The 36 Best Things to Do in Portland This Weekend: Feb 22-24


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Friday, Feb 22

Mike Krol, Vertical Scratchers
“Sometimes I want the palm trees to lean so far that they break and crush me,” Mike Krol sings on “Blue and Pink,” echoing every sad sack who’s had to drag a lovesick head through an obnoxiously perfect LA day. The 10 other songs Krol’s fourth album, Power Chords, are similarly bright and stricken, as the garage-pop auteur uses his titular tools to dig into abandonment and heartbreak. Krol’s always cut the fizzy thrills of his succinct compositions with disarming earnestness, but he seems especially intent on skipping the formalities here—he’s hurting too much to hide his wounds. (9 pm, Mississippi Studios, $10-12) CHRIS STAMM

Poppy, Aviva
If the internet were able to have a child, it would be Poppy. A wispy platinum blonde with perfect Barbie features, Poppy is (in some circles) an internet sensation thanks to her sometimes baffling, but always fun critiques of obsessive online culture. This is especially evident in her music, which features bouncy electro-pop beats set to lyrics in which she questions her gender, her eyelash-length, and whether she’s human or machine. Let me put it this way: Poppy is a wildly successful walking parody of the cult of Kim Kardashian who never breaks character and performs danceable performance art… umm… that’s funny? Jeez! I’m sorry! I can’t explain it any better than that! (7:30 pm, Wonder Ballroom, $20-25, all ages) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

Anthony Sanchez Birthday and Benefit Show: The Chicharones, Vursatyl, Bad Habitat, Raise the Bridges, Trujillo, King Ghidora, Randal Wyatt, Eminent, Laryssa Birdseye, DJ Zone, DJ LadyX
Last month, Anthony Sanchez—founder of Runaway Productions and longtime supporter of the local hip-hop scene—was hospitalized after suffering a stroke and has been battling related health issues ever since. With a bill featuring some of Portland’s musical pillars, like hip-hop duo the Chicharones, rapper Vursatyl (of Lifesavas and, recently, Blackalicious), and Chicano rock band Trujillo, this show triples as a celebration of the 18th anniversary of Runaway Productions, Sanchez’s birthday party, and a fundraiser to help cover the cost of his medical expenses. (8 pm, Star Theater, $10) CIARA DOLAN

Pedro The Lion, Tomberlin
It’s only February, but there’s already a big favorite for 2019’s indie rock comeback of the year: Pedro the Lion, the full-band vehicle of renowned songwriter David Bazan. From 1998 to 2004, Pedro recorded four excellent albums full of emo-tinged folk-pop songs about faith, politics, confusion, and self-doubt before Bazan shelved the name to record and tour as a solo act. But with the January release of Phoenix—the first Pedro the Lion album in 15 years—the beloved band is officially back. Phoenix finds Bazan as self-reflective as ever, wielding sturdier song arrangements and backed by a band that knows how to rock. (9 pm, Revolution Hall, $25-30) BEN SALMON

Joel McHale
The comedian and actor best known for hosting The Soup and portraying Jeff Winger on the beloved sitcom Community brings his stand-up through town for a run of shows at Helium. (Fri-Sat 7:30 pm & 10 pm, Helium Comedy Club, $27-40)

Dani Shapiro
Inheritance is the latest from bestselling memoirist and novelist Dani Shapiro, about a genealogy test that revels her father was not actually her biological father, and all of the long-buried family secrets uncovered in the wake of her stunning realization. (7:30 pm, Powell’s City of Books, free)

The Bad Plus
The Minneapolis-hailing jazz outfit spearheaded by pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King bring their fiercely collaborative and genre-spanning live show to the Winningstad Theatre. Part of the 2019 PDX Jazz Festival. (9:30 pm, Winningstad Theatre, $36-46)

The Culture
Legendary Mondays puts in work for Black History Month, presenting this tribute to Black art, Black culture, and Black excellence. Put on your finest and hit the floor with purpose. (9 pm, Senate, $10-15)

Sad Horse, Noxeema, Lost Cat
Sad Horse makes some of the best punk to come out of Portland since Dead Moon’s heyday. It’s clear Elizabeth Venable and Geoff Soule draw creative inspiration from Fred and Toody—their releases play like short jolts of unbridled weirdness cut with sweet, jangly duet interludes (9 pm, No Fun, $5) CAMERON CROWELL

Snap! Y2K: Star Crossed Lovers Ball
The latest installment of the beloved monthly dance night takes cues from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, with Colin Jones, Freaky Outty, and Introcut rolling out a selection of hip-hop, house, RnB, and club remixes from ’90s and early 2000’s. (9 pm, Holocene, $6-7)

Lukas Graham
Danish singer/songwriter Lukas Graham and his band bring their soulful pop and funk-tinged R&B through the Crystal Ballroom in support of the musician’s recently released third studio album. (8:30 pm, Crystal Ballroom, $35-40, all ages)

Police Story 2
Jackie Chan broke two vertebrae making Police Story, which can happen when you’re almost singlehandedly demolishing a mall with your body. Police Story 2 is a little toned down from its predecessor as a result. Well, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. It’s more like when someone knocks on your door because you’ve got your music up way too loud and you’re dancing as hard as you can, and you ease off around 10 percent after they leave, and somehow, less than 15 minutes later, the music has magically resumed its original volume? It’s like that. But with ’80s-era Jackie Chan and friends wreaking the most comically beautiful havoc on each other’s bodies for your entertainment. (7:30 pm, Hollywood Theatre, $7-9)


