Tag Archives: Art

Berkeley looks at public art fee for private developers

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The city of Berkeley is crafting a new law to require private developers of many buildings to spend 1% of their construction costs on public art.

Under a recommendation put forth by Mayor Tom Bates and approved in concept by the Berkeley City Council at its March 17 meeting, the “private percent for public art” legislation would apply to all new commercial and industrial buildings, and residential buildings with at least five units, except for projects in downtown Berkeley. The one-time fee would pay for publicly accessible art on-site, or the developer could instead pay into a new city pot for public art.

At the same meeting, council expanded the city’s definition of art to include installations, performance and social practice works, and other types of original displays. Continue reading »

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Museum doubles as a library in Berkeley artist’s show

Berkeley artist Josh Greene's book-based show opens today. Photos: Contemporary Jewish Museum
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In our tech-centric world, it seems like books could end up as artifacts in museums any day now. A Berkeley artist is speeding up the process — but far from a digital evangelist, Josh Greene is doing it out of reverence for the old medium.

Greene’s two-part exhibition Bound to be Held: A Book Show opened March 26 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. There’s The Library of Particular Significance, a lending library made of 700-800 books Greene amassed during various book drives. The companion show, Read by Famous, is a collection of books donated by people in the public eye, who provide notes explaining why the books are meaningful to them. The former is a set up to be a social event, whereas the latter is a traditional museum experience: look, don’t touch. … Continue reading »

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At Magnes, fictional woman illuminates 20th-century life

Moira Roth's passport photo from the 1970s.
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 By Marcia Tanner

Through the Eyes of Rachel Marker occupies a single gallery in the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. Within its four walls, this fascinating multimedia exhibition interweaves the lives of three extraordinary European-born women, the evolving chronicles of a fourth, fictional woman, and decades of 20th-century European literary, artistic, intellectual and political history.

If this sounds like a complicated scenario, it is. How and why did such a complex cosmopolitan convocation convene in downtown Berkeley?

Rachel Marker — the fictional protagonist of this intertwining narrative of actual and imagined characters — is the creation of Berkeley-based writer, art historian and Mills College art history professor Moira Roth. Writing at cafés in Berkeley (Nabolom), Berlin, Prague and Paris, Roth conceived the character of Rachel as a sort of female Zelig: a peripatetic Czech Jew who flees her native country during the rise of fascism. She witnesses most of the major events, and becomes involved with many of the major cultural figures, of the first half of the 20th century. … Continue reading »

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The idea of an absence: ‘Silence’ at Berkeley Art Museum

Andy Warhol
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The works in the exhibition Silence, which opens today at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, span a century of artistic practice and explore the question of silence, and whether this intangible can be represented.

Silence is, by definition, uncommunicative and peaceful. It is also mysterious, threatening, meditative and explosive. It is simultaneously a state of quiet and a deafening absence of noise. This conundrum is addressed by the multidisciplinary works in the galleries and in film and video programs that have dispensed with representational imagery to depict the idea of an absence. … Continue reading »

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UC exhibit of botanical drawings shows eye for detail

Amur Maple by Mary Harden
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The UC Botanical Garden is hosting its 4th annual exhibition of botanical drawings done by members of the Northern California Society of Botanical Artists.

The 40 illustrators who are represented in the show have spent countless hours learning about the botany of plants and countless more transferring that knowledge to paper.

The results are finely detailed drawings that meticulously replicate nature’s complexity.

The show, titled Plants Illustrated, runs through Feb. 8. There will be a reception for the artists on Saurday Jan. 26 from 2 p.m. to 4 pm

Click here to see a slideshow of all the prints. … Continue reading »

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Willard students semi-finalists in national art contest

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By Catherine Ference

Three of Willard Middle School’s 8th grade students — Karah Giesecke, Desiree Minkler and Sydney Tong — along with their families and Willard’s art teacher, Nancy Funk, celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday this week by attending a very special ceremony at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Karah, Desiree and Sydney were all semi-finalists in The Dream@50 Art Contest, an award program that covers 10 cities and three school levels: elementary, middle and high. For the contest, students were invited to create artwork inspired by a word or phrase from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Their artwork was judged on originality in form and content as well as the artistic merit, including use of color and visual impact.  … Continue reading »

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An unusual New Year’s greeting from the Hall of Science

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It’s no secret that Michael Layefsky takes terrific aerial photos of the Berkeley landscape. In 2012, he had two shows in Berkeley – one at the Main Library and one at the Picturish Gallery. Berkeleyside also published a large portfolio of his work shot with a camera flying 150 feet in the air.

