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Oregon’s Mysteriously Authentic Cult Of Authenticity: Plympton, Kesey, Blashfield, Sacco, Renwick, McCormick, Love Perform The Rites Of Spring

May 29th, 2012 by Anne Richardson · No Comments · News

Walt Curtis and Matt Love celebrate Matt’s new book SOMETIMES A GREAT MOVIE …..Photo credit: Paige Tashner

Last weekend, as if to keep an invisible, necessary balance in Portland’s cultural eco system, we celebrated director Bill Plympton at the Bagdad, writer Ken Kesey at the Hollywood, and cartoonist Joe Sacco at Mercy Corps Action Center. Never have I seen such swift response to criticism in my life! Portland seems to have taken seriously my request for more ancestor worship, in the arts department.

I take entire responsibility for this surge of civic pride.

I use the word surge advisedly. Greg Hamilton reported 150 Ken Kesey/Matt Love fans were turned away from Saturday night’s screening of SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION, held to celebrate the publication of Matt Love’s Sometimes A Great Movie.

Hey! Here’s a new niche for The Hollywood Theatre to occupy: film experiences for people who love being surrounded by other people.

Hundreds and hundreds of other people.

Time to restore the balcony seating, what say, Doug Whyte?

How about asking an architect to invent a flexible wall system so the second floor can either serve as two screening rooms (as it is now), or be opened up, as needed, to temporarily reassume its original identity as a balcony.

Back to this extraordinary weekend…..

Balancing out all this ultra regional genius, and ensuring that we don’t collapse upon ourselves in self regard, Hannah Piper Burns and Ben Popp scheduled Portland’s first Experimental Film Festival. International in scope, the five day festival included work by founding Oregon avant garde scenesters Jim Blashfield and Vanessa Renwick. Matt McCormick, whose own Peripheral Produce Festival helped launch the turbo charged indie energy which swirled all over the Rose City this weekend, gallantly used his time in front of an EFF audience to show work by other filmmakers, not his own.

In a similarly large hearted gesture, S. W Conser arranged a party at Jack London Bar specifically so that boundary defying artist John Frame could see rare stop motion animation from Dennis Nyback’s equally boundary defying collection.

So concludes the weekend wherein Portland’s major export was pure authenticity. The weekend gave every appearance of a well coordinated festival of Oregon arts – yet it just happened spontaneously. Each individual arts organization toiled in darkness for weeks/months of planning, emerging with miraculous simultaneity into the spring sunshine.

And its not over yet.

Tonight Brian Kellow, author of Pauline Kael: A Life In The Dark, speaks at NWFC. Born and raised in Tillamook, Oregon, educated by OSU, Kellow now lives in New York, edits Opera News, and writes the occasional book. If you lived in New York, you would understand what this means: Mr. Kellow is the winner of the Game of Life.

Speaking of NWFC, indie legend Jon Jost, familiar to readers of Oregon Movies, A to Z as a well qualified lillypadder, having made his first film in Cottage Grove about a zillion years ago, will introduce the May 31 screening of Last Chants For a Slow Dance ( 1977), one of his most highly regarded films.

I am aware not everything happens in Portland! This weekend, just up the river, writer-producer-actress Carrie Brownstein performed with Wild Flag at Sasquatch. But some important stuff does happen here. Or at least will, come next September. It only took 50 hours on Kickstarter for Andy Baio’s Portland-centric XOXO Festival to sell out.

That’s pre-selling tickets at $400 a pop!

As Portlander Curtis Salgado, no slouch himself when it comes to authenticity, recently opined: “People came from blocks around/Just to hear his righteous sound

Given the turnouts at the multiple arts events in Portland this weekend, I have to say …..seems to be true!

Here are the organizations behind the above described synergy:

Clinton Street Theater

The  Dill Pickle Club

Experimental Film Festival

Hollywood Theatre

Jack London Bar

KBOO’s Word & Pictures

McMenamins/Bagdad Theatre

Mercy Corps Action Center

Oregon Cartoon Institute

Oregon Media Producers Association

Portland Art Museum

Northwest Film Center


XOXO Festival

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