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Other items are Oregon Zoo, 'Create The Escape' with Angie Jaymes, 'War of the Worlds' and 'Frida ... A Self Portrait'

COURTESY PHOTO: MICHAEL DURHAM/OREGON ZOO - Nora the polar bear enjoys the Polar Passage, one of the new habitats at Oregon Zoo.

Large awards

Celebrating 20 years, Oregon Cultural Trust has announced that it is awarding a record amount of grant money, more than $3.2 million, to 140 cultural organizations in the state.

It was made possible by Oregonians investing $5.2 million in the cultural tax credit in 2020; this year's awards bring the cumulative total of Oregon Cultural Trust grants to more than $36 million since its founding in 2001.

The grants include $813,610 to the Oregon Cultural Trust's statewide partners — Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Humanities, Oregon Historical Society and the State Historic Preservation Office — and the same amount to county and tribal cultural coalitions. The rest, more than $1.6 million, goes to 90 cultural organizations.

COURTESY PHOTO: AL MOWBRAY/OREGON ZOO - This aerial view shows Oregon Zoo, which has undergone transformation from bond funds since 2008.

Oregon Zoo

It's an exciting time at Oregon Zoo, which held a ceremony Oct. 7 to mark the completion of many projects made possible by the zoo's 2008 bond measure. About 40% of the zoo has been transformed with new habitats and features designed to promote animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

The zoo also showed off its state-of-the-art Veterinary Medical Center to visitors last week.

"I was fortunate to oversee the zoo's bond program from 2013 on and seeing the physical transformation now — all those blueprints come to life — is incredible," said Heidi Rahn, zoo director. "We came together as a community to benefit the animals and the environment, and this is an achievement we can all be proud of."

Three projects have been completed in recent years: Polar Passage, Primate Forest and Rhino Ridge. Other new habitats were built for California condors and Asian elephants.

In other zoo news, Rahn was recently named the Oregon Zoo's director; she had been serving in an interim role since Aug. 1. Don Moore, the former director, retired last year after a 45-year career in animal welfare science and wildlife conservation.

'Create The Escape'

A Portland-based educator, Angie Jaymes, is hosting a new family friendly competition show, "Create The Escape," on NBCUniversal's streaming platform, Peacock. It premiered last week.

It's a DIY show with a competitive twist. The STEM-focused 10-episode series pits kids against their parents as 'tweens dream up, design and build their very own escape rooms. Jaymes gets in on the action by leading energetic brainstorming sessions and lending a hand — and even acting as a resident "guinea pig" for puzzle testing.

"Think about how wacky your imagination was as a kid," she said. "Now imagine you had a bunch of highly-skilled professionals sitting around looking at your crazy daydreams going, 'Yes, we can totally make that and we would love to throw your parents inside!' Hosting 'Create The Escape' was basically like that."

Open Studios

Reminder: Portland Open Studios, featuring artists and their workspaces, continues 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 16-17. There'll be nearly 90 artists taking part. For more information on the contactless tour guide, visit their website.

Dance fest

The fifth annual Portland Dance Film Festival will be screened at Clinton Street Theater, starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Oct. 15-16 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17, and then continue online through Oct. 24 at

'War of the Worlds'

Re-Imagined Radio will celebrate World Audio Day, Monday, Oct. 18, with a broadcast of "The War of the Worlds."

"It's the most infamous radio drama of all time," said John Barber, who produces Re-Imagined Radio through Washington State University Vancouver's Creative Media and Digital Culture Program.

It'll air from 1 to 2 p.m. on Vancouver's KXRW 99.9 FM and Portland's KXRY 91.1 FM or 107.1 FM and KUIK 1360 AM. The performance will be available at after the original broadcast.

"The War of the Worlds," a radio report given by Orson Welles in 1938, freaked out people, who thought aliens had invaded Earth. The Re-Imagined Radio production features a rewritten script with action based in Vancouver and Battle Ground, Washington, as well as new characters delivered by The Voices ensemble and new cinematic sound effects and soundscapes.

'Stars' tour

"Dancing With The Stars — Live Tour 2022" is coming to the area, and tickets have gone on sale. It stages March 20, 2022 at ilani, the casino resort in Ridgefield, Washington, and will feature fan-favorite professional dancers from the ABC show. For tickets, see

COURTESY PHOTO: PDX CONTEMPORARY - Ivan Carmona reflects on Puerto Rico town festivals and caricatures in a sculpture exhibit at PDX Contemporary.

'Tierra de Gigantes'

PDX Contemporary, 925 N.W Flanders St., has a cool new exhibit by Portland artist Ivan Carmona, who reflects on his childhood in Puerto Rico, including town festivals, to make colorful sculptures. It shows through Nov. 13.

His memory: Costumed characters would join the crowds for singing and dancing, including "The Vejigante," a demon figure from medieval Spanish folklore, and "Los Cabezudos" ("Big Heads"), gigantic caricatures of popular figures. While they danced, the beat and rhythm of the Pleneras and African drums felt like steps of the giants.

The Puerto Rican town of Carolina is known as "La Tierra de Gigantes" ("The Land of Giants") in honor of very tall inhabitants and it's a nickname for the country itself to describe architecture, culture and tradition.

So, Carmona's sculptures and wall reliefs embody the memories of Vejigantes and Cabezudos and the landscape, history and culture of Puerto Rico.

COURTESY PHOTO: TOMMY THAYER - KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer, pictured with the Thayer Family Foundation Executive Director Amy Maxwell, appeared a fundraiser for the foundation's houseless veteran effort.

Thayer foundation

Tommy Thayer, the guitarist for famed band KISS, and family members and organizers held a fundraiser last month for its Thayer Family Foundation and netted $535,000 in support of houseless Oregon veterans.

Its mission is "Serving Those Who Have Served Others." The foundation was formed last year in honor of late Brig. Gen. James B. Thayer to support veterans, military personnel and first responders, as well as educators, musicians and artists.

We're No. 1

Personal finance website WalletHub has listed Portland as the No. 1 city in its Best Foodie Cities in America report.

WalletHub compared 180 cities with 29 key metrics. Portland ranked first in restaurants per capita, affordability/accessibility of highly rated restaurants and craft breweries and wineries per capita.

Following Portland were Orlando, Miami, San Francisco and Austin.

For the report, see

Opening play

Portland Center Stage opens its 2021-22 season with "Frida … A Self Portrait" by Brazilian writer/performer Vanessa Severo, through Nov. 7 at The Armory, 128 N.W. 11th Ave.

The story: Set on the eve of Frida Kahlo's death, this intimate show plunges into the brilliant, nuanced world of Kahlo's tumultuous, extraordinary life. Severo opens a portal between herself and the celebrated Mexican painter and exhibits breathtaking physicality and raw honesty.

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