The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) presents Rinde Eckert Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 22, 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. at the Echo Theater. A singer, composer, movement artist, actor, writer and director, Eckert last performed in Portland to sold-out audiences as part of the Portland Art Museum’s 1994/95 Art/On The Edge series. This time he presents his most recent solo work, The Idiot Variations. Tickets for Rinde Eckert are $14 general admission and may be purchased at the door or in advance by calling PICA at 503/242-1419.

A classically trained singer blessed with a remarkably flexible and inventive singing voice, Eckert has performed extensively throughout Europe and North America. Among his collaborative works are the American Theatre trilogy Slow Fire (1985), Power Failure (1989) and Pioneer (1990), which he wrote and performed with the Paul Dresher Ensemble; Shelf Life (1987), a collaboration with Dresher and the Margaret Jenkins Dance company, which received an Isadora Duncan Award for its score; and Shorebirds Atlantic (1987), a duet for the stage with Margaret Jenkins which was adapted for the PBS “Alive From Off Center” series in 1989. His solo pieces include Dry Land Divine and Quit This House, both written in 1988, and the radio musical Shoot the Moving Things (1987) which was featured on National Public Radio’s “New American Radio” Series.

In 1993-94, Eckert returned to his classical roots to create the role of Victor in Frank Lewin’s opera Burning Bright which premiered in New Haven, CT. He also sang the role of Segismundo in the premiere performances of Gina Leishman’s opera Burning Dreams at the San Diego Repertory Theatre.

His newest work, The Idiot Variations (1995), is an evening-length, solo acoustical work that investigates the often blurred line that distinguishes genius from madness. Devoid of sets or external sound sources — except for a boom box — Eckert creates his own interpretation of the proverbial village idiot. Accompanying himself on a variety of musical instruments, he explores the various aspects of idiocy — isolation, preoccupation, intensity, loneliness and sadness — that are also found in the genius or the saint, while making his desultory way through a slightly bewildering array of recognizable fools.

The Idiot Variations premiered at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City in 1995 and was co-commissioned by the University of Iowa, P.S. 122 in New York City, One The Boards in Seattle, the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts, and the National Performance Network.

Under the directorship of Kristy Edmunds, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) is dedicated to furthering the development of contemporary art and bringing the finest nationally and internationally known visual and performance artists to Portland.

For further information on PICA please call 503/242-1419.

CONTACT: Kathy Budas, 503/242-1419


presents the 1995/96 performance season
An Informal Evening with Rinde Eckert


Singer, composer, movement artist, actor, writer and director Rinde Eckert is internationally renowned for his remarkably flexible and inventive singing voice. His solo work and collaborations with other composers, dancers and musicians have been performed throughout the United States and abroad. New York Times‘ critic John Rockwell described Eckert as “the most exciting performance artist I have encountered since the early days of Laurie Anderson.”

Eckert’s recent theatrical work, in addition to The Idiot Variations, includes The Gardening of Thomas D. and a current commission from The New York Shakespeare Festival. His work has been featured on National Public Radio’s “New American Radio Series” and on PBS’ “Alive From Off Center” video series and he has won numerous awards for his music scores. As writer and lead performer with the Paul Dresher Ensemble from 1985 through 1993, Rinde collaborated in the creation of the company’s contemporary music theater works, including the popular Slow Fire.

A classically trained singer who has expanded his vocabulary to reflect a wide range of contemporary music styles and vocal efforts, Eckert and record producer Lee Townsend assembled the band The Compleat Strangers to perform Rinde’s original and multi-faceted music. Their debut album Finding My Way Home, released on the DIW label, features original compositions combined with contemporary reworkings of traditional folk songs. The band’s second album, Do the Day Over, is on the City of Tribes label.

Music Consultant LEE TOWNSEND is an independent music producer and owner of Songline/Tone Field Productions, specializing in recordings of contemporary composers, jazz musicians, singer-songwriters and rock bands. Townsend has produced recordings for Bill Frisell, Jon Scofield and Pat Metheny, among others. He has collaborated on motion picture soundtracks and concerts, and recently completed the two-volume recording of Bill Frisell’s newly composed music for the films of Buster Keaton.

Townsend helped Eckert develop the concept and assemble the band The Compleat Strangers. He produced both of Rinde’s albums, guided the development of the first album into a concert performance, and helped develop the music for The Gardening of Thomas D.

Rinde Eckert is represented by Susan Endrizzi of California Artists Management in San Francisco.

PICA (Portland Institute for Contemporary Art)

is dedicated to advancing significant developments in contemporary art, by providing resources which engage audiences in creative and critical dialogue, and empower artists and arts professionals to create challenging new work.

Through exhibitions, residency opportunities, and educational forums, PICA’s programming focuses on the current trends and aesthetic concerns in contemporary art by exploring the work of visual and performance-based artists who have emerged nationally, internationally or regionally. Through shows which support experimental new art, and those cultural or philosophical contexts, PICA’s programming strives to expand our knowledge of what is current and possible in contemporary art.

Performance 95/96

As part of our exhibition program, PICA is pleased to announce our inaugural performance series, which takes place in a diverse array of venues throughout Portland, and features the work of some of today’s most compelling artists working along the boundaries of performance art, experimental theatre, contemporary dance and new music. The season is curated by Kristy Edmunds.

Calendar of Upcoming Performances

An Informal Evening with Rinde Eckert (February 21)
Conduit (918 S.W. Yamhill, 4th Floor) 8:30 p.m. tix $10

Rinde Eckert, “The Idiot Variations” (February 22-24)
Echo Theatre (1515 S.E. 37th) 8 p.m. tix $14

Peter Sellars Lecture, “Art as Community Action and Architecture as Performance Art”
(February 28)
First Congregational Church (1126 S.W. Park) 7:30 p.m. tix $8/$10

Elizabeth Streb/Ringside “PopACTION” (April 6)
Catlin Gabel/Cabell Center Theatre (8825 S.W. Barnes Rd.) 8 p.m. tix $17

PS 122 Field Trips (April 24-25)
Catlin Gabel/Cabell Center Theatre (8825 S.W. Barnes Rd.) 8 p.m. tix $14

Donna Uchizono, “The Ivy Project” (May 16-18)
Echo Theatre (8825 S.W. Barnes Rd.) 8 p.m., tix $14

If you would like to be on our mailing list and receive information on upcoming performances, workshops and special events, as well as the upcoming visual exhibition schedule, please call 503/242-1419.

PICA is located at: 720 S.W. Washington, Suite 700, Portland, Oregon 97205