Saturday, Feb 23

Caroline Rose, Superet, Ings
New York-based singer/songwriter Caroline Rose brings her shapeshifting blend of indie rock and pop back through the Doug Fir for a Portland show supporting her latest album, Loner. (9 pm, Doug Fir, $13-15)

Teenage Fanclub, Love Language
Scottish power-pop heroes Teenage Fanclub are still proudly making gloriously catchy, slightly bummed-out fuzz-rock songs, and thank heaven for that. Last year saw the reissue of their early albums and the departure of founding member Gerard Way, but with this year’s tour the Fannies have lost none of their power, keeping one eye on their marvelous and ever-growing back catalog, and the other eye toward the future. (9 pm, Wonder Ballroom, $20-22) NED LANNAMANN

Wizard World Comic Con
The earlier of Portland’s two giant-sized pop-culture celebrations lands at the Convention Center with special guest AQUABRO (and also a Khal Drogo), Jason Momoa! Plus a lineup of Whedonverse veterans that the con is advertising as “eight Buffy the Vampire Slayer Stars” but really, “A whole bunch of people who made Angel a way better show than Buffy ever was, plus Willow and Tara” is much more accurate. Oh yeah, and—of course—the various people who actually write and draw comic books, most of whom will be shunted off into a small corner of the convention center to be ignored for most of the weekend. (Sat-Sun 10 am, Oregon Convention Center, $40, all ages)

Queer Quest
Godsfall podcast creator and Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast Aram Vartian DMs a two-hour long D&D session for players of all experience levels to benefit the Q Center, a resource center and safe space for LGBTQAI+ people living in the Portland community. (6 pm, Q Center, $25-125)

Daniel Romano, Thayer Sarrano
Prolific Canadian country singer/songwriter and poet Daniel Romano returns to Mississippi Studios for the Portland stop on a tour supporting his latest full-length, Finally Free (9 pm, Mississippi Studios, $12-14)

Andaz
For more than 15 years, DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid have been an inimitable force in the Portland dance scene. Since 2002 the power duo has hosted Andaz—their monthly bhangra, Bollywood, and desi bass dance party (the longest running on the West Coast)—and let me tell you, it is WILD. There were flashing lights and Bollywood movies playing on TVs. The air was thick with moisture, so thick that I’m pretty sure it was condensing on the ceiling. Surrounded by energetic dancers, DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid inundated late-night revelers with rhythms from South Asia and beyond. (10 pm, The Liquor Store, $5-10) CIARA DOLAN

I Heart Gumbo
Even if you’ve never had gumbo, you probably heart it, because it’s just a fun word to say, and so far as meal names go, it’s one of those that just sounds delicious. Guess what, it very much is, and Oh Honey Cookery is hosting this pop-up dedicated not just to showing you how tasty it can be, but helping teach you how to make your own at home. (6 pm, Fika Cafe, $50)

Mic Crenshaw
Veteran Portland rapper Mic Crenshaw heads up a hometown matinee at the Alberta Street Pub in support of his latest full-length, Earthbound. (3 pm, Alberta Street Pub, $7)

Wyrd War Presents: 2019 – After the Fall of New York
Wyrd War loves digging through ’80s detritus and sharing schlock treasures with fellow appreciators of vintage trash. One of the decade’s most unrepentant garbagemen was Italian director Sergio Martino, whose career consisted of watching someone make an original thing, and then saying to himself “I can make that in two weeks with 15 bucks and a gravel pit.” So after apparently catching a marathon of Alien, The Road Warrior, and Escape From New York, he threw a couple bucks towards the chiseled slab of man that was Michael Sopkiw, and imagined a cheapjack post-apocalyptic 2019 that is, in many ways, still more dignified than the real 2019 is. (7:30 pm, Hollywood Theatre, $7-9) BOBBY ROBERTS

Bone Thugs N Harmony
DID YOU KNOW: On the title track of their breakout 1994 EP Creepin’ On Ah Come Up, the Bones are singing “Stalk and gat fools, walkin’ jack moves,” and not, as many kids on the playground during that era sang it, “Smokin’ cat food, rockin’ jacked moves.” The Thugs take no responsibility for any Meow Mix-related illnesses you may or may not have incurred during your impressionable suburban youth. (8 pm, Roseland, $25-40)

Korgy & Bass, Cameron Morgan Group
Local duo Korgy & Bass bring their instrumental hip-hop to the White Eagle Saloon to head up a hometown show along with support from the Cameron Morgan Group. Part of the 2019 PDX Jazz Festival. (8 pm, White Eagle, $8)

And That’s Why We Drink
Christine Schiefer and Em Schulz talk paranormal hauntings and true crime stories over a box of wine live on the Aladdin Theater stage when their popular podcast rolls through town as part of a massive live tour. (7 pm, Aladdin Theater, $30-60)

