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FORUM: Election Season Getting You Down? Get Into Art
KQED Arts

August 31, 2016

OK. So you’ve had your fill of Clinton and Trump and it’s not even September yet. What to do? KQED’s crack team of arts aficionados are here to provide some much needed respite from election season madness with great suggestions of happenings across the Bay that will stimulate your brain, lift your soul, and move your body.
Look out for our fall cultural guides, launching next week across an array of areas from music and visual art to theater and dance. To whet your appetite, here are some suggestions that KQED’s senior arts editor, Chloe Veltman, shared with Michael Krasny on KQED Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 30. You can listen to Chloe’s segment here, and/or read on for more details.
CONCEPTUAL ART
Friday, Sep. 9 – Saturday, Dec. 10 Jill Magid: The Proposal at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco
A fascinating and bizarre conceptual art project that tells the story of Brooklyn artist Jill Magid and her unflagging quest to repatriate the archive of famed Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Magid’s journey, which was chronicled in The New Yorker, involved growing a two-carat diamond from the architect’s cremated remains and setting it in a ring which she is using as a bartering tool to get the architect’s professional archive out of the hands of its current private owner and back into the public domain.
DANCE/MUSIC/VISUAL
Friday, Sep. 30 – Sunday, Oct. 2: Cal Performances, Mark Morris Dance Group and The Silk Road Ensemble present Layla and Majnun at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
An A-List team of creators including choreographer Mark Morris and his dance company, painter Howard Hodgkin, Azerbaijani superstar singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, and the members of the world-famous music group, the Silk Road Ensemble, unite for this world premiere retelling of an ancient Persian love story through dance, music and colorful visuals. Like Romeo and Juliet, the couple at the center of this narrative are forbidden to wed. And things only spiral downwards from there.

Azerbaijani mugham vocalists Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova oin the Silk Road Ensemble and the Mark Morris Dance Group for the world premiere performances of Layla and Majnun Friday, September 30 – Sunday, October 2, 2016 in Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley
Azerbaijani mugham vocalists Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova oin the Silk Road Ensemble and the Mark Morris Dance Group for the world premiere performances of Layla and Majnun Friday, September 30 – Sunday, October 2, 2016 in Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley (Photo: David O'Connor )
VISUAL
Saturday, Sept. 10 – Sunday, Dec. 18: FOR-SITE Foundation presentsHome Land Security at Fort Winfield Scott, San Francisco
The long disused military bunkers in The Presidio overlooking the Bay are the site of an art installation of works by artists from all over the world examining the complex way humans think about borders, privacy, and surveillance today. Masterminded by the team behind the successful Ai Wei on Alcatraz show a couple of years ago, this high-profile show features sculptures, sound art pieces and video installations by renowned art world figures like Liza Lou and Bill Viola.
VISUAL, PERFORMANCE, FILM, TALKS, CONFERENCE  ETC,  OAKLANDSaturday, Oct. 8 – Sunday, Feb. 12: All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50 at Oakland Museum of California, Oakland
October 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party in Oakland and the Oakland Museum is hosting a big exhibition examining the legacy of this controversial and influential political group, told from multiple perspectives. The show features, among other gems, rare historical artifacts like the original copy of the Panthers’ founding ten-point platform, and a video installation in which former Panthers share their recollections of life in the Party. Oakland Museum is just one of many organizations creating artworks inspired by this anniversary. Also look out for Dimensions Dance Theater’s Project Panther (Oct 15 at Oakland’s Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts), Impact Hub Oakland‘s events series exploring how the Panthers’ work influences the way people think about contemporary issues of equity , cultural identity, and social justice today, and more. 

