Holiday Guide

There's no use resisting now: the holiday season is fully upon us. If you find time this weekend between arguing with your family over Christmas tree placement, whipping up a batch of your grandmother's famously boozy eggnog, and bingeing on cookies, our fair city has plenty to offer in the holiday entertainment department. Check out our handy guide to Portland's holiday shows, which includes some of these sure bets for this weekend:

Theater
The Lover
Dec 5–21, Imago Theatre
Imago Theatre stages British master Harold Pinter’s 1962 one-act, a complexly comedic examination of love, marriage, and fidelity—with a kinky twist.  
Noises Off
Dec 6–Jan 11, Winningstad Theatre
For British playwright Michael Frayn’s smash 1982 farce about a play-within-a-play whose cast’s offstage drama totally derails its onstage drama, Third Rail Rep is mounting its biggest cast, largest set, and longest run ever. See our story about the complexity of the play’s blocking
New Review  Xmas Unplugged
Thru Dec 29, Artists Repertory Theatre
Two one acts skewer the dark reality that Christmas sometimes feels more about spending money on gifts than spending time with each other. Who knew Santa fight scenes could go on too long?! Read our full review.

Music
Pierced Arrows
Dec 6, Mississippi Studios
The true Portland godfather and godmother of Rock and Roll, Fred and Toody Cole, bring their iconic Northwest band back to Mississippi Studios. Anyone who thinks you can't rock out in your sixties is wrong.

The Black Crowes
Dec 6, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The 20-plus year career of this all-American rock band has survived nine studio albums (including an all acoustic album pulling from their back catalog), two hiatuses, opening slots for Motley Crue and Tom Petty, multiple roster changes, and even a six-year marriage between lead singer Chris Robinson and actress Kate Hudson. So it should come as no surprise if this current tour feels like something of a victory lap.

The Dismemberment Plan
Dec 8, Wonder Ballroom
Apart from occasional one-off shows, this celebrated and influential late 90's indie rock band stayed broken up after their 2003 disbanding until a breif reunion tour in 2011. Now they return with their first new record in 12 years, Uncanny Valley, which sees the band pick up pretty much right where they left off.

Film

Japanese Currents
Dec 6–15, Whitsell Auditorium
While the art museum’s Samurai exhibition showcases medieval Japanese art, the Japanese Currents Film Series screens nine films that reveal the country is still on the cutting edge. Don’t miss opening night: Like Father, Like Son, by auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda, won this year’s Jury Prize at Cannes. 

Classical

Oregon Symphony: Tchaikovshy’s Symphony No. 4
Dec 7–9, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall 
Taking a half-measure rest from Christmas fare, the symphony presents Tchaikovsky’s most-played work, then is joined by Finnish violinist Elina Vähälä for a performance of a 2006 concerto by her country’s best-known composer, Magnus Lindberg. 

Visual Arts

Zenna Zezza Closing Party
Dec 7, The Lumber Room
This celebration of artist Josiah McElheny's season at the Lumber Room, the first project of new arts organization Zena Zezza, draws its inspiration fom Paul Scheerbart's novella The Light Club of Batavia, and will include readings from McElheny's scripted adaptation of the story as well as piano performances of Arnold Schoenberg's "Drei Klavierstücke," and "Sechs kleine Klavierstücke." Check out our profile of Zena Zezza founder Sandra Percival in our Fall Arts Preview.

First Thursday Best Bets

PDX Contemporary Art
Hot on the heels of nabbing one of the Portland Art Museum’s 2013 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, Anne Appleby exhibits recent work. The painter’s deceptively simple color-field compositions abstractly evoke the ever-changing hues of the rural Montana landscape amid which she lives and works.

Deborah Luster's "Tooth for an Eye, Ledger 03-03"

Blue Sky
In 1988, Deborah Luster’s mother was shot to death in her bed by a hit man; the acclaimed New Orleans–based photographer has been reckoning with the incident ever since. Her latest project, Tooth for an Eye, comprises circular photographs of New Orleans shooting sites, like looking down the barrel of the guns. David Nadel’s Burns series is the Yule log writ large: that is, large-format photographs of burnt forests blanketed in snow that transform devastation into abstract, haunted beauty.

Froelick Gallery
Wander through Benny Fountain’s monochromatic still life explorations in oil paint, from washes to furrows, back to Rick Bartow’s bewitching pastels and paintings of spirits part human/part animal—a flurry of teeth, eyes, beaks, and hair—that are so vibrantly colored they sear into your brain like a dream half understood. Unsurprisingly for the Newport-based Native American artist, whose sculpture We Were Always Here was recently commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, almost all are already sold.

Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Ann Hamilton: A Reading presents a selection of videos, works on paper, and sculpture from this MacArthur genius.

Every Thursday: The city's best arts and entertainment, can't-miss events, plus artist interviews and ticket giveaways. (See an example!)