Patrice Rushen & Ernie Watts, Farnell Newton
Grammy nominated jazz pianist and R&B singer Patrice Rushen takes to the Revolution Hall stage to revisit her acclaimed 1982 album Straight from the Heart along with support from jazz saxophonist Ernie Watts. Portland jazz staple Farnell Newton rounds out the proceedings with a tribute to legendary jazz and blues trumpeter Donald Byrd. Part of the 2019 PDX Jazz Festival. (7 pm, Revolution Hall, $30-50)

26th Annual Hillsdale Brewfest
An outdoor heated tent hosts some of McMenamins’ best brewers as they compete for the championship belt. Last year, Kennedy School’s brewmasters took the title, but will they repeat for 2019? Find out by tasting the different varieties of Hefes, Oatmeal Stouts, Barleywines, and more brought to the contest by McMenamins pubs from all over the state. (11 am, Hillsdale Brewery and Public House, free)


Sunday, Feb 24

Kris Kristofferson & the Strangers
Over 82 action-packed years, Kris Kristofferson’s seen a lot—he’s been a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, a helicopter pilot in the Airborne Rangers, a Highwayman (alongside buds Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash), a vampire slayer (his heroic deeds chronicled in the three Blade documentaries), an award-winning movie star in 1976’s A Star Is Born (SUCK IT, BRADLEY COOPER), and… oh yeah, one of the greatest singer-songwriters country music has ever seen. An eternal badass, Kristofferson is back on tour with a voice like honey-drenched gravel and a catalog that ranges from “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” to “Me and Bobby McGee” to “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” Listen up. Unless you’re a vampire, in which case watch out! (8 pm, Newmark Theatre, $45-70) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Bunk Oscars Party
This years Academy Awards are gonna be… somethin’, I guess? Nobody really knows what the hell is going to happen, the organization itself seems pretty confused as to what it is they’re supposed to be doing, and there’s just a sense of confusion and awkwardness one normally doesn’t see in a group of mostly-rich people gifting each other gold statues for playing pretend the best. Might as well enjoy yourself a sandwich or two with some beers as the circus unfolds on Bunk’s big screen. Make sure the loudest cheers are saved for cinematography and editing, by the way. (4 pm, Bunk Bar, free)

Do the Right Thing
Or, alternatively: Fuck the Oscars. Watch Do the Right Thing instead. (2:10 pm & 9:30 pm, Academy Theater, $3-4)

Half Waif, Whitney Ballen
New York-based singer/songwriter Nandi Rose Plunkett brings her rich synth-pop sounds to the Doug Fir stage for the Portland stop on a headlining tour supporting her 2018 album, Lavender. Seattle’s Whitney Ballen rounds out the bill with her own unique blend of slow-burning pop music. (9 pm, Doug Fir, $12-14)

OM, Emel Mathlouthi
Any stoner metal nerd can tell you that when Sleep—arguably the genre’s most important band—split up in the mid-’90s, guitarist Matt Pike went on to embrace his ear-shattering physicality with High on Fire, while the rhythm section re-emerged as OM. In this configuration, the group has expanded on the powerfully cyclical oneness that made them legends: Al Cisneros’ paralyzing bass/vocal mantras and the methodical polyrhythms of drummer Chris Hakius were left bare in OM’s stark minimalism, while faithful fanatics drowned in a tsunami of hypnotically low frequencies. Sleep has since reformed to glorious acclaim, but Cisneros never stops cathartically chanting OM’s dark missives to the burgeoning legions. These days Emil Amos of Grails has taken over drum duties, while avant-garde soundscapist Robert Lowe augments the Valhallian rumble, lifting Cisneros’ blackened séance to the stratosphere. (8:30 pm, Wonder Ballroom, $20, all ages) CHRIS SUTTON

Ghost Piss, Charlie Moses, Sunbaby, Autonomuse
New York City has sent many a wonderful thing to Portland, and tonight they’re making sure you get a faceful of Ghost Piss. ENJOY! (9 pm, No Fun, $5)

Marc-André Hamelin, The Oregon Symphony
In my world, John Adams is not a former president, but a brilliant composer alive and well and living in northern California. Lucky for us, our hometown orchestra consistently champions his works, performing them with the crackling, virtuosic intensity they deserve. Tonight the band presents Adams’ Doctor Atomic Symphony—a gem that explores the personal remorse of physicists who developed nuclear weapons, the horrors that struck Japan in 1945, and the lingering anxiety of atomic warfare in our present age. This evening’s program also includes a Rachmaninoff piano concerto, as well as Death and Transfiguration from Richard Strauss. (7:30 pm, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $24 and up, all ages) BRIAN HORAY

Freddy Cole: Celebrating Nat King Cole at 100
Jazz singer and pianist Freddy Cole pays tribute his brother Nat King Cole in honor of the jazz legend’s 100th birthday. (4 pm, Winningstad Theatre, $46-56)

Girls Gone Mild: A Stand-Up Brunch
Portland’s comedy brunch showcase returns! Indulge in a mimosas and waffles while taking in stand-up from comedians Wendy Weiss, Becky Braunstein, Laura Anne Whitley, and more. (11 am, Siren Theater, $15)

Men I Trust, Michael Seyer
Men I Trust was one of the only dream-pop acts on the 2018 lineup for Tyler, the Creator’s music festival Camp Flog Gnaw, and the band later spilled that the rapper personally asked them to perform. The Canadian trio has remained independent of any record label or PR company since forming in 2014, and they produce, mix, and master their jingly melodies, smooth rhythms, and subdued vocals themselves. While Men I Trust spent the majority of 2018 sporadically releasing singles, they’re putting out a third album, Oncle Jazz, later this month. (9 pm, Mississippi Studios, $12-15)

Don’t forget to check out our Things To Do calendar for even more things to do!

