Category Archives: Arts

From Brazil to Berkeley and back: Ian Faquini’s journey

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Ian Faquini’s Brazilian identity was never in doubt. Born in the nation’s futuristic capital Brasilia, he moved with his parents to Berkeley just in time to finish second grade, and grew up speaking Portuguese at home. But it wasn’t until the revered Brazilian guitarist/composer Guinga took him under his wing that Faquini immersed himself in the music of his homeland. In recent years he’s emerged as one of the most gifted young guitarists and songwriters working in Brazilian music, and he celebrates the release of his debut album Metal na Madeira (Ridgeway Records) with Rio de Janiero-based vocalist Paula Santoro 8 p.m. Friday at the California Jazz Conservatory.

Even before he discovered Guinga, Faquini was obsessed with music. Interested in different instruments as a child, he found his soulmate when he got an acoustic guitar for his 11th birthday. “It was impossible for me not to practice,” says Faquini, who just turned 26. “My mom would say, haven’t you been playing too much? I had a band in middle school and would make them have six-to-eight hour rehearsals.” … Continue reading »

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At Brower Center, 2 artists drive home climate change

CHRIS MEYER/ MIDWEST VISION PHOTOGRAPHY -- Edward Morris (left) and Susannah Sayler with the Canary Project.
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On Friday night at the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley, Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris were awarded the center’s eighth annual Art/Act Award for their environmental activist work known as The Canary Project.

At the Q&A that capped the evening, the Brooklyn-based husband and wife team sat in directors’ chairs and fielded questions from a dispersed crowd of about 40.

“I don’t think any of us really believe in climate change,” Morris declared to the audience.

The well-dressed Berkeley crowd sat silently in a room made with bamboo-paneled walls and 100% non-toxic recycled post-consumer red carpet. No audible gasps surfaced.

Seeing is believing, Morris explained, and the trouble with climate change is: we can’t see it. We can only observe its wreckage — charcoal forests, melted glaciers and flooded towns. The Canary Project’s aim is to traumatize its audience into a visceral belief in the reality of that change, to bridge the gap between knowing and feeling.

“With art you can make those piercings,” Morris said. “Art has this capacity to make space for belief and belief can make a space for change.” … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Bumper stickers still and more

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In Berkeley, we love our bumper stickers. We wear our beliefs and humor on our bumpers. Longtime residents may lose sight of our bumper sticker population, but Mykael Moss has not.

And, by the way, Ahimsa, which sorta-kinda can be translated as “non-violence of the heart,”  is one of the cardinal virtues and an important tenet of Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. … Continue reading »

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

Berkeley Chamber 2016 Visionary Award winners
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BERKELEY VISIONARY AWARDS It’s not on the weekend — unless you’re in the habit of taking long ones —but the 2016 Berkeley Visionary Awards that take place Monday just had to be mentioned. The Berkeley Chamber created this honor to celebrate innovative entrepreneurs based in Berkeley, and Monday evening’s event promises, it says, “accomplished speakers, inspirational videos and a chance to meet the business leaders who are making Berkeley known for transformational enterprises.” Award recipients this year are: Steve Isaacs, Chairman, President and CEO, Aduro Biotech; Danielle Applestone, CEO, Other Machine Company; Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder and CEO, Four Twenty Seven Climate Solutions. The keynote speaker is Michael Witherell, Director, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and there’ll be hors d’oeuvres and wine and it runs 5-7pm at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison Street. Tickets are $50. Get details. … Continue reading »

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TCHO chocolate lab; climate-change deep dive in Berkeley

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TCHO’s Chief Chocolate Maker Brad Kintzer is to host a special chocolate lab at Berkeleyside’s Uncharted Festival of Ideas, on Friday Oct. 14. Kintzer, who studied botany and has spent months working on cacao plantations throughout Latin America, will provide an insider’s perspective on how cocoa is sourced and offer enlightening chocolate tastings.

Also on the program at the two-day Uncharted festival, which is back in downtown Berkeley for its fourth year, are conversations with Michael Krasny, Mark Bittman, Sujatha Baliga and Aminatou Sow. Kevin Powell and Eve Ensler will be on stage together on Saturday Oct 15 in a session titled, ‘Violence or love? Rape culture, race, and building social movements.’ See full program.

End-of-summer 30%+ discounted Uncharted tickets end midnight Friday Sept. 23.

This year also sees the festival’s first deep-dive session on climate change, in partnership with the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley. As part of CNR’s first ever Big Ideas @CNR competition, John Battles will discuss how and why many ecosystems are suffering from loss of resilience, and Dennis Baldocchi will address the water-food-people nexus: how climate change threatens California’s ability to sustain its population and its economy. The pair will be joined by Steve Bumgardner (aka Yosemite Steve) one of the world’s great natural-history filmmakers, who will provide a visual insight into working in the High Sierra. … Continue reading »

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Mark Summer explores life after Turtle Island

Mark Summer and Ken Cook are the duo Celloland. Photo by Silos Napa.
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Cuban reed virtuoso Paquito D’Rivera likes to call Mark Summer a barking cat, which is actually a compliment. As a cellist well-versed in improvisation, Summer is as rare as a woofing feline, though his three-decade run with two-time Grammy Award-winning Turtle Island Quartet has paved the way for several generations of conservatory-trained cellists with at least one foot in jazz. In his first East Bay concert since leaving Turtle Island in 2015 Summer introduces his new duo with veteran jazz pianist Ken Cook, Celloland, 7 p.m. Sunday at Freight & Salvage.

