Realist paintings, folk music and honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: Oregon arts and culture events in January

As we head into the new year, there are a number of events this month that will help kick off 2023. OPB producer Donald Orr spoke with All Things Considered co-host Crystal Ligori about some events to check out this January. Listen or read a lightly edited transcript of the conversation below.

Crystal Rigori: So what’s on your arts and culture radar this month?

Donald Orr: First up, our friends at Oregon Art Beat are releasing a new episode this week featuring realist painter Gabe Fernandez. He sees both photorealism and abstract elements in everyday scenes, from chairs and home furnishings to coins in his laundry, finding stories in familiar objects.

Some of Fernández’s works are inspired by the past and aim to evoke positivity and nostalgia. Lately I’ve been obsessed with vintage toys and collectibles. Fernandez is:

Gabe Fernandez: “Just like the figurines that were in grandma’s toy box. And she kept a basket full of little toys for the visiting children to play with. But the little guy in the toy box.” There was something comforting about us, and I was still playing with them, and the first few times I saw the numbers, they didn’t even hit me. It’s like comfort food, and there’s something familiar about this kind of environment.”

or: Gabe Fernandez’s work can be found at Portland’s Russo Lee Gallery, and you can often find him looking for inspiration at Burnside’s Billy Galaxy’s Vintage Toys. You can learn more about his process in the latest episode of Oregon Art Beat (

Rigori: cool!

or: You should also keep an eye out for another OPB video series you’re working on, right?

Rigori: Yes, it is! OPB’s Superabundant actually kicks off its second season in just a few weeks. For those of you who don’t know, OPB’s video series focuses on ingredients grown here in the Pacific Northwest and tells all the stories that connect us to the food we love. I’m not going to give too much away, but I’ll be kicking off the second season on January 20th and highlighting the Dungeness crabs!

or: Hmmm, I’m already full. looking forward to!

Rigori: What else can you monitor in January?

or: This tip comes from our friend and OPB arts and culture reporter Prakuti Bhatt.

The Portland Folk Festival kicks off next weekend, January 13-15. The event will feature more than 20 of his bands and artists, including Hawaii-based singer and songwriter Ron Artis II. Let’s hear a little bit of his performance at Pickathon 2017.

Ron will be performing at the Portland Folk Festival starting Friday, January 13th.

Rigori: All right, I’ll mark my calendar now. Donald, I know there are many events commemorating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Please tell me about them.

or: Yes, that’s right. There are remembrances and days of service throughout our community this month. However, I wanted to highlight some events in Corvallis.

Oregon State University hosts a series of lectures and events that people can attend, not just on MLK Day, but for the rest of the month. On the morning of MLK Day — Monday 16th — OSU will have a peace breakfast followed by a commemorative peace march across the OSU campus.

Oregon State University concludes a month of programming with a keynote by Jelani Cobb. Cobb is a staff her writer for The New Yorker and writes about race, history, justice and politics. He recently co-edited “The Matter of Black Lives,” a collection of The New Yorker’s writings on black history and culture in America, featuring the work of James Baldwin and Toni Morrison.

His talk will take place on February 1st and is free and open to the public. In honor of Dr. King, you can register and search at for more information on this month’s lectures, events and worship days.

Rigori: Donald, thank you so much for filling us in.

or: Thank you Crystal!

Rigori: It was Donald Orr from OPB. Find all arts programming and coverage online at

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