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

New Space for Black Students Opens for the Spring Semester

From left to right: A’Nisa Megginson, Harmony Hemmings-Pallay and Hunter Major, curators of the “I Too, Am Divine” exhibit. (Photo by Emily Mason)

Chatter fills the fourth floor of the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life as people settle on couches around a wooden structure covered in light pink plastic blossoms. Curators refer to it as “the altar,” and it’s affixed with a poster reading, “I, Too, Am Divine,” the name of the exhibition celebrating black spiritualism.

The space was filled with laughter and music as people enjoyed authentic Cajun cuisine — home-cooked by one of the event curators — and Ethiopian dishes ordered in. The night began with speeches from two of the curators and a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” otherwise known as the black national anthem.

The exhibition will run during the rest of spring semester and feature pieces by black artists at NYU, hand selected by the three curators, A’Nisa Megginson, Hunter Major and Harmony Hemmings-Pallay. The idea was to give black students a space to safely explore their spirituality and blackness through art and discussion.

“We’ve never seen a space on this campus that intentionally integrates both [blackness and spirituality] together,” Major said. “I think that blackness doesn’t fit into one religion or spiritual identity at all so we’re trying to create a space that’s not just a room but a movement and a connection between people.”

Over the course of the semester, the curators plan to host various events in the venue including discussions, teach-ins and tours. The physical space is accompanied by a digital campaign spanning across Instagram, Twitter and soon YouTube. The campaign will feature live streams, photos and interviews with black faculty on campus, as well as prominent black figures outside of the NYU community.

“I wanted to cater to conversations that had to be cut short because the event ends and the Kimmel building closes at 11 p.m.,” Major said. “Social media is a space where people can stay in touch and engage in a lot of different ways.”

One of the main hopes for the opening event and the exhibition as a whole is to provide a space for black students and faculty on campus to get to know each other. Tisch first-year Brittany Alexander, an artist that contributed to the exhibition, was especially looking forward to this aspect of the exhibition.

“[I’m excited for] meeting the other artists, seeing how they create their art and what inspires them,” Alexander said. “I’m really excited to talk about that and black spirituality and finally be able to relate to people in my own community about spirituality.”

The opening alone touched some of those in attendance, like Steinhardt senior Maya Mahmud.

“It was so beautiful; I remember singing [“Lift Every Voice and Sing”] in Kwanza,” Mahmud said. “I actually took the lyrics home to put them up. I’d never sung it in a such a public space with people I didn’t know.”

The curators are still accepting and encouraging submissions to the exhibition. The application can be found here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc5W0X_PbvuG9U_7NYDQkVVcd5uquyDmJbdWmWi2g1wguDfjw/viewform

Email Emily Mason at [email protected].

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The EC Art Gallery presents the “Personal Truth” exhibit

Students have the opportunity to view the artworks of five local African-American artists at the The “Personal Truth” art exhibition at the EC Art Gallery, which began on February 11.

The artists Mark Steven Greenfield, Zeal Harris, Umar Rashid, Lezley Saar, and Frank J. Williams honor their heritage and highlight the impact of racism on their lives, thought their art. The artists also used a variety of mediums for their works.

Their works are dedicated to meaningful personal events, as well as specific historical episodes related to racial oppression.

“The exhibition will be interesting to visit because all work personal narrative, pretty excisable, and very important for black history period” Susanna Meiers, director of the exhibition said.

The exhibition will be on view from Feb. 11 to March 17, 2019 (the gallery will be closed on Feb. 18)

The Reception will be on Thursday, Feb. 21, 7-9 p.m, and the gallery talk will be on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 1 p.m.

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How Roger Stone may soon be brought to heel


Roger Stone leaves federal court in Washington on Feb. 1. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Contributing columnist

February 19 at 7:43 PM

After a half-century as a self-described “trafficker in the black arts,” political consultant Roger Stone may soon be brought to heel.

Stone is charged, among other crimes, with allegedly making false statements to investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. But Stone took his act a step too far when he posted a close-up photo of the federal judge in his case, Amy Berman Jackson, with what appeared to be crosshairs near her head.

He included suggestions that Jackson was a partisan Democrat and that the case was a “show trial.”

Stone took down the offensive post almost immediately and issued a “humble” apology, a step that suggested that he knows his prosecution is no laughing matter.

But it wasn’t soon enough for Jackson, who issued an order Tuesday morning requiring Stone to show at a hearing on Thursday why she shouldn’t modify his gag order or even send him to jail immediately.

Stone is no doubt keenly aware that when Jackson issued an similar order to “show cause” to Paul Manafort, she sent Manafort directly to jail, from which he has yet to emerge. Now Stone has to pray that he walks out of court Thursday.

He will at the very least receive a severe tongue-lashing and an admonition, underlined and in bold, that he is down to his last chance.