D’Rivera got to know Summer well while collaborating on the 2002 Turtle Island String Quartet album Danzón (Koch International), back before the group dropped “string” from its name. He was so impressed with Summer’s skills and versatility that he launched the Jazz Chamber Trio, a group “that I wouldn’t have thought possible before meeting Mark,” D’Rivera said in an interview around the time of the group’s Grammy-nominated 2005 eponymous debut album on Chesky.

Celloland offers another opportunity for Summer to explore his love of jazz and Latin American music. Cook, who holds the Jazz Piano chair in Sonoma State University’s Jazz Studies Department and has studied in Cuba, works regularly with vocalists Terrie Odabi and Deborah Winters, Brazilian guitarist Ricardo Peixoto, and Latin jazz flutist John Calloway. Together they’ve developed a far-ranging repertoire at the crossroads of jazz, European classical music and various South American traditions, with tunes by Brazil’s Egberto Gismonti and Pixinguinha, Argentina’s Nuevo tango maestro Astor Piazzolla, and jazz greats Pat Metheny and Keith Jarrett (with some Jimi Hendrix and J.S. Bach thrown in for good measure).

“Ken is a very sympathetic musical partner,” says Summer, 58, who settled in Novato after several years in Berkeley in the mid-aughts. “I heard him with his trio a few years ago and was blown away. We started talking and quickly realized we shared a love of Keith Jarrett and Latin music.” … Continue reading »

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South Berkeley residents aim to preserve history with art

By Kathleen Costanza
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Sitting in a circle on a recent Saturday afternoon, there were lots of things South Berkeley residents agreed they loved about their neighborhood: crop swaps, the farmers market, and Wat Mongkolratanaram, Berkeley’s Thai Buddhist Temple. Streets and storefronts packed with a rich history. A diversity of people and ideas.

But they also discussed a host of issues they believe are threatening the neighborhood they love, including gentrification, displacement and a lack of affordable housing.

A new mural, residents hope, will encompass the past, present and future of South Berkeley, and educate newcomers and long-timers on its history.

“We all admit we love this place,” said muralist Edythe Boone, 78, a South Berkeley resident and arts educator since 1976. “Now, what can we do to make it better?”

With residents’ help, Boone and a team of artists plan to paint a mural on a 9-foot-tall fence at Ashby Avenue and Ellis Avenue. The meeting on Aug. 20, held at South Berkeley Community Church, was the first of several the mural team is hosting to gather neighborhood history, stories, artifacts and other inspiration to weave across the mural. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Fistful of Dollars & Equinox Flower

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Summer is all but over, and it’s not quite Oscar season yet. New releases are thinner on the ground than autumn leaves in May, but fear not film fans: Pacific Film Archive has two very different but equally worthwhile motion pictures with which to tempt you this weekend.

Fistful of Dollars (Per un pugno di dollari, 1964) was the film that single-handedly kicked off the spaghetti western craze, which spawned well over 500 films before the genre petered out in the mid ’70s. Love it or hate it, it’s an important film — not least because it marked the arrival of a significant new talent (and the focus of PFA’s current series ‘Something To Do with Death’), director Sergio Leone.

Few would suggest that Fistful of Dollars (screening on Friday, Sept. 23 at 8:15 p.m.) is the equal of Leone’s classics The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West (both of which have also screened in the series). Nonetheless, it’s thoroughly entertaining, was beautifully shot in southern Spain, and (of course) includes an unforgettable original score by Ennio Morricone (actually credited on screen as the pseudonymous ‘Dan Savio’ – as with Leone, Morricone would become a household name thanks to this film).

And then there’s Clint Eastwood, who parlayed his performance as the serape’d Man With No Name into a career that still continues today. Unsurprisingly, Eastwood is pretty affectless here, but that was the gimmick: who is that masked-man-with-no-mask? What secrets lie behind the emotionless stare? When you compare his work here to that of other spaghetti stars such as Robert Woods, George Eastman, and Brad Harris, you realize how good Clint genuinely was as the man of mystery. … Continue reading »

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One to watch: Singer SydneyNycole

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Berkeley native Sydney Reeves, who goes by her stage name, SydneyNycole, talks about her new project, recent deals and what it’s like to be a Black woman in the music industry.

“When people look at me, they don’t expect for me to make the type of music that I do,” Reeves told Berkeleyside in a recent interview via Facetime. The 25-year-old singer and songwriter, whose glowing brown skin beautifully sets off her choice of fine fabrics, gives off the vibe of soulful women singers who have come before her, such as Angie Stone, Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott.

