Category Archives: Arts
Frederick Wiseman, interviewed by Berkeleyside this week, has been steadily making documentaries about institutions since his 1967 Titicut Follies took viewers inside a Massachusetts hospital for the criminally insane. His subjects have ranged from a high school to basic training to meatpacking plants to ballet in Paris. In the fall of 2010, Wiseman and two collaborators — a cameraman and an assistant — arrived on the UC Berkeley campus to subject the university to the same treatment.
Wiseman had written to then-Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to see if the university was receptive to the project. After lunch with Birgeneau and Provost George Breslauer, Wiseman received the go-ahead for the project. The only thing he wasn’t allowed to film was tenure discussions. Wiseman, in turn, said the university could have 48 hours after he filmed anything to request it not be included. In the event, virtually nothing was affected, according to Wiseman. … Continue reading »
In Andalusia’s Jerez de la Frontera, where impromptu gatherings often burst into extended flamenco sessions, the holidays offer numerous opportunities for celebrating the season. In another sign of Bay Area Flamenco’s steadily expanding footprint, the decade-old organization presents its first ever Zambomba Gitana, an evening of dance and music Friday at Brava Theater in San Francisco and Saturday at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley.
The show features a cast of Gypsy flamenco artists from Jerez, including Jose Gálvez, El Pele de los Reyes, María Bermúdez, Angelita Agujetas, Kina Méndez, Antonio de Jerez and Luis de la Tota. More than a concert, the gathering is designed to capture the energy and spirit of the zambomba, a celebration by the Gypsy community that transforms traditional Spanish carols, or villancicos, into slow burning bulerias, a flamenco form strongly identified with the region.
“There are all different ways a zambomba can happen,” says Nina Menendez, Bay Area Flamenco’s founder and artistic director (and an accomplished flamenco vocalist herself). “It emerged as a celebration at home, where people live in these buildings with rooms arrayed around a central courtyard. Families often live together in these buildings, and everyone comes out to courtyard, chips in for nice meal, lights a bonfire, and sit around and have a jam sessions on these flamenco-ized holiday carols.” … Continue reading »
I have to admit I didn’t expect to be writing about another Rwanda documentary this year, but here we are. After being featured in cycling epic Rising from Ashes in a September review, the central African nation returns to the Big Screen Berkeley spotlight only three months later, this time in the form of Sweet Dreams, a locally grown feature opening Friday, December 6th at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas.
Produced and directed by siblings Lisa and Rob Fruchtman – she, a resident of Berkeley and Academy Award winner for her editing work on The Right Stuff (1983); he, a Sundance Best Director winner for Sister Helen (2002); each a veteran of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) – Sweet Dreams offers another perspective on Rwandan efforts to recover from the genocide of 1994. This time, bicycles are nowhere in evidence, here replaced by traditional drums and decidedly non-traditional ice cream scoops. … Continue reading »
The Federal Reserve Bank is a favorite whipping boy for both left- and right-wing conspiracy theorists, its role in manipulating currency — and (by extension) managing the economy — the source of endless controversy. Calls to ‘audit the Fed’ have been heard from both the Ron Paul libertarian right and the Alan Grayson liberal left, but such an audit would still be unlikely to assuage the frenzied palpitations of Alex Jones and others convinced that America’s central bank is nothing more than a tool the New World Order uses (alongside fluoridation, vaccinations, and chemtrails) to maintain its control over us.
Consequently, I anticipated Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve (a new documentary screening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday Dec. 4) with some trepidation. Watching the film until the end, I kept waiting for the penny to drop: when would narrator Liev Schreiber reveal the awful truth about our reptilian overlords inventing one fiat currency to rule them all? … Continue reading »
This weekend kicks off the 23rd year of Berkeley’s Artisans Holiday Open Studios, with more than 100 artists and craftspeople opening up their workshops and galleries to the public.
The event — which offers extensive fodder for shopping local to meet your holiday gift needs — launches Saturday, Nov. 30, and runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. all weekend, and every weekend in December through the 22nd.
All manner of fine art and craft will be shown, including blown glass, functional and decorative ceramics, ornaments, Menorahs, lamps and lighting, painted and custom furniture, garden art, floor cloths, one-of-a-kind clothing, textiles, many styles of jewelry, leather bags, recycled art, sculpture, photography, paintings, mosaics, stained glass, original prints and works on paper. … Continue reading »
Last month, Berkeleyside introduced an exciting new project by our longstanding contributing photographer Nancy Rubin. With Humans of Berkeley and the Bay Area (HUBBA for short), Rubin is chronicling in wonderful images the people of Berkeley and beyond. Today we are delighted to publish another set of Rubin’s photographs.
Read our interview with Rubin in which she talks about what inspired her to start the project and how it also has a philanthropic element. And be sure to click though to the HUBBA project on Facebook (and “like” it) to read extended captions for the photographs shown here and many more. HUBBA is also now on Tumblr. … Continue reading »
In the edgy and provocative “A Bright New Boise,” Idahoan author and winner of the 2011 Obie Award for Playwriting, Samuel D. Hunter, examines familial relations, forgiveness, religion and corporate culture.
Protagonist Will (accomplished Robert Parsons) left his rural Idaho town for Boise after a headline-making tragedy blows apart his nondenominational evangelical church. Will applies for minimal wage work at the Hobby Lobby, a craft-supply big box store (see more about the real Hobby Lobby below), with the hope of reconnecting with Alex, the gloomy teenager he had given up for adoption.
