Willamette Week publishes on Wednesdays. Portland's art galleries open new shows on the first Thursday of the month. For a long time, that's made it tough for us to cover new shows the way we'd like.

In the year I've been the art critic here, I've written preview listings for shows I have not yet been able to see, cobbling together information from press releases sent by artists and galleries—which isn't a great way to write about art.

We're trying something new this month. Instead of writing a page of listings for shows I haven't been to yet, I'm offering up a handful of recommendations for shows that I'm most looking forward to seeing, in hopes you'll look forward to seeing them too, and maybe we'll bump into each other at the galleries.

Fuse-Portland Dance Portrait

Employing the talents of 45 dancers, photographer Jingzi Zhao creates portraits of our city through captured movement. Zhao places dancers in quintessentially Portland locations, photographing them mid-gesture in a way that evokes place more than just an image of place ever could. In the highly stylized compositions, dancers hang upside down in a MAX car, contort themselves on cafe tables with coffee cups balanced on their heads, and hang in midair over the Willamette Valley like birds riding a thermal. Multnomah Arts Center Gallery, 7688 SW Capitol Highway, 503-823-2787. Through Oct. 25.

On Democracy

(courtesy of Dan Tague)
(courtesy of Dan Tague)

The gallery at Newspace Center for Photography continues to show provocative work that asks difficult environmental, sociopolitical and economic questions. This month, a group exhibition of videos and photographs reflects back to us the democratic ideals that we're aiming for and where we're collectively failing. Expect to see representations of the best and worst of this country's political system at a time of profound upheaval. Newspace Center for Photography, 1632 SE 10th Ave., 503-963-1935. Through Oct. 29.

Night Lights

Every First Thursday, from now through April, different artists will project their digital work onto the side of the Regional Arts & Culture Council building as soon as the sun sets. This month, artist Renee Sills beams instructional dance videos into the night, so be prepared to knock elbows with strangers at a sidewalk street party. Regional Arts & Culture Council, 411 NW Park Ave., 503-823-5426. Oct. 6.

Camp Here Tonight

Conceptual artist Wynde Dyer takes on the role of activist with her installation of beautifully crafted tarp-quilt tents meant to raise awareness about Portland's housing crisis. She wants us to think about solutions, like each of us putting one of her handmade Camp Here Tonight signs in our front yard, promoting a place where someone without a roof could sleep safely for the night. Fine art meets civil disobedience meets social justice. Littman Gallery at PSU Smith Student Union, 1825 SW Broadway, No. 250, 503-725–4452. Through Oct. 27.

James Florschutz Open Studio

It's an honor to be invited into an artist's studio. It is an act of vulnerability to allow another person to stand in someone's creative space, to see unfinished work. Often this honor is reserved for gallerists and curators, which is why I'm excited that sculptor James Florschutz, who creates incredibly intricate pieces from found materials, is opening his studio to everyone on First Thursday. Shuffle through the sawdust on the floor, ask how he suspended thousands of pencils for an upcoming commission, smell the work in progress.

James Florschutz Studio, 618 NW Glisan St. (enter through Wolff Gallery), 503-928-2411. Oct. 6.