Read more profiles in Berkeleyside’s One to Watch series.

Reeves, who recently signed a publishing deal with Sony Records said, although she might not be as soulful as people expect, her goal is to transcend genres and make music people of all ages and backgrounds can appreciate.

During her conversation with Berkeleyside contributor Delency Parham, Reeves talked about her upcoming EP, the struggles she faces as a brown-skinned woman in a white industry, and what a successful career in music looks like to her. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s radical roots on show in major London exhibit

A graphic by Jay Belloli made at the Berkeley Political Poster Workshop in 1970 is on display at the V&A exhibit.
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By Yasmin Anwar / UC Berkeley

A magical mystery tour of 1960s youth rebellion, which launches this month at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, has to include a stop at UC Berkeley.

Students here birthed the Free Speech Movement, led anti-Vietnam-war protests and occupied People’s Park. The campus is where anti-establishment gurus like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Timothy Leary, who urged a generation to “turn on, tune in, drop out,” cut their counterculture teeth.

Berkeley’s rich history of radicalism has thus earned it a place at the much-heralded V&A exhibit, “You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-70,” which runs through Feb. 26.

The wildly eclectic retrospective features some 350 iconic artifacts, including a moon rock from NASA, shards of Jimi Hendrix’s smashed guitars, the first computer mouse and a kaftan worn by Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick at Woodstock. … Continue reading »

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Entertaining, enlightening: Aurora Theatre’s ‘Dear Master’

George Sand (l. Kimberly King*) and Gustave Flaubert (r. Michael Ray Wisely*) converse about politics and family in Dear Master. Photo: David Allen
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Berkeley playwright Dorothy Bryant seemed delighted to be in the audience at the opening of Aurora Theatre’s 25th anniversary revival of her insightful two-person epistolary play, Dear Master, about famed 19th-century French authors George Sand and Gustave Flaubert. Dear Master is the salutation Flaubert used when writing to Sand, who was 17 years his senior.

It’s a shame that Barbara Oliver (d. 2013) could not have been in attendance on opening night, as she portrayed George Sand in the original 1991 production that she created with playwright Bryant. Arising out of that production, Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre was formed, with Oliver as its founding artistic director. In fact, the theatre company was named after Sand’s given name, AmantineLucile-Aurore Dupin. But this production of Dear Master must be reviewed on its own merits, without regard to the sentimentality of restaging the Aurora’s initial drama, or the stellar growth and development of the Aurora over the years.

The feminist, socialist and prolific novelist George Sand (1804-1876), lover of Frederic Chopin in her younger days, and the somber, depressive perfectionist writer Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), best known for Madame Bovary, engaged in an active 13-year artistic correspondence. Using translations of their actual letters as well as her imagination, Bryant has recreated Sand and Flaubert, such that, by the end of the 90-minute one-act play, we feel we understand their lives, personalities, literary methods and creative demons. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Demon’

The woman in white appears in 'Demon'
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Before the Second World War, heavily Catholic Poland was also home to most of the world’s Jewish population. That changed, of course, during the war, when at least 90% of Poland’s 3 million Jews were killed by the Nazi extermination machine, leaving only a few thousand survivors behind.

Poland is still coming to terms with the legacy left by the Jewish Holocaust’s dead millions. Director Marcin Wrona’s Demon (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, Sept. 16) examines that legacy, emphasizing how this historical memory has largely been left buried and forgotten by the country’s Christian majority.

Based on Piotr Rowicki’s play ‘Clinging’, Demon takes place in a decrepit southern town where the rain never seems to let up. Fashionable youngster Piotr (Israeli actor Itay Tiron) has returned from success in London to marry Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska), daughter of local mining magnate Zygmunt (Andrzej Grabowski). … Continue reading »

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KALW airs Berkeley conversations on Uncharted Radio Hour

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Uncharted, a production of Berkeleyside, features some of the world’s edgiest thinkers and creative performers. It takes place over two days in downtown Berkeley. This year’s festival is on Friday Oct. 14 and Saturday Oct. 15.

On this week’s Uncharted Radio Hour, we hear from Shannon Brownlee, a national leader in highlighting the scope and consequences of overuse in healthcare. Brownlee argues that millions of people in the U.S. are being harmed — and are even dying — by having unnecessary health interventions. She explores many of these issues in her book, Overtreated — Why too much Medicine is Making us Sicker and PoorerBrownlee was in conversation with former KQED Health Editor Lisa Aliferis.

See Program and get tickets for the 2016 Uncharted Festival on Oct. 14-15

Also on Thursday’s Uncharted Radio Hour: Alice Dreger, an historian of medicine and science, a sex researcher and a writer. Her most recent book is Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science. Dreger made headlines in 2015 when she resigned from her position at Northwestern University for what she said was a lack of academic independence. Dreger sat down with Lance Knobel, co-founder of Berkeleyside and Uncharted’s program curator, at the 2015 Uncharted Festival for a conversation that ran the gamut from sex through science and back again.Continue reading »

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