Category Archives: Arts

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

Berkeley based singer/songwriter and youth mentor Austin Willacy will perform at the Subterranean Arthouse on Saturday. Photo: www.austinwillacy.com
Print Friendly

THREESOME: ARTISTS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE The eye-catching title refers to an artistic trifecta — performance, visual, and literary. All three modes of expression will be squeezed onto one bill at the Subterranean Arthouse on Saturday, August 30. Berkeley based singer/songwriter Austin Willacy will perform, as will performance poet Graham Hackett, who goes by LoosiD. East Bay artist Laura VanDuren’s sculptures will be on view.  The show begins at 8 p.m. at 2179 Bancroft Ave. Tickets are $15-20. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Washing the blues away with Lavagem in Berkeley

Screen shot 2014-08-27 at 6.54.41 PM
Print Friendly

Everyone knows about Brazil’s famously exuberant carnival celebrations, which bring millions of people onto the streets for all-night samba-soaked revelry. In Salvador da Bahia, the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture, the Lavagem do Bonfim rivals carnival when it comes to communal celebration, though it’s not nearly as well known. On Sunday, the Casa de Cultura at San Pablo and Hearst is hosting a festival marking Brazilian Independence Day with a Lavagem inspired by the traditional blessing ceremony that culminates on the steps of the Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim after a long percussion-powered procession through Salvador. (Watch the video above to get a taste.)

The celebration opens in the morning with free dance classes and features performances on the main stage from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Lavagem procession and blessing takes place at 2 p.m. For Conceição Damasceno, the founder and guiding spirit of the Casa de Cultura, the ritual is more about staying connected to her Bahian heritage than with summoning the orixás, the syncretic deities of Candomblé that combine Yoruban and Catholic mysticism. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Gabrielle Selz’s ‘Unstill Life’ provides peek into the modern art world with its glamour, ambition, heartbreak

Gabrielle Selz and Peter Selz. Photo: Courtesy of Gabrielle Selz
Print Friendly

When Gabrielle Selz was growing up in New York in the 1960s, her house was filled with artists who have become icons of the time: Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, and Alberto Giacometti.

Selz’s father was Peter Selz – then a curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, a man whom the New York Times dubbed “Mr. Modern Art.” Peter Selz moved to Berkeley in 1965 to become the founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum, a position that allowed him to showcase West Coast artists. He highlighted Funk, film, and ceramicists like Peter Voulkos and Robert Arneson who were not even considered true artists at the time. Peter Selz later became project director for Christo’s Running Fence, the 24.5-mile long billowing fabric fence that ran over the Marin County hills in 1976. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: Lee Marvin stars in ‘Shack Out on 101′

pecs
Print Friendly

Summer is almost over (well, in most of the country; here in California it’s just getting started), but there’s one more seasonal treat in store before the leaves start turning vaguely less green: Pacific Film Archive’s annual free outdoor screening in the BAM/PFA Sculpture Garden. Unreeling at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 27, this year’s feature is a ripe slice of ‘50s paranoia with Red Scare overtones and a terrific performance from Lee Marvin.

Directed in 1955 by Edward Dein (Curse of the Undead, The Leech Woman), the independently produced Shack Out on 101 is a zippy 80-minute programmer starring Marvin as Slob, short order cook at a seedy California burger bar owned and operated by gruff World War II vet George (Keenan Wynn). George doesn’t like Slob, but he’s the only cook he could find to work at his dive, located in a remote, nameless coastal section of Southern California. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Human rights made strikingly visible at Berkeley show

rights4
Print Friendly

Human rights organizations often depend on the media’s megaphone, calling malefactors to account by publicizing their misdeeds. So it’s something of a paradox that Berkeley’s most influential and visionary NGO dedicated to the international struggle for human rights, the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law, tends to operate under the radar. In marking the center’s 20th anniversary, the HRC is presenting an alternately breathtaking and hair-raising photo exhibition, Envisioning Human Rights, part of a new effort to raise public awareness about the organization’s vital work. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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

The San Francisco Mime Troupe brings its latest, "Ripple Effect," to Willard Park this weekend. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Mime Troupe
Print Friendly

MIME TROUPE Each year the San Francisco Mime Troupe unleashes its Bay Area brand of political satire on the issues du jour. This year’s are no surprise: out-of-this-world rents, techie transplants, Silicon Valley, and surveillance. The 55th annual production, “Ripple Effect,” finds members of San Francisco’s various rival factions all stuck on a boat together in the middle of the Bay. The show makes its third and final Berkeley stop this weekend, at Willard Park (2730 Hillegass) at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Music starts a bit earlier and the whole thing’s free. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Erik Tarloff’s ‘All Our Yesterdays’ is grounded in Berkeley

All-Our-Yesterdays-187x300
Print Friendly

What has Erik Tarloff got that I haven’t got? After all, we’re both, let’s say, not getting any younger; both long-time Berkeley residents; both Jewish; and both writers. OK, scratch that last one: we’re not in the same league.

Tarloff has written numerous TV scripts for M*A*S*H, All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show and many others. One of his best-selling novels, The Man Who Wrote the Book, was cited as a memorable book of the year by The New York Times.

If his latest book is any indication, he has an active vocabulary that includes such words as gnomic, cathexis, moue, and termagant. And he’s married to Laura D’Andrea Tyson, who is even more famous than he is. Considering all this, he must have something going for him, right?

