BIGIDEA A trip to Burma—where modern artists adapt traditional Buddhist icons—inspired Kevin Noonan’s own series of historical portraits, in which writers like Ernest Hemingway appear alongside ’80s political heavyweights like Ronald Reagan. Noonan’s brushstrokes lend mystery to the familiar faces. Best of show: dozens of portraits of Abraham Lincoln, whose bony visage is even more haunting in colorful paint than in grainy black and white. The paintings, all priced under $1,000, have proven strong sellers. Check them out at kevinnoonan.net
NIGHTSTAND Acclaimed young author Grace Krilanovich lives in LA, but in her impressively weird surreal-horror novel The Orange Eats Creeps (Two Dollar Radio, $16), “vampire hobo junkies” rampage around Portland and its burbs. Think Twilight on the urban growth boundary—except actually interesting.
BAND OF THEMINUTE The hazy, melodic guitar pop of The Soft Tags puts a rocking knife edge on a dreamy cloud. See them live at the Ella Street Social Club (714 SW 20th Place) on March 24. myspace.com/softtags
IMPORT Lille Boutique (1007 E Burnside St) is one of only two American shops to carry stockings and tights from France’s Les Queues de Sardines. Each quirky, girlishly graphic motif—like “Disco Zeus” (lightning bolts in pink or black)—is hand-printed in limited quantities. The $65 price tag may seem steep for hosiery, but c’est la vie, or at least the fashionable life. —AM
OBSESSION Three days each week, Little T American Baker (2600 SE Division St, 503-238-3458) makes its habit-forming date bars: flaky, cakey slabs of sweetness that are like graduate-level Fig Newtons. Torturously, you never know which three days.
EXPORT Four years ago, Canby native Eric Singer used a tree limb, a knife, cabinet hinges, and corner-store lenses to make his first pair of shades. Now, his company, Shwood, fashions specs from sustainable African wood and sells them in international boutiques. shwoodshop.com —Ali Moran