All posts by Justin

Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art

Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art

I forget where I heard this but I heard the Portland Art Museum has a $5 after 5pm special every Friday! Not that the regular ticket is that expensive but its a good way to get out into downtown and experience some culture on the cheap. It was Christmas too so I really wanted to get downtown among the hustle and bustle to see what was going on plus whatever was on exhibit at the museum.

They change their stuff around pretty frequently which is nice but also makes the $5 ticket price a real bargain when you consider it. It was only a few months ago that I saw the Shape of Speed exhibit here. I didn’t know what was happening when I arrived so I was pleasantly surprised when they had a special showing called Poetic Imagination in Japanese Art.

They have several different areas that highlight different types of art in Japan as it evolved over time. Its a style of art that you know it when you see it. Just like their tattoo style. What this exhibit did highlight were different areas where the art was used for different purposes. One was simply writing in large characters which is still practiced today and takes a special hand to complete. The flow with the brush is pretty cool to watch.

They had another section of landscapes. Lots of imagery and symbolic meaning with the landscapes that where chosen. Mostly in that muted and limited color palate but still no less amazing to see. Another big area was landscapes with poetry. Poetry was very big in Japanese culture back in the day. More so here then in any other culture from around the same time period that I know of. These poets would come up with some beautiful stuff so to go along with the words often it was done on a painting.

You can’t see everything in one visit but at that price, who cares. Its a reason to come back the following Friday to continue checking out what the museum has to offer. That Friday I saw all the special exhibit with time to spare so I headed upstairs to the second level. Here I finished out the left section of the museum but still haven’t made it over to the modern art building. One day….

A giant orchid outside the museum.

On my way out I saw a posted notice that the museum is seeking approval to expand the museum. It’s great to see the Portland Art Museum isn’t suffering from a lack of funding. I think only good can come from having and appreciating more art. Whatever form that takes the world can use more of it.

Knowing that there are cheap tickets every Friday I am going to have to make this a regular stop for myself. I figure at least once a quarter would be worth it. Checkout what’s on special and get downtown for an evening out. Thinks are a little busy right now but maybe come February I can get back for another quick visit on a Friday afternoon.

Whiskey Shivers Bunk Bar Water Saturday, July 14th 2018

A co-worker of mine had an extra ticket to see Whiskey Shivers at Bunk Bar on a Saturday night. I spent most of the day running errands so it was nice to sit and do a little pregame at Slow Bar with Jeff and a friend of his. They floated down a river on inner tubes to a park to play some disc golf. I know they where tired and so was I. The food looked pretty good and the beer was cold.

We got together real early so after a drink at Slow Bar we headed to the venue. Here we got some more drinks as we waited for the show to start. It was nice out so we grabbed a few drinks and headed outside to enjoy the weather. It was cool seeing the band outside as well enjoying the late afternoon sun before the show.

The venue itself isn’t anything special. Large open concrete dance floor and in the back on a raised tier are some tables. They had a few smaller tables and chairs scattered in the back and to the side but for the most part everyone was going to stand. A large bar with stools directly opposite the door when you walk in. Outside some small tables with ashtrays for smokers but also a good place on a nice evening.

Never heard of the band before I got the ticket so I did a little research on them and liked what I heard. While I don’t listen to bluegrass often I do appreciate it and don’t hate it like I do country music. The band was really energetic and put on a good show I thought. The fans, while not a full house, really got into the music. Just a lot of energy and love swirling around the room that night. For the encore they even came down of the stage and did a few acoustic songs in the crowd which was pretty cool.

A great summer night in Portland with good beer, good friends, and some great live music. I love live music, especially new stuff I haven’t heard before. I love being pleasantly surprised by gems like Whiskey Shivers when I find them.

Charlie Hunter Trio Mississippi Studios Thursday, December 13th 2018

When Charlie Hunter came through town last year I missed the show. I never thought it would sell out and guess what, it sold out. This year when it was announce he was playing Mississippi Studios in Portland I bought my ticket as soon as they went on sale. I saw that he was playing in Seattle and kept waiting for something to be announce here in Portland. I was seriously considering a day trip to Seattle but glad they decided to make a stop in Portland.

It was a long day at work so unfortunately no pre-game before the performance. I did manage to take in the fresh air for a while and get a walk in. I also managed to talk to a friend at length which was good. Always nice to catch up. This lowered my stress levels and put me in the right mindset to enjoy the show.

Mississippi Studios certainly fits the bill of a typical Charlie Hunter venue. A narrow venue that surprisingly has a second level balcony. Pretty big stage with tall ceiling and exposed beams all over the place. This certainly looks like they took an old building and remodeled it with a healthy budge for improvements.

Tonight’s show was going to be a seated performance but with no tables. A small intimate venue and one that was for the most part quite. In the back a few for some reason thought it was a good idea to talk which was annoying. The stage is only a few feet off the ground so the band really feels close to the audience. Just a great venue for this style show

This time around the trio was a little different with a member being female vocalist Lucy Woodward. It has always been three instruments in the past. Each tour in fact is a different trio which is awesome. The song selection was very well done. First set was about 50 minutes and more traditional blue and jazz songs. After a short set break they came back for another set that was an hour long with encore. The second feature a local trumpeter for most of it, including the encore. The second set also got a little more funky.

Charlie never disappoints with his Trio over the years. This year with the addition of Lucy it was a totally different show then I have seen in the past. Just a great night of music and a little banter with Charlie on a Thursday night. He tours regularly with his trio and it seems like Portland is a regular stop for him. I can’t wait to see him next year.

