Category Archives: Events

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

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GOODBYE TO THE OLD BERKELEY ART MUSEUM For 44 years, the Berkeley Art Museum at 2626 Bancroft Ave. has been a galvanizing force for culture in Berkeley and beyond. Many of the world’s greatest artists have performed or displayed their work there. But the Brutalist building designed by Mario Ciampi, and opened in 1970, is not seismically safe. It will close at the end of 2014 as BAM prepares for its move in early 2016 into a new 82,000-square foot home on Center Street designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. To celebrate the transition, BAM/PFA is throwing itself a goodbye party on Sunday called Let’s Go! A Farewell Revel. Starting at 11 a.m. and lasting until 5 p.m., the free celebration includes a create-your-own-museum art workshop, a dance battle by TURFinc, “vibrant vocals” from the women’s group, Kitka, a performance by pianist/composer Sarah Cahill of Gyorgy Ligeti’s 1962 composition “Poème symphonique” for 100 metronomes, and more. (Be sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign in progress to record the acoustics of the building.) The day will end with a procession from the Bancroft building through the campus to the new structure at 2155 Center St. Luckily, the forecast calls for a mix of sun and clouds. During the year it is closed, BAM/PFA will put on mobile exhibits around town. The PFA will continue to show films at its current site on Bancroft, across the street from the art museum. … Continue reading »

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Chiura Obata: A story of resilience, a passion for Yosemite

A026066_DeathsGrave – Chiura Obata (1885–1975), Death's Grave Pass and Tenaya Peak, High Sierra, USA, 1930, Color woodcut, Private collection.
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When Kimi Hill was in her teens, just turning the corner on self-absorption and curious about her family’s history, her aging grandfather, artist/educator Chiura Obata, resorted to communicating exclusively in his native Japanese, a language she didn’t speak.

Cut off from Chiura Obata, the then 20-year-old Berkeley resident had little idea of the important role he played in art history, and particularly in the history of Japanese Americans in the Bay Area. Fortunately, Hill became the primary caretaker of her grandmother, Haruko Obata, for the nine years after Obata died in 1975.

Gradually, Hill got to know her grandfather through her grandmother’s stories and through his paintings, drawings, photographs, letters and documents. Seeking ever more intimate insights, she visited abstract connections: the memories of people who were strangers to her but had known her grandfather; reference materials in libraries and archives relating to his years as a respected, influential professor of art at UC Berkeley. She found the most profound answers and clues to her grandfather’s legacy in the beauty of natural settings Obata had cherished, like Yosemite National Park.

An exhibit, Yosemite: A Storied Landscape, running now through Jan. 25, 2015, at the California Historical Society in San Francisco, offers Bay Area residents the same opportunity. … Continue reading »

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‘Our Town’ by the Shotgun Players in Berkeley is a winner

Sam Jackson in 'Our Town' by the Shotgun Players. Photo: Cheshire Isaacs
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In Our Town, three-time Pulitzer prize-winning author Thornton Wilder created a profound and intimate exploration into American life and death. And, although it was written over 76 years ago, the Shotgun Players’ version of the drama remains fresh and vibrant — still an important piece of American theater. Congratulations to the Shotgun Players and Director Susannah Martin for this winning production.

The Stage Manager (excellent Madeline H. D. Brown) serves as narrator and commentator. She explains that the first act opens in 1901 and follows the lives of the residents of tiny Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, where neighbors know each other, doors are never locked and horses are still the mode of transportation. We meet the Webb and the Gibbs families, particularly Emily Webb and George Gibbs. Both El Beh, as Emily, and Josh Schell, as George, are first-rate. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley communities of faith join forces for ‘peaceful civil disobedience’ Black Lives Matter protest

Rafi Wirtschafter, 13, joined the faith protest in Berkeley on Sunday Dec. 14, 2014. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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By Lance Knobel and Tracey Taylor

An estimated 300 people, most of them affiliated with local faith-based places of worship, blocked University Avenue in Berkeley for just over an hour during a peaceful protest Sunday, Dec. 14. The “Black Lives Matter Large-Scale Demonstration” was initiated by a number of local faith groups.

