Here Are the Most Exciting Arts Events of the Spring Season

“I figured I’d be isolated in a cabin writing novels. Instead, I’m isolated in Portland and, hopefully, paying people to write.”

Shutdown. Resurgence. Limbo.

Remember briefly last spring and summer, when Portland’s arts scene was animated by the possibility of normalcy? Audiences packed long-dormant music clubs and venues, projectors flickered to life at theaters, and stages were suddenly filled with actors and real, rather than virtual, audiences.

Then came Delta and Omicron. Some in-person events continued, but others, like the Fertile Ground Festival of New Works, went virtual—again.

Now, facing the spring of 2022, the world of arts in Portland feels as if it’s entering a time of creative rebellion—against COVID ennui, conventional wisdom, borders and boundaries.

In this issue, we’ve put together a package of stories that capture the imagination, dedication and visionary fervor of some of the individuals and groups seeking to reshape and revitalize the arts in Portland.

• Maxx Katz, the mastermind behind Yelling Choir and Floom, is shredding classical music norms with heavy metal ferocity.

• Milagro Theatre’s Antigone at the Border bridges the gap between ancient Greece and Arizona.

• Tenebrous Press is taking graphic novels to progressive, cosmopolitan heights.

• Fennesz, KRMU and Patricia Wolf are ushering ambient music out of side rooms and into the spotlight.

• And at a time when Portlanders are craving cinema—the pandemic failed to put even one independent movie theater in the city out of business—The 4th Wall is reimagining the moviegoing experience for anyone that believes that a medium as vast and varied as film deserves better than impersonal multiplexes.

All of the artists in this issue were influenced by the pandemic—and some of their creations exist because of it. As Tenebrous Press founder Matt Blairstone tells WW, “I figured I’d be isolated in a cabin writing novels. Instead, I’m isolated in Portland and, hopefully, paying people to write.”

If Blairstone has his way, that hope will survive the inevitable onslaught of new variants. But that’s tomorrow. Today, we have a season of vibrant performances and creations to salivate over—and that’s cause for hope in and of itself. —Bennett Campbell Ferguson, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor

Maxx Katz: How a heavy metal flutist and composer perfected the art of the yell

Antigone at the Border: Playwright Marc Pinante discusses his contemporary update of Sophocles, which will have its Portland premiere at Milagro

Burn Before Reading: How wildfires and the pandemic inspired Matt Blairstone’s eco-horror comic anthology Green Inferno and sowed the seeds of his new indie imprint, Tenebrous Press

The 4th Wall: At a cinema-themed lounge on Hawthorne, the moviegoing experience is being reimagined for a post-multiplex age

Fennesz, KMRU, Patricia Wolf DJ Set: Holocene is bringing ambient music out of chill-out rooms and into the spotlight

Spring Arts Calendar: Your guide to the most exciting arts events of the season