State of Wonder State of Wonder features interviews and reporting on the latest in visual arts, theater, music, literature, culture and more.
State of Wonder

State of Wonder

From Oregon Public Broadcasting

State of Wonder features interviews and reporting on the latest in visual arts, theater, music, literature, culture and more.More from State of Wonder »

Most Recent Episodes

Lasting Grace - A Memorial for Writer Brian Doyle

This week on "State of Wonder," some of the Northwest's most prominent writers come together to share stories and memories of the man the "New Yorker" called "the Portland sage," Brian Doyle, who died in 2017 at the age of 60. We hear readings and tributes by David James Duncan, Robert Michale Pyle, Kathleen Dean Moore, and others.

Victor Maldonado | Sean Patrick Carney | Crow's Shadow

This week's show is guest curated by Victor Maldonado.. An interdisciplinary artist who works in paint, as well as more ephemeral mediums, he also teaches at PNCA in Portland. We talk with Victor about what shaped his life and practice, from growing up crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, to finding an invisible college of peers to support and sustain his work, to the students who now look to him for advice on building a sustainble life in art.

Elliott Smith 'Either/Or' At 20 | Slim Moon | Larry Crane | Sean Croghan | Luz Elena Mendo...

Twenty years ago, Elliott Smith opened a door into a hypnotic new world. The album, "Either/Or" marks a turning point in Smith's transition from Portland rock journeyman to international star. We sat down with Smith's friends, peers, and a live studio audience in 2017 to talk about "Either/Or" and Smith's legacy.

Elliott Smith 'Either/Or' At 20 | Slim Moon | Larry Crane | Sean Croghan | Luz Elena Mendo...

Oct. 21: Eastern Oregon Film Festival, Where Big Movies Meet Small Town

If you're sitting in a dark room with a cattle rancher, a fish biologist and an English professor, watching a sci-fi film shot on a $200,000 budget, chances are good you're at the Eastern Oregon Film Festival. Filmmakers come from all over the country to share their work, listen to Northwest bands, and learn to throw hatchets at artists' brunches — a combination that has landed it on the list of the world's coolest film fests in "MovieMaker Magazine" multiple times. The little fest is playing out for its eighth successive year in theaters and pop-up venues around La Grande, Oregon, and "State of Wonder" is broadcasting live this week from the festival headquarters. The Little Fest That Could: Christopher Jennings And Ian Clark From the minute we arrived, festival co-founders Christopher Jennings and Ian Clark have been running around nonstop, greeting guests, trouble-shooting projectors, setting up bands, serving as walking answer boxes, and more. We get them to sit still long enough to talk about how the festival grew out of a film challenge and learn about how they manage to lure filmmakers from all over to a small town in the mountains of Northeast Oregon. A Man, A Woman, And A Talking Robot Head Walk Into A Desert ... The opening night film is a sumptuous sci-fi fable about a guy, a girl and a robot head hiking across a desert looking for a mythical lake. "Everything Beautiful Is Far Away," starring Julia Garner and Joseph Cross, premiered this year at the LA Film Festival, where it won the U.S. Fiction Cinematography Award. It's not hard to see why: filmed entirely in the Imperial Sand Dunes in Southeastern California, the characters wander through hills of white sand against a backdrop of blue sky with colors and lighting so soft and delicate that Garner's porcelain skin simply glows. The pacing is patient, the dialogue spare, but the whole film is such a potent meditation that when the characters stare straight into the camera, we are more than happy to just lose ourselves in their eyes. We sit down with the writer and director Pete Ohs. The Do's And Don'ts Of Screenwriting With Jon Raymond Jon Raymond will be the first to say that he accidentally stumbled into the world of screenwriting. He had just published his first novel in 2004 when a friend of his asked to adapt his short story "Old Joy" into a film. That friend was the director Kelly Reichardt, and that film started a working relationship that took them both into theaters across the world with the award-winning films "Wendy and Lucy," "Meek's Cutoff" and "Night Moves." Raymond also co-wrote the teleplays for the five-part HBO series "Mildred Pierce" with his friend and Portland filmmaker Todd Haynes, which got him an Emmy nomination. He's at the fest for a talk about screenwriting, and we asked him to give us the Jon Raymond Golden Rules. Sara Salovaara And 'Let Me Die A Nun' Directed by Sara Salovaara, the six-part web series "Let Me Die A Nun" bills itself as "the opposing but intersecting trajectories of a lesbian soon-to-be nun, her Jewish stalker, and the object of her affection." We had to have Salovaara on to discuss this contemporary, comedic take on the 70s nunsploitation films (yeah, we didn't know that was a thing either). We also ask Salovaara, a regular writer for "MovieMaker Magazine," to help us understand just what sets the Eastern Oregon Film Fest apart from all the others. Zombie Puppets And Other Furry Monsters Portland filmmaker Jesse Blanchard claims "Frank & Zed" is the world's first puppet movie, which raises the question: How has this never been done before? Is there anything better than puppet-brain-eating puppet zombies? Or fire-breathing puppet monsters and bloody puppet limbs flying this way and that? Festival-goers are getting a first look at this work in progress, in which Blanchard and his Puppetcore Films team lovingly build every stitched eyeball, puppet skull and hurtling ax by hand. Could this be the next cult...

Ursula K. Le Guin | Readers of Color React to Her Work | Filmmaker Arwen Curry Prepares to...

On the eve of a grand literary celebration, we remember the life, writing, and transformative thinking of an Oregon literary titan.

Ursula K. Le Guin | Readers of Color React to Her Work | Filmmaker Arwen Curry Prepares to...