Charlie Hunter – 8 string guitar
Lucy Woodward – vocals
Derrek Phillips – drums

Set 1 start at 8:05pm
1. .
2. .
Set over at 8:52pm
Set 2 starts at 9:16pm
1. .
2. .
Set over at 10:03pm
Encore starts at 10:04pm
3. .
House lights at 10:15pm

Trey Anastasio Hult Center for the Performing Arts Monday, December 10th 2018

It was back in the spring of 1999 that Trey did hist last acoustic tour that I remember. He has toured extensively outside of Phish but I can’t remember the last time he did an acoustic set. In 1999 Trey was touring with a trio. He would play two sets, first was all acoustic and the second was with his trio. Unfortunately I missed this show when he came to the 9:30 Club that May.

Dec. 10th 2018 Hult Center

That show I was really excited to see and disappointed I missed. That entire tour has gone down in the book of legends because of what it was. Being almost 20 years that I know of since he last did this I wasn’t as excited the second time around. It would be great to see him perform live but the novelty of an acoustic show wore off. He did it before and in much smaller venues. This time around his fame and popularity allow him to upgrade the tour. He even referenced playing at the Hilton Ballroom in Eugene and staying at the hotel that night. Now he is playing the Hult Center for the Performing Arts down in Eugene. Quite a step up from the 9:30 Club.

I took a half day to make sure I could get down to Eugene in time for the performance. It is only 2 hours from my house so theoretically I could have left work and made the show but I thought better to not risk it. The half day allowed me to run a few errands and arrive in Eugene with plenty of time before the show.

The entrance is down an ally. I missed it the first time especially at night.

First stop was some food and beer at Falling Sky Brewing. A nice brewery that honestly is hard to find. I walked around the entire block looking for it. It is actually down the alley that splits the block. A small place. Lots of long benches and a few high top tables. Brewing operations are off to the right. They where definitely brewing beer that night. The whole place smelled of malt

A well rounded brewery but they certainly specialize in malt forward beers. They actually have a list of all the beers they have brewed each year, the batch number and totals for ingredients used. You can see the trend towards more hop and then a switch to more malts in the past couple of years. Balanced selection of beers but again, mostly favoring malts. They offer food as well but a limited menu. Its a seasonal menu and the burger I got that night was good. It went well with my brown ale.

After some food and beer sampling it was just a short walk to the venue. A large crowd had formed outside the venue and in the lobby. Phish fans had descended on the Hult Center and were taking it over. A really nice venue with comfortable seats and not a bad view in the house. Just a really beautiful space for a performance. It was a huge stage with just a single rug, chair, side table and two guitars.

The song selection was what I would call “typical” for an acoustic show. See Trey’s early ’99 work and the performance he and Mike did in 2010 in Broomfield, CO for the Fourmile Canyon fire relief fund. Not all songs will fit the acoustic formula so in actuality the song selection is pretty limited. Still a good performance and song selection with interesting takes.

One thing that I really enjoyed with this show was the intimacy and the banter. Since it was just Trey on stage he was relatively chatty compared to a typical Phish show. We got some insight into the songs or how they came to be or where they where created. Trey told a story from I believe it was from back in 1993 at the Hilton Ballroom. Apparently it was a good show and Trey made an announcement about an after party in Jon’s room 637. Jon was a good sport about it and they had a good after party that night. This kinda of banter you just don’t get with Phish in a large arena.

A great trip down to Eugene to see Trey. I wish the crowd was a little more respectful of the venue. They also talked constantly and everyone kept taking flash photos. But the beer was cold and the food good. The Hult Center is a great place to see a performance and I look forward to Phish coming back to Eugene one day….really anywhere in Oregon would be fine.

Set 1 (start time 8:57pm)
1. Waste
2. We are Come to Outlive our Brains
3. Limb by Limb
4. Brian and Robert
5. Lifeboy
6. Farmhouse
7. The Inlaw Josie Wales
8. Bliss
9. Billy Breaths
10. Sample in a Jar
11. The Wedge
12. Mercury
13. Mountains in the Mist
14. Cool Amber and Mercury
15. Back on the Train
16. Water in the Sky
17. Joy
18. Strange Design
19. Steam >
20. Backwards Down the Number Line >
21. Blaze On
22. Down with Disease
23. Chalkdust Torture >
24. Say it to Me S.A.N.T.O.S. >
25. Chalkdust Torture
set over at 9:44pm

Encore (starts at 9:46pm)
26. All of These Dreams
27. If I Could
28. Talk
29. The Horse >
30. Silent in the Morning
31. More
house lights at 10:05pm

Copyright Aren Vandenburgh 2018.

Swifts Are a Thing

Vaux’s Swifts

I love stationary and Lark Press in northwest had this card but never understood the significance. It was one in a series of city landmarks like the bridges and the state sign when you cross over Burnside Bridge into downtown. This particular card was of a chimney and some dots around it. I didn’t get it.

For a nice evening out I suggested we visit Chapman Elementary School in northwest. In September migratory swifts pass through and use an abandoned chimney at the school to rust on their way south. The weather was going to be good and it just happened to be September when I found out about this.

We both picked up some items from the grocery store and headed to the school right after work. They start to circle the chimney just before sunset. I should have known from the parking situation things were going to be busy. When we got to the school I was shocked to see just how many people were there.

Vaux’s Swifts

There was plenty of time before sunset but the school was already packed with people. All the good spots were taken so we laid out the blanket and sat under a tree. As the sun set the birds started to gather. You could hear this weird chirp in the area. It was really neat watching the birds circle the chimney as they land inside. I don’t know how they perch in there. It was crazy watching this large groups of birds swirl around spinning tighter and tighter before the land inside. Two thousand people show up and who knows how many birds.

We spent several hours there that night just talking. It was really nice and relaxing. The sun was completely set and there was no one else in the park by the time we left. Now I understand the note card I saw so many months ago. It really is a think here to watch birds roost in a chimney in northwest Portland.