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.

Most Recent Episodes

Elliott Smith's 'Either/Or' At 20 | Slim Moon | Larry Crane

This week's show is a rebroadcast from April 2017. Twenty-two years ago Elliott Smith opened a door into a hypnotic new world. The album, "Either/Or," released on Kill Rock Stars, marks a turning point in Smith's transition from Portland rock journeyman to international star. This time had enormous consequences for Smith personally and professionally, but it also gave us heart-stopping music that continues to inspire fans and musicians all over the world.

Scotland's Mobile Libraries | Tales from the Fisher Poets | East Portland's Arte Soleil

Sometimes good stories take a while. This week, long-awaited gems from Astoria's Fisher Poets and an arts outpost in East Portland. Also, a photographer goes the extra 4,000 miles for the literary story she believes in.

Scotland's Mobile Libraries | Tales from the Fisher Poets | East Portland's Arte Soleil

Artist Mixes Nature And Business

It's not often you find an artist whose work incorporates nature, meditation and a business plan. Erika Bartlett is such an artist.

April 22nd: Oregon Book Awards Nominees

We meet the contenders for the general nonfiction category: Tracy Daugherty, Andi Zeisler, Kathleen Dean Moore, Bill Lascher, and Sue Armitage.

Apr. 15: Solange & Soul'd Out Music Fest, Chuck Close in Pendleton, Wild Ones, Portland Ar...

Chuck Close Portraits Heat Up The Pendleton Art Scene It's not every day that a small town arts center gets to pick works from a blue chip artist like it's checking out library books, but that's basically how this show came to be. Sam Hamilton Brings His Films And More To PAM's APEX Gallery The fresh face at Portland Art Museum is Grace Kook-Anderson, the new curator of Northwest art. It's her job to make sure the museum reflects regional work, but she also has a strong feel for contemporary art. And that is reflected in her first choice for the Museum's APEX Gallery: fellow recent Northwest transplant Sam Hamilton, whose playful interdisciplinary work interweaves films, music and installation. Who else would mix Carl Sagan, David Attenborough and Kenny G in one show? Oregon-Born Play Wins Pulitzer Playwright Lynn Nottage premiered her play "Sweat" in 2015 as part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "American Revolutions" series exploring key moments in U.S. history. With the announcement Monday that the play received the Pulitzer Prize for drama, Nottage made history as the first female playwright to win the prestigious award twice. "Sweat" is one of only two shows by women to open on Broadway this season. The other, "Indecent" by Paula Vogel, was also commissioned by OSF's "American Revolutions" project. The Bard might say: the Oregon Shakespeare Festival doest slayeth it. Get Ready To Shake Your Booty At The Soul'd Out Festival This week, Portland is gearing up to make some moves — dance moves, that is. It's the annual Soul'd Out Festival (April 19–23). Legendary soulful acts from around the country are on the bill with new breakers of soul, from the popular hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco to the prophetic R&B queen Solange. The Guttery Writing Group: Tough Book Love That Will Get You Out Of Your Pajamas The collective proclaiming itself "Portland's second most-famous writers' group" challenges the idea that great work is produced in cloistered solitude. The authors in the writing group "The Guttery" are like a literary engine: at least five published this past year. opbmusic Session With Wild Ones Does the smattering of recent sunny days have you dreaming of summer? There's no better album to feed those dreams than Wild Ones' "Heatwave." Its songs of long summer nights and big-city adventures smolder and delight. Vancouver's North Bank Art Gallery Shuts Its Doors Next Month North Bank Artists is a co-op gallery on the city's Main Street. Its presence and work downtown since its founding in 2003 — including the creation of a city art walk — has helped spur other galleries and cultural institutions to open, earning the area the moniker "The Vancouver Arts District." But after rent hikes and an uncertain future, the art gallery that served as a linchpin for Vancouver's downtown revitalization will close at the end of May. Diana Abu Jaber Weaves The Story of Her Life With Layers Of Pastry Dough Diana Abu Jaber is a novelist, a professor and a cook. She is the daughter of a Jordanian father and an American mother, and her most recent book, "Life without a Recipe," tells the story of growing up in both countries.

Apr. 15: Solange & Soul'd Out Music Fest, Chuck Close in Pendleton, Wild Ones, Portland Ar...