Playwright Tanya Barfield's Homecoming Season

Tanya Barfield grew up in Portland and first caught the theater bug from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. But even though her plays have been performed around the country and got her nominated for a Pulitzer, they had never been staged in Portland until 2016. That year, we spent an hour getting to know Barfield's work and exploring her ideas. Dive in with us!

Viet Thanh Nguyen | Back Country Book Club | L.A. Salami

Pulitzer Prize winning writer Viet Thanh Nguyen on refugee families and walking in his mom and dad's shoes. We've also got reading recommendations from people whose professional lives let them spend long, uninterrupted, stretches of time between the covers. And we hear an acoustic set with a London-based singer-songwriter who slows down to really look life with a Dylanesque clarity.

Typhoon | Alex Gino's KidLit Trans Hero | Arthur And Katherine Bradford

This week we turn our face toward the void with one of Oregon's great painters, the band Typhoon, a mother and son who share a unique creative language, and a new play that explores a new dimension to urban displacement.

Johnny Cash's Folsom At 50, Paul Simon, Chuck Klosterman, Aaron Scott's Greatest Hits

Do we sound a little verklempt this week? Our show is full of fond farewells, from Paul Simon's goodbye tour to our own producer Aaron Scott's departure for green Field Guide pastures. But it's not all tears. Before Aaron goes, he'll tell what he's learned reporting on arts for the better part of a decade. We also chirp with the writer who followed Paul Simon's life story, and mix it up with one of the top practitioners of pop criticism working today. Reconsidered: Johnny Cash's "At Folsom Prison" Album at 50 - 1:08 In May 1968, Johnny Cash made a record that opened America's eyes to life behind bars. But are those songs still relevant today? A group of Oregon musicians and artists, under the name Luther's Boots, are re-staging the concert at prisons around the state to find out. To help fund their Folsom50 tour, they're putting on a concert for those on the outside at Portland's Polaris Hall May 20. Pop Culture Talk with Chuck Klosterman - 8:33 If the first eighteen years of the century have left you gasping for breath, take heart. The post-Avengers, post-Kapernick, post-#MeToo, post-Beyonce era is not just an amazing time for pop culture; it's also a golden age of pop culture critics. Chuck Klosterman is one of the best. His bracing essays on music and sports in the "New York Times," the "Washington Post," "Esquire," and "Grantland." Klosterman will read from his latest book, "Chuck Klosterman X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century," at Powell's in Portland next week. Paul Simon's Farewell Tour - 19:17 This summer concert season is rife with acts doing farewell tours — Joan Baez, Elton John, Yassiin Bey (Mos Def) — but one of the most significant is legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon. His "Homeward Bound Tour" hits the Moda Center May 19. To send him off, we listen back to our interview with Peter Ames Carlin, author of the biography "Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon," at Wordstock 2016. Aaron Scott's Greatest Hits - 30:32 It's our bittersweet duty to inform you that this is State of Wonder producer Aaron Scott's last week on the show. He is moving on to report and produce stories for "Oregon Field Guide." We're totally excited for him and couldn't resist the chance to pull him in front of the mic one more time to talk about some of his favorite moments, and trends he's observed in the regional arts ecosystem as he's reported on it for the better part of a decade.

Johnny Cash's Folsom At 50, Paul Simon, Chuck Klosterman, Aaron Scott's Greatest Hits

May 5: Mark Rothko, Sera Cahoone, Women in Tech, Chris Coleman

Had enough of the status quo? This week's wonders are shaking it up: the greatest modern artist who ever called Portland home, a director who set the bar higher, two friends turning fan-favorite songs upside down, and ladies calling time's up on tech. Painfully Honest Job Descriptions for Women in Tech — 1:15 Backfence PDX is about to welcome some storytellers from the tech world to the MainStage for an evening of home truths on May 12. #MeToo isn't just limited to Silicon Valley. We heard about this in 2016 when we welcomed one of the Backfence storytellers, Megan Bigelow, to our studio. Along with friends Kasey Jones and Amanda Brooks, they helped us rewrite job descriptions for women in the industry. All three say they're in good places with their current employers, but some of their past experiences at other firms, from start-ups to big players, were truly hair-raising. Rothko in Portland — 10:08 This week, Oregon Art Beat premiers a new documentary about a painter who was, arguably, the greatest modern artist ever to call Oregon home. Mark Rothko flew in the face of convention and ultimately helped create a new American vanguard, but his early years as an immigrant kid in Portland were a hard education. We talk with producer Eric Slade about Rothko's Portland roots, and the experiences that influenced his visual vocabulary. Sera Cahoone Flora String Sessions — 16:43 There's a simple honesty to the music of Seattle singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone. Her songs tell intimate stories about love and loss, where acoustic guitar and Cahoone's voice are complimented by the steady percussion that is a holdover from her days as the drummer for Seattle's Band of Horses and the occasional cello, piano or country-tinged slide guitar. It's hard to imagine that her twist on Americana needs any embellishment, but while she was touring with the multi-instrumentalist Alex Guy, they had an idea: Guy would arrange full strings for a number of Cahoone's songs for a big upcoming concert. What started as a one-off show has grown into the new album "The Flora String Sessions." Chris Coleman Says Goodbye to Portland Center Stage — 26:48 After 19 seasons, the artistic director of Portland Center Stage is leaving for a new job in Denver. Chris Coleman brought the city's largest company to new heights, carving out programming space for original works as well as new interpretations of classics, while midwifing the renovation of the Armory into a new multi-stage venue. He also had a busy side hustle advocating with state and local governments for arts funding. Coleman stopped in to talk to Think Out Loud's Dave Miller about his time in Portland.

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