The protest joined the hundreds of demonstrations that took place locally and nationally over the weekend over the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

At the center of the protest was an 11-minute die-in, reminding people of the 11 times Garner said, “I can’t breathe.”

“This demonstration is intended to show the discipline of civil disobedience,” said Pastor Michael McBride, founder of The Way Christian Center at 1305 University Ave., directly opposite Congregation Netivot Shalom at 1316 University, where the die-in took place. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union leads peaceful protest march from campus to Oakland

12.13 protest photo laurie kahn
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Despite being shaken by the appearance of effigies hanging from nooses on campus Saturday morning, UC Berkeley Black Student Union (BSU) leaders said they didn’t want that incident to affect their planned march against police killings of black people. Approximately 300 protesters met at Sproul Plaza at noon and, over the course of nearly three hours, marched to downtown Oakland to join forces with the larger “Millions March” demonstration that had gathered there.

Read more of Berkeleyside’s Berkeley protest coverage.

The march was calm, with the crowd following orders and cues from the BSU organizers in the front. Led by a car, the protesters walked up Bancroft Way to College Avenue, headed south, paused for about 20 minutes to occupy the intersection of College and Ashby avenues, and eventually continued onto Broadway. Police instructed the car to turn off College before entering Oakland. … Continue reading »

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Sounds of Oaxaca: Pasatono Orquesta play Berkeley

Pasatono Orquesta
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The southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is a realm where indigenous culture continues to thrive in the 21st century. Rather than closing themselves off to outside currents, the Mixtecs, Zapotecs and other peoples of the region are constantly integrating new information, evolution that’s evident in Pasatono Orquesta, a fascinating nine-piece ensemble that makes its Bay Area debut at Freight & Salvage on Wednesday on a double bill with Cascada de Flores.

Championed by artists like vocalist Lila Downs, the intermittently Oaxaca-raised daughter of Mixtec cabaret singer Anita Sanchez, the band has compiled a vivid repertoire of tunes played by the Mixeteca orchestras that traveled the region in the middle decades of the 20th century. Sounds infiltrated from the north and south, and often hung around in Oaxaca long after they went out of fashion elsewhere, like the jaunty Charleston which figures in some Pasatono pieces. But Pasatono’s latest album, Maroma, is something of a departure. Drawing on the music that accompanies Oaxacan circuses, it’s an intoxicating mix of influences such as jazz, polka, chilena and cumbia. … Continue reading »

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

Student volunteers serve low-income and homeless residents at the 2013 Holiday Meal. Photo courtesy of BUSD
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HOLIDAY MEAL Each year, dozens — and sometimes hundreds — of student volunteers come to school on a Saturday to serve the community’s homeless and low-income families a hot meal. With Bay Area housing in crisis, plenty of people could use the extra plate of food and holiday cheer this year. The annual Berkeley High Holiday Meal is Saturday, Dec. 13, and there’s still time to help. The event depends on donations — of food, funds, clothes, books, and toys. In past years they’ve collected thousands of pounds of canned goods. Fresh food donations will also be happily accepted on Friday, 4 p.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the main entrance to BHS on Milvia and Allston. Tax-deductible monetary donations are accepted in cash or as checks written to “BHS Student Activities” with “Holiday Meal” in the memo line. Email John Villavicencio johnvillavicencio@berkeley.net or (510) 644-8990 with questions. … Continue reading »

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Black Lives Matter protest by hundreds of Berkeley High students ‘shows how it’s done’

Berkeley High students stage a 'die-in" observing a 4.5 minute silence at the Campanile on the UC Berkeley campus on Dec. 10, 2014. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Until yesterday, UC Berkeley junior Franchesca Cavagnaro had never been to a protest. While walking on the Cal campus Wednesday afternoon, she came across a crowd, many hundreds-strong, of demonstrators gathered on the steps of Sproul Hall. She liked what she saw and knew she wanted to be part of it. She joined the group as they marched to the Campanile.

Despite the location, the protesters were not Cal students. They were all Berkeley High students who, as part of an event, carefully organized by the school’s Black Student Union, had walked off their downtown campus at 2:30 p.m., skipping the last class of the day, in order to make their voices heard in the uproar over the recent police-related deaths of young black men. … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley told police to use restraint, avoid tear gas, on second night of protests

The doors and windows of Radio Shack on Shattuck were smashed repeatedly this weekend. Photo: Bernt Wahl
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By Frances Dinkelspiel and Tracey Taylor

The Berkeley Police Department deliberately held back from using tear gas during the protests Sunday night under orders from City Manager Christine Daniel, according to city officials.

