To help you navigate this year’s Festival, we’ll be sharing regular posts on some of the “through-lines” of this year’s program. Whether you have a particular interest in dance or site-specific projects or visual art or film, we’ve got a whole suite of projects for you to discover. So buy a pass and start making connections between this year’s artists. In this edition, we’ll draw a map to the great home-town acts at TBA.
One of our goals with TBA is to always put local, emerging artists on the same stages as renowned, national and international artists. It’s so important to us that we present our city’s talent in front of all of the audiences and visiting presenters. Each year, TBA has launched artists to national attention, helping them secure gigs across the country and around the world with our peer organizations and festivals. This year, we’ve got a whole new crop of home-town favorites, just waiting to be discovered by local audiences and visitors alike.
Claudia Meza seems to be everywhere at TBA this year. She’s running not one, but three related projects for the Festival: an interactive sonic collage of tape loops on casette players, a QR code walking tour of unnoticed sounds around the city, and a live concert of local musicians performing compositions in response to this sonic landscape. At the heart of all of these projects is a real love for the everyday sounds of life—the way in which water flows, echoes occur, or traffic rolls by—and the sounds of Portland. For her closing weekend concert, Meza has rallied a great crew of other local musicians and collaborators, including Luke Wyland of AU, Matt Carlson of Golden Retriever, E*Rock and more. Keep your ears open!
Andrew Dickson is a familiar local face to long-time PICA audiences. His genuine and sweetly humorous solo performances take the form of well-known (and much beleaguered) presentation styles: seminars, motivational speaking, and the like. For his newest project, Dickson is turning to a more intimate mode of address—the personal life coach—and staging the whole process in a very public forum. Make no mistake: this is the real deal. Yes, it might be “on stage,” but Dickson is very sincere. You can catch more of his smooth stylings as a coach on another UrbanHonking blog, called ADVICE.
In the visual program, multi-disciplinary artist Morgan Ritter has constructed an inter-connected installation in two locations: the galleries at Washington High School and the rooftop deck at PICA’s downtown space. For the project, Ritter marshaled a team of assistants on road trips to rural Oregon, which she dug clay from the earth, which she then pounded down and reconstituted into a malleable material. At WHS, she’ll present a room of “precarious” sculptures balanced on soft beanbag plinths that relate to a separate ceramic fountain form sputtering on the PICA deck. Her works create a dialogue between multiple sites (the galleries and the source of the clay) and multiple scales, investing still sculpture with vibrant force.
THE WORKS always sees our greatest concentration of local talents, from dance to music, to film, and beyond. This year is no exception. We welcome back the beloved Ten Tiny Dances, which will feature a slate of entirely new performances by artists who’ve never graced the small stage, including Carlos Gonzalez; Takahiro Yamamoto; Christi Denton, Renee Sills, and Heather Perkins; Nicole Olson, and Linda K. Johnson. Come out and see what this new corps of dancers achieves in the confines of just 4 x 4 feet!
TBA alumni Parenthetical Girls return with an expansive evening that charts their many collaborations and musical experimentations. For their performance, they’ll bring to the stage dance by Allie Hankins, music by Golden Retriever, compostions by Jherek Bischoff performed by Classical Revolution PDX, as well as their own brand of pop mischief. While it’s been years since they’ve performed at TBA (’08 to be precise), they’ve stayed close in touch, even filming this music video on the WHS stage during a recent TBA.
It seems that the running theme for all of these local artists, musicians, and performers is “collaboration.” I guess that’s just the Portland way. Well, as a native, born-and-bred organization, PICA follows suit, collaborating regularly with our friends and peers in-town. We’ve invited the wonderful folks at The Hollywood Theatre to curate a night at the works of expanded film and video; what they came up is called FUTURE CINEMA, a wide-ranging night of performance, music, and interactive movie-going. They’ll stage performances and videos by a group of “terrifying women” (with homegirls Kathleen Keogh, Alicia McDaid, Angela Fair, and Sarah Johnson among them); B-Movie Bingo of Hollywood cliches hosted by Wolf Choir; and film by Weston Currie featuring the music of Grouper (Liz Harris).
And sometimes, these collaborations span timezones and continents. Local indie-pop group BRAINSTORM has been working with Christopher Kirkley of micro-label Sahel Sounds on a series of collaborations with African musicians. Over the years, Kirkley has been traveling the continent as an amateur “ethnomusicologist,” collecting local cuts on cellphone SIM cards, and releasing albums with the musicians he meets. For TBA, they’ve tracked down the locally-based Somali group Iftin Band for a night of covers and jam sessions between Portland indie musicians, Portland African musicians, and African musicians from the continent via Skype and YouTube. Come out and dance and see how far our local community really extends!