Daily Archives: August 23, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 08.23.12

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Botanical garden inspires art/science collaboration

Nami Yamamoto's Fog Catcher in the UC Botanical Garden. Photo: Hannah Long
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Many people would call UC Berkeley’s Botanical Garden a work of art, with its stunning landscape of colorful flowers, vibrant greenery and majestic trees. The garden’s recently installed Natural Discourse exhibition, which features a diverse array of visual art, poetry and architecture, has only enhanced the beauty of this setting.

The botanical garden is “both a very serious research collection and a beautiful public garden,” explained Paul Licht, the garden’s director. It is one of the most prestigious research gardens in the world, with over 10,000 plant species, and its 34 acres include a rose garden and redwood grove for tourists, nature lovers, and picnickers.

The Natural Discourse exhibit, a collaboration between artists, poets and scientists, was inspired by specific plants in the garden. “Natural Discourse fits into the theme of the garden,” said Licht. “The installations are site-specific, and each is educational, thought-provoking, and beautiful.”  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Robot and Frank
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MUSIC EVERYWHERE  The Downtown Berkeley MusicFest kicks off tonight and runs for four days, involving over 35 performances at ten downtown venues, including Bec’s, Bobby G’s, Jupiter, the Jazzschool, Shattuck Down Low, and Subterranean Arthouse. It’s the fifth MusicFest, which is organized jointly by the Downtown Berkeley Association and the Freight & Salvage Cofeehouse. There’s music for all tastes, from salsa to skronk, world to blues, jazz, rock, R&B and reggae. The free kick-off concert tonight features fiddler/dancer Laura Cortese and a funky-jazz set from the Mike Sweetland quartet outside the Downtown Berkeley BART station from 5-7pm. More information on the MusicFest’s website. … Continue reading »


Berkeley High student newspaper calls for more support

The online version of the Berkeley High Jacket leads with a story about
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Students who manage Berkeley High School’s student newspaper, the Berkeley High Jacket, which is marking its 100th anniversary this year, say the publication is in crisis after the school withdrew part of its support.

The paper, which is published every other week and online, is categorized as a class and is therefore allocated a staff supervisor and a number of periods relating to the number of students who are registered for the class.

For the past three years, the paper’s faculty adviser has been advanced video teacher Dharini Rasiah. At the end of the last academic year, Berkeley High eliminated a media support services course which amounted to 20% of Rasiah’s quota of daily classes. As she had been devoting much of that course time to the Jacket, which, by her estimate, takes up 20-30 hours of her time a week, the overall time she could commit to the paper has been significantly reduced. Rasiah has also given a new art class to teach. … Continue reading »

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Botanical Garden art work attracts right-wing attacks

SOL Grotto, by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, in the Botanical Garden's Natural Discourses exhibition. Photo: Hannah Long
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The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, nestled in Strawberry Canyon, seems one of the few parts of Berkeley where political agendas can safely be set aside. But the politics-free zone of the garden was disturbed on Tuesday when right-wing bloggers, Fox News and the House Energy and Commerce Committee confected a story out of one of the artworks in the current Natural Discourse exhibition (which Berkeleyside will review later today).

SOL Grotto, by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, uses 1,368 glass tubes salvaged from Solyndra, the Fremont-based solar cell manufacturer that went bankrupt last year, despite a $527 million loan from the federal government. SOL Grotto is, in the artists’ words, “a spartan retreat that is a space of solitude.”

The right-wing attacks focused on the use of materials from Solyndra to create an artwork, leading the House committee, for example, to claim that SOL Grotto had become the world’s most expensive work of art. Greg Gutfeld on Fox News — a Cal grad — sputtered with rage at the art: “Our loss is someone else’s hip, pretentious art.” He suggested someone should take a sledgehammer to the work and call it performance art, before adding, “I’m kidding, of course that would be wrong.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school district names interim superintendents

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Berkeley Unified School District has named Javetta Cleveland and Neil Smith, both BUSD staff, as joint interim superintendents for an unspecified period of time until someone is found to fill the shoes of former superintendent Bill Huyett who has retired.

BUSD Board President John Selawsky said at the board’s meeting on Wednesday night that a candidate is currently being interviewed for the district’s top position.

Cleveland, who is BUSD Deputy Superintendent, and Smith, who is Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, took up their duties at the Wednesday board meeting.

Huyett, who has now left the position of superintendent, announced in December that he planned to retire after four years in the job. … Continue reading »

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