Emory Douglas, H. Rap Brown (Man with Match), 1967. Poster, 17 x 22 in. Collection of the Oakland Museum of California. All Of Us Or None Archive. Gift of the Rossman Family Emory Douglas, H. Rap Brown (Man with Match), 1967. Poster, 17 x 22 in. Collection of the Oakland Museum of California. All Of Us Or None Archive. Gift of the Rossman Family
Emory Douglas, H. Rap Brown (Man with Match), 1967. Poster, 17 x 22 in. Collection of the Oakland Museum of California. All Of Us Or None Archive. Gift of the Rossman Family
Emory Douglas, H. Rap Brown (Man with Match), 1967. Poster, 17 x 22 in. Collection of the Oakland Museum of California. All Of Us Or None Archive. Gift of the Rossman Family (Photo: Courtesy of Oakland Museum of California)
MUSIC
Saturday, Oct. 15 – Sunday, Oct. 16: Treasure Island Music Festival, Treasure Island
This year marks the final year that this scenic music event will be presented on Treasure Island owing to oncoming development plans for the island. The 2016 lineup includes everything from hip-hop artists Young Thug and Ice Cube to indie stars James Blake and Sigur Ros. The organizers are looking for a new location for the festival.
PERFORMANCE ART
Wednesday, Sep. 14 – Aug 14: Nick Cave’s Soundsuits at The Anderson Collection, Stanford
Multidisciplinary artist Nick Cave is best known for furry, multicolored, full-body sized sculptures known as “Soundsuits.” The suits are often worn as costumes and performed in. They are incredibly fun and tactile, kinda like a Wookiee fell into a cotton candy-making machine. But they also make a serious statement about identity because they completely conceal the wearer’s identity, hiding his or her race, gender, and age.
THEATER
Thursday, Oct. 13 – open ended run: The Speakeasy at secret venue near Chinatown and North Beach, San Francisco
This long-anticipated immersive theater experience seeks to recreate the atmosphere of a 1920s speakeasy, complete with showgirls, gambling and secret passwords. A choose-your-own-adventure collection of character studies of a bunch of shady characters mobster and moll types, it all unfolds in a labyrinthine space in North Beach. Audiences are encouraged to dress up in period costume, and prepare lots of audience participation.

The Speakeasy. Megan Wicks as Velma.
The Speakeasy. Megan Wicks as Velma. (Photo: Peter Liu)
DANCE
Thursday, Sep. 1 – Thursday, Oct. 20: City of San Jose presentsCityDance San Jose at Plaza de César Chávez, San Jose
This weekly happy hour, outdoor dance party to live music is a great way to let off some steam as the weekend approaches. Instructors are on hand to help you perfect your moves across an array of genres, including the two-step, foxtrot, and merengue. The event features a beer garden and food trucks so you can stay fueled up while getting on down.
OPERA
Saturday, Sep. 10 – Thursday, Sep. 29: San Francisco Opera presentsDream of the Red Chamber at the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco
This world premiere opera is based on an 18th century literary masterpiece by Cao Xueqin — a massive epic in six volumes and featuring around 50 main characters — detailing a love triangle between an aristocratic young man and two very different women.
San Francisco Opera has commissioned a quartet of A-list Asian artists for the project: Bright Sheng, one of the most important contemporary Chinese American composers; Tony Award-winning playwright, David Henry Hwang; Tim Yip, Academy Award-winning designer behind Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon; and famed Taiwanese director Stan Lai. Sung in English with Chinese and English supertitles.

Costume design for Bao Yu, one of the main characters in ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, a San Francisco Opera world premiere. Designs by Tim Yip Studio.
Costume design for Bao Yu, one of the main characters in ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, a San Francisco Opera world premiere. Designs by Tim Yip Studio. (Photo: Courtesy of San Francisco Opera)
MUSIC/THEATER
Saturday, Sep. 24 – Sunday, Sep 25: NapaShakes and Folger Shakespeare Library present Measure + Dido at Lincoln Theater, Yountville and Green Music Center, Rohnert Park
Sir Derek Jacobi, one of the world’s greatest classical stage performers, stars alongside actor-director Richard Clifford and members of the Folger Consort early music ensemble from Washington D.C. in an epic world premiere mashup of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. The show moves to the Kennedy Center in October.
BLOCK PARTY
Monday, Sep. 5: Hiero Day, 3rd Street & Chestnut Street, Oakland
In only five years, this colorful street festival has risen to become a Bay Area Labor Day must. The event features family friendly activities, street art, and food trucks. But music is the biggest draw and this year’s lineup looks to be the best yet. It includes local talent like the Daly City DJ crew Invisibl Skratch Piklz and out of towners such as New Jersey’s Just Blaze who’s produced hits for the likes of Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, and Kanye West. This KQED Arts’ video captures the spirit of last year’s event.