Jackson’s original gag order was an attempt to balance Stone’s rights to speak his mind as a defendant in a criminal case with the imperative of a fair trial.

From the court’s standpoint, Stone’s public statements (and provocations) carry the potential of warping the jury pool, injecting prejudice against the prosecution into the trial.

Although Stone may not have realized it, the original gag order was designed to cut him a break. It gave him an open field to comment on anything he chose besides the trial, and a fair bit of running room to talk about the trial and charges themselves.

Jackson’s order made it clear that what he couldn’t do was conduct a public campaign against his trial on the courthouse steps, as he did when he left the court following his preliminary appearance, flashing the Nixon “V” for victory sign and trashing special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s probe. Those displays garner wider press coverage and cast the court itself in a political light.

Stone’s post forces Jackson to reconsider the terms of her gag order. Even if she does not alter it officially, it seems all but certain that she will put Stone on a much tighter leash.

For Stone, it will be a lesson in the enormous difference between the political arena and a court of law.

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Jamaican Nicola Vassell curates DREAMWEAVERS exhibit with star-studded Beverly Hills opening

Dreamweavers LA

New York-based, Jamaican-born Nicola Vassell is the curator of DREAMWEAVERS, a group exhibition currently underway and presented by UTA Artist Space and music producer, Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean.

The exhibition opened on February 13 at UTA Artist Space, a famed exhibition venue in the heart of Beverly Hills, California. A bevy of celebrity guests were in attendance including Beyonce, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, and others.

The exhibit features leading Black artists David Hammons, Arthur Jafa, Nick Cave, Karon Davis, Deanna Lawson, Kehinde Wiley and Kerry James Marshall, among others. The artists’ work speak to themes such as identity, politics, social injustice as well as truth and reason.

Vassell, who first ventured to the United States as a successful model, is the founder of Concept NV, a curatorial agency that develops art projects exploring social and cultural phenomena. The agency links the traditional and experimental art worlds with brands, music, fashion and film, merging synergies between creative stakeholders in order to generate maximum cultural impact.

Dean, who has given Vassell the lead on past arts projects, is an entrepreneur and internationally acclaimed Grammy award-winning music producer who has worked with some of the biggest hitmakers in the world. Married to Alicia Keys, Dean and his wife founded The Dean Collection in 2014, which actively acquires and commissions work by visual artists and creates artist support initiatives. Dean currently sits on the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Museum in New York, and the Americas Foundation of the Serpentine Galleries in London.

Vassell was lauded for her work as the curatorial director of Dean’s No Commission installation at Miami’s 2017 Art Basel, which showcased 30 artists from the United States and the Caribbean, including Jamaican artists RenÈe Cox, Ebony G Patterson, Leasho Johnson, Di Andre Caprice Davis, and Phillip Thomas.

The DREAMWEAVERS exhibit is open to the public and will run for two months, closing on April 13th. For more information, visit http://www.utaartistspace.com/.

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Review: Jordan Casteel Faces Forward at the Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum mounts a solo show dedicated to a contemporary artist every year or so, though rarely does it choose an emerging artist just a few years out of graduate school. But that’s exactly the case with the striking Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze in the main-floor galleries in the DAM’s Hamilton Building, where it will run through summer. Looking at Jordan Casteel’s paintings, it’s easy to see how she quickly rose to the top of the national contemporary scene.

Casteel was born and raised in Denver; she’s the daughter of Lauren Casteel, a social-justice advocate, and Charles Casteel, a prominent attorney. Her maternal grandparents were Margaret and Whitney Young, important figures in the American civil-rights movement. Although Whitney Young died long before Jordan Casteel was born and her grandmother passed away ten years ago, when Casteel was just out of her teens, she sees herself as a product of their legacy. And through their art collection, she was exposed to the work of some of the most important African-American artists of the twentieth century — including Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden and Faith Ringgold.

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Installation view of Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze at the Denver Art Museum.

Installation view of Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze at the Denver Art Museum.

Courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

After getting a BA in studio art at Agnes Scott College in Georgia in 2011, Casteel went on to get an MFA at the Yale School of Art in 2014. The earliest paintings in the DAM solo date from this time; Casteel considers them her earliest mature pieces. After graduation, Casteel got her first big break: a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2015 and 2016. DAM contemporary curator Rebecca Hart was already aware of Casteel by then and sought her out at the Studio Museum, where she got the idea of presenting a solo at the museum. Preparations for Returning the Gaze began two and a half years ago, before several of the pieces in it had even been painted.

Although the show has not been arranged chronologically, it does start off with the oldest works and ends with the newest. But a sensational body of early paintings has been installed near the end, which makes sense, as they are male nudes, and would be a shocking way to start the show. They would also misrepresent what Casteel is doing.

“Galen II," in Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze at the Denver Art Museum.

“Galen II,” in Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze at the Denver Art Museum.

Courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

The show’s title refers to the way in which the models stare back at the viewer, and therefore were staring back at Casteel while she photographed them. When she’s beginning a painting, she takes many photos and then uses them as preliminary studies, sometimes pulling one detail from one photo, another from another photo, and so on. From there, Hart explains, Casteel starts a painting by laying in a color field that’s meant to capture the spirit of the particular piece. She then draws in the entire composition before going back and filling out the picture’s details. Some of the drawn elements are not filled in at all nor painted over; instead, they’re left as ghostly outlines, sometimes set right against densely painted passages and providing a dramatic contrast between the two approaches.

