This week we take you on a sleigh ride from operatic strippers to poetry by veterans. We tell you what is up with those fancy new armories popping up all over the state, hear what our troops are listening to, and so much more!


At the heart of "Viva's Holiday" is Viva's growing self-possession, as she prepares to tell her parents how she's been paying the bills. Baritone Bobby Jackson, left, as Dad, soprano Helen Funston, center, as Viva, and mezzo-soprano Sadie Gregg, right, as Mom.

At the heart of “Viva’s Holiday” is Viva’s growing self-possession, as she prepares to tell her parents how she’s been paying the bills. Baritone Bobby Jackson, left, as Dad, soprano Helen Funston, center, as Viva, and mezzo-soprano Sadie Gregg, right, as Mom.

Gene Newell/Courtesy of the Cult of Orpheus

What Do You Get When You Mix Opera And Stripping?

This month a subversive group of classical musicians called the Cult of Orpheus are staging a holiday performance like no other. “Viva’s Holiday,” on stage at the Star Theater through Dec. 17, is a short opera based on the memoirs of Portland’s most famous exotic dancer, Viva Las Vegas. April Baer says the show is revealing, but perhaps not in the way you think.


The proposed Rothko Pavilion will connect the Portland Art Museum's two free-standing buildings, creating a new entrance and space for events and galleries.

The proposed Rothko Pavilion will connect the Portland Art Museum’s two free-standing buildings, creating a new entrance and space for events and galleries.

Courtesy of the Portland Art Museum.

Christopher Rothko On Sharing His Father’s Art With The Portland Art Museum + The Museum Hires A New NW Curator - 5:38

Mark Rothko is one of the 20th century’s most famous painters, and his formative years were spent in Portland: He immigrated here at age 10 from Latvia and took classes at the Museum School at the Portland Art Museum before graduating from Lincoln High School. In October, the museum announced plans for the Rothko Pavilion (see pictures), a new multi-story glass structure that will link the museum’s two free-standing buildings and include a number of new galleries and education and programming spaces.

The Rothko Pavilion is not just paying homage to this under-sung hometown hero in its name. The art museum also announced a partnership with Rothko’s children to cycle his works through the museum on a rotating basis. Christopher Rothko sat down with Aaron Scott at last month’s Wordstock.

And we talk with the museum’s brand new Curator of Northwest Art, Grace Kook-Anderson.


David Christensen/opbmusic

opbmusic Session with Singer-Songwriter Sara Jackson-Holman - 13:00

Sara Jackson-Holman’s second album “Didn’t Go to the Party” charts the arc of a romantic relationship and breakup set to a lush backdrop of strings and her own classically-trained piano. Jackson-Holman’s songs have appeared in TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Castle,” and “Orange is the New Black.” She stopped by OPB to play a few songs and talk with opbmusic’s Dave Christensen earlier this fall. Watch the videos here.


Post Commander Sean Davis warms up the crowd at an October "Slush Pile" reading.

Post Commander Sean Davis warms up the crowd at an October “Slush Pile” reading.

April Baer/OPB

American Legion Post 134 Drafts New War Stories - 19:37

For a certain generation, American Legion halls are as familiar as the corner taproom. Nationally, legion membership is shrinking, but one hall in Northeast Portland, an old Quonset hut with a dropped ceiling and scuffed floors, found revival by becoming an oasis of community and expression, where veterans rub shoulders with queer kids, and street people mix with art curators. Under post commander Sean Davis, author of “The Wax Bullet War,” American Legion Post 134 organizes regular reading, workshops and book releases (it even has it’s own press) for vets and non vets alike. Check out their Facebook page to see what events they are hosting next.


Music In A Time Of War - 26:21

Writing is one way for veterans to process the hardships of war, but what about coping with the challenges they endure while deployed? One tool is music. In the new book,  “My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,” UO English professor Lisa Gilman discovers what soldiers listen to in times of strife — from heavy metal to Sarah McLachlan — and how music and the methods of listening to music during war have changed over time. Listen to the full interview on “Think Out Loud.”


Colonel Christian Reese at the new Col. James Nesmith Readiness Center in Dallas, Oregon.

Colonel Christian Reese at the new Col. James Nesmith Readiness Center in Dallas, Oregon.

Randy Gragg/OPB

New National Guard Armory Is A Model Of Architecture - 32:41

Many of Oregon’s National Guard armories are old, barely functioning, and sorely need of safety updates, but Oregon also has a couple of new armories — now called National Guard Readiness Centers. They have big rooms for training like the old ones, industrial kitchens and firing ranges (only they use guns connected to virtual reality computers). The newest one, the Colonel James Nesmith Readiness Center for the 162nd Engineer Company of the Oregon National Guard in Dallas, Oregon, also has great architecture. Columnist-in-residence Randy Gragg went to check it out.


Imago Theatre

Imago’s Ambitious New Puppet Musical Puts A Steampunk Spin On ‘Beauty And The Beast’ - 40:50

Internationally famous for their masked theater shows “Frogz” and “ZooZoo,” Imago Theatre has unveiled its mammoth new production — the hard work of four years and around $250,000. “A story within a story within a ship” is the tagline for the new production, “La Belle,” which runs through Jan. 9. It is the story of two strangers in the engine room of a 1920’s steamship who re-tell the story of Beauty and the Beast through puppetry, shadow theater and song. Of course, their budding love comes to mirror the “tale as old as time” they tell each other. The show is a wonderland for adults and kids alike, with subtle humor and sweeping imagery.


Wife-and-husband duo John Smith and Valerie Day, aka Nu Shooz

Wife-and-husband duo John Smith and Valerie Day, aka Nu Shooz

Brud Giles

Nu Shooz Is Back: Older, Wiser, And Funkier - 44:54

Somewhere in the world right now, chances are the ‘80s hit “I Can’t Wait” is playing. The Portland band Nu Shooz, consisting of husband and wife John Smith and Valerie Day, released it some 30 years ago to almost instant global success. They followed up with several more albums before pursuing other things — maybe you’ve seen Day gigging around town at Portland jazz clubs.  

Earlier this year, the pair slipped back into the Nu Shooz name to put out a new album, and they stopped by OPB to play some songs live for an Oregon Art Beat special that’s airing this weekend.