Small paintings, large meanings

PSU art history professor to speak about Chinese paintings

“The Chinese don’t discard the old,” said Dennis Lee, founder and volunteer of the Portland-based Lan Su Chinese Garden. “They always retain it and may have an overlay of something that’s more contemporary, so it kind of grows that way.”

Lee and the Chinese Garden volunteers are coming to Portland State’s Urban and Public Affairs Center Saturday, Feb. 4, as part of an ongoing series of cultural programs and discussions. The First Saturday program, held each month, is running with this year’s theme, “Windows into Beauty and Meaning.”

A kinder, gentler Baghdad

Local Jewish theater troupe explores 1920s multicultural Iraq at PSU

Sacha Reich speaks of “Christians, Muslims and Jews, sitting down together in debate as they’re forging their ideas of a new Iraq.”

But Reich isn’t describing the trials of modern-day Iraq. Rather, she’s referring to a time in history less than 80 years ago, as depicted in the upcoming Café Baghdad performance by the Portland-based Jewish Theatre Collaborative.

Floor show: Members of tEEth dance company rehearse for Make/Believe.

The many faces of human interaction

PSU to host Make/Believe, a work of modern dance

Two men and two women are in the throes of an argument, their faces alight with emotion, their gestures fierce and desperate.

But they’re not arguing with each other. Instead, the four of them stand staggered, facing the same direction, shouting a torrent of barely audible words at no one in particular, depicting the many faces of human conflict.

Playing through the pain

Portland buskers explain the joys and trials of performing on the streets in the dead of winter

Guitarist Bruce Windham’s fingers were red and chapped from his time spent in the cold, but they still danced through the chords of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroad Blues” with a veteran’s precision. There weren’t many onlookers on that rainy afternoon, but he kept his spirits high and played on.

A film about nothing

Northwest Film Center to show Samuel Beckett’s absurdist tragicomedy Waiting for Godot

“Nothing to be done.”

The opening words, sighed by the listless loiterer Vladimir, illustrate the tone of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play, Waiting for Godot. Described by the playwright as a tragicomedy, Godot is, almost literally, a play about nothing.

The Northwest Film Center will screen a 1961 film adaptation of Godot by Alan Schneider Jan. 19–20 as part of its ongoing “Treasures from the UCLA Film and Television Archive” series.

A matchmade in hell: Kate Bosworth, left, plays Dawn Schiller to Val Kilmer’s John Holmes, right.

A sex-trafficking survivor’s story

PSU screens John Holmes murder story in feature film Wonderland

“But I’m his girl. From that first night on the beach, when I was 15, I was his girl.”

It’s a simple line but one that tells an entire story, according to Dawn Schiller, who narrowly survived years of sex trafficking and abuse at the hands of porn legend John Holmes.

Years ago, Schiller might have uttered those words in defense of her relationship with Holmes, even as he sold her off for cash or cocaine. Today, she sees these words as the key to explaining not only her own fall into the world of human trafficking but those of so many other youth still being victimized.

Scholar of the Steinway

Local pianist David Rothman to bring Chopin, Liszt to Portland State

If Frédéric François Chopin has been called the poet of the piano, then Portland pianist David Rothman could be described as its scholar. His approach to learning and performing the works of the 19th century Polish composer is comprehensive and methodical. His technique is thoughtful and precise, with unassuming poise and keystrokes that sound like whispers against the ivory.

Marilyn Monroe’s last cinematic stand

John Huston’s The Misfits showcases the final screen performances of Monroe and co-star Clark Gable

More than 50 years after her death, Marilyn Monroe remains one of the most celebrated Hollywood personalities.

This weekend, Portland State students will have a chance to see the iconic pinup model onscreen at 5th Avenue Cinema’s showing of director John Huston’s 1961 western romance, The Misfits.

Set in the dusty Nevada countryside, The Misfits is about the rugged rebound of newly divorced Roslyn Taber (Monroe). Having left her neglectful husband in Reno, she and her friend Isabelle Steers (Thelma Ritter) fall in with a posse of cowboys who make their living ranging the mountains in pursuit of free-running mustangs.

Chinese in Malaysia

U of O professor to discuss the Chinese experience in anon-native nation

“It seems very difficult for them to conceptualize a sense of Chinese-ness that’s a locally defined Chinese-ness,” said Sharon Carstens as she explained the cultural plight of ethnic Chinese in Malaysia.

This plight is the focus of her colleague Dr. Alison Groppe, assistant professor of Chinese literature at the University of Oregon. Groppe will visit Portland State Tuesday, Nov. 22, to deliver a lecture, titled “Not Made in China: Identity & Home in Sinophone Malaysian Fiction,” about Chinese fiction written in the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia.

“Looking at the literature that is based on their local culture is something that’s very interesting,” Carstens said.

Invisible hand slap: Professor Martin Hart-Landsberg argues that neoliberal economic policy is often a failure and that government planning is essential to economic health.

Liberalization and its discontents

Lewis and Clark professor to discuss how South Korea can reverse its economic woes

“How do we create a world where economies are stable and can grow?” Martin Hart-Landsberg asked.

The question was rhetorical, and the quiet authority in his tone suggested that he’d long pondered the answer. “One thing that’s important to learn is that countries like Korea did prosper, and they transformed themselves economically, not through relying on the market, but through state planning,” Hart-Landsberg said.

The topic of conversation was the South Korean economy. As a professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College and an adjunct researcher at Gyeongsang National University’s Institute for Social Sciences in South Korea, Hart-Landsberg has spent years studying the subject.

Reading the future: Susan Banks, director of Multnomah County Central Library, believes that the fate of libraries will be determined by the communities who value them, or fail to.

The future of libraries

Presentation at Portland State will examine how libraries can survive in the digital age

“Of course, I’m prejudiced, being employed in libraries, but I think I can say objectively that libraries are coming into a whole new phase of relevancy,” said Susan Banks, director of Multnomah County Central Library.

Banks will be speaking at Portland State about the future of libraries in the digital age with a talk titled “Jurassic Library: Public Libraries in the 21st Century—Dinosaur or Dynamo?” to be presented Thursday by the Retired Associates of Portland State University.