Casteel does portraits, typically monumental ones that are much bigger than life-sized. Until the last century, the portrait was the domain of the white gentry, and as a result, the concept is heavy with the weight of injustice. But Casteel alters the somewhat tainted medium to her own ends. Almost all of her portraits depict black men, though a few are women, and she was at least partly influenced in her selection of this subject by the Black Lives Matter movement. She has written about her trepidation over adding her own vision to the already well-established African-American figural tradition, which pushed her to create her distinctive signature style. Still, the influence of spiritual mentors is evident in her paintings, particularly that of Kerry James Marshall and, even more so, Alice Neel.

“Charles” (left) and “Yvonne and James” in Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze at the Denver Art Museum.

“Charles” (left) and “Yvonne and James” in Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze at the Denver Art Museum.

Courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

Marshall’s influence is reflected in Casteel’s loving depictions of ordinary African-Americans, as well as in the pictorial density of her compositions. Neel’s impact is even more obvious: Like Neel, Casteel makes her drafting emphatic, so that the lines that follow the contours of the figures are visible even when they’ve been painted over. Also very Neel-inspired is the way Casteel compresses the illusion of three-dimensional space; instead of employing the realist standard of one-point perspective, she employs many different points of reference simultaneously, and in some cases simply puts elements behind others to communicate the idea of depth. And then there’s the way that Casteel arranges the components of her composition to create an awkward sense of balance that seems like it could come undone at any time.

All of Casteel’s works from these past five years are pretty stylistically tight, but there are some distinctions, depending on the specific subjects. The early works focus on family members and close friends depicted in cozy indoor settings. Also set indoors are those early male nudes, but the subjects here are men who answered a call for models from Yale’s theater department, so they were strangers to the artist. During her residency at the Studio Museum, Casteel broke away from the comforts of Denver’s living rooms and the apartments of fellow Yalies and moved to the sidewalks of Harlem, where she captured people on the streets. The first of these paintings were set in daylight, but she soon turned to twilight and evening views. Casteel was also concerned with landmark African-American businesses, like Sylvia’s, a famous Harlem restaurant.

“Sylvia’s” and “Fatima” in Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze at the Denver Art Museum.

“Sylvia’s” and “Fatima” in Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze at the Denver Art Museum.

Courtesy of the Denver Art Museum


Another key difference between the Denver (and New Haven) paintings is that the early, indoor paintings can be related to snapshots, like those in a family album, while the outdoor paintings recall the street photography of social activists.

At the end of the show, where some of the most recent works are on view, Casteel reveals that she is exploring different directions in her figural paintings. In several, the sitter’s faces are outside the margins of the picture or otherwise hidden, which is radically different from those paintings in which the sitter’s eyes look right at you. Several of these newer paintings zoom in on the model’s laps as they sit on the subway; save for their beautifully detailed hands resting on their seated legs, the figures are anonymous.

Photos of Casteel’s paintings don’t do them justice. Neither their surprisingly magisterial size nor their incredibly inviting surfaces come through until you stand right in front of them. Which you’ll certainly want to do.

Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze, through August 18, Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-913-0131, denverartmuseum.org.

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Women built the tech industry. Then they were pushed out.


Margaret Hamilton of Cambridge, Mass., mathematic and computer programmer at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, sits in mock-up of an Apollo command module on display at the school on Nov. 25, 1969. She led the group that programmed Intrepid’s pinpoint landing in the Sea of Storms on the moon. (AP)
Emma Goldberg was a Fox International Fellow at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies and currently works for the think tank Longpath Labs.

February 19 at 6:00 AM

From harassment allegations at Google to revelations of the biases encoded in artificial intelligence algorithms, Silicon Valley’s sexism has been thrust into the public eye. Just last month, MIT Media Lab revealed that Amazon’s AI facial recognition software has trouble identifying female and darker-skinned faces. In October, Reuters revealed how AI recruiting technology tends to favor male candidates, since it is developed and tested using men’s resumes.

This all raises a central question: Where are the women?

Actually, they were initially at the forefront of the industry, back when technologist jobs were considered menial, akin to typists. But as the industry became profitable, male executives developed hiring criteria and workplace cultures that sidelined women. So instead of a space that empowered women, the Internet’s business structures made it a sphere that reinforced masculine biases and patriarchal norms.

The tech industry’s male bent was by no means preordained. The group of programmers selected to work on the U.S. military’s first computer in 1946 was over 50 percent female. One of the most celebrated early engineers was Grace Hopper, a Navy admiral whose programming enabled the United States to model the impact of atomic bombs. It was also a woman, Margaret Hamilton, who led the coding team that charted Apollo 11’s path to the moon. The conditions were far from glamorous, but the female programmers were known for their meticulous work ethic and attention to detail: Hopper famously identified the first-ever computer “bug,” tracing a glitch back to a moth trapped in a relay wire.