Hiero Day 2012. ( Photo: Hieroglyphics / Ineffable)
LITERARY/VISUAL/FILM/PERFORMANCE
Tuesday, Nov. 1 – Sunday, Nov. 13: City Lights presents Dada World Fair in San Francisco
November 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding at a cafe in Zurich Switzerland of the Dada Movement — the radical literary, performance and visual art movement which rocked western society in the early 20th century. This city-wide celebration of the emergence of Dada features lectures, performances, film screenings, and art installations from a range of participating artists like poet Chinaka Hodge, composer Luiciano Chessa and the all-male Leonard Cohen tribute choir Conspiracy of Beards.

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VIDEO: Derek Jacobi in Napa, Mark Morris in Berkeley and More
KQED Arts

August 26, 2016

Saturday, Sep. 24 – Sunday, Sep 25: NapaShakes and Folger Shakespeare Library present Measure + Dido at Lincoln Theater, Yountville and Green Music Center, Rohnert Park
Sir Derek Jacobi, one of the world’s greatest classical stage performers, stars alongside actor-director Richard Clifford and members of the Folger Consort early music ensemble from Washington D.C. in an epic world premiere mashup of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. The show moves to the Kennedy Center in October.
Friday, Sep. 9 – Saturday, Dec. 10: Jill Magid: The Proposal at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco
This fascinating and bizarre conceptual art project tells the story of Brooklyn artist Jill Magid and her unflagging quest to repatriate the archive of famed Mexican architect Luis Barragán by growing a two-carat diamond from the architect’s cremated remains and setting it in a ring that is on permanent offer to the private owner of Barragán’s professional archive in exchange for returning the archive to the family and Mexican government. The artifacts on view at the Art Institute, which include the diamond ring and a video of the exhumation, raise all kinds of questions to do with artistic legacy and public/private ownership.

'Jill Magid: The Proposal' (detail), 2016 Uncut, 2.02 carat, blue diamond with micro-laser inscription “I am wholeheartedly yours,” silver ring, ring box, documents. Setting design: Anndra Neen. Courtesy of the artist; LABOR, Mexico City; RaebervonStenglin, Zurich and Galerie Untilthen, Paris.
‘Jill Magid: The Proposal’ (detail), 2016
Uncut, 2.02 carat, blue diamond with micro-laser inscription “I am wholeheartedly yours,” silver ring, ring box, documents. Setting design: Anndra Neen. Courtesy of the artist; LABOR, Mexico City; RaebervonStenglin, Zurich and Galerie Untilthen, Paris. (Photo: Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen/Stefan Jaeggi.)
Friday, Sep. 30 – Sunday, Oct. 2: Cal Performances. Mark Morris Dance Group and The Silk Road Ensemble present Layla and Majnun at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
An A-List team of creators including choreographer Mark Morris and his dance company, painter Howard Hodgkin, Azerbaijani superstar singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, and the members of the world-famous music group, the Silk Road Ensemble, unite for this world premiere retelling of an ancient Persian love story through dance, music and colorful visuals. Like Romeo and Juliet, the couple at the center of this narrative are forbidden to wed. And things only spiral downwards from there.
Friday, Sep. 23 – Sunday, Sep. 25: Paul Dresher Ensemble presentsSchick Machine at Z Space, San Francisco
Virtuoso percussionist Steven Schick is set loose on a stage packed with inventor-composer Paul Dresher’s fantastical, homemade musical instruments. These include the Hurdy Grande (a hurdy gurdy on steroids), the Peacock (a deconstructed pipe organ) and other creations brought forth from Dresher’s imagination.
Thursday, Sep. 1 – Thursday, Oct. 20: City of San Jose presentsCityDance San Jose at Plaza de César Chávez, San Jose
This weekly happy hour, outdoor dance party to live music is a great way to let off some steam as the weekend approaches. Instructors are on hand to help you perfect your moves across an array of genres, including the two-step, foxtrot, and merengue. The event features a beer garden and food trucks so you can stay fueled up while getting on down.

