Category Archives: Events

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

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COACHING FOR LITERACY EVENT Coaching for Literacy has partnered with Cal Bears basketball to offer an “all-access” fan experience to raise funds for literacy work during the Saturday Feb. 6 Stanford game in Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears join 17 other NCAA institutions and the Washington Wizards as a member of Coaching for Literacy’s 2015-16 Assistant Coach Program schedule. The initiative is to raise valuable awareness about the problem of illiteracy in America. Currently, 19% of high-school graduates in America are functionally illiterate. Financial support will also be raised and directed to literacy efforts in the Bay Area through The Re(a)d Zone – an initiative of the 50 Fund, the legacy initiative of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Details at CalBears.
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New York City comes to Berkeley: Rez Abbasi’s RAAQ

The Res Abbasi Acoustic Quartet plays the California Jazz Conservatory Friday
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Born in Pakistan’s teeming commercial metropolis Karachi, and raised in the Southern California suburb of Torrance, jazz guitarist Rez Abbasi always seems to be working at the crossroads of contrasting musical realms. He performed at the SFJazz Center last year with breathtaking vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia, who draws on Punjabi folk song, love-besotted ghazels, and North African cadences. And back in 2010, he made a powerful impression at Yoshi’s with award-winning alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo Pak Coalition, a trio playing a singular synthesis of jazz and South Asian forms.

Long based in New York City, he returns to the Bay Area for a concert 8 p.m. Friday at the California Jazz Conservatory with the Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet (RAAQ), a band that bridges a very different kind of musical divide (they also teach an improvisation workshop at the CJC Saturday afternoon). Featuring powerhouse drummer Eric McPherson, who spent 15 years with alto sax great Jackie McLean, and bassist Stephan Crump, a member of pianist Vijay Iyer’s celebrated trio, the band’s latest album Intents and Purposes (Enja) recasts classic jazz/rock fusion tunes in an acoustic setting. Abbas designed the project to explore an era he had largely overlooked, when acts like Weather Report, Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Tony Williams Lifetime attained the stature of rock stars. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley startup job fair focused on diversity draws crowd

Line around the corner for the Berkeley Startup Job Fair. Photo credit: Passion Projects Productions
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The hot ticket in downtown Berkeley on the evening of Thursday Jan. 28 was arguably the gala opening party for the new BAMPFA, but if you had seen the several-hundred strong line of people snaking down Center Street and round the corner along Shattuck between 5 and 7 p.m., waiting to get into the NextSpace building, you’d have been forgiven for thinking there was an even hotter event going on.

More than 3,000 people signed up to attend the Berkeley Startup Job Fair, according to Ben Hamlin, co-founder and CEO of Localwise, the Berkeley-based job community which organized the first-of-its kind event. And of those, more than 1,000 showed up. The fair, which was focused on promoting diversity in tech, was co-hosted by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. Other partners included 16 nonprofits, including the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Latinas in Tech, Telegraph Academy, Lesbians who Tech, Code Berkeley and the Level Playing Field Institute. (See the full list of partners).

The overwhelming response to the fair appeared to indicate the need for more opportunities for job-seekers to meet with young companies who are recruiting. Many attendees came from nearby UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College, but others had traveled from further afield, including from more far-flung colleges. For still others, their student days were far behind them. And it was a diverse crowd who formed lines and patiently waited to speak with potential employers inside NextSpace’s ground-floor atrium. … Continue reading »

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Lights, camera, action: Time to shine for film at BAMPFA

PFA Photo Iwan Baan
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The last coat of paint has been applied, the fixtures are all in place, and the hard hats have departed: it’s time to celebrate the re-opening of BAMPFA’s film programming. Yours truly managed to get a sneak peek of what’s in store for Bay Area cinéastes, and I can happily report that we’re all in for quite a treat.

Located at 2120 Oxford St. in downtown Berkeley, the new BAMPFA building is an open, airy, and naturally lit paradise for art enthusiasts and film fans. For the first time in 16 years, BAMPFA screenings will take place under the same roof — in this case, a gleaming curvaceous stainless steel roof — as the museum’s art galleries.