Layefsky and the staff at the Lawrence Hall of Science teamed up to make this valentine of a video to usher in the … Continue reading »

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Endless Canvas delivers unique experience to Berkeley

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Take an abandoned 36,000 sq ft former ink factory with giant circular holes punched in the ceilings and views through rusty metal-framed windows of a steel plant, a freeway and San Francisco Bay. Add the building’s owner, who has a penchant for art and an openness to big ideas. Mix in a collection of one-word names like Swampy, GATS, and Yoder, that belong to artists, many of whom are local and several of whom are highly regarded in the street-art world. What do you get? One of the most exciting shows the Bay Area has seen for a long while. (Check out our photo gallery.)

“Special Delivery Bay Area 2012,” the third graffiti mural exhibition organized by Bay Area street art blog and zine Endless Canvas, made its grassroots debut on Sept. 8 when, despite the fact that the exact location of the show was not revealed until the eleventh hour, an estimated 5,000 people showed up to west Berkeley’s Carbon Warehouse in the old Flint Ink building at 1350 Fourth Street to soak up the wall-to-wall art. Many did so again on the afternoon of Sunday Sept. 23 — young and old, families with young kids, photographers, and the merely intrigued. … Continue reading »

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

The East Bay Hills by Laura Cunningham
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BEFORE HUMAN CONTACT When Laura Cunningham was growing up in Kensington, she used to walk to school and wonder what the East Bay looked like before buildings and roads covered everything. That curiosity remained with her as she went on to get degrees in paleontology and natural science illustration. The remarkable result of that decades-long question question is answered in Laura Cunningham: Before California, a new exhibit opening Thursday Sept. 13 at 5:30 pm at the Hazel Wolf Gallery in the David Brower Center. Cunningham has created striking illustrations of California landscapes as they would have looked centuries ago before they were dramatically altered by human activity. Berkeley’s Heyday Books published a collection of Cunningham’s work in 2010, but this first-ever solo exhibition also includes contemporary photos and drawings. The show runs until Jan. 30, 2013. Cunningham will speak about her art at the opening and will hold an outdoor sketch class this Saturday, part of a number of programs held in conjunction with the exhibition.

THE PROMISES AND PERILS OF NEW DEMOCRACIES The democratic uprisings in the Arab world have led to large scale changes in the government and governance of numerous countries – including Libya, where the US Ambassador and three other diplomats were killed on Tuesday. UC Berkeley is hosting a two day conference, Democracy Rising, that will explore recent events in Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, take a look at why some uprisings work and some don’t, and what might lie ahead. Key participants will include India’s former chief elections commissioner, a member of Tunisia’s Finance Committee, a senior mediation expert with the UN, and a leading Russian journalist. The conference runs Thursday Sept. 13-Friday Sept. 14.

Continue reading »

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Botanical garden inspires art/science collaboration

Nami Yamamoto's Fog Catcher in the UC Botanical Garden. Photo: Hannah Long
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Many people would call UC Berkeley’s Botanical Garden a work of art, with its stunning landscape of colorful flowers, vibrant greenery and majestic trees. The garden’s recently installed Natural Discourse exhibition, which features a diverse array of visual art, poetry and architecture, has only enhanced the beauty of this setting.

The botanical garden is “both a very serious research collection and a beautiful public garden,” explained Paul Licht, the garden’s director. It is one of the most prestigious research gardens in the world, with over 10,000 plant species, and its 34 acres include a rose garden and redwood grove for tourists, nature lovers, and picnickers.

