This week on “State of Wonder,” there are birds everywhere. We say goodbye to “Portlandia” as it enters its final season, hear new music from the Portland band Mimicking Birds, meet the Michelangelo of animal art, and raise a toast with MK Guth.
“Portlandia” Hangs Up Its Bird Stencils
“Portlandia” began its final season this week. Since its premiere in 2011, the sketch comedy show sometimes feels like it’s come to define Portland — or at least a particular cross-section of the city. It put us on the map as the capital of earnest urbanism at a time when words like “artisanal” and “locavore” were sweeping the nation. It was an image Portlanders embraced, but then came to struggle with.
Muralist on 82nd Avenue Faces Backlash for Depicting Diversity - 13:42
Portland’s 82nd Avenue is a marker for a diverse community that defies the city’s reputation as one of the whitest cities in America. Reporter Ericka Cruz Guevarra met with Asian-American artist Alex Chiu whose mural depicting diversity was met with such backlash that supporters signed up to stand watch with him while he worked.
Live opbmusic Session with Mimicking Birds - 18:51
The music of the Portland band Mimicking Birds is so beautifully composed that it’s easy to zone out the lyrics as just another gorgeous instrument. We don’t recommend it. Songwriter Nate Lacy probes our place in this great big universe with the soul of a poet and the eye of a scientist. The band’s previous albums have turned them into an NPR favorite. We had them into the studio to play a few tracks from their new record, “Layers of Us,” which comes out Jan. 26, and talk about the new layers of instruments they’ve added to their sound.
Mimicking Birds is doing a special listening event at the OMSI Planetarium on Jan. 25. Can you imagine better music to take you hurtling through space? It’s going to be cosmic.
The Beautiful Creatures of Christopher Marley - 27:47
A couple years ago, we profiled a Salem artist who transforms poisonous snakes, tropical fish and exotic insects into works of art. His name is Christopher Marley, and he had just put out a New York Times bestselling book. He said at the time that his next big project was putting together a museum show with the goal of moving from high-end retail to the world of galleries and museums. Well, he’s done it. He’s mounted a major exhibition of some 400 works at the Weiner Museum of Decorative Arts and The Gallery of Amazing Things near Miami, Florida. We head down to his studio for an update.
MoviePass’s Move Theater Subscription Service is Changing the Game for Moviegoers - 32:35
What if you could pay $10 a month and see a move a day in a theater? If you went once a week, you would only pay $2.50 a movie, and nothing would stop you from going all the time and paying pennies a shot. This is the pitch that MoviePass has been making, and it’s working. Since the company slashed its price over the summer, it’s grown from 20,000 customers to 1.5 million. But if — on average — people see even just two movies a month, how is MoviePass going to make money? And what will this mean for theaters?
Drinking Whisky with Artist MK Guth - 42:09
If you’ve ever thought that a visit to an art gallery could be enhanced by a stiff drink, MK Guth’s most recent installation at the Elizabeth Leach gallery (up through Jan. 27) might be right up your alley. “Instructions for Drinking with Friend” is just that — a bottle of whisky with instruction meant to incite deeper conversation and turn the observer into the performer. Guth is an artist fascinated by social interaction and the rituals of food and drink. Her past projects include private dinners, like “Dinner to Plan a Revolution,” an experience that involves eating a hearty meal, drinking vodka, and following instructions to facilitate dialogue about change. A range of her work is now on display at a retrospective in Salem’s Hallie Ford Museum of Art titled “MK Guth: Paying Attention.”