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VIDEO: Shepard Fairey Riffs on Jim Marshall, Marin Alsop Says Goodbye to Cabrillo and More
KQED Arts

August 8, 2016

Watch my monthly KQED Newsroom segment with host Thuy Vu here or below:





Through Sunday, Aug. 14: West Edge Opera presents Cunning Little Vixen, Powder Her Face and Agrippina at 16th Street Station, Oakland
This year’s West Edge Opera festival brings together three brilliantly-produced, contrasting works united in their focus on female protagonists. In Handel’s early 18th century masterpiece Agrippina, a queen plots the downfall of an Emperor; Leos Janacek’s playful yet dangerous tragicomedy of the 1920s, Cunning Little Vixen, follows the story of a super-smart female fox with activist leanings; and Powder Her Face, a hard-hitting, R-rated opera composed in the mid 1990s by Thomas Ades. It depicts the exploits of cruel way in which society ostracizes a wealthy, sexually promiscuous woman. (Ades made history with this work when he included the first depiction of fellatio in an opera.) 


Through Saturday, Aug.13: Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music at Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz Marin
Alsop is retiring as the artistic director and chief conductor of this important international contemporary music festival after 25 years at its helm. Alsop is a key figure in classical music for blazing a trail for women conductors. To pay tribute to her greatness on the podium, this year’s festival includes world premieres from major composers like John Adams and James MacMillan. 


Saturday, Aug 13 – Tuesday, Sep. 30: American Civics at San Francisco Art Exchange, San Francisco
In this small but mighty exhibition, acclaimed contemporary graphic artist Shepard Fairey riffs on iconic images from the 1960s by the late, great photographer Jim Marshall. The show includes Fairey’s reworkings of photos of Johnny Cash, Cesar Chavez, and others while exploring some of our country’s enduring social justice issues like voting rights, gun control, and mass incarceration. 


Through Sunday, Oct. 16: 20/20 Vision: Celebrating the Next Generation of Book Artists, Center for the Book, San Francisco 
The San Francisco Center for the Book celebrates its first 20 years with a show that’s all about the future of the ancient art of letterpress and bookbinding. This exhibition features the work of 20 emerging book artists from around the country and abroad, whose output provides a sense of where book art is heading as a field.

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VIDEO: Van Jones & Favianna Rodriguez Put Artists of Color at Heart of Environmental Movement
KQED Arts

June 30, 2016

Watch the video I produced with Kelly Whalen in which political commentator Van Jones and artist Favianna Rodriguez discuss the impact of art on environmental issues here or below:


Artist Favianna Rodriguez and political commentator Van Jones have a lot in common. They both came up through the grassroots activism scene of the Bay Area in the late 1990s. They both run non-profit organizations/initiatives — respectively, CultureStrike and Green for All— that seek to provide environmental justice for communities of color. And they’re both on a mission to shake up the environmental movement by putting artists from diverse backgrounds at the forefront of the drive to combat global warming.

“For so long, when you think of environmentalists, you think of a white guy in Birkenstocks, and yet communities of color have dirtier air, dirtier water, refineries,” Rodriguez says. “I think in the climate movement we need to make room for more artists to tell stories from the front lines that lead us to action.”

Jones and Rodriguez strongly believe that artists coming out of struggling neighborhoods are uniquely equipped to deliver a powerful message about the environment. The traditional ways of talking about climate change are just not getting across. Conversely, comedians, visual artists, writers and other creatives know how to connect the hard facts with people’s hearts.

“When we talk about global warming, we have people who are paid millions of dollars to do polls and communicate, but their messages don’t work,” Jones says. “But you get Boots Riley, one of the great rappers, to describe the problem — that’s much more effective.”

KQED Arts invited Jones and Rodriguez to share their thoughts about art and the environment in a conversation that was recorded at Rodriguez’s studio in West Oakland on Friday, Jun. 3.In addition to the video, here is an extended audio version of the interview, edited from the original conversation.

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Eco Artists Transform “Mother Earth” into “Lover Earth”
KQED Arts

June 21, 2016

Watch the video I produced with Peter Ruocco about the Ecosex environmental art movement here or below:


You’ve heard of heterosexuals, homosexuals, transsexuals and metrosexuals. Now, here come the “ecosexuals.”

Ecosexuality a new movement at the intersection of culture and ecological activism founded by performance artists Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens which seeks to re-frame the conversation around solving environmental issues.

“We are shifting the metaphor from Earth as mother to Earth as lover,” says Stephens, who divides her time between making art and teaching the subject at UC Santa Cruz.

“When we imagine the Earth as a mother, we imagine the mother will take care of us and we can just take, take, take,” says Sprinkle, who is also an educator and former sex worker. “Whereas the Earth as a lover, you have to treat them nice or they go away.