The new PFA features two screening rooms, with the Barbro Osher Theater serving as the Archive’s centerpiece. This 232-seat room is vastly superior to the ‘temporary’ space the Archive occupied for the last decade – and, dare I suggest, also a considerable improvement over BAMPFA’s previous ‘permanent’ home in the old Ciampi building on Bancroft Way. … Continue reading »

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BAMPFA’s inaugural exhibition, ‘Architecture of Life,’ is an eloquent survey

Architecture of Life,on view at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, January 31–May 29, 2016. Installation view, with a Dogon ritual altar ladder (left) and awork by Chris Johanson (right). Photo: Sibilia Savage
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BAMPFA’s new building is an absolute winner. The 82,000-square-foot home catapults Berkeley’s visual art scene into prominence — comparable to many larger, richer and better established West Coast institutions. It handsomely repurposes the former 1930s WPA UC printing plant building. Affixed to it is a brightly clad steel tube-like section that houses the new 232-seat Barbro Osher Theater, where films from its impressive archive of over 300,000 items will be regularly screened. There is also a 33-seat screening room and two film viewing booths available by appointment.

As a building that needs to serve town and gown, visual art lovers and movie goers, the new BAMPFA very successfully performs its multiple functions. And, although its steel covering, reminiscent of a Frank Gehry project, is incongruous with the neighboring buildings, it still seems to work. The design by the world-class architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, provides an inviting, open, multilevel environment, with its share of hidden corners, and reading, art, performance and meeting places. And, of course, the Babette café and a gift shop. … Continue reading »

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

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OPENING OF BAMPFA In case you hadn’t heard, Berkeley has a newly housed museum, and it opens to the public on Sunday, starting at 11 a.m., with a great big, 12-hour long Open House. Get a first look at the inaugural exhibition, “Architecture of Life,” and drop in to the Pacific Film Archive’s first purpose-built cinema. Check out the beautiful stepped seating by Paul Discoe, complete with cushion designs by artist Barry Mcgee. There will also be DJs spinning music, dancers, weavers weaving, and other impromptu happenings throughout the building, organized by artist David Wilson. Admission is free, but, given how popular it is likely to be, timed-ticked reservations are recommended. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door. Visit BAMPFA for more details. … Continue reading »

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New BAMPFA ready to open Sunday in downtown Berkeley

City view of BAMPFA Photo Iwan Baan
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The countdown is nearly over. The new home of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, plum in the heart of downtown Berkeley, will throw open its doors to the public with a big open house on Sunday, Jan. 31, starting at 11 a.m.

Before that, there’s a gala party, which is being held Thursday night at a temporary tent set up on UC Berkeley lawn abutting Oxford Street. The gala has raised around $1 million for education programs at the new museum, its director, Lawrence Rinder, said at a press preview event held Thursday morning.

Read more about the new Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.

Rinder also spoke of the challenge of designing a museum that has a dual identity and responsibility towards both art and film, and the commitment to creating a space that is both accessible and welcoming.

“This is not just a place to come look and see,” he said. “There are many areas for community engagement.” Rinder cited as examples the museum’s reading room, art lab and its stepped salvaged-wood seating, created by master woodworker Paul Discoe, where visitors can relax and chat, as well as watch performances. He added that a goal of the museum’s design was to have a flow that was conducive to “wandering and to being surprised.” … Continue reading »

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Critical creative mass: Alan Hall’s Ratatet and Thompsonia celebrate new CDs on Addison

Alan Hall's Rata-tet performs Sunday afternoon at the California Jazz Conservatory 
(photo by Alan Hall)
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Amidst the ongoing debate over development in Berkeley there’s one kind of density that everyone should celebrate. I’m talking about the critical mass of creativity that can found almost any given night within half a mile of Shattuck and University. Or even within one block. On Sunday afternoon veteran drummer Alan Hall celebrates the release of his new Ratatet album Arctic (Ridgeway Records) at the California Jazz Conservatory, where he’s a founding faculty member, and later in the evening Berkeley’s Eric, Suzy and Allegra Thompson celebrate the release of their album Thompsonia at Freight & Salvage.

Hall performs with his Ratatet, a sextet featuring Berkeley-raised bassoonist Paul Hanson, trombonist John Gove, vibraphonist Dillon Vado, keyboardist Greg Sankovich, and Jeff Denson on electric and acoustic bass and vocals. Focusing on Hall’s original compositions, the band plays beautifully textured electro-acoustic music laced with arresting sonorities. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Academy Award-nominated shorts

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Call it a rite of mid-winter: it’s time once again for my annual (and usually futile) effort to guess which short subjects will win gongs at the forthcoming Academy Awards ceremony. And you can play, too, as all the films – Animated and Live Action – will be screening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas beginning on Friday, Jan. 29.