Mayor Tom Bates said Monday that he and other Berkeley City Council members had been disturbed by the aggressive tone of the demonstrations Saturday night, when Berkeley police shot rubber bullets, other projectiles, and tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators who refused to leave Telegraph Avenue. He conveyed this concern to Daniel, who apparently was also concerned. She then told Berkeley police to refrain from using tear gas unless absolutely necessary.

Protesters smashed more than a dozen windows and sprayed graffiti on businesses up and down Shattuck Avenue, as well others on Telegraph Avenue, Sunday night. While a few businesses were damaged in the Saturday protests, including Wells Fargo Bank on San Pablo Avenue and Radio Shack on Shattuck, which was hit both nights, the damage was more severe the night of the stepped-back police response.

We regarded “the use of tear gas to be questionable,” said Bates. “We didn’t want to see it happen again unless absolutely necessary…. There was a backing off.” … Continue reading »

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Photo Gallery: Two nights of protests, riots in Berkeley

Photo, taken on Sunday Dec. 7, 2014, by Kelly Owen
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Berkeleyside is continuing its coverage of the protests and riots that took place in Berkeley this past weekend. Read our minute-by minute reporting of Saturday’s protests, and Sunday’s protests, which includes photos and videos. Watch videos on our YouTube channel. Catch up with our live coverage on Twitter.

Look out for more reporting in the hours to come.

Here we present some of the many dramatic photographs taken of the events that unfolded on Saturday Dec. 6 and Sunday Dec. 7, and into the early hours of Monday Dec. 8. … Continue reading »

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

Head downtown Friday night to participate in the city's holiday tree lighting ritual. Photo: Youtube
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HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING Thanksgiving is behind us, and the winter holidays are just around the corner. Downtown Berkeley is kicking off the season with its third annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration. It’s exactly what it sounds like — plus baked goods, holiday crafts for kids, and live music from the Berkeley Chamber Singers. Gather at the downtown BART Plaza on Friday, Dec. 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m to participate. Check in on Yelp for a free gift. Berkeleyside is a sponsor of the event. … Continue reading »

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Deal to buy Post Office fizzles; police clear encampment

Tents on the front of the building were not being taken down at lunchtime on Thursday. Photo: Lance Knobel
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The proposal by Berkeley developers Hudson MacDonald to buy the downtown Berkeley Post Office has fallen through after they were unable to reach agreement with the Post Office on a deal.

Meanwhile, police from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service prompted an orderly clearance of parts of the makeshift encampment at Berkeley’s main Post Office Thursday morning. Protesters, who call themselves Berkeley Post Office Defenders, and a homeless advocacy group, First They Came for the Homeless, have been camped around the building for four weeks.

According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, officers provided protesters with a list of federal regulations and criminal statutes that prohibit the encampment. No arrests were made.  … Continue reading »

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‘Red Hot Patriot': The kick-ass wit of Molly Ivins at the Rep

At Berkeley Rep, two-time Tony and Academy Award nominee Kathleen Turner stars in Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, a one-woman show about beloved journalist and satirist Molly Ivins.

Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com
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Molly Ivins (1944-2007) was a beloved Texas newspaper columnist, political commentator, author and humorist. And her perspicacious wit comes through loud and clear, despite Kathleen Turner’s somewhat mixed performance in this one-woman show at the Berkeley Rep.

Ivins was famous for her bright and brash personality, her acerbic sharpness, her liberal leanings, and her continued amazement and amusement with the folly and foolhardiness of Republican politicians in general, and Texas Republican politicians in particular. She was the first to call our 43rd president, George W. Bush, “shrub.”

Early in her career, Ivins was hired by the New York Times (1976-1982), when it sought a writer who was not as staid and dull as its normal hires. Her two claims to fame there were her 1977 obituary of Elvis Presley, and her article about a “community chicken-killing festival” in New Mexico, which she referred to as a “gang-pluck.” … Continue reading »

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