As the industry grew more lucrative, engineering jobs became higher-status and better paid. In 1950, the United States had only two electronic computers; by the late 1960s, electronic computers formed a $20 billion industry. With the sector rapidly expanding, companies were hiring quickly, but were unsure of what qualities to look for in their employees since coding was such a new skill. In “A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century,” IBM researcher John Backus writes: “Programming in the 1950s was a black art.”

In an effort to demystify that art, software company Saigon Development Corp. (SDC) contracted psychologists William Cannon and Dallis Perry to create an aptitude assessment for optimal programmers. Cannon and Perry interviewed 1,400 engineers — 1,200 of them men — and developed a “vocational interest scale,” a personality profile to predict the best potential programmers.

Unsurprisingly given their male-dominated test group, Cannon and Perry’s assessment disproportionately identified men as the ideal candidates for engineering jobs. In particular, the test tended to eliminate extroverts and people who have empathy for others. Cannon and Perry’s paper concluded that typical programmers “don’t like people,” forming today’s now pervasive stereotype of a nerdy, anti-social coder.

Because of the sway that SDC had in the sector — it claimed that it “trained the industry” — its programmer profile came to shape industry demographics for decades. It was a cycle: The hiring process favored men, so men became overrepresented in technology companies, feeding popular perceptions of engineering as a masculine domain. Beginning in 1984, the number of female computer science majors began to decline steadily, from 36 percent to 18 percent today.

This stereotype of the ideal coder as innately genius rather than hard-working and well-trained has remained powerful in the tech industry. A 2015 study in Science found that computer science, more than other fields, places a premium on inborn brilliance, something considered a disproportionately male trait. Today, the field of U.S. software engineers is 80 percent men.

Explicit sexism has exacerbated these assumptions to create a hostile workplace for women. Beginning in 1973 at the University of Southern California, entry-level computer science classes used a nude image of Playboy centerfold model Lena Soderberg to teach engineers how to turn physical photographs into digital bits (the original jpegs). This became standard practice for computer science departments worldwide: Soderberg’s picture was the most widely used photo in image-processing research, and the model was dubbed “the first lady of the Internet,” a position she maintained as recently as 2015.

Recent research indicates that tech’s misogynist culture stubbornly persists. In 2015, a group of female investors and executives surveyed 200 senior-level women working in the technology sector. Sixty percent of the respondents reported unwanted sexual advances in the office.

Tech’s leaders have long positioned themselves and their industry as a disruptive force, a group of mavericks reshaping the way we live, work and connect. Yet when it comes to gender roles and representation of women, the industry has mostly tended to reinforce our status quo.

Clearly, that won’t change until women are better represented and respected in the industry. Organizations like Girls Who Code are doing critical work to boost female representation among engineers. But given the decades of male leadership in the sector, is it possible to transform the underlying masculine sense of purpose and ethics driving technological development?

Maybe. Consider for example, the work done by VNS Matrix, which was created in 1991. An Australia-based collective of artists, its founding documents called on technologists to “remap cyberculture with a feminist bent.”

VNS Matrix emerged as part of the cyberfeminist movement, a branch of third-wave global feminism that grew at the end of the 20th century. Cyberfeminists saw the growth of the dot-com bubble and worried that tech, as an epicenter of money and power, would become even more overtly misogynist. They urged technologists to rethink their perspective on the Internet’s role in society and create devices explicitly intended to disrupt patriarchal norms. Members of VNS Matrix, for example, built a video game in which all players were genderless and invited to battle the sexist “Big Daddy Mainframe.”

Most important to cyberfeminist thinkers, especially Sadie Plant in her seminal work, “Zeros and Ones,” was that engineers reject the antisocial stereotype and consider the social impact of their work, its effects on human bodies and relationships.

The cyberfeminist movement remained on the fringes of the tech sector. Media professor Helen Hester argues that members did not adequately translate their theoretical findings into solutions for the most urgent technological threats, like sexual harassment on social media. Today, though, initiatives are beginning to translate cyberfeminist theory into concrete action steps for technologists.

One example is the Algorithmic Justice League, which is committed to exposing algorithmic bias and ensuring accountability to vulnerable communities during the design and deployment of coded systems. AJL is demanding that coders consider the gendered and racialized nature of their work from the earliest phases of product and code creation. Effectively, they want engineers to examine how their technologies will impact human bodies, especially women of color.

AJL’s mission, and that of other cyberfeminist initiatives, isn’t simple. Silicon Valley’s sexism is deeply entrenched. But ignoring the core principles that shape technological development isn’t an option. Technology has become too central to our lives for its underlying ethics to be treated cavalierly. What worldview lies at Silicon Valley’s core? Are its leaders seeking to reinforce age-old gender norms, or disrupt them? Until we examine these questions, we’ll address the symptoms of technological patriarchy, but not its roots.

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Gucci’s Misstep: Is a More Diverse Fashion Industry the Answer?

Italian luxury brand Gucci is the latest fashion company to face accusations of racial insensitivity after it released an $890 sweater with a turtleneck resembling blackface. The controversy, which follows similar missteps by Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Katy Perry Collections, has renewed calls for greater diversity in the fashion industry.

Gucci’s controversial sweater.