The Animated category is almost always dominated by whichever short Disney/Pixar has produced during the preceding twelve months, and I suspect this will continue to be the case on Feb. 28. This year’s likely shoo-in is a warm-hearted ‘toon entitled Sanjay’s Super Team, in which a young lad repurposes his action figures as Hindu gods and goddesses doing battle with a multi-headed, multi-armed purple demon. Featuring rich, deep colors bathing in an almost psychedelic atmosphere, it’s a beautiful film book-ended by a nice personal note from director Sanjay Patel. … Continue reading »

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

Habitot's Sand Zone at Alcatraz and Adeline: oodles of fun for children. Photo: Sandy Friedland
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SANDZONE FOR KIDS This weekend is the last chance for your kids to enjoy the one-week popup Sand Zone that Habitot created by transforming a 3,600 square foot parking lot at Adeline and Alcatraz in Berkeley into a giant sandbox to promote active play for children of all ages.  Habitot received a $32,000 grant to create the play area from the 50 Fund — the legacy fund of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee NFL Foundation and KaBoom! SandZone is open 10am-6pm, and on Friday from 10am-8pm. The 48’ x 48’ pop-up play zone features 1,152 cubic feet of sand, 6” deep, with rain protection. Caribbean and Filipino food trucks will sell food throughout the week, and each day is themed with Friday being “Luau Party,” Saturday is “Treasure Island,” and Sunday  is”Sand Castles.” Once it’s over, Habitot will distribute the SandZone materials to low-income preschools in the East Bay. SandZone is free and open to the public. Families may register at: sandzone.eventbrite.comContinue reading »

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BAMPFA builds temporary tent for its opening gala

A temporary tent is built by BAMPFA abutting Oxford Street for its opening gala on Jan. 28. Photo:
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Many readers have been in touch with Berkeleyside asking about the strange big “structure” being erected on UC Berkeley property at Oxford Street.

We posted the answer on Twitter and Facebook earlier this week, but, in case you missed that, we can confirm it is a temporary tent to host the “Portal” opening gala party on Jan. 28 for the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive, across the street from its new downtown Berkeley location. The gala, by the way, is all sold out.

Read more about the new Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.

The new museum flings open its doors to the public with a big Open House on Sunday Jan 31, starting at 11 a.m..

Before the museum opens, there’s a chance to hear architect Charles Renfro, of Diller Scofidio + Renfro talk about the design of the new BAMPFA at a free lecture on Jan. 27, 12-2 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Roger Glenn, the world’s most interesting man

Roger Glenn plays Saturday with Tony Corman's Morechestra at the California Jazz Conservatory. Photo: Laura Carbone
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If the actor who intones “stay thirsty my friends” ever gives up his Dos Equis gig, the brewery should look into hiring Roger Glenn as a pitchman. The veteran jazz musician could run ploymathic laps around that poseur who claims the title of “the world’s most interesting man.”

A pilot who serves in the Civil Air Patrol flying search and rescue missions in his spare time, Glenn is a dauntingly accomplished multi-instrumentalist who contributed to classic albums with Cuban percussion legend Mongo Santamaria (Mongo´70 on Atlantic), trumpeter Donald Byrd (Black Byrd on Blue Note), and vibraphonist Cal Tjader (La onda va bien on Concord Picante). He brings his flute, clarinet and vibraphone to the California Jazz Conservatory 8 p.m. Saturday as a special guest with Berkeley guitarist/composer Tony Corman’s 17-piece Morechestra. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Aferim!’ is highly recommended

Aferim
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The Romanian New Wave peaked a decade ago with such gritty, neo-realist films as The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005) and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007). Grim commentary on Romania’s changed circumstances post-communism, these films reflected the cultural and political shocks reverberating throughout the country at the turn of the 21st century.

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu provided an opportunity for a recent film school graduate named Radu Jude to work second unit for director Cristi Puiu. Now Jude has graduated to making his own features films, and the latest, Aferim!, opens at Landmark’s Opera Plaza Cinema in San Francisco on Friday, Jan. 22. As with last week’s Flowers, no East Bay play dates are currently scheduled.

Lazarescu was the sort of film that once would have been described as ‘torn from today’s headlines’. Aferim!, on the other hand, is an historical drama set in the 1830s, when the Ottoman Empire’s grip on the Balkans was ever so slowly beginning to weaken — not least in the province of Wallachia, where the story is set. … Continue reading »

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