. An American Sunrise, her ninth and most recent collection of poetry, is full of powerful invocations of ancestral knowledge and tender, quotidian details. At this lecture, Harjo discusses When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, the Norton anthology of Native American poetry she edited. Literary Arts, 6 pm Tuesday, April 20. Series tickets $90-$355.

๐Ÿ“š Crying in H Mart

In 2018, Michelle Zauner, aka indie musician Japanese Breakfast, penned a New Yorker article titled "Crying in H Mart," which grapples with the loss of Zauner's mother and the Oregon musician's Korean heritage. Now, Zauner has expanded that essay into a memoir of the same name. Filled with enviable descriptions of Korean food and touching meditations on grief, Crying in H Mart is also a deeply Oregonian book. Much of it is set in Eugene, where Zauner grew up and cared for her terminally ill mother. Coming April 20 from Penguin Random House.

๐ŸŽต Under the Overpass: Episode 4

Last fall, Resonance Ensemble started Under the Overpass, a series of short concerts performed and recorded under Portland bridges. This episode will offer a sneak peak of Sanctuaries, a much-anticipated, in-the-works "jazz opera" by veteran pianist Darrell Grant. Plus, it's a collaboration with Third Angle Music, another organization offering some of the most innovative local pandemic programming. Resonance Ensemble, Premieres April 28 on YouTube.

๐ŸŽต Mt. Hood Jazz Festival

In a year when just about every concert has been canceled or postponed, one local institution is actually making a return. This spring, Mt. Hood Jazz Festival will hold its first event in over a decade. Organizers haven't announced a lineup yet, or the specifics of a contingency plan if they can't hold in-person events. They have announced, however, that it's happening no matter what, unlike last year's attempted revival that was canceled for obvious reasons. April 30-May 2. Visit for updates.


๐ŸŽฅ Shrill Season 3

It's a bummer that this season will be its last, but Shrill has already established its place in Portland television history. In the post-Portlandia era, it's arguably the show most associated with our city, and for good reason. The program immediately gained a cult following for its lovable characters and smartly written episodes. And along with the fact that it's based on the life of famed Pacific Northwest author Lindy West, the production made a point of hiring local crews and populating sets with works by local artists. Oh yeah, and Portland now has a day dedicated to the show. Premieres Friday, May 7, on

๐ŸŽต Kenari Quartet

Chamber Music Northwest has managed to keep up an impressively prolific virtual programming schedule during the pandemic. The classical music organization is capping its first digital season with a distinctly modern instrument. The all-saxophone Kenari Quartet will play everything from Bach to French neoclassical and contemporary music. Chamber Music Northwest, 7 pm Saturday, May 15. $20.


๐ŸŽจ Visual Arts

๐ŸŽญ Theater


๐ŸŽฅ Film

๐Ÿ“š Books

๐ŸŽต Music

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Here Are the Most Exciting Arts Events of the Spring Season

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