The Natural Discourse exhibit, a collaboration between artists, poets and scientists, was inspired by specific plants in the garden. “Natural Discourse fits into the theme of the garden,” said Licht. “The installations are site-specific, and each is educational, thought-provoking, and beautiful.”  … Continue reading »

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Botanical Garden art work attracts right-wing attacks

SOL Grotto, by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, in the Botanical Garden's Natural Discourses exhibition. Photo: Hannah Long
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The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, nestled in Strawberry Canyon, seems one of the few parts of Berkeley where political agendas can safely be set aside. But the politics-free zone of the garden was disturbed on Tuesday when right-wing bloggers, Fox News and the House Energy and Commerce Committee confected a story out of one of the artworks in the current Natural Discourse exhibition (which Berkeleyside will review later today).

SOL Grotto, by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, uses 1,368 glass tubes salvaged from Solyndra, the Fremont-based solar cell manufacturer that went bankrupt last year, despite a $527 million loan from the federal government. SOL Grotto is, in the artists’ words, “a spartan retreat that is a space of solitude.”

The right-wing attacks focused on the use of materials from Solyndra to create an artwork, leading the House committee, for example, to claim that SOL Grotto had become the world’s most expensive work of art. Greg Gutfeld on Fox News — a Cal grad — sputtered with rage at the art: “Our loss is someone else’s hip, pretentious art.” He suggested someone should take a sledgehammer to the work and call it performance art, before adding, “I’m kidding, of course that would be wrong.” … Continue reading »

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Anatomy of a portrait: Artist captures essence of subject

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By Brandon Ahlstrom

“If the house was burning down,” Joan and Scott Fife tell me over the phone, “the portraits would be the first thing we take.”

There are two portraits hanging in the Fife household, one of Joan’s mother and one of their daughter Berkeley. “When people come over, Berkeley’s portrait is first thing we show them,” says Scott. According to Joan, a common reaction from guests is that she looks like she’s about to say something.

Before the Fifes received the painting, visitors to the painter’s studio in south Berkeley would also comment that she looks as if she’s on the verge of something.

For Seamus Berkeley, the painter in question, common reactions to a painting are a sure sign of its success, especially when the reactions are coming from both those who know the subject and those who do not. It shows that from nothing more than oil on canvas, viewers are independently able to apprehend the same idea. That idea is the essence of what makes Berkeley Fife who she is, or at least who she was at 18. (Note: the use of the word “Berkeley” in three distinct senses is purely coincidental and a continual source of frustration and amusement to all involved.)

Capturing the so-called essence of a person is Berkeley’s primary motivation in portrait painting.  “We’re in the universe experiencing this thing called being human, and it’s not going to last very long. So connecting with other people is really quite fascinating,” he says.Continue reading »

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

Making lemonade out of lemons. Please not the bike rack in front of Mrs. Dalloways on College. It is re-purposed from old city of Berkeley parking meters. The Elmwood Neighborhood Merchants Association is hosting a "Ride Your Bicycle" to the Elmwood festival on Sat. Aug. 11. There will be sales, music, and food. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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A MUSICAL TRIPLE THREAT – Natalie Cressman has music in her genes. The jazz trombonist-vocalist-composer is the daughter of Santana trombonist Jeff Cressman and jazz vocalist Sandy Cressman. All that music growing up imbued the younger Cressman with exceptional talent, which is on full display on her just-released debut album, Unfolding. Cressman and her band Secret Garden will perform Friday Aug. 10 at 8 pm at Freight & Salvage. The evening also includes a performance show by Peter Apfelbaum, a Berkeley-bred musician, composer, who has played with many of the greats. He will be joined by drummer Josh Jones. Tickets are $22.50.

RAW, RAGGED, AND REVEALING –  Lip Service West got its start in Los Angeles but made its name in Miami where it quickly got known as “the hottest, smartest, most honest literary event in South Florida.” Think gritty, raw writing paired with live performance. Oakland’s San Pablo Arts District fund is sponsoring a Friday night performance of the group – in Berkeley. The founder, Andrea Askowitz, who wrote My Miserable Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy, will join host Joe Clifford and six other writers at 7:30 pm Aug. 10 at Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Avenue. Admission is free.Continue reading »

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