Alex (well-acted by Daniel Petzold) and Alex’s also adopted brother, Leroy (Patrick Russell shines) work at the Hobby Lobby, as does the profit-seeking, loudmouth manager Pauline, (funny Gwen Loeb) and the anxious depressed Anna (excellent Megan Trout). Will completes this blue-collar quintet, all sharing dead-end jobs. Most of the play’s action occurs in the Hobby Lobby’s stark break room, with only a few scenes outside the store. Hobby Lobby is their world. In fact, Will and Anna both choose to spend evenings in the break room. … Continue reading »
Throughout his remarkably prolific but all too brief career, German auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder directed numerous films focused on strong female characters. Features such as The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Veronika Voss, and Lola displayed Fassbinder’s strong affinity for stories about women, so it comes as no surprise to learn the filmmaker was a big fan of two femme-themed nouvelle vague classics screening at Pacific Film Archive on Friday, Nov. 22 as part of the series Fassbinder’s Favorites.
First up at 7:00 p.m. is Jean-Luc Godard’s 1962 drama Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux (My Life to Live: A Film in Twelve Scenes). Anchored by a mournful (if sparsely applied) Michel Legrand score, the film stars Anna Karina (then married to Godard; the couple would divorce in 1967) as Nana, a stylish young mademoiselle forced, by economic necessity, to take up the world’s oldest profession. … Continue reading »
“It’s impossible to photograph clouds for their beauty anymore. We know too much about what is going on,” said photographer Richard Misrach wistfully on a recent weekday evening.
He should know. The Berkeley-based photographer has made a name for himself capturing striking images of man’s impact on the planet — which includes the creation of natural-looking clouds by oil none other than oil refineries.
The David Brower Center, a downtown Berkeley hub for environmental and social action, is currently showing a selection of the photographer’s images taken at Mississippi River’s Cancer Alley, in conjunction with related work by landscape architect Kate Orff. … Continue reading »
Whether she’s improvising fearlessly on stage, teaching a master class, or raising organic produce on her farm in Hawaii, Rhiannon wants to change the world.
A legendary figure among vocalists who helped found Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra, the former Berkeley resident returns for an all too infrequent run of engagements over the coming week, an array of events that offer rare insight into this singular and widely influential artist. On Saturday she celebrates the release of her memoir Vocal River at the Jazzschool with a discussion and performance (she also teaches a Jazzschool master class Sunday morning). On Monday she’s performing at the Jazzschool’s 5th Annual Mark Murphy Scholarship Concert, joining a glittering cast of jazz vocalists at Yoshi’s including Clairdee, Nicholas Bearde, Jackie Ryan and Laurie Antonioli. And on Nov. 25 she performs at Freight & Salvage with the WeBe3, an improvisational vocal trio with Joey Blake and David Worm. … Continue reading »
When Tomas Moniz, the author of the new novella Bellies and Buffalos, was in New York City a few years ago, he stopped by the mammoth American Girl doll store on Fifth Avenue. His youngest daughter had begged him to visit, part of her campaign to snare one of the pricey dolls.
Moniz was astounded to see the store’s tearoom, where not only girls – but their dolls — were served actual tea.
“That was actually the impetus of the story, the experience of seeing them actually serve tea to dolls,” said Moniz, who will celebrate the publication of his book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books at 2349 Shattuck St.
Moniz, 46, is best known for his award-winning zine, Rad Dad, which looks at parenting from a radical perspective – i.e. from queer parents, poor parents, political activist parents, and from parents of color. His own essays, which often touch on drugs, drinking, and teenage sex, offer a strong critique about conventional and mainstream views on raising children. … Continue reading »
Less than two weeks after Cal Performances brought the Nederland Dance Theatre’s exquisite dancers to Zellerbach Hall, Bay Area balletomanes reveled in the Shanghai Ballet’s 50-member, classically gifted company.
The Butterfly Lovers, a four act story ballet choreographed by Artistic Director Xin Lilli in 2001, showed-off the technical brilliance of the 34-year-old company and left no doubt that Chinese culture can be found in buoyant jetés and perfectly-matched arabesques.
The ballet’s synopsis dates to a fourth century Tang dynasty tale and suggests comparisons to Romeo and Juliet. Ill-fated lovers, secret identities, familial opposition, and more than one death provide obvious, but easy to comprehend concepts through movement and mime, drama. In this case, the final scene is not a funeral; it is resurrection, as the two lovers rise from the grave as shimmering butterflies. … Continue reading »
Longfellow eighth-grader Andrei Crandall is already making headway in the photo world, despite his young age. Crandall, who is 14, was invited to join the San Diego Museum of Art’s artist guild when he was just 12, after contributing his work as part of a blind juried competition. He has also been published in Southwest Airlines’ Spirit magazine.
According to his artist statement, Crandall was born in a small city in far eastern Russia. He moved to Berkeley as a 4-year-old after he was adopted by “two moms who love to travel and take me and my camera with them.”
Crandall has taken photographs in Fiji, China, France, Spain, Mexico and around the United States. His most recent trip was to New Orleans in April. Photographs from that trip are on view in an exhibit called “The Streets of New Orleans” at The Alta Bates Community Art Gallery, at 2450 Ashby Ave., through Nov. 23. Crandall also has photographs showing at The Homemade Café, 2454 Sacramento St.