The sweater, which featured a pull-up collar with a cutout for the mouth and bright red around the lips, was meant to be an homage to Leigh Bowery, a flamboyant Australian performance artist and designer, according to a statement from Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele. But the company quickly found itself at the center of a backlash, with many African-American celebrities, including director Spike Lee, using their social media accounts to urge their followers to boycott the brand. On Instagram, musician 50 Cent posted a video of himself setting fire to a Gucci T-shirt. On Twitter, Gucci collaborator Dapper Dan invited the company’s chief executive to meet with him in Harlem and said, “There cannot be inclusivity without accountability. I will hold everyone accountable.”

Gucci swiftly apologized and pulled the sweater from its product selection in early February. In the same month, singer Katy Perry apologized and removed shoes from her collection that shoppers said resemble blackface, and sportswear giant Adidas pulled an all-white running shoe from its Black History Month lineup after consumers complained it was an inappropriate choice.

In December, Prada apologized and removed bag charms that resembled monkeys with red lips. And fashion power duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana in November released a video apologizing for a series of commercials aired on a Chinese social media network that were viewed as sexist, racist and culturally insensitive. In January 2018, Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M apologized for a print ad featuring a young black boy wearing a hoodie with “coolest monkey in the jungle” printed across the front.

A mea culpa and quick withdrawal of the offensive products is the right short-term strategy, said Thomai Serdari, adjunct professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a luxury branding strategist. But the long-term strategy is greater diversity.

“These incidents, as bad as they are, are also opportunities for the brands to sit down and reconsider their hiring strategy, diversity and attention to diversity — but in a very honest and authentic, transparent way,” she said.

Serdari and Ludovica Cesareo, marketing professor at Lehigh University whose research focuses on the luxury market, visited the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on Sirius XM to discuss the issues facing Gucci and other fashion houses. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

The two experts said the recent headlines go deeper than just momentary outrage — they speak to a need for companies to understand the global marketplace and changing consumer values. The emerging generations of shoppers — millennials and Generation Z — are more diverse than ever, and they won’t stand for the kind of cultural bias that was so prevalent in marketing campaigns of the past.

“Advertising speaks to the current times, especially from a cultural perspective,” said Cesareo, a former Wharton post-doctoral research fellow. “Through the advertisements that brands put out, but also the products that they design and decide to sell in the market, brands are taking stands on certain social issues.”

“These incidents … are also opportunities for the brands to sit down and reconsider their hiring strategy, their diversity and attention to diversity….” –Thomai Serdari

Serdari agreed: “I think we need to understand how important the presence of brands are in the market today and, since there are no other institutions to allow for an interesting and diverse conversation, how much more careful brands should be about what they put out there. Or at least how they present the advertising campaign to make their point and not offend parts of our culture.”

The Importance of Cultural Fit

Perhaps the problems go beyond cultural insensitivity to a lack of awareness of American culture, because brands like Gucci and H&M are European. But that’s no excuse, Cesareo said.

“A lot of [these brands] are unaware of some of aspects of American culture and heritage, which by no means is a way of justifying them. It is simply that they just don’t do their research,” she said. “One of the basic things I teach in my Principles of Marketing class is when you are thinking about bringing your brand globally, cultural fit is one of the first things you need to think about. [Gucci] should have been much more sensitive to this issue and should have done its research before putting out a product like that.”

Serdari expressed concern that any research companies are doing is superficial. “They only stop at a certain point, whenever it is convenient or [based on] whatever resources they have. But to have people who are diverse or who have a better grasp of the culture within the market that they want to enter is what is going to make them more successful in the future.”

Diversity at the Top

The rigid corporate structure found in many larger fashion houses could also be to blame. The creative director often has absolute power over designs, Serdari said, so there’s no one else to serve as a check and balance when issues crop up. That’s one reason why she wants to see greater diversity from the mailroom to the C-suite. And those employees should be able to express their opinions without fear of retribution.

“There needs to be diversity at the high-up level of executives, and not just young designers … but people with voice and power,” she said.

“[Gucci] should have been much more sensitive to this issue and should have done its research before putting out a product like that.” –Ludovica Cesareo

Despite the backlash, Gucci and other brands are not likely to feel any long-term losses from their mistakes. The experts said research shows that customers are often loyal to brands they like, so they are willing to forgive, especially if the brand takes the right steps to address the problem.

Prada recently announced it is forming a diversity council to “elevate voices of color within the company and fashion industry at large,” and appointed Theaster Gates and Ava DuVernay – two celebrated black artists – to chair the council. And Gucci’s Michele said the company is “fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization.”

Still, others say the backlash is a sign that people have become overly sensitive and too easily offended. Two callers to the radio show, who identified themselves as black men, said they were not bothered by the recent mistakes from Gucci or Adidas. “Some things are not that serious. It becomes a chip on your shoulder — that is what it comes across as,” one caller said.

Cesareo said she understands the sentiment, but she thinks the size of the offended group doesn’t matter from the company’s perspective. Social media allows negative messages to spread like wildfire, so it’s important for brands not to alienate even a small percentage of customers.

Both professors said the companies involved should consider the recent controversies as teachable moments, a chance to rethink and reset their hiring policies and practices.

“I think this is a really important learning point, not just for the brands involved but also for the industry overall, because there are negative spillovers to perceptions of the fashion industry more generally than just the single brand that made a mistake,” Cesareo said. “Going back to what we said, hiring practices and changes in these hiring practices are so important.”

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