Tag Archives: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

The Late L@TE: Terry Riley plays BAM/PFA as curtain falls

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Five years ago BAM/PFA launched L@TE, a music series curated by Berkeley pianist Sarah Cahill that transformed the gallery space into a reverberant concert hall. Given Cahill’s commitment to performing and presenting new music in various forms and permutations it’s not surprising that she booked minimalist pioneer Terry Riley as the opening act. In a neat feat of closure, the pianist will be on hand again Friday for the final L@TE event as BAM/PFA makes its slow transition into its new building at Oxford and Center (which is slated to open in early 2016).

Still a creative force at 79, Riley will be joined by his son, guitarist and composer Gyan Riley, an important figure in his own right who released a beautiful improv-laced album last year, Eviyan Live (Victo), featuring the acoustic collective trio Eviyan with violinist/vocalist Iva Bittová and clarinetist (and former Berkeleyan) Evan Ziporyn. … Continue reading »

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‘The Activist': Locally sourced treasure of a movie

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Briefly released to theaters in late 1969 and since largely forgotten, this was director/writer/producer Art Napoleon’s final film. Napoleon – whose previous work, including the 1950s TV series ‘Whirlybirds’ and the Fabian vehicle Ride the Wild Surf (1964), displayed next to no political consciousness — immediately gave up cinema for psychotherapy and relocated to Europe in the wake of The Activist‘s poor critical and box-office reception.

The film’s title refers to main character Mike Corbett, a Berkeley senior suspended nine units short of his degree because of his dedication to radical politics. Played by real-life activist Mike Smith (one of the Oakland Seven put on trial for ‘conspiracy to commit two misdemeanors’ stemming from October 1967’s Stop the Draft Week demonstrations), Corbett is a true believer who earned his stripes as a Mississippi Freedom Rider. … Continue reading »

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Gallery: Fans celebrate Berkeley art museum milestone

Crowds turned out Thursday evening to celebrate a milestone in the new Berkeley art museum project downtown. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Thursday evening, community members turned out in droves to sign the final steel beam for Berkeley’s new art museum before it was lifted high into the air by a crane and set in place.

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is undergoing a complete rebuild in a new downtown Berkeley location, west of Oxford Street between Center and Addison, with its opening set for January 2016.

The “topping out” celebration was a chance for art fans to sign the final beam before watching it be set into place by construction workers shortly after 7 p.m. Addison Street between Oxford and Shattuck Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic during the event, as attendees enjoyed music from 14-piece brass band Mission Delirium and wrote messages on every surface of the beam using colorful markers.

Photographs from the event, by Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso, appear below. … Continue reading »

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

The free 4th of July celebration at the Berkeley Marina will include handmade craft booths. Photo: Another Bullwinkel Show
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FOURTH OF JULY AT THE BERKELEY MARINA If you’re not going away for the long weekend and haven’t yet figured out your Fourth of July plans, consider heading down to the Berkeley Marina for a day of live entertainment, food and fireworks. The event starts at noon with musical performances by Bang Data, The Boston Boys, and others on the main stage. On the Buddy Club Stage in Shorebird Park, spectators will be treated to juggling, magic acts and Afro-Cuban drumming. Performances will go until 9:30 p.m. During this time, eventgoers can also indulge in dragon boat rowing (until 5 p.m.), massages, live pony rides, carnival rides and a fireworks show over the water at 9:35 pm. Food trucks and booths will be present as well. This year, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream co-founder Ben Cohen is also bringing his one-of-a-kind StampMobile to the event “to help stamp money out of politics on Independence Day.” Vehicle parking in the marina is $15 for the day and admission is free. … Continue reading »

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

Friday night's Marsh Jam comes from the same comedian who started Spaghetti Jam. Photo: The Marsh
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MARSH JAM If you’re looking for a laugh, you may want to head to the Marsh tonight, Friday, for Marsh Jam. The comedy show will feature a blend of “Spolin” style improv, stand-up, and sketch comedy for a unique theatrical experience tailored to the audience’s interests. Michael Bossier, who founded the comedy troupe Spaghetti Jam, will head the show. Past members of his troupe include Dana Carvey, Robin Williams, Whoopie Goldber and Betty Thomas. Tickets are $10 and the show starts at 8 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Mother Joan of the Angels’

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It seems like only yesterday that I was bemoaning the recent dearth of nun movies. And yet here I am a mere month later, once again writing about the Brides of Christ – this time of the genus a dæmonio vexatus– thanks to the recent digital restoration of Matka Joanna od aniolów (Mother Joan of the Angels), screening at 7:00 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive on Wed. June 25 as part of the series ‘Martin Scorsese Presents Masterpieces of Polish Cinema’.

Based on Aldous Huxley’s semi-fictional novel ‘The Devils of Loudon,’ Mother Joan of the Angels depicts an extraordinary popular delusion breaking out in Poland during the 17th century. A grim existentialist examination of repressed desire and madness, the film has previously only been available on a grainy and rather scratchy British DVD. Hopefully the restoration will be a revelation. … Continue reading »

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‘The Saragossa Manuscript': Jerry Garcia’s favorite film?

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Word on the street for many years has been that Wojciech Has’s 1965 feature Rekopis znaleziony w Saragossie (The Saragossa Manuscript) was musician Jerry Garcia’s favorite film. Rumor also has it that Garcia loved the film so much that he purchased a print and donated it to Pacific Film Archive, stipulating only that he could screen it there any time he liked.