Sprinkle, Stephens, and other members of the growing ecosexual community use performance art, documentary film, interactive walking tours — and a ton of humor — to grab people’s attention around global warming and other pressing ecological problems with the aim of inciting them to action.

Later this month, Stephens and Sprinkle are heading out on the road in their sparkly, blue “Pollination Pod” (a tricked-out, 1975 Perris Pacer camper van) to interview and interact with ecosexual artists, activists, thinkers, and practitioners, as well as any detractors they might meet on their journey throughout California. The duo says this research will inform their next film project, which focuses on water.

“We’re trying to make the environmental movement more sexy, fun and diverse,” says Sprinkle. “Some of us don’t quite fit into the Sierra Club because we’re a little weird.”

To find out more about ecosexuality, head here. 

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VIDEO: Sexy ‘Carmen’ at SF Opera, Aerial Dance at Hastings Law and More
KQED Arts

June 6, 2016

Watch my monthly KQED Newsroom segment with host Thuy Vu here or below:



Tuesday, Jun. 21: Garden of Memory, Chapel of the Chimes, OaklandOne of the best-kept, long-running live music secrets of the East Bay, this annual, midsummer night event invites audience members to wander round a historic funerary chapel encountering a range of weird and wonderful experimental musicians and sound artists at play.

Now through July 23: Laura Owens: 10 Paintings, Wattis Institute, San Francisco

LA-based artist Laura Owens explores the concept of the painted canvas in a playful, thought-provoking way: she has hidden 10 paintings behind elaborate, handmade wallpaper forcing us to wonder whether the true art is hidden or staring us right in the face.

Now through Jun. 19: Mountain Play presents West Side Story, Sidney B. Cushing Amphitheater, Mount Tamalpais State Park, MarinMount Tam provides a stunning backdrop for this lively production of the classic 1957 musical from Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents and Jerome Robbins based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  The show has been produced just once before in Mountain Play’s 103-year history.


Thursday, Jun. 16 – Sunday, Jun. 19: Bandaloop and The Village Impacts present #SFPublic Canvas, Hastings School of Law building exterior, San FranciscoThis large scale public performance project combines vertical dance, projection mapping, and crowd-sourced content on a big wall outside the Hastings Law School. Two years in the making, the work chronicles the changing face of the mid-Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods and includes contributions from aerial dance troupe Bandaloop, animator Gmunk, teen poets from Youth Speaks and neighborhood residents.


Monday, Jun. 27 – Tuesday, Jun. 28: Flight of the Conchords at The Masonic, San Francisco and Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain ViewThe famed New Zealand comedy songwriting duo comprising Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement swoops down on the Bay Area as part of a big, U.S. tour before heading to SoCal.

Now through Sunday, Jul. 3: San Francisco Opera presents Carmen at War
Memorial Opera House, San Francisco
Bad boy Spanish director Calixto Bieito helms this gritty, hyper-sexualized take on Georges Bizet’s famous opera about a soldier who unravels when he falls in love with a wily gypsy woman. Not your great aunt’s version of Carmen.



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VIDEO: SFMOMA Reopening, Latino Art Now! and More
KQED Arts

May 6, 2016

Watch my monthly KQED Newsroom segment with host Thuy Vu here or below: 



Now through Sunday, May 15: Hamlet at Shotgun Players’ Ashby Stage, Berkeley
‘The play’s the thing’ in this unusual version of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, where the cast members only find out which role they’re going to play that night five minutes before curtain. 


Now through Saturday, May 14: Latino Art Now! exhibition at MACLA, San Jose
For the 18th year running, the region’s premiere Latino art and culture hub presents an exhibition of works by some of the most fabulous contemporary Latino artists of recent times from the Bay Area and beyond, like Carlos Rolón/Dzine, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, and Ester Hernandez.

Now through Thursday, May 19: Cypress String Quartet’s Beethoven in the City concert series at a variety of locations, San Francisco
After 20 years, the esteemed Bay Area-based chamber ensemble is saying farewell with a series of free pop-up concerts covering all 16 of Beethoven’s string quartets in different locations around San Francisco. 


Saturday, May 14: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) reopening, San Francisco After three years of being closed to the public, the expanded SFMOMA reopens with a big public celebration and hundreds of newly added works of contemporary art from the Fisher Collection.

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