Laini Taylor Extended Interview on "Strange the Dreamer" and the Power of Fantasy

As a girl, Laini Taylor wanted to be a writer. She would dream up magical worlds filled with witches and monsters. But once she got into high school and college, she started reading literature — all those serious books about the real world that serious people read. And she stopped writing. "I had no life experience," she laughs. "And really nothing to say. I felt a lack of ability to contribute to that body of work." Then years later, she read a little book you might've heard of. Harry Potter? And her childhood imagination rose up like a phoenix. "That whole 'write what you know,' you don't have to do that," she says. "I find it much more fun to imagine what I don't know and want to figure it out." Since then, Taylor has imagined stories to incredible success. Her early collaboration with her husband, the illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, "Lips Touch," was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" trilogy is an international best seller. We sat down with Taylor at her Portland home. It's sunny and bright and filled with wonder: paintings of her characters, small figurines of magical creature, princess dresses for her daughter Clementine Pie, and a library with a grand fireplace and floor-to-ceiling book shelves that seems right out of a fairy tale. Which is fitting: Taylor launched a new series this week about a young librarian who also has big dreams, "Strange the Dreamer." Taylor will read from the book and talk with Sara Grundell of the YA website Novel Novice at Powell's at Cedar Hills Crossing on Apr. 6.

Laini Taylor Extended Interview on "Strange the Dreamer" and the Power of Fantasy

Jack Perrin Teaches Science with Unconventional Flare

Jack Perrin is not your typical science teacher. "I really love hands on stuff," he told me last month when I visited him in White Salmon, Washington. "If kids can use their hands, learning goes a lot deeper." Perrin was my science and math teacher all through grade and high school at a small private school in the Western Colorado town of Paonia. He caught my attention right away, when he introduced a course titled 'bubble-ology' to my second grade class. By the time I was in high school, his lessons had evolved in a more athletic way: we would pop off to Utah for a week of backpacking, learning how to start a fire with flint or cook pasta inside a sleeping bag. "I think for me, teaching has always been about relationships," he says. "Paying attention to the relationship made it possible for us to do a lot of things that we wouldn't have been able to do if I just regarded you as the girl that takes math from me one period a day." Perrin grew up in Portland and moved back to the Northwest to be near family a couple of years ago. Besides his part time job teaching science at White Salmon High School, he runs the Gorge Makerspace, a workshop currently housed in the basement of the youth center in White Salmon. The center picks kids up from school every day and gives them a place to play and do homework until their parents get off work. On Tuesdays, Perrin opens up the Makerspace and facilitates different activities that any of the kids can participate in. They've done everything from puppetry classes and sticker-making to building marble runs. Last summer, a small group of pre-teens wielding hammers built a clubhouse in the youth center yard. On a recent Tuesday, Jack had a group of kids, ages 7-11, working with Spheros—little spherical robots that look like pool balls come to life, or the droid BB8 from Star Wars without the head. Perrin was interested in how the kids could hack the basic robots, challenging them to build a carriage that they could attach to the Spheros. The game was to transport plastic pandas, via robot, across an obstacle course and back to the zoo. The students were using cardboard and recycled yogurt containers to construct their wagons. There were hot glue guns and electric cardboard cutting saws, and everyone wanted to work with the drills and power tools. "It's a little more funner," said 11-year-old Rosalinda about creating at Makerspace versus her school classes. "We get to cut things, more sharper things, we get to learn how to use [tools]." Getting tools in the hands of kids is a big part of what Perrin does. "I think the message kids get at public school is: you don't know what you are doing, you're not any good, what's wrong with you," he says. "I want every kid to feel like they can do something well, and they can feel good about what they do." The Gorge Makerspace is getting a new home. They are expanding into the Bethel Church across Main Street from their current home. The larger space will allow Perrin to put together a more extensive class list, including spring break and summer camps, and some Saturday camps for all ages. Perrin plans to keep expanding and helping kids continue to keep on creating, and to never, ever, stop learning.

See Art, Win Money, Make A Difference With Two New Portland Programs

Ever passed a gallery and seen something that looked interesting through the window, but found yourself thinking "I could never afford it" or "I probably wouldn't get it?" Well, you're not alone. "Galleries can be really intimidating places—I'm sometimes intimidated to walk in," says artist and writer Jennifer Rabin, which is saying a lot, given that she's paid to know art. Since 2015, she's been the visual art critic at "Willamette Week," although she will depart at the end of March. After watching nine Portland galleries and one museum close in the first nine months she was at WW, Rabin grew alarmed. Then President Donald Trump proposed eliminating the national endowments for the arts and the humanities, and Rabin had to do something. In the last two weeks, Rabin launched two programs, Art Passport PDX and Artists Resist, to get more people looking at art and standing up for why art matters. Read the full story:

Online Clash Lays Path For Classical Crossroad

Greg Ewer of 45th Parallel and Tristan Bliss talk about digging deep to resolve an online spat and forge a deeper conversation about welcoming new audiences for classical music.

Rasika Dance Faces Visa Hurdles

Jayanthi Raman has been staging Internationally renown shows in Portland for nearly 30 years. This one had a small hiccup.