Well, yes, of course — and Tarloff proves it all over again in his latest novel, All Our Yesterdays, a brilliant chronicle of life among the chosen few in Berkeley over the past four decades.

Shifting from first-person accounts of relationships on and around the UC Berkeley campus from 1968 into the 70s, to third-person treatments largely set in the present, Tarloff spins a fascinating tale of six friends whose lives together embody the experience of a generation in this wonderfully insular community: a clinical psychologist in private practice (one of the town’s thousands of therapists), a prominent left-leaning lawyer who is also a wine snob; a rock critic and social commentator who writes books about the deeper meaning of popular culture; a brilliant professor of English literature; and a charming revolutionary activist who identifies closely with the IRA, having gone so far as to sport an Irish accent. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Uncharted Berkeley Ideas Festival: What’s it all about?

Screen shot 2014-08-19 at 3.14.38 PM
Print Friendly

Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas is coming to downtown Berkeley on Oct. 24-25.

You may have heard about Uncharted, either recently, or last year, when the inaugural festival was held to much acclaim.

But what is an ideas festival? What happens there? Why should you come? Check out the snappy video above which was created to answer those questions, and more. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tilden lake
Print Friendly

FREE PARK LIFE The East Bay Regional Park District is celebrating its 80th birthday by offering “free third Fridays” in its parks, including Tilden. From April to December, fees will be waived for a variety of park services, every third Friday of each month, which includes Friday, Aug. 15. On those days, you get free parking, free boat launching (note, boat launchers still have to pay for the required invasive mussel inspection); free entry for horses and dogs, free swimming, free fishing permits (anglers still have to possess a California state fishing license, for which there’s a fee. And there will still be fees for camping and for group picnic reservations); and there’s free entry to Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont (normally $2-$6). The Park District says Free Fridays are its way of thanking the public for eighty years of support. “A grass-roots movement provided the political momentum for establishment of the district back in 1934, and public support has been key to the district’s successes ever since.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Amber Gougis: Going places but taking her own path

Amber
Print Friendly

Amber Gougis is going places, but she’s taking her own winding way. A thoughtful singer who infuses jazz with soul and brings an improvisation-laced sensibility to Chicago blues and mid-century R&B, she returns to the Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley on Wednesday. While she’s earned widespread respect around the Bay Area music scene, the Oakland singer decided to give up her every-other-week gig at the Gourmet Ghetto eatery after a two-year run to take a position as a nanny.

“I like having a steady job,” says Gougis, 30. “But I’m really excited to be back at the Cheese Board. It’s such a great place to develop as a musician. You can hire great musicians because it pays. It’s such a good environment. I really grew as a musician during those two years.” … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Cal mom to document her son’s life with Asperger’s

Nils Skudra poses with his dog, Beauregard. Nils has Asperger syndrome and currently attends UC Berkeley. Photo: Nils Skudra
Print Friendly

For teens across America, college is one of the major stepping-stones to independence, akin to getting a driver’s license or moving into your own place. Away from the constant supervision parents, young adults get their first taste of the “real world,” where they can finally take charge of their lives.

But that wasn’t the case with Nils Skudra when he entered UC Merced in 2010. His mother, Renee Skudra, went with him. And when he returned to the Bay Area to transfer to UC Berkeley, she followed. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Looking intently: The James Cahill legacy at BAM/PFA

Man and Servant Beneath Trees by Shen Shichong
Print Friendly

The dualities of life and art are never more apparent than they are in “Looking Intently: The James Cahill Legacy,” an intimate exhibit with boundless implications running now through December 21 at Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive.

Even the exhibit itself is binary: the Chinese, Ming and Qing period paintings organized by Julia M. White, senior curator for Asian art and currently on display, will be “refreshed” in mid-October. It’s a bonanza, a two-for-one, as an entirely new set of mostly 15th to 16th century works from the late Professor Emeritus James Cahill’s “Ching Yuan Chai” collection is presented in the museum’s upper gallery for the exhibit’s “second rotation.” The unusual maneuver is both good for visitors—they get to see more of the exquisite collection—and for the paintings. By limiting the over-400-year-old paintings’ prolonged exposure to light and curtailing gravity’s pull while they hang; their delicacy and endurance are respected.

Cahill, born in Fort Bragg and a Berkeley High school graduate, went on to become a Fulbright Scholar, an award-winning author, a sought-after curator and guest lecturer, an acclaimed art history educator at UC Berkeley, and a widely-respected collector of East Asian art. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Beth Custer re-issues album about U.S. foreign policy

Beth Custer. Photo: Federico Cusigch
Print Friendly

When Noam Chomsky is asked to provide the topic for a speaking engagement many months in the future he’s said to suggest “The Conflict in the Middle East.” Perhaps the story is apocryphal, but the re-issue of clarinet/composer Beth Custer’s 2005 album “Respect As A Religion” provides a similar reminder that some topical themes sadly never seem to go out of date. With the US entangled in numerous hotspots and unstable regions, Custer figured the time was ripe to break out her underground hit “Empire of the United States,” the scathing, funk-laden bebop-informed denunciation of American foreign policy that opens the album.

“It’s probably not the greatest financial decision, but the album sold out the first pressing and I never ordered more,” says Custer, who brings an expanded version of her stellar band to Freight & Salvage on Saturday. “With all this ramping up to war I thought it seemed like the right time to bring it out again.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,