Is any of this true? I’m far from sure, but I’ve always held Garcia’s perhaps apocryphal passion for the film against it, as there are few things in life I enjoy less than listening to The Grateful Dead. However, with the film screening at the Archive at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 14 as part of the series ‘Martin Scorsese Presents Masterpieces of Polish Cinema’, it’s time for a reassessment. Presumably Jerry will not be in attendance. … Continue reading »

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

The artists of The Possible gather on the rug at the Berkeley Art Museum. Photo: Fritz Haeg
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THE POSSIBLE CLOSING CEREMONY The closing ceremony for ‘The Possible,’ an exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, will begin this Friday, May 23, at 7:30 p.m. ‘The Possible’ re-imagines the museum as the locus of an ever-evolving artistic projects that connects the artists with the community. This final celebration of creative spirit will draw together artists from around the Bay Area. There will be music, dancing, and ceremonies honoring those who made the whole exhibition, well, possible. Tickets are $7. It should be noted that there will also be a free garden bazaar on Sunday, May 25, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., where the gallery will be ceremonially emptied. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2626 Bancroft Way. (Read our review of ‘The Possible.’)

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Salvaged trees to be used in Berkeley’s new art museum

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Seven Canary Island pine trees that were cut down in order to allow construction of the new Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive in downtown Berkeley were salvaged and will be used for several interior elements of the new museum, its director, Lawrence Rinder, revealed last week.

At a May 12 presentation made at Berkeley’s Skydeck, which afforded birds’-eye views of the site of the emerging museum on Center Street and Oxford, Rinder said Paul Discoe, a highly regarded wood craftsman known for designing Larry Ellison’s Japanese-style Woodside home, as well as Berkeley’s Ippuku restaurant, will use the pines, along with other reclaimed wood, to design elements such as the museum store, the admissions desk and seating. The trees used to be on Oxford Street, clustered near the corner of Addison.

“The wood is curing in a mill in Oakland right now,” Rinder said, adding that he was thrilled Discoe would be contributing the warm quality of his work to the museum.

Rinder brought the new museum into focus in other ways, with more details of its build-out and events leading up to its scheduled opening in January 2016. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: 57th SF International Film Festival

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Ever wondered what a horror film directed by Terrence Malick might look like? The 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (continuing through May 8 at Pacific Film Archive) is here to help. Screening at the Archive at 8:45 p.m. next Wednesday, May 7, Historia del miedo (History of Fear) blends the brooding naturalism of Malick with the existential dread of Michael Haneke, the end-result a grimly fascinating examination of the discreet discomfort of the bourgeoisie.

Set during a hot Argentinian summer plagued with power outages, History of Fear introduces viewers to an extended upper middle-class family living on a large estate in Buenos Aires’ Moreno district. It’s not only the constant blinking on and off of electricity that has the family on edge, however, but a multitude of other disturbances: holes cut in the estate fence by unseen intruders, fires left burning unattended, violent reality television, and – of course – naked men at the local toll booth. … Continue reading »

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Barbara Chase-Riboud in Berkeley: Revelatory, ravishing

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Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles, is an exhibition not to miss. It’s inspirational, revelatory, ravishing to look at, and a dramatic contrast to The Possible: the experimental, hyper-interactive, buzzing, booming art-making project organized by local artist David Wilson that will occupy most of the Berkeley Art Museum through May 27.

Chase-Riboud had her first solo exhibition at the UC Berkeley Art Museum in 1973, at the invitation of the museum’s founding Director (now Emeritus) Peter Selz. At the time she was only the third female artist to have had a solo museum show in the United States. She was certainly the first female African American artist to have earned that singular recognition.

This stunning installation of Chase-Riboud’s sculpture and drawings is a home-coming of sorts: the triumphal kind of homecoming you dream about, where the locals are amazed by the magnificent things you’ve accomplished in the intervening years. One good reason for our amazement is that the artist has lived in Europe, Paris mostly, since the 1960s. And while she’s well-known in Europe — not only for her visual art but also for her numerous novels and books of poetry — we in the U.S. are only just catching up with her work. … Continue reading »

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

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JOAN LA BARBARA Some say Berkeley is still stuck in the ’70s. Music fans who wish that were the case should head to the L@TE event this Friday, March 14. It’s been 38 years since experimental musician Joan La Barbara performed her “Circular Song” at BAM/PFA in 1976, and she’s back for round two. The piece is a presentation of the award-winning artist’s expansive repertoire of vocal techniques, including circular singing, glottal clicks, and split-tone multiphonics. The $7 show starts at 7:30 p.m. at 2626 Bancroft Way. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Side Street,’ one nasty noir

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The American film industry was born on the Atlantic Seaboard. From Biograph’s lower Manhattan studio to the film factory that was Fort Lee, New Jersey (a city now infamous, of course, for an entirely different reason), the first American movies were primarily an East Coast affair.

That changed in 1911 when the advantages offered by the sunshine and vast open spaces of Southern California convinced New Jersey’s Nestor Studios (later to merge with Universal) to relocate to Hollywood. The secret was out: land and good weather were plentiful out west, and the industry moved en masse. By the 1920s, the East Coast film boom had quickly turned to bust.

And so it would remain for the next few decades: during the ‘20s and ‘30s, New York City locations were recreated hundreds of times on the Hollywood back lot, and no one complained. In the post-war years, however, audiences wanted something a little less artificial and a bit more realistic, and studios realized they needed to offer something to counter the growing threat of television. Second units began to pop up around The Big Apple — especially for crime pictures.

One of those pictures was MGM’s Side Street, an above average noir screening at 7:00 p.m. on Friday Feb. 28 at Pacific Film Archive as part of the series ‘Against the Law: The Crime Films of Anthony Mann’. … Continue reading »

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